Monday, September 15, 2014

Sugar Artist Spotlight: Robin Apted!

Another one of my longtime favorite decorators is Robin Apted! Her cakes have always floored me with their clean, perfect lines and amazing realism! You will be in awe too.....

Introducing.... Robin Apted!

Business Name: Unusual cakes for you
Location: Tasmania Australia
Facebook name/URL:


***Tell us about yourself***
I have been with my husband for 24 years.
I always lie about my age
Have 2 sons aged 21 and 22, a daughter aged 7.
2 beautiful daughter in laws and my little grandson is 3.

I am an internet taught cake decorator and have never taken any formal classes.

I used to love sewing but these days the sewing machine is very dusty and doesn’t get a second look
I always take a few months off making cakes for customers each year to allow time for myself to make what I want in sugar and just relax and experiment.
My passion is sugar flowers and birds. I am impatiently waiting for some spare time now to make a few birds and flowers for fun. 

***When did you start decorating?***
I have always made cakes for my kids, although up until 2 years ago they were only the basic cakes that were in woman’s weekly cake books 
2 years ago in August I made my daughters Ariel cake and from there It started, I started my Facebook page and never looked back. (Definitely don’t look back hahhahaha its too embarrassing )

***Where did you learn cake decorating?***
Google and YouTube and along the way I have been fortunate to make friends with some amazing talented decorators that are generous with their help and knowledge

***Do you have a signature style?***
I would like to have one but no unfortunately I don’t think so, I guess I just try to stick to realism as much rather than fantasy

***What inspires you?***
Nature. Every day I see a flower or bird and think god I would love some spare time to try and make that in sugar.

***What is your favorite medium or technique to work with?***
Ganache I only ever use ganache and flowerpaste at the moment I use Menina flowerpaste. I love Platinum Paste but it’s just too expensive to have shipped to Australia

***What is your favorite decorating tool?***
Squires kitchen and Sugar Art studio cutters and veiners. I’m a little obsessed with them all

***What is the one decorating tool on your wishlist?***
Definitely more cutters and veiners from Sugar Art studio and a large dehydrator.

***Best class or tutorial that you have taken?***
I have taken a few Craftsy classes (

) and watched dozens of YouTube classes. But none really come to mind, generally I just try to watch a half dozen different YouTube ones and pick bits from each one that I think works best then have a play for myself

***What is your best tip or trick?***
Even if you think you have perfected your technique don’t close your mind to new ideas.

***Who is your “Cake Crush”? ***
Oh wow this is tough, really I don’t just have one. There are so many I admire and each one for a different reason. How can I pick one when there are so many different aspects of cake decorating?
Chistine from La lavande cake boutique for Flowers
Jacinta from Kidacity for jaw dropping figures
Lesley from Royal Bakery for flawless
Peggy from Peggy Does Cake for buttercream perfection
Calli from Callicious Cakes for painting
Faye from Faye Cahill Cake Design for elegance
You Loren because I’m your number one stalker remember 
See now I just gave you 7 and I haven’t even started

***What is your best advice for a beginner?***
1. Don’t compare yourself to everyone else. Use them as inspiration yes and aspire to be as good one day but don’t be harsh on yourself.
2. Have someone that you respect to be honest with their opinion when you ask how does this look . Honest criticism or advice is what makes you grow as an artist. If we all ways receive false praise how do we honestly grow and learn.
3. If you have nothing nice to say don't say it on someone’s business page. And think beyond how the cake looks, even if the design is not your thing, look at the talent and work gone into creating it. 

***What is your favorite cake/filling flavors?***
Jaffa mud cake, orange and lemon curd filling covered with chocolate ganache

***Tell us one “Fun Fact” about yourself***
I’m a ditz and I have an appalling memory. I mean seriously bad like I forget where I park my car at the school every day when I go pick her up or drop my daughter off.

Thank you Robin! It was a pleasure learning more about you!!!

Don’t forget to check out Robin’s video tutorials (some free ones too!)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Guest Contributor: The Business of Baking!

