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Styling Tips
Five Tips to Elevate your Wedding Cake with Magazine-Worthy Styling

By Sarah Falk for

Sarah Falk, the creative talent behind Sarah's Stands shared a short article with Craftsy on some easy things to keep in mind when setting up your beautiful cake for a photo shoot. Read on…

After spending countless hours creating an ornate, elegant wedding cake, make sure it’s camera ready. Here’s how:

1. Cake Stands Make a Difference
Bridal magazines typically highlight the beautiful wedding cakes on elevated cake stands. The cake stand is the stage on which the wedding cake can take its bow. It is the extravagant stilettos that complete the wedding cake outfit. After you have spent countless hours perfecting your confectionery masterpiece, don’t just plop it on the table. Give your cake the presentation it deserves.
Cake by La Patisserie Chouquette; photo via Squire Fox

2. Cover Up the Cake Board
In the pages of the magazines, each cake is missing a vital component to its structural integrity – the cake stand. Take a page out of the expert’s book and make sure the cake board is well hidden. Having the cake board peek out is like letting the slip of your dress show. Why not incorporate the cake board into the overall design of the cake by using ribbons or icing? Be as creative as you want! Cakes via Cake Designs; photo via Vue Photography

3. Lighting Can Make—or Break—a Cake
While we may not all have a team of magazine professionals who can spend time getting the lighting just right for that perfect cake close-up, lighting is a subtle way to step up the presentation of your wedding cake. If your event is a nighttime affair, candles can be the perfect mood lighting for your cake. A wedding in a grand ballroom may have a spotlight highlighting the cake— just make sure the light isn’t so hot that your cake will melt. Or, if it is a rustic, elegant event in the countryside, simple rays of sunlight streaming through a window can be a picture-perfect touch.
Photo vis the Schultzes

4. Set the Stage With Décor
If you are looking for “wow” factor, cake design won’t end at the cake stand. With the right décor, cakes can go from drab to fab. Take a closer look at that cake photo you love. See the artfully placed cake knife and server? How about that beautiful lace linen draped on the table? All of the elements around the cake should be harmonious with the cake design.

5. Location, Location, Location
Once the décor, cake stand, lighting, and cake board are all perfect, be sure to pay attention to the location of the cake. The background can provide context for the gorgeous cake. Each background allows the viewer to envision the entire wedding through the lens of the cake. What will surround the cake: a funky brick wall, gorgeous drapery, windows? Place your cake table in just the right spot and you will get some killer photos, just like the pros.

Cake by Ashley Cakes

Tutorial: ACD July/August 2014
Joëlle Mahoney’s Garden Plot cake

The many small details Joëlle included in her garden plot cake deserve a closer look. Click on each image for a larger version.

Joëlle Mahoney’s recipes for royal icing and pastillage
There are hundreds of different recipes for pastillage and royal icing, which is why we like to include specific versions for specific uses, such as these two that Joëlle Mahoney used in her “garden plot” cake from the July/August issue.

Royal Icing
Yield: 3 cups of icing

1 lb. confectioner’s sugar (10X) sifted
3 tbsp. meringue powder
6 tbsp. water

1) Combine the sugar and meringue powder in a bowl. Using either a hand held or standing electric mixer, at low speed, slowly add the water, a little at a time.
2) Mix for a full 10 minutes. Do not stop mixing any sooner. This is NOT optional.Once the 10 minutes have passed, the mixture will lose its “wet shine” and peaks will form. Your icing is now ready!

Note: Do not beat your icing mixture at a fast speed. This will only incorporate air into your icing, rendering it weak and brittle. Not the kind of “glue” you want.

(Courtesy Mercedes Strachwsky, Orlando, FL)
1 lb. confectioner’s sugar (10X) sifted
3 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. gelatine
1 tsp. glucose

1) Place sifted sugar in a bowl and make a well in the center.
2) Put water in upper pan of a double boiler. Add the lemon juice and the gelatine and bring to “warm” to “hot” but DO NOT BOIL!
3) Add glucose and continue stirring until well dissolved.
4) Add hot mixture to center well and mix with a wooden spoon slowly incorporating the sugar. Once it forms a dough like mass, continue kneading by hand until soft and pliable.
5) Place the dough in a plastic bag and allow to stand for at least a minimum of one hour, at room temperature, before using.

The Magnificent Steampunk Sugar Art Exposition
Michigan ICES 2014 Sugar Art Exposition
It seems fitting that the home of automated manufacturing should be where the first steampunk-themed cake competition should take place. While we’ve seen various steampunk cakes start popping up in other competitions, this was the first where all entries had to work with this retro-futuristic, alternative history mash up of Industrialism and the Victorian era. Here are some of the top entries from the show. All photos courtesy of Stringer Photography.

Grand Prize: Nisha Fernando, Bloomfield Hills, MI.

First Runner-Up: Kristina Boroff, who also created a steampunkish wedding cake.

