It is surreal for us to announce that we’ve won the Golden Tier Awards wedding cake of the year award, amongst such prestigious competition and talent, Maggie Austin Cake and Sweet Love Cake Couture. We didn’t expect it at all. It was an honor to be a finalist. Thank you so much to those in the industry that nominated us and to Rebekah Naomi Wilbur, who worked so hard contributing to this show on behalf of American Cake Decorating magazine, and to Lisa Mansour.
The awards show is a world-wide industry-specific gala, similar to the Oscars, but for cake. There are only two major awards shows in the cake industry, the Cake Masters’ Awards in England, which we were finalists in 2015 for wedding cake design category, and this one, The Golden Tier Awards in New York, New York. I am honored to have won in the first year of this major awards show. We didn’t ask for any nominations, so I am honored to have been nominated by other cake artists in the industry. I also thank all of the judges: Sylvia Weinstock, Mike McCarey, Chef Nicholas Lodge, Colette Peters, Ron Ben- Israel, Kerry Vincent, Eddie Spence M.B.E., Chef Sherry Yard, and Lisa Mansour for all of their time and dedication to the judging process.
Many people have asked which cake won. There wasn’t one specific winning cake, even though the award is worded this way. Since the judges combed everything that we had ever released on the website and on all social media, it is collectively about past portfolio work, overall aesthetic, the work completed in the past calendar year, and the ten cakes that I submitted to them that I thought represented our aesthetic best. So, the award is essentially international wedding cake artist of the year, but wedding cake of the year is fine by me!
This is very much a shared award. As many of you know I work on all of the sugar flowers together with my mother. She is not the type of person to stand in front of a crowd beside me, but she should be. We wouldn’t be where we are without her, and I’m forever thankful. Without her meticulous attention and appreciation to detail, vision, and talent, we would have never learned the true meaning of craft and the importance of executing work cleanly. We’ve built on that over the years, and it’s truly made all the difference. She deserves every bit of praise we get as a team and then some. I love you.
Deron, my fiancé, who I’ve been with for ten years, I love you. You work yourself to the bone on all of these cakes. I could never express in words how supportive you are and how much effort that you put into these cakes. You’re so talented. I’m touched by how much seeing me win this award meant to you.
To my dad, who contributes his many talents and support to our cakes, I am so appreciative and thankful. This was an unforgettable trip. We love you so much.
I also have to thank Natasha Raichel Photography for her beautiful images. The cakes exist on site temporarily, but they need documentation to live on forever. You’re an endlessly supportive friend. I’ve learned so much from you. You inspire me.
Lastly, I want to say that if I could be standing in front of a group of such prestigious peers and judges, with no employees and no interns, just me and three, sometimes four other people, then truly, anything is possible. After many years of continuous and often very extreme and isolating hard work, this has been an indescribable and unbelievable experience. I am so honored to represent Kentucky and all of my brides and clients, who’ve given and allowed me to do so much. Thank you.
2017 WINNERS I Golden Tier Awards :
BEST DESSERT BLOG- 🏆 SUZANNE BRADY - Cove Cake Design
RISING STAR AWARD – 🏆 Laura Saporiti SugarLand
BAKERY OF THE YEAR – 🏆 Růže Cake House
MASTER CHOCOLATIER AWARD – 🏆 Gerhard Petzl
ALBERT KUMIN EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR AWARD – 🏆 Chef Nicholas Lodge
CAKE ARTIST OF THE YEAR – 🏆 Chef Benny Rivera
AMERICAN CAKE DECORATING MAGAZINE PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD- 🏆 Tartas Imposibles by Isabel Tamargo
SPENCE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN ROYAL ICING – 🏆 Manuela Taddeo
COLLABORATION AWARD – 🏆 AZZURRA CUOMO – ITALIAN SUGAR DREAM COLLABORATION
OUTSTANDING PRODUCT OF THE YEAR AWARD – Laped Italia PASTE
WEDDING CAKE OF THE YEAR- 🏆 ALEX NARRAMORE – The Mischief Maker
PASTRY CHEF OF THE YEAR – 🏆 Johnny Iuzzini
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD- 🏆 Eddie Spence MBE
For Madison’s sugar flower graduation cake, we wanted to do something that communicated her personality: bold, fun, and outgoing. A bright floral arrangement seemed appropriate, so a variety of peonies in pinks, fuschias, and reds came to mind. We also wanted the arrangement to have an additional burst of energy, so we utilized sugar kumquats to provide the perfect sun-kissed, citrus element. The kumquats, along with some of the peonies, were new to us. We’re very pleased with how they turned out and the level of realism we were able to achieve. As always, every item was hand colored, much like a painting. To make the bright floral arrangement pop even more, we bordered the tiers with black and white scallops, which provided a perfect backdrop for the explosive and fluffy sugar peonies, peony buds, and fruit.
Propped against the bottom tier is an all edible, sugar stationary with Madison’s monogram and a bow incorporated into the design. The stationary was designed by our wonderful graphic design connection, Justin Howell. He created the design especially for Madison to incorporate her requests for both the monogram and bow.
Grounding the overall design are several loose sugar kumquats strewn across the tabletop, as if they have naturally fallen from their branches, one by one. This cake explored color, texture, and a cohesive mixture of matte and shiny finishes.
I hope this is the preppy cake that Madison wanted! I think it captures the essence in a relaxed and refreshing new way. I don’t usually do monogram cakes, but I find that incorporating monograms subtly, like this customized stationary, or custom designed, for use in some of our wedding cake designs, can be a personal touch that aligns with the client’s wishes for monogram incorporation. This one is the perfect graphic touch.
