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
Website: www.blisspastry.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/blisspastry
Instagram: http://instagram.com/bliss_pastry
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/blisspastry/



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.

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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! 

Sugar Artist Spotlight: Julie Tenlen!

You may have recently spotted Julie's unbelievably gorgeous Lakshmi cake as part of the Festival of Lights Cake Collaboration, but she has been creating beautiful masterpieces for years. Her passion for cake decorating is obvious to anyone who knows her...and she's not just a cake artist...she's a talented cookier too! :)




Julie Tenlen
The Sweet Life cakes & cookies by Julie
St. Johns, Michigan USA
www.thesweetlifebyjulie
Twitter: SweetLifeJuile
IG: thesweetlifebyjulie

Introducing Julie.......

***Tell us about yourself!***
I was born and raised and still live in mid-Michigan. I certainly consider myself one of the luckiest gals I know, married to my best friend for the last 33 years. Yes! I got married when I was 12! Geez, that still wouldn’t make me very young. We have 2 beautiful and successful, grown daughters and 4 of the most wonderful grandkids ever. Oh, and 1 more on the way! I’ve always been considered quite crafty and not intimidated to take on most any project. For many years, I was a professional seamstress and specialized in custom horse show clothing. As for other professions, I was a Playboy Bunny, a property manager and owed and ran a motel for 20 years while our girls were going up. A very large part of our lives until the girls went off to college, was owning and showing Quarter Horses. My hubby and I have always had a niche’ for home remodeling and are almost always in the middle of knocking down one wall or another. A as benefit of this constant home rehab, I am very fortunate and have a large cake studio in our home. 

***Tell us about your cake business!***
I began caking about 3 years ago, simply wanting to make cool cakes for our grandkids. Starting off slowly for the first year and a half or so, then got completely bitten by the cake decorating bug and jumped in full time from there on out.



***Where did you learn the art of cake decorating? ***
The vast majority of my cake decorating knowledge was obtained through online tutorials, classes and good ole’ research and trial and error. I can’t say I have had any true formal training, other than a couple classes attended. One with the Sachiko Windbiel of Mimicafe Union @ New York and another with Dawn Parrott. But certainly hope to attended more in the future.

***Do you have a signature style?***
As for a specific style, I really can’t say I have one. I love doing all types of cakes. From enjoying creating food replica cakes, just as much as elaborate fancy tiered cakes and feel I have to keep honing my figure modeling as well. So, I’m really kind of all over the spectrum.



***What inspires you?***
My inspiration comes from everywhere. Other artists, the seasons changing, the client’s needs. Truly inspiration is found in nearly everything.

***What is your favorite medium or technique to work with?***
My favorite medium currently would be modeling chocolate. Although, I have much to learn about this medium, as I am rather new to it. But without a doubt, I use more fondant than any other product at this time. 



***What is your favorite decorating tool?***
I’m going to tell you a couple items that I consider “My can’t do without tool”. First, a razor blade. I have several on my work surface at all times. Secondly, an extruder. I have the Makin Clay Extruder and my brother has retro fitted it to work with a power drill and that is truly a lifesaver for me. Another piece, (now that I have one) is my electric pasta machine. Whether it’s rolling out fondant and gumpaste for flowers or ribbons, or cutting thin, exact strips for many uses. It saves your hands and wrists so much stress. I use the Roma by Weston Electric Pasta machine.

***What decorating tool is on your wishlist?***
Anyone that knows me, knows this answer. The tool on my want list, a sheeter, a sheeter, a sheeter! Was that clear enough? ;)


***What is the best class or tutorial that you have taken?***
I can’t say specifically which class I would consider the best, as I have learned so much from every tutorial or class I’ve taken. I would say that is the benefit of being new to this industry, simply so much to learn. But, I can say I absolutely love the Craftsy classes and own many of them. That style of class works very well for me.

