Friday, January 9, 2015

Sugar Artist Spotlight: Veena Pamela Azmanov!

Veena is a legend in the Facebook Cake world. Known for her giving spirit, she selflessly shares cake recipes, decorating tips, tricks and techniques on a daily basis. Her page has become quite a popular resources for cake decorators around the world! Veena is as talented as she is generous. I'm so excited to learn all about her! Everyone, please welcome Veena into the Sugar Artist Spotlight! 

Name: Veena Azmanov
Business Name: Veena’s Art of Cakes
Location: Israel
Facebook name:


 ***Tell me about yourself ***
I was born in Mumbai, India but I’ve lived most of my adult life overseas. I married my wonderful husband Ziv and we relocated from the US to Israel about 9 years ago. We have two beautiful kids, our son Aadi is seven and our daughter Rhea is five.
My last job was traveling and working for Singapore Airlines as a flight attendant for 10 years. These were the best years of my life. I traveled a lot. I also did my further studies which was my second degree in marketing and an MBA with the hope of becoming a marketing executive. I also met my husband at the time hence the best years of my life.

***Tell me about your cake business ***
Cooking and baking have been my hobby since a kid. I loved trying and creating new recipes including cakes. My friends always left me in charge of desserts and cakes. So making cakes was not new. I made my son a buttercream fire-truck and a cake for his birthdays too.
However, I made my first fondant decorated cake with cute baby booties for my daughters first birthday in 2009 and fell in love with cake decorating.
I think I fell in love with fondant. I started looking for opportunities to make cakes for family and friends. I’d watch cake decorating videos on you tube during my spare time. In July 2011, I decided that this is truly my passion and this is what I wanted to do, as a profession every day; for the rest of my life.
The first thing I did was register my business, tell a few friends and continue practicing. I was lucky that I did get orders which gave me more opportunities to practice and improve on my skills.

***Where do you create?***
I live in a small three bed room apartment with a tiny little kitchen. So yes space is not my luxury but all the goodies come out of this little warm kitchen and it always smells heavenly. I do dream that someday I will own a cake Boutique and Dessert shop.

***Is there a story behind the name of your business/ How did you come up with your business name?***
For most people cake is cake but to me what we do is not cake.. Its art. At the time I tried the name ‘Art of cake’ and the domain was taken so I personalized it to Veena’s Art of Cakes. 

***Where did you learn the art of cake decorating? ***
The beginning was tough. When I realized I wanted to take up cake decorating at a profession I had not formal training at all and no money to invest as well. I never really learned cake decorating from any course or class. And I didn’t have many option to learn cake decorating here in Israel. You tube was my only source.
So I can say I started Self-taught in the beginning. Everything was trial and error. I’ve learned a lot from my own mistakes. Eventually I starting investing some of my cake money back into my business and started investing in online classes and tutorials that have got me to where I am today. I have till date never physically been in any cake decorating class. Veena’s Art of Cakes was started in July 2011 and three years later I feel nothing but pride for my accomplishments.

***Do you have a signature style?***
Honestly I don’t know yet! I love making elegant and simple cakes. I love sugar flowers so you will get me add them whenever possible. I like some types of novelty cakes as well as figure modelling but am more drawn towards wedding and the vintage style cakes. The more simple the cake; the more happy I am. I personally believe that less is more so unless my kids are involved in the cake decorating you will never find any of my cakes crowded with too much to see. 

***What is your favorite medium or technique to work with?***
I like fondant and I love modelling chocolate. Modelling Chocolate is not a luxury for me in summer so you will get me using it only in winter. I love sugar flower very much and would love someday to spend more time on refining my sugar flower skills.

***What is your favorite decorating tool?***
I must say it is the Dresden tool. I call it my little finger. I use it to vein my flowers as well as to pick and tuck things in place when decorating. I think it’s a very versatile tool. I honestly get upset when I find myself having to search it.

***What decorating tool is on your wish list?***
Ah where do I start? The list never ends really. I love new cake toys.
But if I must pick I’d love to have a Dinkydoodle airbrush and a pasta roller for my gum paste flowers. 

***What is the best class or tutorial that you have taken?***
As a person who does not have many opportunities to attend cake classes physically; on line classes and schools have been a true blessing. But recently I attended a private class on figure modeling with a lovely lady Elena Atash of WonderCake. It was such a wonderful experience. Nothing beats the in class learning experience.
I’ve been a member of Paul Bradford Online School and learned so much. A perfect place for any beginner.
Some of the best online classes I have taken so far are the ones on Craftsy –
The Sugar flower classes by Nicholas Lodge and Alan Dunn are my favorite and the cake Classes by Collette Peters and Maggi Austin. I have always admired their work and was truly happy to have them on line.