Second Runner-Up: Dave Nugent
Candy Knappenberger


Nancy Collard


Amoretti Tasting Challenge
Martha Hebert’s Flirtini

At last month’s National Capitol Area Cake Show, the good folks at Amoretti sponsored a taste challenge. Entrants could choose from four categories—chocolate cake, pound cake, cocktail-inspired cake or “anything goes”—and were required to then use at least two of the following Amoretti flavors: Natural Bacon, Curry Oil, Habanero Hot Pepper, Cheddar Cheese, Jamaican Rum, Mojito, Champagne Concentrate and a mystery flavor, which turned out to be Cherimoya.

Martha Hebert of Sweet Southern Ladies, St. Martinville, LA, won the cocktail category with her take on the Flirtini, the other favorite drink of the Sex and the City ladies.

The Drink:
2 pieces fresh pineapple
1/2 oz Cointreau® orange liqueur
1/2 oz vodka
1 oz pineapple juice
3 oz Champagne

Muddle the pineapple pieces and Cointreau in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add vodka and pineapple juice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top with champagne. Garnish with a cherry, and serve.

Flirtini Champagne Cake
courtesy of Martha Hebert, Sweet Southern Ladies

Cake Ingredients:
3 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter
6 whole eggs
2 cups champagne (cheap)
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons Amoretti Champagne concentrate
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla

In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients.  In another bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time and continue to beat.  Add vanilla. Stir. Add flour mixture and champagne in small amounts alternating each to egg mixture.  Pour into two 9" prepared pans and bake until a knife inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

Filling Ingredients:
2 cans crushed pineapple
2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon Amoretti Pineapple Compound
1/2 teaspoon Mexican vanilla

Cook pineapple and sugar to a boil.  Using a large spoon, take out about 1 cup of juice from pot and put  bowl.  Add cornstarch to bowl and whisk till blended with no lumps.  Add mixture back into pot with pineapple and stir well.  Cook until thick.  Add flavorings and cook for 3 minutes before using.

Butter Cream Ingredients:
1 cup pasteurized egg whites
4 pounds powdered sugar
Mix at medium speed for 5 minutes and add
4 pounds softened butter
1 teaspoon Amoretti Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond emulsion
1/2 butter emulsion
1/2 butter vanilla emulsion

Mix well at medium speed for 10 minutes.

CookieCon 2014
Winners and Highlights
If you’re not familiar with CookieCon—you should be! This year, in addition to the demos and classes, there were five categories judged by popular vote: Anything Goes, Home Sweet Home, Once Upon A Time, Spring, and Mystery Shape. With the exception of Mystery Shape, entries in all of the categories were decorated in advance. The Mystery Shape, in this case a speech balloon, was announced on site and competitors had a few hours to decorate their cookie for judging. Check out the 2014 photo gallery to see how many different interpretations the competitors created—it’s definitely an exercise in creativity! Plus check out additional entiries in all the other categories.

Monica Holbert, First Place, Anything Goes

Barbara Florin, Second Place, Anything Goes

Lynne Schulyler, Third Place, Anything Goes

Kerri Roy, First Place, Home Sweet Home

Karen McCormack, Second Place, Home Sweet Home

Tatiana Khromushina, Third Place, Home Sweet Home


Monica Hobert, First Place, Mystery Shape

Sarah Schottler, Second Place, Mystery Shape

Jeanette Durham, ThirdPlace, Mystery Shape

Jeanette Durham & Laurie Thompson, First Place, Once Upon a Time

Melanie Burns, Second Place, Once Upon a Time

Arlene Pacheco, Third Place, Once Upon a Time

Debora Ferri, First Place, Spring

Laurie Anglen, Second Place, Spring

Karen McCormack, Third Place, Spring

Europain: ACD May/June 14
Highlights from the Mondial des Arts Sucrés
The biennial mixed-team competition produced some exciting designs from each of the participating 16 countries. Each team had to create:
* one chocolate showpiece
* one sugar showpiece
* one pastillage showpiece
* one classic tart “reinvented”
* one entrement garnished with two different flavors
* three chocolate bon-bons—one fruit, one praline and one
chef’s choice.
* one dessert, warm or cold using Grand Marnier, a competition sponsor.

Because we hardly ever get to see pastillage featured, following are some our favorite pieces from the competition, along with the tart each was designed to showcase.

Team Japan

Team Canada

Team Signapore

Tutorial: ACD March/April 14
Tami Utley’s Springerle Sweets
Tami shared two different approaches for painting cookies made with springerle molds, but we didn’t have room to print her preferred springerle dough recipe…so here it is!

500g (17.6oz) cake flour, sifted
50g( 1.7oz) powdered sugar, sifted
4 eggs
1/8 tsp hartshorn (baker’s ammonia)*
1-2 T (14-30ml) kirschwater

1) Slowly beat the eggs until foamy, add powdered sugar a spoonful at a time.  Beat for 10 minutes until lemon colored and eggs thicken. Completely dissolve baker’s ammonia in kirschwater and add to batter, beating another 10 minutes.
2) Mix in the flour a small amount at a time.  The dough will be soft and need to rest in an airtight bowl for 2 hours.
3) Cut off a piece of dough and roll out to ½” thickness – keep remaining dough airtight while working a portion at a time. Dust mold with flour or cornstarch. Press mold into dough, lift mold off and cut out dough. Place cookies on parchment paper sprinkled with anise seeds and let dry 8-24 hours. Important:  Do not skip this drying step, this is to set the design from the mold and keep the detail while baking.
4) Bake in preheated oven at 275 degrees for approx. 20 minutes. Larger cookies bake at 300 degrees.

