Duluth cake shop plans 'sweet' anniversary for Black Bear Casino


In 19 years of designing and baking cakes, Eileen Brown has been tasked with making some big treats over the years. As the owner of How Sweet It Is Cakes, she caters more than 250 weddings and other special events every year.

But nothing could quite prepare Brown for the project she's currently undertaking.

Brown was recently asked to supply a grand cake that will be the star of the show at Black Bear Casino's 20th anniversary next month. The result, she says, may just be the largest cake ever assembled in St. Louis and Carlton counties.

"We've certainly never done anything of this magnitude," she said. "I'm excited to work with Black Bear to put on a big community event so we can show what we can do. It's neat to just be involved."

For the project, Brown and her staff are expanding their roles from bakers to architects, with Brown's husband serving as the architect. Piece by piece, they will assemble the 10-foot-tall, 6-foot-wide masterpiece. The cake will be topped off by a life-size black bear decoration, put in place with a basket crane.

The cake unveiling will be held Friday, Aug. 16, at the casino and the creation will be on display through the weekend before it will be cut and served. To keep customers and staff fed before they can dig in, Brown will also deliver 1,000 cupcakes.

To make the event a little more special, How Sweet It Is has also created two new signature flavors for the cake, something Brown says she does occasionally for big events. The new flavors, maple wild rice and cranberry wild rice, are a nod to the tribal tradition of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, which owns and operates the casino.

The flavors are also available in Brown's store, located at 320 W. Superior St., and are each August's "flavor of the month."

Setting the stage

The Aug. 16 unveiling will be the result of 45 days of planning and execution for How Sweet It Is and Black Bear.

However, like with any order, Brown and her staff will not be able to begin baking until the days leading up the unveiling.

In the meantime, they are busy building the cake's interior and planning logistics. A sturdy interior frame, consisting mostly of chicken wire and plaster, must be built to support the heavy cake and give it the illusion that there is no frame underneath.

The cake will be made completely on-site at the How Sweet It Is shop in downtown Duluth and shipped to the casino in a refrigerated truck on the morning of Aug. 16. It will then be assembled over the course of a few hours in the casino's main entrance, where patrons can watch it be built.

"We're making sure we do it right," Brown said of the long process. "We're not going to go too fast because we don't want anything to fall apart. We have to make sure it's engineered correctly."

Brown said that she's well aware of the number of problems that could arise on the big day. Asked if there are any particular areas of concern, she said, "The whole thing."

"You worry about any cake," Brown said. "Somebody cuts you off in traffic, you've got a problem. If it's a 150-degree day, you've got a problem. So we're taking every precaution we can to make sure these things don't happen. We're going to be very careful transporting it. We'll just do everything we can and pray for the best."

Brown said she's happy the cake will be displayed for a few days, but said it will be hard to see it come down when it's time to serve her creation.

"It's going to kind of hurt to watch them take it apart," she said. "But it's going to be really, really immense and we're really excited about it."