***What is your best tip or trick?***
Hmmm, tip or trick to share? So many things come to mind, but something that I discovered recently only out of pure necessity. When needing to attach thin strips of fondant or gumpaste, cut out and place on an inverted cookie sheet, make perfectly straight with a ruler edge and pop in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. When removed from freezer, the stripes will stay perfectly straight and the upside of fondant or gumpaste will become slightly moist from condensation and work as an adhesive to adhere to your project. 



***Who is your “Cake Crush”?***
Wow, who’s my cake crush? That’s a super tough question, as I admire and love so many artist’s work and for different reasons.
Pamela McCaffrey - Made With Love – I just love her simple, clean and elegance in all her cakes.
Calli Hopper of Callicious Cakes – her hand painting skills are insane!
Shawna McGreevy of McGreevy Cakes – all her work is wonderful.
Brenda Walton of Sugar High, Inc.. – her little figures are always so flawless and so darn cute.
Laura Loukaides Cakes – her food replica cakes are to die for! Which are always a big hit in our house.
Krazy Kool Cakes & Designs by Laura E. Varela-Wong– her cakes and figures are always so fun!
Nina Blackburn of Make Pretty Cakes – everything she makes is pretty!
Truly I could go on and on. So many talented artists, who’s skills I admire. 

***What is your best advice for a beginner?***
My best advice for a beginner. Well, how about 2 things. Always cover your boards. I have seen so many pretty cakes that are on naked boards and it just takes so much away from the finished results. Secondly, online research is your very best learning tool.



***What is your favorite cake/filling flavor?***
My favorite flavors change with the seasons. Red Velvet with cream cheese icing and pecans in the winter. Carrot cake and cream cheese in the fall and in the summer, I make a pineapple and coconut cake with whipped topping that is to die for! But, far too weak to use for a tiered, stacked cake. It literally barely holds together, but it’s sooo good.



***Are you currently working on any fun projects that you can tell us about?***
So many exciting new opportunities are coming in the near future. Very soon I will begin filming my first video tutorial and so thrilled to announce I will be working in conjunction with Satin Ice on this project. It will be for my Cowboy Hat and Buckle cake. It has been a highly requested tutorial and I finally will have time in my schedule to make this happen. So keep your eyes peeled folks! Another wonderful and exciting project coming up very soon for me, will be working with LorAnn Oils in producing some of their creations for their website and recipe development, among other things. 
And those are just a couple of the very exciting projects I am currently involved in, along with many others to be revealed soon. So stay tuned for these fun offers and creations!
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Thank you Julie! It was a pleasure getting to know you better!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Sugar Artist Spotlight: Candace Chand!


Hot off the big reveal of one of the most beautiful cake collaborations of the year, Candace Chand from Beau Petit Cupcakes is here to give us a little insight into the woman behind the cake!

I had the pleasure of working with Candace on one of her biggest projects of the year: The Festival of Lights: Cake Collaboration. It was her vision to bring together a collection of cakes made by cake artists around the world that are inspired by The Festival of Lights, a religious and cultural festival celebrated by Hindus. Just two days ago it was released to the world and it has received much attention and praise. You can learn more about the collaboration in Cake Masters (Oct Issue) and view all of the cakes at Cake Geek Magazinehttp://cakegeek.co.uk/index.php/festival-of-lights-collaboration-cakes/

Candace and her work has also recently been featured in American Cake Decorating Magazine (Sept/Oct 2014 issue)!

Introducing Candace Chand…………


Name: Candace Chand
Business Name: Beau Petit Cupcakes
Location: Delta, British Columbia, Canada
Website: www.beaupetitcupcakes.com
Instagram: #beaupetitcupcakes

***Tell us a bit about yourself. ***
I was born and raised on the beautiful Islands of Fiji. I moved to Canada in 2001 and started a family. I’m a wife and a momma to two handsome boys. I am a graduate of Business Management and work full time in the corporate world. I love crafting, reading books and traveling. By my cakes are my main hobby now.


***Tell us about your cake business ***
I’ve been baking ever since my teen days (which by the way was only ten years ago), and had always done minimal decorating. Yes that means whipped cream and fresh berries. Two years ago, I was asked by a friend to make cupcakes with caterpillar toppers and I discovered fondant and gumpaste. Hence the start of Beau Petit Cupcakes!