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

Should I Open A Store?
by Michelle Green

With the plethora of home businesses closing and opening a bit like popcorn – with a lot of noise and not much substance – it can seem like the only people who are surviving in the industry as those with an actual shopfront. Having a shopfront is not for everyone though, and in today's article I want to take you through some of the things to consider when deciding if you want to build your business outside of home. There are plenty of things to think about, and benefits and down sides to both business models, but here are a few things to consider when opening a store:

  •  Do you want to be tied to specific hours? Even if it's a studio that is “by appointment only,” there is still a natural expectation that a human being is actually IN the store. This means you commit yourself or someone else to being there a reasonable amount of hours per week.
  •  It's a much longer term commitment. When you work from home, it's pretty easy to shut down your operations if you choose to. With a shopfront, that would mean getting out of a lease (or not renewing it), cancelling contracts for things like phones and water and so on. It's just not as easy to get out of a shop-based business.
  • It's a bigger financial commitment, but also potentially a bigger financial gain. I know plenty of cake makers who built up really profitable businesses from home so I'm not saying you need a shop in order to be successful.  However, having a shop generally allows you to expand your offerings, so you might have a retail line of products, a place to teach larger scale classes, cake stand rental services and enough space to take on more orders. Because you'll have more space and resources, this enables you to do more than you could without that space and resources.
  • Having a shopfront often forces you to be more organised and procrastinate less because at some point, in theory anyway, you've got to go home! You can't just drag home all the tools and ingredients back home to make those 300 roses in front of the TV like you used to.
  • You will need to charge more because your costs are greater, but the advantage to this is that customers are usually more willing to pay more from a shop than a home based business. It's about their perception, not about your skill or talent.
  • Opportunities for cash flow are easier to implement – in a retail environment it's a lot easier to offer a weekly special, or try out new products or cupcake flavours. As the store is there set hours, people can pop in at specific times to get these kind of things, so it's a lot easier to manage. In a home based environment where you are making cakes, you're limited to that one product to bring in money – until such time as you can teach, or offer tutorials, or other forms of income.
For every cake maker there is a different answer to this problem. Sometimes we start off wanting one thing and then realise our business model takes us another. I've met plenty of people who say that they really want to own their dream bakery, only to open it and then crash and burn a year later. Similarly I've met lots of people who don't want to ever work out of home, but their success starts to require commercial space so they end up having to move out anyway. In all of this decision making process I actually think the debate is not about store versus home, but about what kind of business you're wanting to grow. Are you wanting the boutique, hand made, small scale and exclusive bakery? Or would you rather be making lots of different products at a higher volume? Working out what you actually want to do is almost more important than working out where you are going to do it from.

Copyright 2014 Michelle Green The Business of Baking All rights reserved.

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"  "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

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sugar Artist Spotlight: Sachiko Windbiel

Sugar Artist Spotlight: Sachiko Windbiel

I have been a longtime fan of this talented lady's work! Her adorable fondant figures have such a unique style and distinct personality! Sachiko has magic in her watch her mold a lump of fondant into a little person is nothing short of awe inspiring. I had the pleasure of taking Sachiko's figure modeling class at her studio in New York City late last year and it was one of the most fun and memorable days of my caking journey. A full day of playing with fondant, talking about cake, learning a new skill and having a lot of laughs with the one and only Sachiko!!!  

Name: Sachiko Windbiel
Business Name: mimicafe Union
Location: Manhattan New York

Facebook name/URL: mimicafe Union @New York

Blog: (Japanese)
Blog:!blog/c2481  (Tutorial etc.)
Other: (video)

***Who is Sachiko Windbiel?***
I was working at Restaurant Service for long years in Japan. And I also researching for my life work. When my first trip of U.S.A. I think 2004. It was my first seeing when I discovered the pastry work in U.S.A. I have never known Fondant at that time. Sugar work was very inspiring to me, so much so that I could feel my heart expand when I looked at their creations and I felt that pastry work was a destiny calling. However, I did not know how to proceed with pursuing this dream and I continued to work at restaurants in Ishikawa, Japan. I just put the passion into a box and rocked in my heart. After more investigation and soul searching, I was finally able to begin my new path in 2008 by relocating to New York City to attend culinary school.

