Just over a year ago, Sheila Vish opened Sweet Leilani’s Desserts in Saline. She talked about age being a state of mind, about how juggling multiple roles like mom, grandmother, and new business owner energized her. Vish isn’t slowing down. In fact, she’s moving and expanding.
“I’ve been wanting to grow the business, sell more products, offer classes and cake tastings, but I had to find more room,” she explains. “When the old train depot in Tecumseh was for lease, we jumped on it. It’s more than double the size.” The charming little retail space nestled between Bill’s Barber Shop and McPherson’s Local has just 550 square feet. “But I’ll be sad to leave this spot too,” Vish adds. “I’m really glad it’ll be home to another baker.”
Amber Wardia hopes to open Enchanted Oven there in time for the holidays. She started her bakery in 2007 in Birmingham then relocated to Tarpon Springs, Florida, where she ran a full-scale bakery. But, with three young children, she decided it was time to return to her roots and be closer to extended family.
“We chose Saline because it’s a quiet, family-friendly town, and we were ready for a fresh start,” says Wardia. “I walked all over town. I met the folks at Benny’s, and I met Sheila at Sweet Leilani’s. I wanted to be right downtown. Sheila took my number.”
Wardia worked at a law firm while selling Enchanted Oven baked goods at the Saline Farmer’s Market, where she’s gained a following, especially for her kolaczki pastry-based cookies made with preserves and dusted with powdered sugar. She was about to give up hope that she’d find a downtown Saline retail space when Vish called to tell her she was moving. That “happy surprise” meant she’d need to downsize, because “the space is half of what I had in Florida. But I’m ready to change my menu and focus on making what we love the most, what we think makes people the happiest,” she says with a smile.
She means cake. And who’s the “we”?
“My children. They help me creatively. My daughter came up with our slogan: ‘For Cake Lovers.’ She said we need to put it on a neon sign.”
Wardia is passionate about investing in high-quality, fair-trade ingredients. She buys her chocolate from Guittard, a California-based artisanal chocolate company certified by both Fair Trade USA and the Rainforest Alliance.
“It’s very good chocolate. You won’t taste any waxy fillers,” Wardia emphasizes. She’s still on the hunt for the best local butter.
Wardia will bake special-order custom cakes and wedding cakes, but her bakery will also sell cake by the slice, and she says that her slices are generous. Look for chocolate and vanilla birthday cakes layered with buttercream, hummingbird cake, carrot cake, seven-layer rainbow cake and “Brooklyn Blackout” cake–chocolate cake filled with chocolate pudding, covered in chocolate fudge icing and topped with chocolate cookie crumbs. Enchanted Oven will sell wedding cake whole or by the slice. Asked how much she plans to charge per slice, Wardia warns that it’ll be a splurge, given her high-end ingredients: “Most will cost five to six dollars a slice; it depends on the cake,” she says.
Wardia’s middle-school-aged son loves the Kolaczki cookies so much that he suggested his mom create a Kolaczki cake. It’s white cake with apricot and raspberry preserves, white buttercream icing, covered all over with Kolaczki cookies.
“It’s my son’s creation, and it’s selling at the market,” giggles Wardia.
She loves to bake pies too. Enchanted Oven will offer seasonal fruit pies as well as peanut butter pie, coconut cream pie, Key lime pie and Mississippi mud pie. It will stock a variety of freshly baked cookies, including chocolate chip, decorated sugar cookies, raspberry bars, Greek almond cookies, and, of course, kolaczki. Cupcake flavors will rotate. Wardia lists the favorites as mint chocolate chip, cafe mocha, and a Hawaiian cupcake made with pineapple, coconut, and cherries.
“I’ve baked my whole life. My mother and grandmother taught me: always bake from scratch,” says Wardia. “No mixes, no ingredients from a bucket, and I will never cut corners.” That rule comes from her mom and grandmother, but Wardia’s heritage as an entrepreneur goes back even further.
In the 1960s, “my great-grandmother, Marjorie Wanner, ran a little place called Twilight Grill near Seven Mile and Van Dyke in Detroit,” says Wardia.
“I’d love to find a photograph of it someday,” she says. In the meantime, Wardia has her great-grandma’s sifter and cookie cutters.
“I use that sifter every day,” she says.
Enchanted Oven, 103 N. Ann Arbor St., Saline. (734) 686-0110. Open Mon.-Sat. Hours: TBA. Closed Sun.
A small sign printed on copy paper hangs on the glass door of the Nu2U resale shop in the Commons at Sauk Trail shopping center and reads: “Nu2U is officially closed. Thank you for your business for the past 7 years! God Bless.” It’s signed by the Nu2U Staff. Repeated calls to the Nu2U phone number went unanswered.