We have some exciting news! Last week, I received a phone call informing us that we were one of three finalists in the wedding cake category for the first year of the Golden Tier Awards. The awards show is industry specific, similar to the Oscars, but for cake. There are only two major awards shows in the cake industry, the Cake Masters’ Awards in England, which we were finalists in 2015 for wedding cake design category, and this one, The Golden Tier Awards in New York, New York. I am honored to be involved in the first year of this major awards show for cake based in the United States. We didn’t ask for any nominations, so I am thrilled to have been nominated by other cake artists in the industry.
Being top 3 internationally for wedding cake designers this year is an absolute honor. Hearing the feedback from some of these judges about our sugar flowers and cakes was surreal. I will cherish those compliments forever. There were nearly 200 semi-finalists. I am told that the judging process was rigorous; so rigorous that they almost lost a few judges along the way, as some spent 20 plus hours judging this category. We look forward to attending the awards ceremony, which is a black tie event in NYC on June 10th. I had no idea who the judges were for this category, but I was floored when I heard the list. The judges were: Sylvia Weinstock, Mike McCarey, Chef Nicholas Lodge, Colette Peters, Ron Ben- Israel, Kerry Vincent, Eddie Spence M.B.E., Chef Sherry Yard, and Lisa Mansour. Mom and I both said we are glad we were oblivious to the judging panel, as it would have been very nerve-wracking. To have our work in the hands of many pioneers and leaders in this industry will be forever memorable. To be a finalist among such talent is an honor in itself.
I am honored and thank those in the cake industry who nominated us and the judges for all of their time. I also thank all of my wonderful clients. You are the reason these cakes exist, and I’ve loved designing them for you. Your openness to design and creativity never cease to amaze me. I am blown away by how different each of you has been. Your small nuances in personality influence the direction of the designs. That’s why I retire each design after it’s been made, because they belong to you and no one else. I am honored to have been part of your lives and I hope I’ve been able to communicate aspects of your personalities visually that words cannot. Thank you so much to everyone, including all that follow our work and support us!
The perfect birthday gift to herself, Leslie’s bright and happy sugar flower cake could brighten anyone’s day and would be just as well suited at a wedding, It could have easily been a perfect Kentucky wedding cake. By utilizing bold colors contrasted with black and white stripes, this beatific cake offers something uplifting to see in your feeds. To achieve such intense color and saturation in sugar flowers is no easy feat. But from the hyper realistic finishes of the sugar anemones, peonies, cabbage roses, roses, ranunculus, and berries to our new additions of parrot tulips and craspedia/Billy balls, we are thrilled with both the cake results and the photos. Photographed in the garden at home, in Whitesburg, Kentucky, we wanted to experiment more with how the sugar flowers looked when taken into what would be their natural environment, the garden, and we threw in a few studio images for good measure. As a finishing touch, we planted sparkler candles among the sugar flowers, which seemed appropriate since Leslie went on a Vegas birthday trip the following day.
Featured in the latest issue of American Cake Decorating magazine. Positioned before a deep purple background, this emerald inspired cake truly stands out. The concept for this cake is inspired by naturally occurring metallic colors and marvels found in nature. To contend with these natural marvels, other elements in the design have been dramatized in the spirit of fantasy, exoticism, and escapism. African elements intermingle with French mouldings and design motifs, for an unlikely scene and fresh juxtaposition. By highlighting some of the beautiful natural elements found in Africa and in setting them in a European base, an evocation of travel is achieved. A visual representation of the sensation of achieving unfamiliar knowledge through world travels and returning back home again, to achieve one whole, newly blended self.
To fully encompass the emerald concept, the inset emeralds on the second tier were accompanied by a surrealist vision of gilded African olive branches, which were spotted with African olives made of edible isomalt emeralds. These branch arrangements on the third and fourth tiers converge on a delicately strung isomalt emerald. Found amongst the three-dimensional sugar emerald olives and the African olive branches are small olive blossoms of golden sugar, the center of each includes handmade sugar stamens tipped with black edible pollen.
Not to be a one note, or one color, exhibition of sugar work, the cake is not limited to only emerald gems. Instead, both gilded and jewel encrusted sugar figs are incorporated throughout the arrangement, which mimic the teardrop shape of the hanging emeralds. Since unripe figs have hard green exteriors and pulpy red centers, we tiled individual beads of isomalt emeralds, red beryl (also known as red emeralds), and isomalt diamonds to coat each gem encrusted sugar fig. Each bead had to be painstakingly made by hand before application to the sugar figs could even begin. Miniaturized gems were also applied along the back of the black caterpillar you see atop one of the gem encrusted sugar figs, nestled along the base of the cake. However, the diminutive caterpillar was not the only sugar figure on this emerald cake.
The crown jewel of this cake, or should we say crown bird, is the painstakingly hand sculpted sugar emerald starling. As a bird native to Africa, the emerald starling subsists partially on figs, which could be why our sugar emerald starling seemed rather cozy with one of our gem encrusted sugar figs. To bring the exotic avian to life, each individual feather was hand cut and veined before being applied to the all sugar sculpture. To allow the bird to stand on its own two legs, the bird sculpt had to be secured on a special structure that elevates both the bird’s body and tail off the surface of the cake. Lastly, hand painting allowed us to bring the sugar emerald starling to life, in all its metallic splendor.
