SALISBURY – At first glance, the cuisine is unpretentious.
Pale yellow cupboards line a refrigerator, sink, microwave, and oven. A raised table and chairs provide a place to enjoy an informal meal. Even on a closer look, the kitchen looks like almost any other you find in Rowan County homes.
The only proof that anything out of the ordinary is happening in the room is the left corner of the sink where dozens of silver piping tips with uniquely shaped openings hang in rows on a rack. Next to the tips is a stand mixer and silver tablet, plugged in and ready to play any crime scene.
This is where the magic happens.
“It’s the little kitchen that could,” said Peg Fisher. “There are a lot of baked goods coming out of here.”
Fisher is the founder, owner and sole operator of Coyote Trail Cakes – a micro-bakery she runs from her longtime home across the street in Salisbury, of which the company is named. Over the past decade, Fisher has baked intricate cakes and decorated cookies for birthdays, holidays, and community events.
Even though she’s made thousands of candies over the past decade, Fisher still seems to grapple with the idea that she is trusted to deliver on someone’s most important day.
“I consider it a privilege to be able to add to their memories of the day,” said Fisher.
Although she is now a magician with fondant in her hands, Fisher’s first experience with baking a cake was a complete failure.
When Fisher was a teenager, she and her sister decided to celebrate July 4th by baking and decorating a cake with patriotic pride. It was a blueberry and strawberry dessert that could have been delicious if they had had the chance to try a slice of it.
As Fisher carried the cake from the garage to the house for consumption, it fell from her hands and fell to the floor.
“I just let it go,” Fisher said with a laugh. “I don’t know how it fell from my hands, but it happened. I wasn’t paying attention. I was 15 years old.
She was given another chance at baking about a decade later, when she was in her mid-twenties and staying home to care for her young children. At first, she only baked cakes for her family members on their birthdays.
“It was just for fun, for the family,” Fisher said.
That all changed when Fisher attempted to create a large, looping fondant knot for her sister’s landmark birthday party. It was his first chance to mold the chocolate into a specific shape. She spent hours seeking advice and trying various techniques before forging her own method. The result was exactly what she envisioned.
“Once I figured out how to do this, everything else followed quickly,” Fisher said.
Other people have noticed her talents as a cake decorator.
“This was really when people outside the family started asking for cake,” Fisher said.
What started out as a hobby eventually turned into a home business. Fisher started Coyote Trail Cakes in 2012 after having their scenic kitchen inspected by the state of North Carolina. The name of the business was a topic of debate in Fisher’s household, with some family members pushing for a more intuitive bakery name like “Peg’s Sweets” or “Fisher Cakes”.
Fisher is glad she stuck with the name.
“I love the sound,” Fisher said. “I love the uniqueness of Coyote Trail. I love living here. And no one else will have the trade name Coyote Trail Cakes.
As she began to recruit more and more clients, Fisher began to conquer more and more weird and thought-provoking designs. For a Halloween party, she mounted three sweet skulls in a towering display. A bachelor party required him to recreate a cooler full of ice cubes (white chocolate) and several craft beers, each with a different label that Fisher recreated with his food color printer.
Taking on a seemingly impossible creative challenge is what Fisher loves.
“How to do it and make it good too?” Fisher said.
The cake making process begins with a quick consultation. The concept, the colors and the taste are chopped up in his dining room, during a phone call or by SMS. Fisher sets aside the first two days of each week to chat with customers and respond to online inquiries.
On Wednesday, his kitchen and dining room are transformed into a cake assembly line. Thursday and Friday is when the decoration takes place. Fisher spends hours hovering over cakes in the kitchen corner, with NCIS or Blue Bloods playing on his tablet. Formal crime shows are the perfect companion to cake-making – insane enough to allow for maximum focus, but still heartwarming and entertaining.
After the cakes are finished, Fisher takes them down a staircase to his finished basement. There, she places them in front of a tri-fold cardboard covered with a colored background and takes a glamorous shot.
Fisher delivers cakes or his customers collect them themselves. For taller, tiered creations, Fisher uses what’s called a “Stable Mabel” to keep the cake upright in his moving vehicle.
Fisher Cakes have traveled long distances, taken to family reunions as far north as Maryland and as far south as Florida.
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t completely shut down, but it has led people to order much smaller cakes for condensed celebrations. This year, regular orders have started to flow.
“The cake seems to be healing, a celebration,” Fisher said. “… Particularly this year after last year, the cake is really something to look forward to. “
Although she loves to please strangers with her cakes, Fisher still enjoys cooking for her children’s birthdays. She also made her son’s wedding cake. But when it’s time to celebrate the age of one, she turns to her favorite dessert: the pie.
Someday Fisher would like to open a storefront where she can bake cakes in a professional kitchen and have ready-made cakes that people can buy anytime. This would require a significant investment and for her to hire a few other employees, breaking with her lonely style.
For now, she’s happy to continue pumping cakes from home to the small kitchen that could.
More information about the company can be found online at coyotetrailcakes.com or by calling 704-213-8419.