While some people express their creativity through writing, art or music, Berkley resident and mother of five Dawn Schwanke has a different, decidedly sweeter medium: cake.
Whether it’s a birthday cake for one of her children or custom sugar cookies for one of her clients, Schwanke is quick to incorporate the theme for each event as she designs, bakes and decorates intricately detailed treats to match any party theme.
“Everything for me has to have a theme. My poor kids and their birthdays!” she laughed, and described Ninja Turtle-, jungle- and Elmo-themed parties as just a few examples of the themed events she’s thrown for her own kids.
Schwanke, owner of the on Coolidge in Berkley – – said what she likes most about preparing custom baked goods is the creative aspect of it.
“It’s kind of edible creative,” she said. “I like just trying to pull ideas and everything together so that the whole thing is cohesive.”
So when she was approached about making a birthday cake for a Detroit legend who would be performing at a concert this weekend, Schwanke’s creative wheels started turning.
Schwanke learned Motown star and former Detroit City Councilwoman Martha Reeves would be performing her Motown classic “Dancing in the Street” at the Concert of Colors festival in Midtown Detroit on Saturday, and she decided to use the song as inspiration for a two-tiered three-dimensional cake in Reeve’s honor.
“I heard that she was singing ‘Dancing in the Street’ so of course I kind of went with that,” she said.
Reeves will celebrate her 70th birthday as part of the event.
“I tried to go like old Motown,” Reeves described, with the cake featuring a cookie on the front for the Hitsville USA building and a street-inspired second tier with figures dancing and signs for streets such as Woodward and West Grand Boulevard.
Berkley resident Sue McAlpine works for the Arab American National Museum, which is hosting the four-day Concert of Colors celebration, and she commissioned Schwanke for the cake project. McAlpine was familiar with the Butterfly Bake Shoppe and decided Schwanke would be ideal for the job.
“I’ve been in her bakery before and I wanted to support a Berkley business,” McAlpine said.
The cake was to be presented to Reeves on Saturday before her performance.
“The design is really cool, it’s fun and it’s amazing for me to see how (Shwanke) does this work and how it comes together,” McAlpine said. “She’s just got great vision.”
The annual Concert of Colors started July 14 and continues indoors and outdoors at the Max Fisher Music Center this weekend. Reeves will perform during the Detroit All-Star Revue which starts at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Other acts include Mitch Ryder with the Detroit Cobras and Wendell Harrison on Saturday and Bettye LaVette on Sunday.
McAlpine said the cake for Reeves “brings the whole song to life in a cake.”
“That’s what I thought was so cool about it,” she said. “I’m just super excited to see it.”
McAlpine said the concert is a great opportunity to see a diverse range of acts.
“Anyone who loves music would definitely want to attend the event,” she said. “It’s a great celebration of diversity and music that appeals to a wide range of audiences, from adults to kids, and it’s a free event happening in Midtown Detroit where there’s lots of fun things to do.”
Schwanke said the cake she designed is symbolic for not only for “Dancing in the Street” but also Motown. Growing up in the Detroit area, Schwanke said she is very familiar with Reeves and feels honored to be involved in the project.
“I grew up in Detroit so I was listening to Motown back when I was a kid,” she said. “We’ve been running around singing her songs for like a week now.”
For more information on the Butterfly Bake Shoppe call 248-439-0377.
The Concert of Colors
Visit the Concert of Colors on Saturday or Sunday at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave. in Detroit. Performances will take place indoors and outdoors. All Concert of Colors performances are free and open to all. Food, drinks and merchandise will be available for sale. For more information visit www.concertofcolors.com.