In addition to the sugar emerald starling, jeweled figs, gold sugar flowers and foliage, sugar marble berries offered the cake another metallic element. Like emeralds, figs, and emerald starlings, marble berries can be found in Africa. Composed of shades of blue, green, purple, and more, marble berries are the brightest biological substance in nature, and their brilliant metallic color comes not from a pigment, but from specialized structures in the cells of the fruit itself, much like the feathers of a peacock.
Opting for black fondant allowed the cake and backdrop to exude an air of fantasy and escapism that they would have been otherwise unable to convey had the tiers been white. By darkening the overall scene, the black cake pushed the edible isomalt emeralds and other sugar details forward visually and allowed them to stand on their own, uninterrupted by stark infusions of white. When all of these edible design elements come together with the purple background to form a cohesive color palate, the resulting cake is an ocular feast befitting any romanticist’s dreams.
We thank you for taking the time to read the full descriptions of our conceptual cake designs. They give insight and explanation behind all of our cake designs, and are vital to the overall understanding of our pieces.
Images by Natasha Raichel Photography.
Tori and Nick’s sugar flower wedding cake at Berry Hill Mansion in Frankfort, Kentucky. Evoking the spirit of Spring, this cake’s color palette felt perfectly in place as it drove to its venue, past flowering purple plants, beneath red bud trees, and along rows upon rows of lime green foliage. Cloaked in light purple fondant and grounded in stunning gold architectural moulding, the cake was enveloped in a flourishing sugar flower cascade, which included white peonies, sweet peas in shades of purple and blush, delicately crafted green viburnum, and lavender all of which grew up and over the striking background the fondant and moulding provided. The sugar flowers had many wedding guests questioning whether the sugar blooms were real flowers.
No fewer than eight shades of French macarons were dyed in shades of purple, blush, and green, to give a playful and inviting mix to the delectable bite size desserts. The antique gold serving pieces complimented the historic architecture of the venue, while elevating the lighter color palette with regal and Parisian flair. The dark, wood molding and trim encasing the venue’s stunning, natural-light emitting windows offered a beautiful, well lit backdrop for the cake.
Post Production by Natasha Raichel Photography.
Proving dark navy blues and blacks are a divine color match, the elements of these cakes coalesce to evoke a transcendental fantasy. Accompanied by a pair of matching chandelier cakes and bathed in their candlelight, our bas-relief cake evokes a feeling of breathtaking opulence. While the flames of the two domed, Orthodox cathedral inspired cakes place a spotlight on the striking facets of the central cake’s sugar bas-relief, they also bring a fantastical drama all their own. From the edible isomalt rubies and sapphires embedded within the brass chandelier details to the ceremonial drip candles held up by sugar adorned arms lodged in the tiers of the cakes to the brass featured throughout the design, the accent cakes stand grand and emit a sacred majesty befitting the 14th to 17th century Byzantine era that partially inspired the collection. A wedding is a holy affair, so the collective mood for this mock reception, along with the featured trio of wedding cakes, is equal parts sacred and dramatic.
The crown jewel of the entire display is the sugar Victoria Crowned Pigeon, which receives its name from English Monarch Queen Victoria. Hailing from New Guinea, the exotic bird illustrates the natural beauty that comes from the complimentary combination of blue and black and provides an exotic, yet regal element that would have been at home in traditional sugar work and begs to be carried over into modern day.
In order to incorporate characteristics of the central cake into the accent cakes, the sapphires were selected to reflect the deep blue of the sugar-sculpted Victoria Crowned Pigeon’s plumage, the rubies mimic the red of the bird’s irises, and the surreal tiled feathers atop the domes work as a callback to the bird’s own tiled feather details, while adding an additional architectural component that harken back to not only the exterior architecture of Orthodox monasteries, such as the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, but also to the ostentatious, sugar art pieces of the royal courts of Henry VI in 1429, Elizabeth I in 1582, and Louis XIV and James II in the 1600s that found similar inspiration in the natural, dramatic, extravagant, and exotic. In fact, sugar art dates back to around 4000 B.C. Papua New Guinea, home of the Victoria Crowned Pigeon, and 3500 B.C. Egypt and reached their zenith in the European monarchies of the Late Medieval Period and beyond, culminating in the beautiful sugar work created today.
Also inspired by the haunting, romantic chamber music composed by the likes of Thomas Tallis and other early European greats, the feel of the music inspired achieving a visual, rather than musical, representation of solemn mood. The use of candles on the accent cakes was designed to emulate the sacred ritual that candles play in ceremonies, which is why we opted for traditional drip candles. While the candles dripped on the tier below, they gave a level of theatricality that non-drip candles would not. To alleviate the spread of wax, regular candles could be utilized instead.
The cakes are a sample of a larger styled wedding shoot with Natasha Raichel Photography, originally completed in May 2016.
Big news! I am excited to announce that I will, very nervously, be teaching my very first class, “How to Design with Sugar Flowers”, at The Americas Cake Fair in Orlando, Florida this October! I’m truly honored to be asked to instruct. Check out the link below if you’re interested in signing up! I would love to have you!!!
Class Description: Alex Narramore of The Mischief Maker demonstrates the dangers associated with decorating cakes with fresh flowers, the benefits of using sugar flowers instead, and how to take a sugar flower cake from a sketch to the centerpiece of any venue.
Guys! I am so excited to share the news! Kentucky Bride Magazine asked me to give them a peek behind the scenes and interview recently! I am thrilled and shocked to see that we have a four-page spread! So, excited!!! 🤗 ! Thank you as always to Natasha Raichel who provides such beautiful cake images always! Here’s a video sneak peak, make sure you get the issue in your local stores or here at:
PS. : Kentucky Bride, your tissue wrapping is adorable. 😍
PPS: Melanie Veneracion Parker, Ashley Watts, Andrea Blackburn, Tessa Hardin, Jemma Domenica Gayheart, Jennifer Noble Jones, Kristian Goli Jones all of your cakes are in or are mentioned in the issue!