*Do not eat raw dough when using bakers’ ammonia.

A Taste of the Future
3D printing has finally come to the food arts, with the introductions of the ChefJet, which “prints” custom shapes in sugar and chocolate. Take a look…



Cake Contracts Decoded
In the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of ACD, Elizabeth Marek of Artisan Cake Company in Portland, OR, shared her process for transforming inquiries into paid orders. Two essential pieces are her initial request form and her order form, which also serves as a contract.

“The fact is, most people who order a specialty cake have never done so before and have no idea how the process should flow—especially brides,” explained Elizabeth. “It is your job as the industry professional to set the stage for how the ordering process should go, what the steps are and to be as clear as possible so no questions or miscommunications can happen. Having a clear, understandable contract makes both parties happy. The client knows what to expect, you know what the client wants and everyone is happy with the cake.”

The order form is our contract. I have all the pertinent information in the order form that I need to know as well as disclaimers about the ordering process. I keep my form in an email template so I can easily send it to clients and they can easily send it back to me. 

Download the two page PDF of Elizabeth’s contract here.

I incorporated this basic quote form on my website to help guide the client into providing pertinent information in the first email. This could also be done in the initial part of a phone conversation with a potential client.

Eva Salazar, Makememycake, Aventura, FL

A native of Spain, Eva moved to Miami five years ago and at the same time transformed her love of cake decorating into a business. While she’s thrilled with the transition, she still misses the seasons in her native Spain and this cake was designed as a celebration of spring. “The various shades of green represent everything coming alive again, while the strong color contrast between the greens and the two blossoms make it surprising,” she explained. “I added the corset top and the ruffles to reflect a bit more of my personality.

Milly Almon, Milly’s Sweet Creations, Cleburne, TX

“The client asked for a ‘bouquet’ cake and this is what came to mind,” explained Milly Almon. The purples, pale green and white blossoms and buds serve as supporting players to two large, yellow peonies. The stems are fondant shaped with a silicone mold and wrapped with double-layered purple fondant ribbon


Kelly Smith, Austin, TX

Using a different take on the ombré trend, Kelly Smith designed this cake for the 2012 Austin That Takes the Cake show. “I tried to pick up the colors of a sunrise, transitioning from bright orange to midnight blue and getting all the shades of red and purple in between,” she explained. But it proved more challenging than she anticipated, with the subtle gradations only visible upon closer viewing. “I am completely enamored with henna designs,” she added. “They’re distinctive, graceful, rooted in symbolism and lend themselves very well to cake designs. I used royal icing in contrasting colors for each side of the cake to emphasize the color shift.
PHOTO CREDIT: Adrian Williams


Credits for these designs

Left: Heather Barbery, hbarberycakes AT gmail DOT com

Above: Iris Rezoagli, who was featured in the ACD March/April fashion issue,
irezoagli AT yahoo DOT com

Below left and right: Chef Mary Carmen del Rio, marygonz AT yahoo DOT com

Linda Wolff won the Fabric Effects competition on
Cakes We Bake with this design, which she named
Victorian Elegance. In her own words: "Top tier is brushed embroidery on fondant, second tier is tufted billow weave, third tier is grosgrain ribbon lined with edible pearls,
bottom tier is draped fondant. All is covered in pearl sheen using airbrush. The flowers are made from gumpaste.”

Beverly Brown took second place in the Cakes We Bake Fabric Effects competition with this very personal project: Her daughter's four-tier wedding cake. Her description: “White velvet cake with raspberry filling, fully draped with a 60/40 Ivory fondant-gumpaste blend and decorated with champagne roses, hygrangea sprays and Christmas roses - all heavily "blinged" with rainbow disco dust so they really sparkled!”

Angie Swearengin

Elena K. Holloway, Holloway's Bakery, Inc., Laredo, Texas

Elena K. Holloway, Holloway's Bakery, Inc., Laredo, Texas

John Penn, Seaford, NY

Chef Joseph Cumm, York, PA

Megan Moran

Rene Geissler

Daniela Moreas


Andria Chinander, Lund Food Holdings (Byerly's), Edina, MN Winner of the 17th annual IDDBA Cake Decorating Challenge


Golden Wedding Anniversary Cake
Submitted by Roseann Filosa Atkins
The Decorated Dessert, Inc.
Long Island, New York
Member Guild of Baking and Pastry Arts

"Bling" by Jose Rodriguez

Greta Sparks – 1st place in the Professional Bridal
Category and Best in Show at Kentucky State Fair 2012


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