***Who is your “Cake Crush”?***
Wow. So difficult to pick a few when you have so many.
Well I must say I truly admire Dawn Butler for her airbrush skills and Karen Porteleo’s sculpting ability. Fingers crossed I will have an opportunity to learn from them some day.
I love Rob Ben Israel and Peggy Porschen for their sugar flowers.
I am very inspired by Mercedes Stachwsky, and truly love the clean and elegant cakes from artist such as Rosalind Miller, Zoe Clark and Maggie Austin. 

***What is your best advice for a beginner?***
Don’t be afraid to try and don’t be afraid to start over. You can take a lot of classes and spend hours watching online videos but practice is the best way to learn. Whenever possible practice a new technique or cake on a dummy if you can before you do it on a real cake.

***What is your favorite cake/filling flavors?***
Oh there are so many and they honestly change with my mood and the seasons. But If I had to pick one, I’d have to say – Rich Coconut Cake with Coconut cream buttercream.

***5 quirky or crazy facts about you:***
I come across as a very confident person but in reality I am very shy and reserved.
I am very scared of Cockroaches and lizards.
I day dream a lot yes even now (was worst as a kid) 


Thank you Veena, it was a pleasure to get to know you better! 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Baymax Cake!

A very special "Icing Smiles" child requested a "Baymax" cake for his 6th birthday! 

I hope you like him Gabriel! Wishing you a very happy birthday!! 

 Happy Baking!

Monday, December 15, 2014


Here he little "Stumpy", getting ready to take a dip in the pool!

He is two feet tall and made of cake!

I created him for a very special project.

Thirteen of my fabulous and talented cake friends came together to collaborate on a wonderful concept to help the children of Icing Smiles.

We decided to create a 2015 cake calendar!  Each of us were assigned a month of the year and then we created a cake inspired by that month.  My "Stumpy" is for the month of August!

You can purchase your own 2015 Icing Smiles Calendar here:

8 1/2 " x 11" Hardcopy 2015 Icing Smiles Calendar

Digital (PDF) 2015 Icing Smiles Calendar
(to print on your home computer)

100% of proceeds will be donated to Icing Smiles!!!

The calendar not only features 12 beautiful and amazing cakes but it contains tips and tricks that are helpful to any cake decorator!

Want to make this gorgeous teddy bear cake that is featured on the cover of our calendar?  
It was made by the FABULOUS Paul Bradford of the Paul Bradford SugarCraft School.
 (Paul's Facebook page)
Paul has created an amazing video tutorial for how to make it!
The best part is....the video is FREE when you buy a calendar!!

We would also like to thank two of our incredibly generous sponsors:
Satin Ice and Marvelous Molds!
All of our cakes were made using Satin Ice fondant and gumpaste and many of the cakes have some special designs or features made with Marvelous Molds onlays and molds!
Thank you Satin Ice and Marvelous Molds!!!!!

So c'mon... everyone can use a new calendar right?  They make great stocking stuffers too!!!
By purchasing this calendar you will be helping some very special kids!

Thank you and Happy Holidays!!! :)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Birches and Birds!

I had so much fun making these quick and simple cookies using a 
new stencil from Evil Cake Genius!
The "Winter Birch" stencil is available  here:  Evil Cake Genius

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Wedding Cookie Favors for DIY Weddings Magazine!

I'm so incredibly flattered to have my cookies featured in the 
Winter, 2014 issue of DIY Weddings Magazine.

I was invited to participate by the talented Candace of Beau Petit Cupcakes who coordinated cakes, cookies and other wedding treats from 50 sugar artists from
all around the world for this issue!
It is such an honor to be among such talented ladies.
Thank you Candace!

2015 Icing Smiles Calendar!

We are so proud and excited to finally announce that our
 “2015 Cake Calendar” is now available for purchase worldwide!!

Thirteen of cake artists from around the world have been working together for many months crafting some very special cakes to adorn the pages of our calendar. 
Each page not only features a gorgeous cake but also useful cake decorating tips and a little extra something fun to do with your kids!
By purchasing this calendar you are helping to support the very special children of Icing Smiles. 100% of the proceeds will go directly to them! (

Now we can’t show you the FABULOUS cakes that grace the pages of our calendar until you purchase one (or ten!), but we can announce who the artists are!

Can you match the cake decorator with his or her cake?
Use the numbers on each photo to make your guesses!