Melanie and Solomon’s dessert table and fresh floral display at Butchertown Pointe in Louisville, Kentucky. The black dessert table perfectly complimented the black gridded lines of the windows. Placed against the natural light provided by the wall-to-wall windows, the flower arrangements on the table appeared to be floating in their tall glass vases and matched the accompanying sugar flowers splendidly. We originally intended to have the flowers of the dessert display be an exact mirror of the sugar flowers used on the cake, but, as always, you can’t demand what you want from fresh flowers like you can from sugar. We chose very organic flowers, including celosia, ranunculus, and white peonies, to contrast the contemporary, slender vases. The separated clustering of individual flowers in their own respective vases allowed each flower to shine in its own right.
As for accompanying desserts, we offered two options for wedding guests to indulge in. First, we provided gilded trays of white buttermilk cake truffles, covered in tempered Lindt white chocolate—NOT candy melts—and topped with a piece of 23 carat gold leaf. Second, but never least, we served custom-dyed macarons to match the cake. The antique gold serving pieces went a long way in giving the contemporary venue and dessert display some contrast.
Also featured in these images is the sugar flower wedding cake for the same event at Butchertown Pointe in Louisville,Kentucky. Partially inspired by a photograph taken of lively, beautiful flowers and partly from the color of a sash on an Elie Saab dress, the cake’s slight patina green shade of fondant was enveloped in a cascading variety of fall inspired sugar flowers. Three varieties of sugar dahlias, including ball dahlias and October Sky dahlias, formed the base of the arrangement, while eucalyptus, orange and white ranunculus, and silver brunia rounded out the design. The vibrant oranges and yellows along with the muted dark peach and coral colors popped against the pale eucalyptus toned backdrop, as the white sugar ball dahlias and ranunculus balanced the design and completed the interconnected puzzle of an arrangement.
Also mimicking the color of the Elie Saab sash was the custom cake table linen, the structure of which was assembled similarly to a haute couture gown. The texture of the linen was complimentary to the industrial space, and we strived for the over-the-top, structured, billowing, glamorous shape of the linen to contrast with the industrial style of the venue. The orange accents of the venue itself and the exposed piping and beams worked well with the cake and dessert tablescape’s autumnal aesthetic. All of these images were captured beautifully by Natasha Raichel Photography.
Melanie and Solomon’s sugar flower wedding cake at Butchertown Pointe in Louisville, Kentucky. Partially inspired by a photograph taken of lively, beautiful flowers and partly from the color of a sash on an Elie Saab dress, the cake’s slight patina green shade of fondant was enveloped in a cascading variety of fall inspired sugar flowers. Three varieties of sugar dahlias, including sugar Ball Dahlias and sugar October Sky dahlias, formed the base of the arrangement, while eucalyptus, orange and white Ranunculus, and Silver Brunia rounded out the design. The vibrant oranges and yellows along with the muted dark peach and coral colors popped against the pale eucalyptus toned backdrop, as the white sugar ball dahlias and ranunculus balanced the design and completed the interconnected puzzle of an arrangement.
Opulent metallic gold borders anchored the already divine cake with subtly organic, yet glamorous, moulding and tied back in the leaves and flowers found throughout the rest of the design. A plethora of sugar foliage, buds, and flowers covered much of the cake, without teetering into excess, and allowed enough of the cake and moulding to show through and provide a divine backdrop for the floral showcase.
Also mimicking the color of the Elie Saab sash was the custom cake table linen, the structure of which was assembled similarly to a haute couture gown. The texture of the linen was complimentary to the industrial space, and we strived for the over-the-top, structured, billowing, glamorous shape of the linen to contrast with the industrial style of the venue. The orange accents of the venue itself and the exposed piping and beams worked well with the cake and dessert tablescape’s autumnal aesthetic.
Captured by Natasha Raichel Photography.
Andrea and Brandon’s sugar flower, fall wedding cake in Paintsville Kentucky. A textured variety of sugar foliage, buds, and flowers adorned the cake, which was enveloped in a custom-colored lilac fondant that allowed the burgundy shades of the chocolate cosmos to pop forward. As captivating as our new chocolate sugar cosmos were, one flower doesn’t make an arrangement, so we accented the cosmos with purple and ivory sugar roses, gilded acorns, purple kale, gold ferns—for an additional metallic element—and an assortment of buds, leaves, and other foliage and flowers. In addition to the inspired floral arrangement, the cake design was finished off with enchanted, spiraling molding. Each piece of the puzzle, that was this particular cake, attributed to the final product: an autumn cake that represented the colors and feel of fall without veering into the drab, muddled palette many often associate with the season.
Captured by Natasha Raichel Photography.
Evelyn and Jonathan’s sugar flower and sugar lace wedding cake at Skytop Lodge in Skytop, PA. This towering #cake stood at 5 ½ feet tall before it was placed on the table to achieve a final overall height of 8 ½ feet. Slender and contemporary, with contrasting jewel tone organic sugar flowers dripping down the tiers, it is a reimagining of lace in wedding cakes. The sugar lace is shown in a vibrant, fresh, contemporary light, which is in contrast to the 23 K Edible Gold Leaf inset portions and jewel toned flowers. The sugar flowers include: peonies, cabbage roses, ranunculus and Italian ruscus. This glamorous wedding cake is anything but traditional.
