Brookville baker launches Arley Cakes and offers custom-order sweets
Despite growing up in a house full of family members who love to cook and bake, Arley Arrington admits she didn’t make her debut in the kitchen until she was a student at UVA. Now the owner of a new local baking company, Arley Cakes, Arrington, 26, splits her time between shifts at Brookville and all-nighters in her home kitchen coming up with new recipes, filling custom orders and rolling out baked sweets in bulk for local events. She started out making birthday cakes for her friends in college, and has since developed recipes for treats that taste good, look good and meet her standards of “real food.”
“I like to know what I’m eating, and that’s generally how I like to approach food,” Arrington says, adding that it’s all about moderation and balancing sweets with vegetables and other healthy food. “I don’t want, like, vegetable spread. I want butter.”
One of the first recipes she developed from scratch in her college apartment kitchen was a crumble apple pie, filled with fresh apples she and her friends picked together. Perhaps one of her most surprisingly successful experiments was a grape cobbler, based on a friend’s grandmother’s recipe that she embellished with muscadine grapes, sage, rosewater and rose sugar. Arrington doesn’t have the sweet tooth you might expect from a baker who churns out sweets every week, and she loves incorporating savory elements into her products, such as a rosemary buttercream she’s been playing with recently.
Her recent foray into the wedding industry opened up new avenues for creative baking, especially as more couples choose to get away from the traditional cakes.
“People are asking for a lot of dessert spreads, cookies, hand pies, whoopie pies. It’s fun, people are just getting desserts they actually like,” Arrington says. “Wedding planning can be so stressful, and I’m able to provide some wiggle room, like if people can’t afford a five-tier cake. It’s nice to try to make things a little less stressful.”
For now, Arley Cakes accepts custom orders, and Arrington is the mastermind behind the desserts at Brookville, such as the Mardi Gras-inspired gâteau mille crêpe (essentially a crêpe cake) with a bourbon cream filling.
As for a brick and mortar shop, she’s working on it. And not only that, but she’s working on creating a shop with a cause. Her first job out of college was working as a mentor and director of girls’ programs with Abundant Life Ministries, and when she began selling her baked goods, she was inspired by a teenage girl who told her she never knew someone from her neighborhood could start their own business.
“I’ve been working at Brookville for a while, which is fine dining and on the Downtown Mall scene, while also working and living in the Prospect neighborhood, which is a lot of times forgotten,” she says. “I want my business to be something that addresses that tension, that distance between these two very separate worlds of Charlottesville, and I think that having a shop would allow that.”
For more information and to place orders, go to arley cakes.com.
Bring on the bacon
Pork—it’s what’s for dinner. And lunch. And dessert.
For the sixth year running, Gordonsville’s Barbeque Exchange is gearing up for Porkapalooza, which is exactly what it sounds like: two days of all-you-can-eat pork. Tickets are $16 per person ($8 for kids under 10), and BBQ Exchange chef-owner Craig Hartman describes it as a giant anniversary party for the restaurant and its loyal following.
“We do it because we’re so thankful for the way we’ve been received by the community and the support everybody gives us,” Hartman says.
The event begins at noon on Saturday, February 21, and will run until 7pm both days. Guests can pile their plates with locally made smoked sausages provided by JM Stock Provisions, Kansas City-style burnt ends, Kentucky-inspired burgoo stew, North Carolina classic whole-hog meat, chicken fried in lard and, of course, bacon as far as the eye can see. For dessert, Sweethaus cupcakes and Carpe Donuts will be available, with a whole bar of topping options, not to mention make-your-own s’mores.
“If you’ve never had a s’more with a bacon marshmallow on it, you haven’t lived,” says Hartman.
For more information and to buy tickets ahead of time, check out the Porkapalooza Facebook event.
Open for business
It’s been about six months since West Main: A Virginia Restaurant closed its doors so that owner Andy McClure could revamp the space into something entirely new. Now introducing Tavern & Grocery, which made its debut on West Main Street at the end of January.
Dishes include a classic cheeseburger, steak and fromage, bucatini pangrattato and a banh mi sandwich, plus for-the-table items such as squid and eggs, caviar and sweetbreads.
Downstairs you’ll find Lost Saint, a separate cocktail bar that opened in early February. One of the featured cocktails is Seven Years a Baker, with Baker’s bourbon, blueberry shrub, lemon juice, peppercorn tincture and tiki bitters.