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Coyne Adds ‘Shots’ of Flavor to Cake Recipes for Showcase

Sarah Coyne
Baker Sarah Coyne puts a new spin on some classic cakes for the November Bakery Showcase in Vail Commons.

Some classic cakes got a "spike" of flavor over the weekend, as the Vail Commons bakers prepared them for November's Bakery Showcase. Baker Sarah Coyne took the lead in planning this month's showcase, which features cakes infused with various types of alcohol, including rum, champagne and vodka.

Executive Chef Craig Mombert planned the Bakery Showcase as a way to spotlight the work of the Bakeshop staff members. The bakers will take turns throughout the year leading and planning recipes for monthly showcases. In August, Baker Pat Aubin planned a cheesecake showcase to kick off the showcase season, and Baker Rebecca Sporney followed with a bread showcase in September. The October showcase featured Oreo desserts and was a team effort, with all bakers gathering recipes.

"I like the showcase because it forces us to try new recipes, and often we discover some really good ones," Coyne said.

This month's featured cake recipes include:

  • Rum Cake
  • Pink Champagne Cake
  • Tiramisu
  • Rum and Coke Whoopie Pies
  • Harvey Wallbanger Cake
  • Tres Leches Cake with a Twist
  • Rum Brownies
  • Screwdriver Cupcakes
  • Spiked Black Forest Cupcakes

"I would say cakes are my specialty as a baker," Coyne said. "For this showcase I wanted to think of a way I could put a different spin on some classic recipes."

A graduate of Johnson and Wales with a concentration in pastries, Coyne first worked in a restaurant in South Charlotte before accepting the job at Vail Commons four years ago. She appreciates the Vail Commons atmosphere, which is quite different from that of a typical restaurant, she said.

"In a restaurant the menu stays mostly static, and you end up doing the same thing over and over," she said. But Coyne and her colleagues at Vail Commons are encouraged to test out new recipes, and given the opportunity to showcase their skills. "Very rarely does anyone say ‘no' to an idea," she said, "which means the job never gets boring."

Coyne's love of baking grew, quite simply, from her love of eating baked goods, she said.

"Growing up, no one in my family baked, so if I wanted to eat something baked, I had to make it myself," she said.

While she loved baking, she did not consider pursuing it as a career initially. Rather, she earned a bachelor's degree in math and pursued a master's degree in education. While in graduate school, she worked part-time in a pie shop, and realized her love of baking extended beyond a hobby – she knew she wanted to bake full-time.

"The feeling you get when you see someone enjoy your food is phenomenal," Coyne said. "Think about it: when someone gets sick, you bake them something. If a friend is having a bad day, you bake them something. It makes them feel better. You make their day a little brighter. And as a baker, I get to do that for a living."

The array of booze-infused cakes will be available to all Vail Commons guests Tuesday, Nov. 4, along with Commons' scratch-made entrees, soups, sandwich and grill specials.