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New bakery serves up Southern sweets
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Laughing Elephant Bakery owner Kathleen Stockham, right, shares a sample of some fresh cornbread with customer Lynne Franklin Monday at the business in downtown Cumming. - photo by Jim Dean
It’s all fun and jokes at the Laughing Elephant Southern Bakery ... until it comes down to the cooking.

Co-owner Kathleen Stockham’s true Southern cooking is just about the only serious part of the business, which opened Monday in downtown Cumming.

If you’re looking for a low-fat or sugar-free dessert, the Laughing Elephant is not your cup of tea.

Stockham uses thick buttermilk, real sugar and lots of butter, “all the stuff you’re not supposed to have.”

“I have a cake called chocolate density,” she said. “It’s a cake recipe my grandmother had. It’s two and a half pounds. It’s like picking up a chocolate brick.”

Stockham said she also makes a “pretty awesome” pecan pie, death by vanilla cake, doughnuts and an Elvis cake.

“Everybody seems to love it,” she said. “It’s made up of all the things Elvis loved. Peanut butter, bananas and chocolate.”

Bakery co-owner and husband Dan Stockham has enjoyed his wife’s cooking throughout their 12-year marriage. But until Monday, he’s been one of the select few, as cooking has long been her passion, but never a career.

A former technology executive, Kathleen Stockham started out in the corporate world, climbing her way up the ladder for 15 years. Baking, she said, was only a “hobby and a way to process my stress.”

While cooking has only recently became a profession, it’s not something she randomly chose.

“I come from a very long line of outstanding Southern bakers,” she said. “I remember watching my grandmother make homemade pound cakes. The ones that take four or five sticks of butter.

“Happiness for me is the kind of recipe that takes five, six, seven hours. I know I’m crazy, but I love it.”
The decision for change was made in April, when Stockham celebrated her 40th birthday.

Stockham said she was “ready to take a turn and do something else,” to allow her to spend more time with her children, Carson and Logan.

The opportunity to run a “mom and pop” bakery with her husband has been almost too much fun to be called “work.”
“We’re a perfect match for each other. We’re alike in so many ways, but ... we have a nice balance,” she said.

“We both have our strengths and weaknesses,” Dan Stockham said. “We’ve worked very well together in other projects and we complement each other very well.”

Dan Stockham said they weren’t sure what kind of crowd to expect.

“We just started putting together a business plan and it started snowballing,” he said of the bakery, named after his wife’s love of elephants.

“So far it’s been great ... the response has been that people have been waiting for a bakery in this area.”

Kathleen Stockham described her husband as the “brains behind the operation.”

“I’m just the person behind the mixer,” she said, adding she also designed the bakery’s Web site, which allows customers to order online.

While the bakery is a place for locals to pick up homemade Southern treats to take home, the Stockhams want to make sure their bakery also is a café-style destination.

Between a dining room, couches and chairs, the bakery can hold up to 26 people. It is also Wi-Fi enabled and has satellite television.

There’s also an “ugly mug wall,” where customers can leave their coffee mugs. The mugs are washed and then await the customers to return. Stockham said it’s better for the environment, and encourages more patrons to come and stay for coffee and a snack.

“We want to encourage people not to take our product and go home, but to come in and sit down,” she said.