I relocated to New York City in 2008 to attend a culinary school that specialized in a vegetarian and healthful food preparation techniques. (I'm not a vegetarian but I was interested in healthy food, and that's why I went cooking school call Natural Gourmet Institute. ) After graduating, thanks to the help of one of my instructors, I was able to land an internship and eventually a position at a custom made cake company call "How Sweet It Is" The work there was very inspiring to me, and I felt my box contained my passion of Sugar art was explosion that pastry work was a destiny calling. Obviously, the pasty industry uses a lot of Sugar, Butter, Oil, etc.; ingredients that are quite opposed to those espoused by my teachers at my healthful cooking school. I was torn as to what I should do, but alas the charm and artistry of the pastry world won out. And besides, I believed that pastry is a great way to make people smile and have fun and that's something that's very important to me.
Unfortunately, the company I was working at closed, and I was unsure where to turn next. Then, the next chapter made it self clear… to start a small business- something that I had always dreamed about. I was considering Cupcakes, but as you know, everybody seems to be making cupcakes nowadays, and cupcakes seem to be available on every other corner. Then I had a fun idea; How about Cupcake & Cake Toppers?-- kind of like Cake Accessories.... And thus I began mimicafe Union, a source for all kinds of Artistic and Fun Cupcake & Cake Toppers.
It's great work and I really love creating custom made, unique toppers for special events, toppers which customers often choose to save as sweet memory keepsakes of their special occasions. Actually this is my philosophy of life; Live a Happy Life and Cherish your Sweet Memories, they're always good to keep nearby. If I can help my customers with these happy moments and memories, I feel I have fulfilled my mission in life.

***When did you start decorating?***
Ever since I was child, I've always liked to make easy cakes and cookies . But, my real start was when I came to New York in 2008.

***Where did you learn cake decorating?*** 
After graduating from cooking school, when I began interning at the pastry shop - and was lucky enough to be hired on at.

***Do you have any formal training?***
I am self taught and I am always trying to better develop my skills by taking on bigger and more diverse challenges. My parents gave me a lot of exposure to great illustrations with the following books/artists: Osamu Tezuka (Cartoonist, Comic Artist) (I think I first got to see his work when I was only 3 years old.), the Peter Rabbit stories of Beatrix Potter (especially "The Tale of Ginger and Pickles"), the Brambly Hedge Series (All of my tiny inspirations are from these books) And also, my parents encouraged me to draw a lot of pictures when I was child. And I was also very interested in the Animation, or Anime, industry of Japan. So that give me a lot of images and details.

***Do you have a signature style?***
I'm so happy that I have been getting feedback via the social media and many people seem to now be able to recognize my work as soon as they see it, it's very exciting!!

***What is your favorite decorating tool?***
I find that my best tools are the ones I didn't have to go to the store to get; my fingers --my CLEAN fingers, that is, ha ha.... And also another item, although it is not for decorating, is Canned Air, I love using it! It's an easy way to make sure the Topper's surface is dust free!! I especially use it before I begin a topper photo shoot.

***What is your best tip or trick?***
It's always fun to discover new ways to get the job done !! I have some of tips already for everybody to check out in the blog section of my website.!blog/c2481  

I want to always try to share more tips as I figure them out, however, I often forget to post, lazy me!!!

***Who is your “Cake Crush”? ***
The first time in my life I saw Fondant and Fondant on a Cake was when visited the United States, I believe it was in 2004. I was in Chicago and one day I was just taking a walk around the neighborhood where I was staying when I happened upon this small shop called "Cake Girls". It was Halloween and in the shop was a Halloween theme cake and it really knocked me out. I had never seen such a cake... I had never seen fondant either! After I returned to Japan, I stayed in contact with the owners and made plans to visit them again soon after... it was a crazy, great travel experience!! 

***What is your best advice for a beginner?***
I would just like to say that the best way to approach your work is to have fun with it and to try to appreciate any obstacles as opportunities to challenge yourself as well as opportunities to learn new skills and approaches. Of course some days will be better than others, but if you are able to try to maintain this mind set, on balance you'll appreciate that pastry work is a pretty sweet gig!!  Here are three more things to keep in mind:
No.1 "Have Emotion" Making Cake or toppers is your special gift to people as guests or clients. I always focus on the idea that if I can surprise myself, then I have a pretty good chance to surprise the client and their guests, so just focus and concentrate on you work and put your heart into it!
No.2 "Be Unique" It's always special if you can give your clients or guests a one of a kind experience.
No.3 "Make Lasting Memories" When the event day arrives, your work has it's moment in the spotlight...If you've done the job right your toppers or cakes will give a sweet memory for all party guest to take home with them.

***What is your favorite cake/filling flavors?***
Actually, I mostly like the edge of the cake where if might be burned or damaged, LOL!

***What is the decorating tool that is on your wish list?**
I need another couple pairs of hands - fingers are best tool ever!!

