Cloverdale’s ’Flour Girl’ whips up one-of-a-kind cakes, baked goods
Baker Shannon Moore of Cloverdale grew up in the South, where the art of baking hot-from-the-oven biscuits, dense poundcakes, delicate layer cakes and a legion of comforting pies has become the stuff of legends.
Her childhood home in Memphis, Tennessee, was full of the fragrant aromas of butter and sugar, strawberries and peaches, buttercream and clouds of whipped cream.
“I started baking with my grandmother when I was young,” the 51-year-old baker said. “One of my aunts gave me my first cookbook, and all I did was bake, mostly brownies and cookies. I always helped with the Christmas cookies and the Easter cakes.”
She has practiced her craft all over Sonoma County, from the Downtown Bakery and The Flying Goat in Healdsburg to Whole Foods in Santa Rosa and Plank Coffee in Cloverdale. She launched her baking business, Flour Girl, about 12 years ago after taking a much-needed break.
“A friend asked me to do their wedding cake, and I was terrified, but it turned out great,” she said. “Around 2012, I started to have bake sales in my backyard as a pop-up.”
Right before the pandemic hit last March, Moore was ready to take another break from baking and had planned to start managing the Cloverdale Farmers Market, held from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays in an open lot next to Plank Coffee. But the pandemic forced the market to shut down. It has stayed closed, due to its limited outdoor space.
Instead of packing up her kitchen at the United Church of Cloverdale, Moore dug in and kept baking, and not just for her clients. She and a friend teamed up to create Farm + Flour, a weekly delivery service of their baked goods, vegetables and bouquets, plus other farmers market products.
“My friend Rebecca Bozelli of Lantern Farm called me and said, ‘Hey, why don’t we start doing farm box deliveries?’” she recalled. “I had weddings booked that were postponed, so I said, ‘Sure, let’s do it.’”
“I knew immediately I had to start offering farm boxes to our community, and her baked goods were a perfect match,” Bozelli said. “We never looked back, nor did we have the time to.”
Farm + Flour started up just as the shelter-in-place orders took hold in March 2020. Since then, they have added 25 other vendors, including Preston Farm & Winery, Duncan’s Mushrooms, Franco’s One World Sausage, Abundance Handmade Pasta, Pennyroyal Farm Cheese, Jorin Hawley with her organic sourdough, two olive oil purveyors, Cookies by Carina and pot pie maker High Vibe Pies.
You can buy a farm box from Bozelli, who grows a range of seasonal produce and flowers on the 3 acres she farms. The box also includes other items, such as body care products, cutting boards and felted wool from Plum Blossom Farm.
Moore bakes the same items for the Farm + Flour Box as she would for the farmers market: rustic fruit and vegetable galettes, quiches, cookies, pies and cakes.
Not only has the Cloverdale community supported the farm box program, but several volunteers deliver the boxes along four routes in the city on Tuesday afternoons. Boxes also can be picked up at the lot next to Plank, where the farmers market used to be held.
“It’s not about making money,” Moore said. “We just wanted to support the growers and the community. The profits from Farm + Flour go back into the website.”
You can get a subscription for a farm box of veggies or the farm's bouquets. Moore also has a cookie subscription plan (weekly, biweekly or monthly) and a Pie of the Month program.
Cakes and cookies
Meanwhile, the Flour Girl continues to bake for her private clients, who mainly order her minimalist, sophisticated cakes for special occasions.
“They are adult cakes,” she said. “I have a lot of people who want cakes for their kids, with themes. That’s just not what I do.”
For Mother’s Day, she plans to bake a few of her favorite cakes for Flour Girl fans, including the Lady Grey Cake, which is infused with Earl Grey tea and frosted with a lavender buttercream.
“Cakes seem to be my thing,” she said. “People love them. I like to do small, 6-inch cakes for holidays. ... They are smaller but taller.”
She uses all organic ingredients and bakes in a European style, which is not overly sweet.
“For me, it’s all about the flavor,” Moore said. “I want them to be pretty, but they have to taste good. And I like unusual flavor combinations.”
Her approach to the frosting and other decorative elements is minimalist.
“I don't do much of any piping, I don't work with fondant, and I truly dislike writing on cakes,” she said. “I like to keep things natural and organic, with fresh flowers and greenery, but I also love sparkles.”