by Erika Miller
Tucked into the row of antique stores and Mexican restaurants on Cherokee Street is the newly opened I Scream Cakes (2641 Cherokee Street, 314-932-5758), where owner Kerry Soraci's artistic vision has influenced everything from a kaleidoscope mural painted on the ceiling to the wacky designs of her ice-cream cakes.
I Scream Cakes opened during the Cinco de Mayo celebration on May 7. Soraci, who is also a tattoo artist at Iron Age, has been renovating the retail space herself. She's transformed a room that was once a Subway and a pasta-making factory for Mangia Italiano into a sweet shop with an Alice in Wonderland vibe.
Before the bakery's opening, Soraci fashioned sweets in her own kitchen and most recently worked out of Black Bear Bakery.
I Scream Cakes' treats include ice creams, sorbets, sundaes, floats and cakes, all crafted using mostly organic, natural flavors. Sorbets are sculpted using only organic agave syrup and real fruit. Gluten-free and nondairy options are also available.
Syrups and toppings will be created by Snarky Jar, a gourmet preserves and canned-food startup that will work out of the same space.
The ingredients are high quality, but I Scream Cakes keeps things affordable with smaller offerings that are still big on flavor, like a small-scoop sundae: a scoop, a cookie bit and a topping for $1.59.
Cake creations range from fantastical beasts to origami-like flower cakes comprised of individually placed petals. The designs change with the seasons: Customers might encounter giant bunnies for Easter, anatomically correct hearts for Valentine's Day or a collection of skulls for Dia de los Muertos.
Many of the cakes stare back with a critical eye before they're devoured, like the blood-and-guts zombie cakes Soraci cooks up around Halloween. She's also made a few portrait cakes of pooches. Just bring in a photo of a pet, and she'll sculpt it into a cake, right down to a bulldog's birthmark.
Unlike other frilly cake shops that hide the cake under layers of hard, tacky fondant and sugars, Soraci adds edible art to her designs. The eyes, scales and teeth that adorn I Scream Cakes are sculpted from chocolate clay and ganache -- because Soraci wants her cakes to taste just as good as they look.
Once things get settled in, Soraci says, she'd love to have a freezer display stocked with art cakes of all shapes and sizes. She's also entertaining the idea of hosting cake-decorating classes in the back room, or interactive birthday parties for kids.
The shop's interior still needs a few final touches, but Soraci already has ideas for window seating and bar stools at varying heights to lend a "Dr. Seuss-y" feel.
I Scream Cakes' temporary hours are 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 12 to 8 p.m. on Saturday. (Hours will be expanded once the interior work is completed.) Cake orders can be placed by calling 314-440-0165.