Tis’ the season for baking and indulging in hand-crafted desserts! From fresh fruit tarts to cakes the size of a small table, Nichole’s Fine Pastry & Café has got it all.
Nichole Hensen, chef and founder of Nichole’s Fine Pastry & Café is our next feature in the Fall Parade of Homes: Cooks in their Kitchen series.
Picture this: when first walking into the charming downtown café, an aroma of delicious snacks envelopes you. Then your eyes feast on the goodies themselves, displayed proudly in a glass case, waiting to find their forever home with you. Laughter fills the air as people meet with friends for a cup of coffee and a sweet treat.
That’s what we experienced, and our sugar high continued as we sat down with Nichole to learn more about how she got started and what her dream kitchen looks like.
Where did your interest in baking begin?
“I actually worked at a deli when I was pursuing my business degree at the University of North Dakota, and that’s when I got very interested in baking. I was also in the accounting club and we went on a trip to Paris where I had this fresh fruit tart, and I loved it. I thought it was so good.”
“I followed my culinary interests to Alaska where I was working at a remote fly-fishing lodge and then attended the Culinary Institute of America Greystone in California, and ultimately moved back to Fargo after accepting a position at VIP Room.”
In January of 2003, it was all business and baking as she established Nichole’s Fine Pastry & Café.
What would your dream kitchen look like?
“I like it very low-key, very minimal and an open-concept design. I would want to have windows, for sunlight to shine through, and so you can see outside when you’re cooking.
“I’d want there to be access to the outside, right from the kitchen. It’d be nice to have a little bar or island area as well, to feed friends and family.
“I really like cherry oak and dark cabinets, subway tile and white marble.
“I’d want four gas burners, an electric oven, and I’ve always wanted an outdoor stone pizza oven.”
What do you love about cooking in your kitchen at home?
“I am often doing the business side of things here, so I like to cook dinner at home. A lot of people go out to eat nowadays, but I like to make use of the food I have at home. I just like to go in the kitchen and dream up something and kind of create whatever I want from what I have. It’s fun to cook at home with friends and family. The kitchen brings people together.”
What is the most elaborate cake or treat you’ve ever baked?
“Earlier this year I made a wedding cake that was 30 inches wide and 36 inches tall. It was the biggest cake I’ve ever made. We had to put it together at the venue, because it was too risky to drive with it being so tall.”
We know you like to be creative, tell us about a time you had to use your creativity to complete an order?
“I think it was maybe ten years ago: I was asked to make 150 square cakes with fondant and a bow on each one. It’s easy to make 150 square cakes, but it’s the timing that’s difficult. You have to make them all in one day. You can’t stop and then resume the next day. Another odd request I had that’s more recent was to make a black wedding cake. I’d never made a black wedding cake before.”
Need more space to create the treats of your dreams? Get inspired at the Fall Parade of Homes & Remodeled Home Tour during its final weekend Oct. 5 -6! Find details at paradefm.com