You hear Gregorian chants. All around you it is blindingly white, and the taste of sweet rum cake is on your tongue. You think you may have died and gone to heaven, but it’s only Barbara Storey’s kitchen in Independence.
That’s where and how Storey works, in her own home, baking and selling a line of seven varieties of rum cakes and one whiskey cake. In her spotless, bone-white kitchen, humming along to the monastic music, she creates up to 5,000 cakes a year.
In 1988, she sampled a rum cake created by a friend and proclaimed it “fabulous. I just loved the flavor.” She asked for the recipe, tweaked it a bit, “added a bit of my own flair to it and made that recipe my own.”
Later, at a “goody day” hosted by her husband, Steve’s, co-workers at the U.S. Post Office in Cornelius, where he worked as the manager, Storey’s rum cake proved to be the biggest hit.
“When he came home that day, he said his buddies ate the whole cake and were down to licking the plate,” she said.
The next year, Storey had to create 54 rum cakes for the people who had heard of or tasted them and passed the word along to their friends and relatives. Orders for “goody day” later that year moved into the triple digits.
“We knew things had to change,” said Steve, 60.
“Things went so well, we were forced into business,” he said, adding that Forced Into Business nearly became Storey’s business name (“It was a fleeting thought,” she said) before they settled on the more descriptive Barbara Storey’s Rum Cakes LLC.
Photo by Geoff Parks.
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