J: I started to bake at a very early age, probably around 8 or 9 years old. I loved entering baking contests and usually managed to secure at least 3rd place. I really started to decorate when I was married and had our first child. It was cheaper to make the cake we wanted for events and birthday parties and decorate it the way we wanted.
S&SC: Who taught you how to decorate?
J: A lot of what I do is self-taught, but when I was younger and a Brownie Leader I went to the conventions and they usually had seminars and classes on various subjects and I took a couple of cake decorating classes there.
S&SC: Any funny cake disasters you’d like to share?
J: Not so much a disaster, funny non the less, was the first time I actually did a cake for a co-worker for payment. It was a beautiful and intricate three layer cake. The shape was square and she wanted it on pillars. The wedding was held downtown at U of T. Well I had never made and delivered such a big cake before and at the time hadn’t figured out how to transport something so fragile. I completed the cake and my husband and I drove down on the Saturday afternoon to the address they gave…with me sitting in the back seat holding this huge cake on my lap…constantly telling Bryan to slow down…don’t take the corner so fast.. and lots of “oh dears” and oh my gods! We made it there and I had to carry this cake all the way around the back, up some old rickety stairs and through the kitchen to the hall, where at last I was able to set it down. I certainly earned my money and learned some very valuable lessons!
J: I guess my favourite cake is the wedding cake I made for my daughter’s best friend. It was a four layer (actually would be made up of 8 layers of cake). We decorated it with butter cream icing covered in white and pink fondant. There were pink ribbons around each of three layers and the pink layer was dotted with white icing. Roses were placed strategically on the cake and she topped it with a sweet bride and groom. It was simple and elegant and she was just thrilled.
S&SC: Do you find shows like Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes helpful to learn tricks and techniques?
J: Absolutely!! I love watching Cake Boss.I learn a lot of tricks and ideas and have actually used some of them when decorating.
S&SC: What is the secret to keeping cakes moist?
J: The right recipe. You try different ones and when you find one that turns out 98% of the time that is the one you stick with; not over mixing is a big key to having a light and moist cake, if you over mix it can become heavy; and of course not under baking or over baking it. All these things are learned over many years and many failures.
S&SC:How long does it usually take to decorate a cake?
It really depends on the cake. A simple two layer cake for a kids birthday party or such usually takes about a hour to an hour and half. A wedding cake can take up to 4 hours or more. It is all based on the details and how complicated the design for the cake is. I had to make a red and black shoe for a friends Mom’s birthday cake..this had to be started the night before and completed the day of. It was all made out of gum paste, so completely edible.
S&SC: What’s your favorite flavor of cake/icing?
J: My personal favourite cake is just your good ol’ fashioned French Vanilla and for the icing I love almond flavor or a nice hint of lemon or orange.
Are you a Cake Boss fan too? Meet Buddy Valastro in Toronto on Nov 10th, 2010!