By Erin Edgemon
Karen Norton, a Mt. Pleasant baker and caterer, reads cookbooks like most people read newspapers and magazines.
Her most popular cake is a cool and refreshing Strawberry Sheet Cake that her sister-in-law, Faye Hallmark, clipped out of a magazine or newspaper around 20 years ago.
“She is like me and collects (recipes),” Norton says.
Members of Norton’s family spend time almost daily cooking up tried-and-true recipes such as the strawberry cake, a variety of cupcakes and muffins, and a unique take on chicken salad at the family’s growing business, Family Bakery and Catering in Mt. Pleasant, which does special orders for delivery or pick-up at the farm.
Norton originally began selling her culinary creations after she and her husband bought a farm in Maury County. In 2001, she set up shop at the Franklin Farmers Market at The Factory, offering vegetables grown on the farm as well as baked goods such as zucchini bread. As the number of crops grew, so did their menagerie of treats – including the strawberry cake.
Four years later, Norton started the bakery and catering service, which gave her another outlet to experiment with dessert concoctions.
“My mother never went by a recipe when she made a cake,” she says. “I like putting something together and not knowing the outcome.”
Norton’s popular Strawberry Sheet Cake isn’t a dessert that needs much tweaking nowadays. It is pretty much the same as it’s been for two decades, except the pink cake is now also baked in cupcake form as a special treat more appealing to children.
The cake is one of her staples at the farmers market. Norton says she always sells out when the strawberry cupcakes are put out in the display case.
This recipe is a symbol of spring, she says, but the pink cake with pink frosting is a fan favorite any time of the year. The cold dessert with flecks of strawberry is at its best the longer it is refrigerated.