Post Production by Natasha Raichel Photography.
Ashley and Mike’s Blush and Gold Sugar Flower Wedding Cake at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, Kentucky . The blush wedding cake was draped in a cascade of detailed sugar flowers, including sugar roses, cabbage roses, peonies, hydrangeas, greenery, and buds. In addition to our specialty sugar flowers, Ashley and Mike’s cake offered us the opportunity to practice with French, ornate, gilded moulding embellishments, a whimsical yet stately design element we don’t always have the luxury to play with. Elevated on sugar feet, accentuated by a moulding bow ascending from the cake’s swagged base, the cake was decorated from the stand to the top tier in a variety of borders, along with a few higher placed swags to tie in the base moulding. To further cement the evocation of a storybook essence fit for a princess, we integrated a flourish in the custom cursive monogram of the lovely couple’s initials, and we topped the whole design off by trickling sugar rose petals down the tiers.
Lydia and Toby’s Sugar Flower Wedding Cake and Fresh Flower Ceiling Dessert Environment in Manchester, Kentucky. The main wedding cake was enveloped in a plethora of intricately crafted delicately arranged sugar café au lait dahlias, roses, greenery, and climbing wild sweet peas. The café au lait dahlias were a new addition to our ever growing roster of sugar flowers. The cake was sleek with gold metallic highlights that allowed the organic sugar flower arrangement shine.
A challenge for this wedding venue was to create a structure that would support the weight of the #floral ceiling, which weighed in at well over 400 pounds. The supporting structure had to span 25 feet, which we achieved by placing 10.5 foot columns on either side of the central beam. The display was constructed in a manner that allowed it to blend in with the walls and surroundings and phase out of frame for pictures. The structure was designed, built, and painted to achieve that goal. In the end, the structure faded flawlessly into the background of the event, while providing complimentary architectural elements that appeared to be part of the venue itself.
The flowers for the overhead floral display included over four hundred long stem roses, supplemented with dozens of additional specialty David Austin roses, Cafe au Lait Dahlias, English roses, and white bride protea nestled among 1200 stems of Italian Ruscus. The smell of the fresh flowers was intoxicating, and it provided a much needed focal point for the event. Accent flowers included white statice and additional specialty roses, which were selected for their scent.
The main table was flanked on either side by two additional dessert tables. One featured a macaron display, while the other showcased a 23 K gold leafed groom’s cake, designed to complement the main wedding cake. The selected sugary accents included specialty rosé flavored gummy roses from Germany, along with gold dragée almonds from Italy. The jars were finished off with traditional, family favorite sweets.
The groom’s cake flavor was given as much attention as the main cake, and offered guests a different, yet equally flavorful dessert. Best described as a Chocolate Kahlua Cake, the groom’s cake flavor included vanilla beans, homemade vanilla extract, almond, buttermilk, Kahlua, and coffee. Within the layers of Chocolate Kahlua Cake, guests could find a whipped chocolate ganache filling. Encapsulating the Chocolate Kahlua Cake was a Kentucky favorite, not to mention quite the tongue twister: bourbon cream buttercream. The bourbon cream buttercream featured vanilla beans, homemade vanilla extract, and, of course, Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream. As if three components were not enough for one cake, each layer was drizzled with salted butterscotch sauce and sprinkled with Lindt dark chocolate shavings.
Lydia and her mother were a dream to work with throughout this process. I had a blast talking with Lydia. She is truly a joy to work with and an absolutely crazily amusing bride. To prove this point, here are the captions Lydia made for these photos herself:
In lieu, of jokes, I do have to elaborate and share a story that communicates Lydia’s thoughtfulness. Lydia actually gave one of the sugar roses to an elderly woman her mom and dad go to church with, who was unable to attend the wedding. Lydia’s mother took her a sugar flower and the woman started crying. Lydia reports Ms. Jewell said it was the most precious thing, and it made her feel like she was part of their wedding, even though she couldn’t be in attendance. She asked how they could possibly give one away. They’re an endlessly thoughtful and lovely family and this example exemplifies that to the fullest. This story is one of the best uses for what you can do with sugar flowers after the wedding cake is disassembled. You can make people that wanted to be there but couldn’t, feel as if they were still part of a big moment in your life. I couldn’t be more thankful to have such a wonderful family and couple to plan with for two years. It was an amazing experience.
Post Production on Cake, Sugar Flowers, Details- Natasha Raichel Photography.
Overall Tablescape Images, Couple Imagery, Wedding Details and Macaron Ring Picture - Amy Wallen Photography
Kristian and Micah’s sugar lace and sugar flower wedding cake at Talon Winery in Lexington, Kentucky. The design was inspired by the champagne and lace covered wedding dress Kristian wore during her ceremony. She later changed into another dress, a gold elaborate Indian gown, for the reception. Kristian wanted the cake design to focus solely on lace, and I actually had to beg for the one sugar flower that was included! No really, she did clear me for 1-3 sugar blooms, though, but I kept it minimal, something to draw the eye upward, because I knew something fabric inspired was more in tune with the casual, relaxed vibe they wanted for their vineyard wedding.
Once it was baked, this lovely took all three of us 21 straight hours of lace application, cutting, and beading. Not just being awake 21 hours, mind you, our hands were moving and applying for 21 straight hours. We rarely sleep before a cake delivery/the wedding day, but this was a different sort of constant work, as it was lace based, which was something new for us to cover a whole cake in. It is topped with a sugar peony and gilded sugar leaves.