***Where did you learn the art of cake decorating? ***
I learned and am continuing to learn through online schools such as Craftsy and Paul Bradford’s Sugarcraft School. I have also taken hands on classes at various cake shows and events in Vancouver, Montreal, Utah and San Francisco.

***Do you have a signature style?***
My cake friends tell me they are able to recognize my cakes without seeing my watermark but I think I am still trying to find myself with my cake designs. Although I definitely love simple and elegant and ruffles, pearls, bling and flowers call my name.



***What inspires you?***
I love working with inspiration and really believe inspiration can come from anywhere – clothing, nature, magazines ….

***What is your favorite medium or technique to work with?***
For now fondant. This may change as I learn new things. And for technique for now I’d have to say ruffling with a ball tool. You can turn many shapes into different elegant ruffles.

***What is your favorite decorating tool?***
My clear scrapers from Janet O’Sullivan of The Cupcake Lady in Australia. Love them.


***What decorating tool is on your wishlist?***
Not an actual tool but I really really really want to own a designer Michael Aram cake stand – particularly from his Black Orchid line. (I have to make sure my husband reads this).

***What is the best class or tutorial that you have taken?***
Class with Lesley of Royal Bakery in San Francisco in January 2014. I learned to ganache. Yeah Baby! Prior to that I had never even made ganache. But after this class, the look of my cakes drastically changed. Thank you Lesley.

***What is your best tip or trick?***
Always cover your boards. Very important for that finishing touch that takes cakes to the next level. Whether you cover with fondant, edible paints or scrapbook paper, just do it.



***Who is your “Cake Crush”?***
Ryan Gosling – cake anywhere on him. Oh Wait – not that kind of cake crush? I see. Then I’d have to say…oh so many but those that make:

- Elegant Cakes like Faye Cahill of Faye Cahill Cake Design.
- Sugar Flowers like Jacqueline Butler of Petalsweet Cakes.
- Textured cakes like Myton Ouano of Antonio's kitchen

***What is your best advice for a beginner?***
It does not happen overnight. Take classes (even if they are online) and practice. Also don’t be afraid to try new things. You may not necessarily fail at a style or technique, but you may realize it’s just not your cup of tea.



***What is your favorite cake/filling flavors?***
- Peanut Butter Cake with Vanilla Bean SMB.
- Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing.

***Do you have any fun projects coming up?***
2015 will be a busy year for me. I will be teaching at Cake Festin Louisiana, USA (www.cakefestla.com) and at the end of the year at Cake Crusade Ireland (Ireland's ULTIMATE caking event of 2015). I have also recently announced that I am now a Magazine Partner at DIY Weddings Magazine. I’m also working with Satin Ice on a few exciting projects! 




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Thank you Candace! It was a pleasure to get to know you better! ♥

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Festival of Lights: A Cake Collaboration!

We are 37 cake artists from around the world, all from different countries and regions with different backgrounds, religions and ethnicities. We have come together to acknowledge a beautiful, special Hindu holiday which is celebrated in Autumn of every year. It is called "Diwali", also known as "A Festival of Lights". It is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year! The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. During the festival, which is celebrated for five days, Hindus prepare by cleaning, decorating, shopping, gift giving and baking sweet treats for loved ones. Feasts are prepared and families come together. Prayers are offered to deities. Stories of ancient myths and legends are told to children. Children prepare for the celebration by painting rangoli chalk designs on walkways and on the night of Diwali, fireworks are displayed. It is the happiest of all Hindu celebrations! 

As cake artists we wanted to represent this beautiful holiday in cake form. Each of us designed our cakes based on the gorgeous colors, rich traditions and religious practices inspired by Diwali. Please join us to celebrate Diwali! 





