Queen of Tarts
Bakery fads, such as last year’s “cro-nut” craze, come and go, but cake is here to stay.
Beth Zagst is a local professional baker, who specializes in giving people exactly the cake they desire for that birthday, anniversary or other special occasion.
She also supplies a number of local retail establishments with cakes, cupcakes, truffles, tiramisu and other specialty items through her company, Ugga Mugga Bakery.
“Right now, my chocolate peanut butter bomb cake is the most popular one here,” Zagst said during a delivery to Yosefa AntiquiTEA on Howard Street in downtown Boone.
Sold by the slice at the hot tea shop, more than three chocolate peanut butter bomb cakes are being eaten each week.
The tea shop features three other Ugga Mugga cakes this week: a chocolate, salted-caramel and popcorn cake, a lemon-raspberry cake and a sweet cream, coconut and chocolate cake.
Zagst’s cakes and confections can also be purchased at Blowing Rock Produce & Provisions and Blowing Rock Market.
“We just moved to Blowing Rock in July after living in New Hampshire for five years,” Zagst said, “and I started Ugga Mugga Bakery four years ago.”
Zagst named the bakery as an homage to her siblings and her family. The youngest of three children growing up in Pittsburgh, Pa., Zagst recalled how she and her brother and sister watched local legend Fred Rogers on “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” One of the characters on the show, Daniel Striped Tiger, would murmur “ugga mugga,” while enjoying nose kisses with his human friend, Lady Aberlin.
Zagst and her siblings would repeat the phrase, while scooting around on the floor like a train.
“I came up with the name years before I started the bakery, and the spirit of the name stuck,” Zagst said. “It’s nostalgic and reminds me of what a close family we had when I was growing up.”
In addition to selling her baked goods at local stores, Zagst stays busy creating original cakes for special events. She has become extremely proficient in making “fondant,” or the hard icing that enables a baker to make a cake in the shape of a chainsaw, pile of books or even a plane.
“A lot of bakers do not like to work with fondant, but I think it’s like adult Play-Doh,” Zagst said. “I love the challenge of making it myself, and it’s a perfect channel and challenge for my artistic side.”
Zagst’s artistic side included a career playing the trumpet.
“I went to Ohio University and studied singing and trumpet,” Zagst said. “I was in the school’s marching band and even got to play in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.”
After graduation, Zagst worked in theater and as a professional musician. After the birth of the first of her two daughters, she discovered that motherhood and performing at night were two schedules that didn’t mix.
“I have always loved to cook and entertain people,” Zagst said. “I needed an outlet for my creative energy. So, I began making cakes for my friends’ special events. And then one time a friend said, ‘I am going to have a dinner, and I want you to make a cake, and I’m going to pay you for it.’ That’s how Ugga Mugga Bakery got started.”
Last weekend, Zagst brought her cakes, truffles and other goods to the Blowing Rock Market for a special wine pairing event that coincided with WinterFest. Hundreds of WinterFest visitors enjoyed wine, desserts and roasted oysters on the half-shell at the market on Saturday.
Zagst’s next challenge is to fill a number of special orders for Valentine’s Day confections.
“For Valentine’s Day, I am creating six-inch versions of my most indulgent cakes that are perfect for two people,” Zagst said.
She will also offer holiday packages with peanut butter truffles, pecan pralines and other items.
“There will also be gourmet cakes and six-packs of cupcakes,” Zagst said.
Zagst stated that she also plans to have a vendor’s booth at the Watauga County Farmers’ Market, which begins its 2014 season at the Horn in the West parking lot in early May.
“I have really been overwhelmed by the support of everyone around here and how nice everyone is,” Zagst said. “Heather at the tea shop, David Barker at Blowing Rock Market and Kevin Tincher at Produce & Provisions have all gone out of their way to help me with price points. And they have been flexible with me about stocking different flavors.”
Zagst and Ugga Mugga Bakery have also made their reputation known by getting involved in the community and catering events, such as Blowing Rock School PTO events and Studio K Youth Ballet’s latest production of “The Nutcracker.”
For more information, or to order a specialty dessert, visit http://www.uggamuggabakery.com, or call (724) 799-1334.
Got restaurant news? Email editor Frank Ruggiero at (email@example.com) , or call (828) 264-6397.