Once we got to the venue, Talon Winery, the AC was out. It was 98 degrees on the thermostat. This cake managed to stand for a lot of hours in that kind of heat. I’m almost certain this is due to the fact that the cake flavors were all able to be kept out of the fridge, and the cake was not put through the brutality of multiple drastic changes in temperature, such as moving it in and out of the fridge. There were some last minute design changes made, while working in the extreme heat for an additional two hours. However, I still find the design to be very close to the original concept. I am surprised we got the sugar dough to perform at all in this sort of condition. For this, I am both grateful and amazed.
Kristian and Micah were truly wonderful throughout all stages of this entire process, both the design stage and wedding day. Kristian, who was in grad school for writing at the time, kept me laughing with her witty messages. Micah was so wonderful to Mom, Deron, and me on the day of the wedding. He was constantly asking if we needed anything to drink, kept me from walking up a ten mile road in sleepy delusion to find the wedding planner, and worked to remedy the air situation by trying to bring in fans and have them set up for the reception. These small acts of kindness actually inspired me to write this update on our Facebook page a few days after:
“I just wanted to take a minute to say how grateful and thankful I am for all of you. Thank you to everyone who stops by and says a kind word or shares a compliment. It truly means the world to me and to all of us. It’s not a special holiday, but it doesn’t take a special reason to say thank you. I’m so grateful for my family and Deron (who is my family) who have helped me through this entire wedding season thus far. We’ve pushed ourselves creatively this year even further, which does tend to take a toll on all of us, both physically and mentally! I am so so thankful to my brides, who have allowed me to form close relationships with people who were, most often, previously complete strangers. These people have ended up showing more gratitude, consideration, and more kindness even, at times, than people we actually know more closely. These special individuals make this rewarding. Whether it be asking my mother if she’d like a drink of water in 98 degree heat or helping us carry things from here to there, calling to say how much you loved everything the night of your wedding, or leaving a review unprompted the very next day, these things have meant the world to me this year and every year. Each time they happen, I am restored another dose of happiness and respect for people and humanity. I try to push myself on each and every cake to bring out the very best of my brides and their personalities and having a greater belief in overall goodness and their overall goodness really pushes me even harder to make them happy, to represent them truthfully in their final cakes, and to present a point of conversation for all of their guests. I will be posting some of our latest work soon. Thank all of you so much! 💕💕💕”
I am so glad that Natasha Raichel Photography was there to capture these gorgeous images! The images of Kristian and Micah are stunning, as are her images of the cake! Everyone pulled together that day and had a wonderful time at the wedding. The cake flavor is our signature white buttermilk cake and a custom bourbon and ginger flavor originally/specifically created for Kristian and Micah detailed in a previous post below.
An ode to Kentucky wedding cake for Charlie and Julie’s wedding this past weekend at Richwood Plantation in Milton, Kentucky! The design includes a dimensional/sculptural sugar flower cascade, which was arranged into real tiers of cake made in two varying intricate flavors. The sugar flowers include goldenrod/solidago, our state flower, peach stock/apricot flowers, lambs ear and Dutch tulips that crawl and wind up the overgrown cake in a captivating color palette of peach and deep yellows. The flower and color combination of goldenrod and classic flowers, evokes the feeling of a romantic still life against the pale blue wall. The cake also includes a bold metallic and dimensional sugar hand-cut state, and lots of sugar ruffles edged in gold, which mimic the ragged and graphic edges of Kentucky.
The cake includes a Bourbon Ginger Cake, which I’ve detailed below in a previous post and my signature White Buttermilk Cake. As always I have so many people to credit. My mother for her beautiful work on these sugar flowers, Deron for every task in between, and my father for contributing coloring efforts, and Natasha Raichel Photography for taking the time to train me beforehand to take my first cake images and for cultivating them afterwards, while including me.
Beatrix Potter Cake for Aspyn’s First Birthday! Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck sugar figures merge together two of Beatrix Potter’s most beloved stories and characters. Based on one of Beatrix’s illustrations, lots of sugar lettuce, radishes, radish leaves, and beanstalks make up Peter’s portion. Miniature sugar foxgloves, ferns, flowers, and greenery make up Jemima’s portion. The cake is also fluttering with sugar monarch butterflies, a dragonfly, and bumblebee. A sugar snail sits proudly atop one of Jemima’s leaves.
This one was, as always, a huge group effort. We worked tirelessly, as always! Firstly, thank you Jennifer for choosing us to make Aspyn’s birthday cake in Hazard, Kentucky! Thank you so much to Deron for all of your tremendous sugar figure work, Mom (Lisa) for contributing your sugar flower talents, and Dad (David) for pitching in on flower coloring. Thank you to Natasha Raichel Photography. A cake is never complete without passing through your lens. Always the final ritualistic step, you bring them such life and completion.
Yesterday’s “dancing” cactus birthday cake and colorful #macarons for Duncan’s First Fiesta in Richmond, Kentucky!!! The flower pot is 100 percent sculpted white buttermilk cake. The cactus is a sugar figure and is all edible. The “dirt” is all edible, as well. Captured by Natasha Raichel Photography .
I know I have the best and most talented clients when @sjpky6 sends me amazing food photos that he took of his and @laniefierce ’s winning wedding cake flavor pick via my wedding cake tasting in Louisville, Kentucky with @melandsolwed . #matcha #wins .
I know for many cupcakes are passé. But they’re highly easy to transport and are essentially mini- cakes. So, while I love a plated tasting plate, it makes little sense to me to waste cake that could be given to the couple. Plus, friends, family, and co-workers can be involved post tasting without having to be present.
