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Late Night Cake

North Liberty local bakes her way to success
Tara McMorris, the creative mind behind The Late Night Cake Company, works up another batch in her North Liberty kitchen. McMorris recently left the real estate world to focus on her home bakery full time, and relies on word of mouth and Facebook for all her marketing and customer communication. (photo by Megan Lehman)

NORTH LIBERTY– Everyone needs their own method of escape. For Tara McMorris, the creative mind behind North Liberty bakery, The Late Night Cake Company, baking became that escape.
After having her third and youngest child, McMorris suffered from severe post partum depression resulting in an endless strain of insomnia. With a colicky young baby and the inability to sleep, McMorris often found herself awake into the early hours of the morning. What did she fill this time with? Marathons of the TLC hit show, Cake Boss.
“I was always intrigued by the cakes and what they were doing,” McMorris says of the famous bakery team.
Before starting her culinary adventure, Tara McMorris attended the University of Iowa where she majored in English and Journalism with a minor in Communications. And before jumping into her business, McMorris worked for multiple financial institutions in the corridor in their real estate departments.
While her chosen career path may seem a far cry from what she studied at the University, the decision to start a baking company was even more surprising.
“The running joke is that I’m the least domestic wife he could ever have,” McMorris laughs.
With a career in real estate keeping her in the office for up to 65 hours a week, McMorris’s husband, Paul McMorris, found himself doing most of the cooking.
In addition to a hectic work schedule, Tara was also baking and selling her cakes. “I’d often work late, come home, bake ‘till 3 a.m., and then get up at 6 and head to a class at the gym. There was very little, if any, down time.”
Cooking was not the only thing McMorris was missing out on. Her work schedule often kept her from attending different events for her children. Realizing she was missing these precious moments with her family, McMorris decided it was time to make a change. It was time to step away from the world of real estate and take on The Late Night Cake Company full time.
“We sat down and crunched the numbers. We knew we would be giving up a lot by doing this, but being around for them was much more important,” McMorris said.
And with the decision made, McMorris got down to work and has been baking ever since. During the day, her kitchen serves as the food hub for her family. But come the late hours of the night, her kitchen becomes the backdrop for all of The Late Night Cake Company’s creations.
Despite her current culinary success, baking was not something McMorris ever imagined herself doing. “I baked with my mom, but that was about it,” Tara aid of her jump into this new endeavor.
With a couple dozen flavors to pick from, every sweet tooth can be satisfied by the work of The Late Night Cake Company. Some of the flavors include the traditional chocolate and vanilla, but also extend to chocolate mint, chocolate peanut butter, s’mores, tres leches and chocolate chip cookie dough to name a few.
“Most of my flavors started with my basic vanilla. As I got going I realized I could add strawberries to this or pineapple to that,” McMorris stated.
And the list just keeps growing. Despite the wide variety of choices, the most popular flavors remain vanilla, chocolate and almond vanilla.To push her cakes over the top, Tara also offers choices of sprinkles, fondant accents, chocolate drip, edible images and almost any filling you can imagine.
McMorris relies on word of mouth and Facebook for all her marketing and customer communication.
“Most of my orders come in through Facebook, which is my favorite part because I’m able to respond at all hours of the day or night. Sometimes it’s when I can’t sleep, sometimes it’s when I’m sitting in my car waiting to pick up kids from school. Plus it’s nice to have it all in writing to refer back to as needed,” McMorris explains.
The most challenging cake to date was Mario Kart themed. Having to sculpt each famously known character by hand proved a much large and time-consuming task than originally thought.
“It was a good week of me coming home and sculpting for hours. By the end, it was probably about 30 hours of work.”
And some of the most popular themed requests are that of the Disney animated movies, Frozen and Trolls.
This one-woman baking dynamo has certainly taken North Liberty by storm. Find more information about The Late Night Cake Company by visiting her Facebook page.