To order a HARDCOPY version of the calendar:

To order a DIGITAL (PDF) version of the

Don't forget to pick one up for the cake fan in your life...they make great stocking stuffers!!

 A huge THANK YOU to our generous sponsors: 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It's a Small World Cupcake Collaboration!

It's a Small World Cupcake Collaboration!!

46 artists from all over the world came together to celebrate all children on 
Universal Children’s Day: November 20th! 

Each artist was assigned a different world city to create a design using 
cupcakes inspired by the children of that city.

My city of choice was ROME!

Check out all the other cupcakes at

Happy Baking!!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sugar Skull Bakers 2014!

We're back! The 2nd annual "Sugar Skull Bakers" are here!

Dia de Muertos or the “Day of the Dead” is a Mexican religious holiday to celebrate the memory of our dearly departed, it has grown in popularity over the years. One of it's icons is the sugar skull, the "claverita", made with sugar and decorated with flowers... it's where we get our name! This is how we became sugar skull bakers, a combination of the passion of 120+ bakers and cake designers from around the world. 

The love of skulls and our tradition has grown so much since last year's SSB2013, that we decided to celebrate again this year, a lot of our SSB2013 came back to play with us, and we have new sugar skulls hope you all enjoy Death has never looked this SWEET!!

Check out all of the glorious skull cake art at SUGAR SKULL Bakers!
My cake was inspired by the artwork of the talented Ali Gulec or  The cake sits on a 14”x19” cake board.  The cake itself was carved from a 12” round Red Velvet cake.  It is coated in dark chocolate ganache and then covered in black fondant. The white shapes were hand cut and molded from fondant.  Everything is 100% edible and it served approximately 18 people.

 Happy Baking!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Frosted Frights!!

Happy Halloween!

I made this cake for the Frosted Frights Cake Collaboration!
You can view all the amazing Halloween cakes here:  Frosted Frights

Happy Baking!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sugar Artist Spotlight: Kristen Erich!

When I think of Bliss Pastry I think of beautiful, ethereal, finely crafted cakes in jewel tones with lots of texture! Some of my all-time favorite cakes have been created in Kristen’s kitchen, so I’ve been dying to interview her and learn more about the creative artist behind the masterpieces! And she didn’t disappoint!! Kristen is as lovely as she is talented! 

Name: Kristen Erich
Business Name: Bliss Pastry
Location: Deland, Florida


Introducing…… Kristen!

***Tell us a bit about yourself ***
I am the mother of 4 boys- heaven help me- living in Deland, Florida but am originally from the mountains of North Carolina. Growing up I was heavily involved in community theatre and art with some dance and writing thrown in. After moving to Florida I majored in theatre but eventually settled in to have children. I consider myself extremely blessed to have been given a second chance to follow my dreams after spending a huge chunk of my life working in corporate America and raising my children and pretty well losing my creative side. It is kind of a miracle to realize that yes you can have it all- a family and a dream.

***Tell us about your cake business***
Bliss Pastry has been a business for the last 3 years although I have been baking for over a decade. My recipes have primarily been developed at home over the years or are old family recipes handed down to me by my Mom and Grandmother. Keeping their memory and traditions alive has been the foundation of everything that comes out of my kitchen. 

***Where do you create?***
Everything is created in my entirely too small kitchen. As much as I would love to have more space I have learned to make it work. When you want it badly enough you find a way.

***Is there a story behind the name of your business?***
When I decided I wanted to bake for people as a business I was at a really difficult time in my life. It was the year anniversary of my mother’s passing and I had just been let go from my corporate job. I was grieving. I was lost. I wanted purpose and to find my joy again. I have always been a Joseph Campbell fan. One of his teachings is that in order to reach our fullest potential for happiness, peace and satisfaction in this life that we should each “follow our bliss”… or chase that which brings us joy. For over half my life I had followed a paycheck to pay the bills and care for my children and had long before set my bliss to the side so that it became, I thought, lost forever. But it found me again. There could be no other name for my business. 

***When did you start decorating?***
I started decorating about 3 years ago kind of as a fluke. My mother in law gave me a coupon for the Michael's cake decorating class and thought I might enjoy it since I loved to bake. It took me one class to realize there was an entire world of things I could do with desserts. Things I had never thought of or realized. At that point I was still icing my cakes with a butter knife and it had never even crossed my mind that I could actually buy a piping bag.