***What is new or upcoming for Sachiko?***
My new tutorial online video by CakeMade is coming in September!!!

P.S. my English is second language, so it was a very big challenge!!! But I am confident anybody can get a lot of new ideas and inspirations from these tutorials!!!

Thank you Sachiko!  Wishing you all the best and continued success!  Can't wait to take another class with you... See you in NYC! :)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sugar Artist Spotlight: Amber Adamson

Sugar Artist Spotlight #1: Amber Adamson

I was recently introduced to Amber’s work and I was blown clear away! It was one design in particular that has made me a lifelong fan….her ice cream cone cake! Three gravity defying, quirky little ice cream scoops with happy faces, cheerleading on a cake with fluffy sugar ruffles. She had me. And I had to know who the genius was behind this cake. And let me tell you….Amber is as sweet and lovely as her cakes.

Introducing……..Amber Adamson from Top Tier Cakes for All Occasions!

Location: Wenatchee, WA
Facebook name/URL:
Twitter: Ambie_80
Instagram: ambertoptieradamson

***So who is Amber Adamson?***

I am a very down to earth person, who likes to laugh at everything. I haven't been doing cakes long. I started my cake journey in 2011, and it's been a really wild ride. When I started cakes, there were no Facebook groups to pull ideas from, or to go to in order to relate with other decorators. There were no tutorials, only a small handful of You Tube clips to learn from. It was literally me fast forwarding and rewinding all the episodes of Amazing Wedding Cakes, Charm City Cakes, and Cake Boss to see how did they do that?! I figured it couldn't be too hard, and was much like ceramics, in high school. Boy was I wrong. I picked up most of my basic fondant skills from my friend Teri Waymire who baked cakes for her family and friends. I remember asking her if I could PLEEEEASE, watch her or possibly help her. She allowed me to come and learn, and from there I just fell in love. My beginner cakes were hideous, but for some reason my friends loved them and I remember being so excited for my first paid order for a flip flop cake I made. 

Since that point, I've been on a roller coaster ride of cakes, both good and bad. Seems like each time I make a cake, I've learned 14 ways how I could have done it differently. I go to bed that night and think about how I should have done it, or pick it apart and want to make it better, and more appealing. The bad part is, I'll never make 'that' cake again, because I don't repeat designs. Each cake is a new challenge, a new approach to a look or feeling someone wants to evoke in cake. My job is to crystallize what they want into an edible medium. Not always an easy task, but a challenge I welcome.

***When did you start decorating?*** 
I started decorating in 2010 for family and friends and 6 months after that a local newspaper saw a cake I made, which was a Canon camera replica, and a Shelby Cobra, and wanted to do an article on me and my friend, that had decided to do cakes with me. We weren't yet ready to publish an article, because little did we know, you can't just make cakes and sell them without being licensed. So we scrambled and got all our t's and i's dotted and crossed, and started making cakes officially for the public in February of 2011.

***Where did you learn the art of cake decorating? ***
TV, You Tube and my friend Teri Waymire

***Do you have a signature style?***
Clean, thin fondant, light, ethereal if possible, and fun.

***What inspires you?***
So many things! As hard as it is to not see another cake and think, wouldn't it be cool if..... and then change it up, I still do that. I'm working towards not doing that. Greeting cards, and children's books are a great inspiration. Etsy and paintings I see are another inspiration. And as often as I make my weekly trips to Hobby Lobby, I ALWAYS see something there and think....OH CAKE! YES! MUST MAKE! Antique stores always do it for me as well.

***What is your favorite medium or technique to work with?***
I LOVE a mix of modeling chocolate and fondant. I love when it heals itself and has no lines, and no mistakes. It also tastes great together!

***What is your favorite decorating tool?**
Favorite tool...oh boy. So many. Paint brushes, sewing ruler, because you can see through it and get a straight cut each time, scalpel, and razor blades.

***What decorating tool on your wishlist?***
A good turntable. After 3 years, I still have the Wilton turntable and have yet to invest in a new one. And a 12" bench scraper. 

***What is the best class or tutorial that you have taken (free or paid, in person or online)?***
HANDS DOWN AVALON'S MOLD TUTORIAL! Best ever! So many dollars saved.

***What is your best tip or trick?***
Don't be afraid to tear down something you worked on and remake it because it wasn't quite right. It will make you a better decorator in the end.

