The Dessert Fork opens in Madison
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOSHUA BERRY
Despite a day of heavy rainfall, a large crowd joined the Madison Chamber of Commerce and chamber ambassadors for the grand opening of Madison’s new eat-in cake boutique, The Dessert Fork, Nov. 7.
The Dessert Fork specializes in elaborate, customized, made-from-scratch cakes and desserts for weddings, birthday parties and all other special occasions. To complete the treats, the eatery offers a variety of hot and cold beverages. “I think this area is ready for a place like this,” said Pauline McFarlin, The Dessert Fork owner and cake artist.
Depending on the time of year, McFarlin will serve seasonal desserts: pumpkin and pecan pies in the fall, red velvet cake around the holidays and key lime and lemon meringue pies closer to summer. The business is certain to be busy around the bridal season, and McFarlin encourages brides to order their cakes as soon as possible. “It’s never too early to book your bakery for your wedding cake,” said McFarlin, who is offering brides one of her fabulous, made-from-scratch wedding cakes with free delivery if brides pre-order in the month of January.
“All of my desserts are something to admire and look at,” said McFarlin, whose business began as a hobby. “Many people who see my cakes tell me they are too pretty to cut.” She said she first began baking just for fun, but it soon became a passion – one steeped in family history. “My mother used to bake for us. It’s one of my fondest memories. She would say, ‘Keep your fork,’ and I knew dessert was coming.”
When McFarlin first moved to Huntsville in 2008, she worked as a real estate agent. At the same time, she baked for family and friends, using artistic techniques she first learned in the formal art classes she took during high school.
McFarlin soon grew more serious about her venture, baking desserts under Alabama’s cottage law. She attended a cake conference in Florida that “opened up a whole new world for me,” said McFarlin. “There is a science behind baking that gives me better and more consistent results.”
McFarlin has studied under several world-renowned cake artists, including Food Network chefs Ron Ben-Israel, Jorg Amsler and Peggy Tucker. She completed several cake decorating classes at the Wilton School and The America’s Cake and Sugarcraft Fair, as well.
By 2014 McFarlin’s business outgrew the parameters of the cottage law. She decided to make the next move and open a retail space. She said her husband of 10 years, Alphonso, has been a constant source of encouragement for her venture.
McFarlin designs her cakes with each individual customer in mind. “By the time I’ve done a cake, I want it to be like it has found its home,” she said. Moreover, she’s not afraid of trying something new. “I challenge myself. Sometimes The Dessert Fork might promote a special, based on a place I visited. I went somewhere and had green tea ice cream; that gave me the idea of baking a green tea velvet cake.
“I like to play around with different flavors; I’m pretty adventurous!” she added. “The person who is looking for something different will find it here, but you’ll also find traditional favorites.”
Regular customers aren’t the only ones to benefit from McFarlin’s artistry. One of her friends told her about a 5-year-old foster child who never had a birthday cake, and McFarlin said to herself, “Everyone should have a birthday cake!” Thereafter, she partnered with the Madison County Foster and Adoptive Parent Group to bring every foster child a special cake. “The foster community can get a one-time elaborate cake at a discount for their birthday,” said McFarlin, who said she wants to “reach as many foster children as possible for their birthday or to celebrate their adoption.”
In her support of the foster family community, McFarlin recently helped out with occupational therapy during a DHR parents’ night. She read Marcus Pfister’s best-selling children’s book, “The Rainbow Fish,” and then helped the children make Rainbow Fish cupcakes.
These children would probably agree with The Dessert Fork motto, which hangs over a display shelf in the eatery: Life is short … Eat dessert first!
For more information about The Dessert Fork, visit www.thedessertforkhuntsville.com. Visitors to the site will find a gallery of elegant treats, such as McFarlin’s decadent Star Wars wedding cake and Death Star Pops.
The Dessert Fork is located at 107 Brookridge Drive off Highway 72 in Madison.