Winning wedding flavor via @melandsolwed :
#Matcha Green Tea #Cake with #Yuzu, #vanilla bean, homemade vanilla, almond, #buttermilk, #sorghum, #ginger #beer.
Yuzu #syrup soak.
#White chocolate and #jasmine tea #mousse.
I made a Matcha Green Tea and Yuzu #Jelly to smear on top that was a new technique that could be used in incredibly fun ways.
Matcha #Swiss Meringue Buttercream with vanilla beans. Homemade vanilla . Hint of almond . Tiny bit of Yuzu.
Custom flavors, as per usual. I don’t usually share them, because I don’t often have amazing pictures like this one by the groom, @sjpky6 !! This flavor was a new one and a #foodie #favorite.
Custom wedding cake flavor for Kristian and Micah captured on a whim before a wedding cake tasting in Lexington, Kentucky by Natasha Raichel Photography! In lieu of doing a simply chocolate and bourbon flavor profile yet again, I proposed an idea to do a bourbon based cake flavor that was less obvious. Upon my proposal to use Bourbon and Ginger as our starting point, Kristian revealed that she and Micah love Ale 8 with their Bourbon, as well as Kentucky Mules. Kismet!
Bourbon Ginger Cake
• Sorghum and molasses to taste
. Pinch of Smoked Bourbon Sea Salt. Tiny bit of lime zest. Ground Ginger. Fresh Grated Ginger. Handful/ Bougie Amount of Vanilla beans. Homemade Vanilla. Almond . Bourbon. Splash of Ginger Beer. Splash of Ale 8. Buttermilk.
• Soaked in a Kentucky Mule inspired Ginger Syrup made with Fresh Ginger and Bourbon.
• Topped with Swiss Meringue Buttercream with Vanilla Beans, Homemade Vanilla, Almond, Bourbon, and a touch of my syrup.
•Topped with from scratch Salted Butterscotch Sauce with Maldon Sea Salt
• Lindt dark shavings.
• Sprinkling of Smoked Bourbon Sea Salt.
I’m pleased to say, they really loved their custom cake flavor! They’re going with this Bourbon Ginger Cake and our signature White Buttermilk Cake (also filled with a bougie amount of homemade vanilla and vanilla beans etc.) for their upcoming wedding!
While I have my own aesthetic, I wholeheartedly internalize what clients feel and exactly what mood they would like their cake to convey. After I know what the client desires, I am able to find a way to apply my own aesthetic to take what the client wants from an idea to a reality. The client’s voice must always shine through on the project, and therein lies the inspiration and challenge. How do I make this vision shine through and come across to an audience? I wouldn’t want to make my own “collection” of designs and repeat those over and over, such as, “This is what you get from my own personal style and brand of cakes.” That way of thinking may keep consistency, from a portfolio standpoint, but it shows very little range to me and sacrifices the clients wants and needs. For Tessa’s stained glass wedding cake in Louisville, Kentucky, I had to practice and learn new techniques. These clients were so rock ‘n’ roll that I had to find a way to make The Mischief Maker and these rock star clients jam.
Tessa and Jeremy did a spin on what they thought their guests were anticipating from them. The wedding was perfectly edgy and alternative without a skull in sight, a motif they love in daily life and objects. Everything was done rock 'n’ roll, but in an extremely well-done, refreshing, and, dare I say, “classy” way. The wedding cake was placed in The Foundry at Glassworks in Louisville, Kentucky, where the couple held their reception, which I find rather appropriate for a stained glass cake, don’t you?
So, while the thought of bringing a stained glass cake to life for them sheerly terrified me for over a year, it was “kismet”, and it had to be. Stained glass was just the perfect call for rock 'n’ roll, as it’s elegant, but it also has a very Gothic architectural vibe. The venue being a glass studio/factory made perfect sense, so we had to make it happen. The cake itself was painted with so many colors in almost every brand possible, and the sheer amount of colors and brands used verges on insanity. In order to make multiple and varying custom shades, I had to mix so many colors together on a palette that I lost count. I wanted dark burgundies, but also brighter blues and violets, so I required both ends of the spectrum. Dark and Gothic, and Bright and Sunlight.
The main inspiration for the cake was definitely this lamp by Louis Comfort Tiffany:
It included lots of poppies and greenery, and Tessa was oh so taken with the idea of poppies! Poppies seemed very magical to me, as well, so we came up with a stained glass come to life concept. With twirling sugar poppies coming three dimensionally off the cake and trailing sugar forget me not blossoms for a little something extra and to, again, visually bridge the dark and light. When you look at stained glass, there are lots of blues, which I attribute this to the observation that when you stand very far away, the blue becomes a necessity to visually separate those colors and make the design work from afar. In this scenario, it was very important for the cake to look good both closeup and from a distance, because the cake was left in place both at the ceremony and during the reception and visible from the entrance. A turnover took place after the ceremony, and everything was moved accordingly after for the reception.
After painting, it was then outlined by Deron. We had to work in shifts to finish it. Painted, outlined, highlighted, retouched with certain colors, and outlined yet again, this was a labor intensive cake, if there ever was one. If you didn’t like something, it had to be redone again. All the while, my mother, Lisa, worked her magic on sugar poppies and blossoms, which are very intricate and time consuming in their own right. The base design itself and color planning alone had to be redrafted many, many times. Along with the final cake, several practice tiers were completed prior to working on the real cake. As you can probably tell by now, this was a cake that required a lot of pre-planning, and the flavor was no less intricate than the design.