MY INSPIRATION:

In preparation for the Diwali Festival, the Hindu children draw beautiful Rangoli patterns with chalk on the walkways leading to their houses. These colorful drawings are meant to be sacred welcoming areas for the Hindu deities. My cake, especially my cake board is inspired by these chalk drawings and Rangoli designs, which can be simple geometric shapes, deity impressions, or flower and petal shapes. I chose the paisley shape as it is also seen throughout Indian fashion, d├ęcor and art. My cake also has the lotus flower which is also a traditional Hindu symbol, meaning beauty, fertility, prosperity, spirituality, and eternity.

To learn more about Diwali, The Festival of Lights and our Collaboration please visit The Festival of Lights: A Cake Collaboration

To view a fun slideshow featuring our cakes please click here SLIDESHOW.

We hope you enjoy……Happy Diwali!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Guest Contributor: The Business of Baking!

Once again please welcome our guest contributor:
Michelle Green from The Business of Baking!
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Home Based Business
by Michelle Green


Earlier this month I wrote an article about some things to think about when considering opening a store front, and today I'm going to talk about some things to consider when deciding to keep your business home based. Ultimately a lot of this home versus store choice is based around lifestyle, available space, and what scale you want your business to grow to. Here are a few things to consider about owning a home based baking business.

·       The overheads for running a home based business are generally a lot smaller, because some (not all) of your costs simply won't apply in a home environment. As an example, in order to have an A-frame signon the pavement in front of my store, I had to pay my local council over $250 a year to have it. That expense simply would not exist for a home based business. The bonus to having less overheads is potentially having more profit.

·       It can be a great way to 'test out' if you're wanting a larger scale business. Because home based business are easier to scale (because they are less expensive to run generally) you can test the boundaries of how much work you want or are able to take on. Some people wanting a store start out from home and find it much too overwhelming so they never get to the store stage – it's a good way to test out the “What the heck was I thinking?!” part of it.

·       Kids touch stuff. As do dogs. It can be a challenge to keep your work space as your work space without invaders of the 2 legged or 4 legged kind.

·       Space, or rather a lack of space, will either drive you up a wall or teach you how to work very efficiently.

·      There is a perception (an unfair one) that prices from home-based businesses should be less than those at a store front.

·      Perfect strangers will know where you live. This isn't a big deal, and there are ways to manage it (don't put your whole address on your website) but it's something to think about it. Your privacy becomes,well, less private!

·      Unless you are able to build an entirely separate dwelling or room, there will be strangers wandering into your personal space.

·      Working from home IS a lot more flexible, but that also means it potentially eats into your personal time as well. Working from home requires a fair amount of self discipline.

·       Your family expenses will increase. Yes, I teach you to cost out running costs into your cake prices, but it can be a challenge to then take the money you earn in those cakes and then actually apply that money to those specific bills.  It's much easier to 'hide' those costs in your normal bills (in particular for things like water and power) so this is something to be aware of. For example, are you really going to notice if you use an extra bottle of dish washing detergent every month? Probably not but it's an expense that you would not otherwise have in your family supermarket budgeting.

There are lots of benefits to working from home, and it's a lot less limiting than you might think. So many people cite their major challenge or lack of success as being a home based business, but there are plenty of people making plenty of money from home. I would venture to say that several of your cake idols are happily working from home and happily making a good living from it.  The key to that success isn't being limited by your home base, it's by being inspired by it to come up with creative ways around it, while still maintaining the lifestlye that being home based gives you. 


Copyright 2014 Michelle Green The Business of Baking All rights reserved.
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Michelle is a food writer, trained chef and pastry chef with a huge amount of knowledge and helpful insight into running a cake business. She is also the sole author of the blog, "The Business of Baking" -www.thebizofbaking.com.  "The Business of Baking" is specific to the baking and decorating industry and teaches you how to make a real living doing what you love. Michelle started cake decorating at sixteen years old and eventually turned her hobby into a business by becoming a pastry chef, then opening a custom cake business and owning it for ten years. These days, Michelle is an educator, consultant and author who mentors other decorators in business, proving that it's possible to run a business and maintain your sanity at the same time. In 2014 and 2015 Michelle will be teaching live classes all about running a sustainable business. More information on her courses can be found at  www.bizbakeontour.com.