***Where did you learn the art of cake decorating? ***
After the Wilton classes I spent hours online looking at cakes. I would see things that I found beautiful and just figure out how to do it. Sugar flowers really blew my mind and I knew I had to try it. String work mesmerized me and I had to do that too. I have taken 3 classes after the Wilton courses. One for cold porcelain flowers and stringwork, one for basic flowers which I had already been making on my own, and one for a very cool funky cake design. Usually I just wing it and figure it out as I go. That is more exciting.

***Do you have a signature style?***
Some people say I have a signature style but I really do not know what that would be. I use a lot of colors and textures and flowers and I think maybe I am better at “chaotic” or “organic” styled cakes.

***What inspires you?***
Definitely nature inspires me above all else. Living in Florida I am surrounded by color even in the winter. Hot pink, shades of emerald, vivid blue skies, rippling water… I can sit and stare for hours at the light and shadows playing on the trees and water. That is constantly fascinating. 

***What is your favorite medium or technique to work with?***
I do not really have a favorite medium because I get bored easily so like to be asked to do different things. Definitely I love painting on cakes and anything where I can get my hands in there making different textures or effects. I guess I favor the technique of randomness haha!

***What is your favorite decorating tool?***
My tools are fairly simple because I try not to be a consumer and to use what is on hand or use every day items whenever possible. Or else I would need two houses. The things I could not live without would be my bazillion paintbrushes, box of toothpicks, dry sponges, Creative Cutters metal ball tools and my Ateco teardrop cutters. I can conquer the world with just those tools.

***What decorating tool is on your wishlist?***
The only tool that I want right now would be a new airbrush. Simply because mine keeps breaking. I have used the heck out of my $50 airbrush so it may be time to replace it.

***What is the best class or tutorial that you have taken?***
This is a small pool to choose from but I have to choose two of my 3 instructors. The first being Geraldine Randlesome who taught me to love piping but mostly for giving me the advice that I should choose an area of decorating and specialize in that and to not think I could do everything successfully. I was right out of Wilton classes and knew nothing but I did know that I was determined to prove her wrong. The fastest way to get me to do something is to tell me I can’t so I am forever thankful. The second would be my class with Swank Cakes…. Love everything about Wayne and Chuck and I picked up some nifty little tips that really improved my process when I took their steampunk corset class.

***What is your best tip or trick?***
For those who live in humid climates like I do and feel like you are constantly having to battle moisture on cakes when working with fondant you don’t have to fight it. Find a use for it. When you smooth your fondant don’t worry if the cake sweats. In fact I encourage it to sweat. Once it’s good and covered in condensation I use my smoothing tool to go around and around (never pull the tool off the fondant at a perpendicular direction) and use the moisture to polish the fondant. It fills in all the cracks and rough spots as you smooth. Condensation is your friend.

***Who is your “Cake Crush”?***
There are tons of people who’s work I love to see and look forward to but if I had a chance to sit with anyone for a day or learn from them I would love to learn from Lori Hutchinson or Lindsey Sinatra. I would also accept just magically becoming as gifted as they are. 

***What is your best advice for a beginner?***
My best tip has nothing to do with tools or procedure because none of those things will matter if you are afraid. I am afraid all the time of so many things but I say so what and just leap. Any emotion can be used to make great art. Fear, sadness, anger. Anything. It is all fuel.

***What is your favorite cake/filling flavors?***
It depends on the day. Usually I prefer a fruity type of cake with lots of filling but there are times a woman just needs some hardcore chocolate. I like them all but never vanilla with vanilla icing. 

***Tell me some other interesting, fun info about yourself.***
I am not really all that interesting or fun. Ok fine. One of my past jobs was as a manager and photographer of an antique photo studio. I used to dress up like a cowgirl or a saloon girl or in Victorian dresses. During the years I had this job I learned to twirl a pistol, the words to way too many country songs, and once in awhile they would break out the calf roping mechanical bull and I would get up on it in my Victorian clothes and fishnets and start roping men instead of the calf. Best job ever!

***5 quirky or crazy facts about you:***
I am actually a mermaid. No, really I am. I pick stuff up off the floor with my feet instead of bending down and using my hands. I am completely phobic and the list of things I am uncontrollably afraid of is way too long to share with you (spiders, enclosed spaces, germs, water or bugs getting in my ears etc etc). I am 42 years old but I freaking love dubstep music. Very, very loud dubstep music. Most of my cakes are made while listening to Excision or Terravita. I am obsessed with taming the lizards that are out by the pool and have spent hours finding bugs and splashing them up to feed them so they become accustomed to my presence. My husband thought I was crazy but now he does it too.


Thank you Kristen! It was a pleasure getting to know you better! BTW…I’m 44 and I had to Google “dubstep music”…..I think I’m now hooked too!