In order to incorporate Tessa and Jeremy’s absolute love for Harry Potter, the cake was a Butterbeer flavored cake. I made the cake flavor previously for the Flying Ford Anglia Cake, but it had upgrades and even more flavor additions this time around. It included at least a handful of vanilla beans, homemade vanilla, cream soda, vanilla Vodka, various dark rums, butterscotch schnapps, molasses, etc. It was crazy, really. It also included a “Butterbeer” of my own interpretation, Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and a homemade salted butterscotch sauce to push it over the edge. Let’s never forget about that precious salt! After all, flavor balance is so key. The bottom tier was done in my signature White Buttermilk cake, and it, too, is not so deceptively simple. The White Buttermilk has equivalent flavor building that takes place, as well, and it is also topped with a Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
Incorporating the Harry Potter love into the flavor is a wonderful secret and subtle surprise for guests. It’s a wonderful way to give them a little extra insight into your “couple” personality, without having to have an outwardly themed Harry Potter wedding cake. From a work standpoint alone, this cake was definitely over-the-top for all of the above reasons. I am also thankful that Natasha Raichel of Natasha Raichel Photography agreed to accompany me to the wedding venue. The lighting situation was very tricky, as it always is. It takes someone with both careful attention to color and experience with lighting and lighting with food/cakes to be capable of handling the situation properly. We originally planned to pull the curtains back fully, but the sun was direct versus indirect, so Natasha opted to work with the existing lighting at the venue, something I am thankful she was experienced with and able to handle. I have to say the colors were so accurate to the original in her version that as I was wiping them up from everything, yet again (note: painting is messy), I noticed, even more, how uncanny the match was to our original sketch! Thank you also to Elaina Janes Photography for sharing her images of the cake cutting and the wedding party itself. Read Elaina’s blog about the wedding ceremony and reception here.
Overall, I am pleased with the stained glass cake! I think we managed to keep our own style and aesthetic while merging it with the clients’ wedding concept and cake vision. It was probably the closest we have tried to stay to the initial sketch, aside from the things we learned throughout the practice process that we did not like about the sketch! I am relieved that we did it, and it has passed! 🙌. I am so thankful that we were all able to work together to make Tessa and Jeremy’s cake dreams a reality. Most of all, I’m happy that the bride and groom could not have been nicer, more complimentary, and overall so fun to work with. You couldn’t have found two nicer people! They love it, and I love it too. They are, and forever will be, my “rockstar” couple, and I am so happy they chose me to do their cake! Congratulations, again, Tessa and Jeremy!
It’s that time of year again, Harper’s birthday! We have to roll out all the stops for the most glamorous three year old I know. I’ve been doing Harper’s cakes since she was one. Seriously, Harper’s mom Lisa, who took all of these pictures, is on point to achieve her Real Housewife of Cincinnati call 😉 . I’m kidding, but really, Harper is the perfect mix of spunky, sassy, and smart as a tack. She’s my cup of tea.
Lisa has been introducing Harper to all of the classic Disney films. AND yes they have been having themed movie nights for each one. This duo is so adorable that, at times, I really can’t take it. These brunching ladies are always packing in the activities, so rolling out Disney movies to Harper in style is no exception. The plan was to do this before Harper’s secret birthday present! Lisa and her husband Ryan surprised Harper with a trip to Disney a few days after the party!
Lisa and I liked the “idea” of a Peter Pan theme originally, but Lisa had to see what the birthday girl would make of it first, and Harper just wasn’t feeling Peter Pan. So, Lisa and I changed directions. Tinkerbell was a winner, but Peter was not!
No Hasselbeck party is ever complete without input and help from Harper’s Aunt Sarah (who I’m coincidentally friends with/that’s how I met Lisa). Sarah and Lisa sent over their mood board, as they do every year. There were lots of vintage Tinkerbell sparkle animations, peaches, mints, aquas, and a watercolor Disney Castle. I really loved the mood board and brainstormed with Sarah. We reached the conclusion that we should do “magic” as a pattern on the cake.
I experimented with a “watercolor” type technique on this cake, so it’s a first- time try out. To be determined if I want to play with again in the future! I do like how the color progression turned out. I think it captures the essence of a stylized Tinkerbell themed cake with a little bit of vintage throwback incorporated. The gravity-defying Tinkerbell is by far the focal point of this Cincinnati, Ohio birthday cake. The structure for her is kindly tricky, and I am absolutely thrilled with how she turned out. Deron did an excellent job on her! I can’t take much credit at all on the sculpting of her. It’s all him! The colors, wings, and structure ideas for her, I will take credit for though 😉 . The wings are all edible. I think Tinkerbell is a wonderful addition to our sugar figure portfolio! Teamwork!
The cake flavor is a keeper, as well. We wanted to do an elevated from scratch version of funfetti cake, aka, confetti cake. Many people have mentioned this to me at one time or another. I went to the drawing board and came up with a different/modified version of my white buttermilk cake. I added in lots of sprinkles and a salty/sweet birthday cake crumb. The cake had a special syrup soak and a very smooth/creamy Swiss meringue buttercream. SO much homemade vanilla and so many vanilla beans in all components. You can’t have too many vanilla bean flecks or too many sprinkles! According to the birthday girl, the cake, “Tasted like fireworks”. The Cincinnati party was a success and all of the guests loved the birthday cake crumb/cake flavor. Harper was adorable outfitted in fairy wings made by Sarah. The decorations were amazing as always. Sarah made gorgeous watercolor confetti with metallic gold castles imprinted on each. Beautiful garlands, lanterns, and natural light as far as the eye could see! Harper is still in Disney World as we speak. She is living it up according to Lisa’s Instagram feed 🙂