By Kasey Jones
When Carol Rouse was a little girl, her mother would buy the ingredients to make margarine and allow Carol and her twin sister, Donna, to mix the ingredients. Rouse traces her love for doing things in the kitchen to those younger days. She quickly progressed from mixing coloring with white lard, to make it look like butter, to baking cakes and other sweets.
Carol and Donna were born in
When they were 8 or 9, they moved with their parents to Danville, Ill. Fort
Lauderdale, Fla., where they grew
up and later attended .
After graduating from high school, they moved to Fort
Lauderdale High School Nashville
where they went to . Trevecca
Throughout the years, Carol and Donna have remained close in contact, if not proximity. “When we lived apart, anytime a certain amount of time went by, if we hadn’t heard from each other, we were trying to get hold of each other,” says Rouse. “We would try to keep in touch. Donna felt the same way. You just get busy with your jobs and your husbands, and you kind of forget to call, but we never did. We always kept in touch. Our older sister is more on her own, you know, because she’s older. But there’s just a connection when there’s a twin.”
When Donna moved to
Carol followed, moving to Asheville.
Rouse later moved to Jonesborough, where she and her husband had found a house.
“When we moved here,” says Rouse, “we told Donna about it and she said that she wanted to come back up where the mountains are, because she was down in
taking care of our mother, who wasn’t doing well and needed help. She’s since
passed away. Donna wanted to come back to where the mountains were, so we said,
‘Come on up. We’ve got a place for you.’ ”
Rouse fell in love with Jonesborough and the Jonesborough Farmers Market. “We love historic Jonesborough,” she says. “It’s just beautiful and it’s quaint. We love the street that the market is on. There’s no other market that is on a street like this — not close around here. I know
Johnson City isn’t like
The Jonesborough Farmers Market, however, is not Rouse’s first experience working in a market. “I got started doing Farmers Markets and craft shows about 20 years ago in
says. “My sister and I – our older sister – did markets and crafts shows, so
Donna and I went in to help her. We also made cakes and things like that to
sell along with her. We got started here because of our experience and being
involved down in Fort
Lauderdale, Fla. Florida.”
Although Rouse has been baking under the name Carol’s Cakes for about three years, she has been running a baking business for nearly 20 years. Carol and Donna do the baking in Carol’s kitchen. While they enjoy baking together, their baking is very much a business.
Rouse’s primary product is cake, which she loves. Many of the cakes that Rouse makes and sells come from her family’s recipes. “I love cake. There are so many good cakes out there,” says Rouse. “We had a lot of them in our family recipes that we’ve sold over the years. And I thought, ‘This is a good thing and I like that. I like Carol’s Cakes.’ ”
In addition to the cakes, Rouse and her twin also sell cookies, cinnamon rolls (which their mother used to make for them with leftover pie dough), old-fashioned whoopee pies and muffins. While they make and sell the more traditional cookies, such as peanut butter, chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin, they also offer the more unusual breakfast cookies, made with bacon, cornflakes and raisins.
“We just started using the bacon in the breakfast cookies, since that’s kind of the craze right now,” says Rouse. “This is something that I got myself. [My mother] didn’t make these, but I found the recipe for that in the newspaper, no less, and I thought, ‘Hm, this looks good, so I think I’ll try it.’ Everybody loves it.”
Rouse not only sells muffins at the farmers market, she also sells muffins to the General Store in downtown Jonesborough. They buy a different variety of muffins each week,” says Rouse. “They order them pretty regularly every week. We sell chocolate chip muffins, pumpkin muffins, blueberry muffins, strawberry muffins and banana nut muffins. That’s just about the extent of it.”
She is working on creating a website through which she hopes to expand her business. Additionally, she sells her products through the Jonesborough Farmers Market’s online store during the market’s off-season.
Carol’s Cakes also offers gluten-free products in addition to wheat-based products. In their gluten-free products, the bakers use flour made from garbanzo beans, potato starch, tapioca, white sorghum and fava beans.
“There’s been a call for [gluten-free] more and more,” says Rouse. “I’m probably going to branch out and do some gluten-free muffins. I have the gluten-free red velvet cake, and I’m probably going to make another cake with the gluten-free flour.”
Regardless of what she is baking, Rouse maintains a high quality for each of her baked goods. “We wouldn’t sell it if we didn’t like it or we didn’t think that it tasted good,” she says. “That’s our mindset on it.”