***Who is your “Cake Crush”?***
Cake crush.... I feel like I have so many it's hard to say just one. I adore Avalon’s painting skills ( Avalon Cakes) She is legit. Kara Andretta's ( Kara's Couture Cakes) airbrushing skills and sculpted cakes could make a grown woman cry. Lizzo's (Artisan Cake Company) bust that she made awhile back makes me want to quit decorating altogether. Ha! Anyone with a clean cake, and non cluttered decorating sends me to my sketch pad. And that's the truth of it.


*** What is your best advicefor a beginner?***
Be patient. It doesn't happen overnight. PRACTICE!!!! I'm still a beginner. I still have so many things I want to do and make. 

***What is your favorite cake/filling flavors?***
Here and now, is where I admit, that I do in fact hate cake. I do. I'm sorry. I'm awful and should be beaten. But I need steak in my life like no other. My favorite recipe is Artisan Cake Company's Vanilla/Chocolate cake. Beyond. (Artisan Cake Company)

***Tell me some other interesting, fun info about yourself.***
It's hard for me to sit still. I can't sit and watch TV, or do one thing at a time. I HAVE to do several things at once. It's just the way I'm wired. I'm sure I drive my husband nutty.
Amber was recently featured in Cake Master's Magazine for a technique using shortening and edible dusting powder, an alternative to using airbrush or royal icing when stenciling.
Click here for the free tutorial!  ----->
ACP - Amber's Creamy Powder Method:


Thank you Amber! It was a pleasure getting to know you and I can’t wait to see your next masterpiece! ♥

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Guest Contributor: The Business of Baking!

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

Taking Deposits
by Michelle Green

The simple answer to this question is, “Yes! Of course you should!” I know that for beginning cake decorators, asking for money is really hard – let alone asking for money up front when the cake is weeks or even months away.

The reasons for taking a deposit are many, but as I see it there are two main purposes. The first is, it protects you as the cake maker.  Once the deposit has changed hands, it's effectively a contract. You know you've got that order to get done so you can plan for it. Clear your calendar, buy ingredients, start to work on that figurine or whatever it is you need to do. It also helps you to afford most if not all of whatever you might need to purchase in order to get the job done. If something goes awry and the customer cancels their order, at least you are not now left with a bunch of things which you had to pay for. Taking a deposit and securing a date it also really important if you limit the number of orders you take, because then you know what other work you can agree to or if you need to turn work away.

The second purpose to taking a deposit is to protect the consumer. Once they've paid the deposit, they know that you are contractually obligated to provide them with the agreed product. They can then move onto the next part of their event planning, knowing that the cake or cupcakes (or whatever it is you make) is secured.

Basically having a deposit paid is a guarantee to both parties – but I've heard of deposit situations going very, very wrong on both sides. Firstly, I've heard of clients cancelling orders and demanding their deposits back. In this case I usually say you should just be reasonable. If they've cancelled months and months before their event and you haven't done or spent anything on their order, and you are likely to fill their spot, I'd be inclined to refund it.  Your terms and conditions may have a time-based clause about this – so any cancellations 30 days or more before the event were refundable, 30 days or less before they event,  they were not. Again, the time you choose should be enough to give you the chance to re-book that spot with an order from someone else. You may choose to have a blanket “non refundable deposit” clause and plenty of people do, to avoid people shopping around.

I have unfortunately also heard of cake makers taking 'non refundable' deposits and then pulling out of making the order for any number of reasons (and some of them are truly bonkers reasons.) In my opinion, returning a deposit to a client is really unprofessional unless you are really and truly unable to complete the order or something catastrophic happens.  By taking the deposit you basically agreed to a contract to provide a product, and that client is relying on you to do so. Not only is pulling out effectively breaking the contract, but word is going to get around very quickly that you are unreliable. Unfortunately I had this exact experience when my Dad passed away suddenly. I was able to ask a friend to take over the orders for me, and she kindly also helped explain to my customers why she was taking over those orders for a few weeks because I simply was not able to do so.  I had an obligation to my clients and I met that obligation – I could not imagine simply walking away from those orders and leaving clients in the lurch (especially bridal clients, for whom finding a cake maker at short notice is not easy.)

To review, taking a deposit is an essential part of the business process, as it helps both the business owner and the consumer. All it takes is that one client who leaves you with a 3 tier cake and then magically decides they either didn't need it or don't remember they ordered it for you to learn that lesson the hard way.

Copyright 2014 Michelle Green The Business of Baking All rights reserved.

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"  "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