Charity is icing on the cake at Sunday's Taste of the Town event

September 27, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT |
  • By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer Katie Martin, co-owner of Cake Walk in Hagerstown, makes cupcakes for her shop. Her business is just one of 21 participating in the Reach fundraiser Taste of The Town Sunday at Hagerstown Community College.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff photographer

Flair and creativity have always been key tools in a pastry chef's bag of tricks.

But a new generation is taking those skills to the next level — turning desserts into works of art.

Case in point is Katie Martin.

She can manipulate batter and icing to make edible architectural wonders — including cakes that look like the skyline of Manhattan and a piano that has you reaching to tickle the ivories.

She has assembled cupcakes with crowns fit for a princess and others that would be perfect for an African safari.

And to think she didn't plan on becoming a pastry chef.

Martin, who grew up in Chambersburg, Pa., and attended St. Maria Goretti High School, said she went off to college to study business.

But a cake decorating class opened her eyes and heart to a different career path.

"After taking the class, I knew without a doubt that's what I wanted to do with my future," she said.

Martin finished college with an associate's degree in business and went on to culinary school at L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Md.

She then worked at several bakeries in the Washington, D.C., area.

But her business degree eventually came in handy.

In January of this year, Martin and business partner Kathleen Murray opened the doors of Cake Walk Specialty Cakes and Pastries, located at South Pointe Shopping Center in Hagerstown.

In less than a year, Martin said the shop has developed a loyal following.

"The community has been so welcoming and supportive," she said. "Patrons have helped tremendously by spreading the word that a new bakery in town has opened."

For those who haven't had a chance to sample the shop's desserts, Cake Walk will be among the participants at this year's Taste of the Town, an annual fundraiser for REACH of Washington County.

The event will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, at the Athletic, Recreation Community Center at Hagerstown Community College and also will include a silent and live auction.

Jodie Ostoich, REACH's executive director, said the fundraiser is expected to raise between $30,000 and $35,000, which will be used for REACH's cold weather shelter, case management services, day resource center and crisis assistance.

Martin said she's pleased that Cake Walk will be a part of Taste of the Town.

"It's important to me to be a part of something that is such a worthy cause," she said.

Martin said people attending the fundraiser will be able to sample her mini cupcakes in a variety of flavors — "from the basic vanilla and chocolate cake to lemon, almond, coconut and red velvet cake, as well as butter cream flavors of vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, strawberry and peanut butter."

Martin said she grew up watching her mother bake and cook.

"But I never dabbled in it when I was younger," she said. "I was more of the little girl who liked to  watch. Once I went off to college, though, the Food Network had become a big hit and I started watching all of the shows and thought — that's what I would love — to do every day.'"

After taking a cake decorating class with her mother, she couldn't imagine doing anything else.

"Starting culinary school was a little nerve wracking for me because I had never really baked that much before," she said. "But when school started, it became so natural and fun. I knew from the first day of class this was the career I had been waiting for."

As part of L'Academie de Cuisine's curriculum, Martin participated in a three-month internship.

"My first job in the culinary world was at Safron Bakery in Bethesda, Md.," she said. "Once my internship was over, I moved on to another baker, Just Cakes, also in Bethesda. There, I learned more decorating skills and how to manage a bakery. For three years, I absorbed as much as I could."

Martin said she commuted to work every day from Hagerstown.

"Being from the area, I knew there was nothing here like the cake shop I worked at in Bethesda," she said. "I wanted to bring that to Hagerstown."

While working in her spare time as a basketball coach at St. Maria Goretti High School, Martin met Kathleen Murray.

"I pitched the idea to her about opening a bakery in the area," she said. "Together, we created Cake Walk."

Martin said Cake Walk offers fresh cupcakes, cookies and brownies daily and also does a variety of specialty cakes for all occasions — "from elaborate wedding cakes to the simplest birthday cakes."

She always is open to creating unique designs that customers might have in mind.

But what is unforgettable, she said, is the icing.

"Many of our customers have commented that my icing is what makes my cupcakes and cakes different," she noted.

Martin also notes that the shop has "a great atmosphere.  It welcomes people to come sit and enjoy a cupcake and a cup of coffee or take some home to family and friends."

Because she attended high school in Hagerstown, Martin said she considers this community her second home.

"Coming back to the area has been great," she said. "I love the support of a small town compared to getting lost in a big city environment."

If you go ...        

What: Taste of the Town

When: Sunday, Oct. 2, 5 to 7 p.m. food tasting and silent auction, 7 p.m. live auction begins

Where: Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation Community Center, off Robinwood Drive, east of Hagerstown

Cost: $40

CONTACT: To purchase tickets: Go to or available at the door.

CONTACT: For more information, call Reach at 301-733-2371

Participating restaurants     

  •  Applause Caterers
  •  Barefoot Bernie's
  •  Buffalo Wild Wings
  •  Cake Walk
  •  Edible Arrangements
  •  Gumbo-Elois Caterers
  •  Hager Hall
  •  Hard Times Café
  •  Holsinger's Meats & Deli
  •  Krumpe's Donuts
  •  La Tolteca
  •  Leiter's Catering
  •  Maugansville Creamery
  •  Moe's Southwest Grill
  •  Port City Java
  •  Pure Bliss
  •  Saffron Bakery
  •  Sheetz MTO
  •  Spriggs Delight Farm
  •  Tastefully Simple
  •  The Greene Turtle

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