Frosting On ‘Z’ Cake

by Ali Berlow

Frosting On ‘Z’ Cake

Elizabeth Cecil

“Color is what opens the eye and draws people in,” explains Zada Clark, a baker, counter girl, and the “icing coordinator” at the Scottish Bakehouse. Her cupcakes—topped with whimsical patterns and decorated with her subtle color palette—are a favorite of the contractors-who-lunch. They’re so distinctive that folks ask for them by name—Zada-Cakes. a natural, island-grown girl herself, Zada started at the Bakehouse when she was a student at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School.

The Scottish Bakehouse was her mentor in the ways of organic flours and sugars, eggs and ovens. It was Zada’s bosses who opened up a new, creative outlet for her when they handed over the piping bag, the tips, and an array of natural food colors to fend off the monotony that can be a side effect of daily baking.

There’s something different about Zada’s frostings. They shine brighter, but they’re not vulgar or gaudy. They’re elusive, provocative, and as variable as the colors of the sea. What’s missing in Zada-Cakes are fluorescent greens and the neon oranges. According to Zada, the colors she mixes are only achievable using natural food colors, as opposed to the old, outlawed carcinogenic Red Dye #2s, or any of its approved yet artificial cousins.

Natural, vegan, gluten-free, and even kosher, a 2-ounce bottle of Nature’s Flavors liquid food coloring costs around $11. In order to get the intensity of a robin’s egg blue or an oriole orange for example, she must use a fair amount of the liquid color. About two teaspoons per piping bag, according to Zada. She’s a creative frosting queen that does everything by sight—not by recipe. That’s why her cakes are groovy treasures, no two are alike.

Zada-Cakes, $3.50, Scottish Bakehouse, 977 State Road, Vineyard Haven, (508) 693-6633