Words to remember …
This time of year is always a little bit challenging for me, as it’s a notoriously quiet season for cakes. As a business owner, I’d be lying through my teeth if I told you I was throughly enjoying the break from the studio, because even though there’s little coming in – there are still bills to pay! Fortunately, very similarly to many of my friends who are teachers and have to budget for summers without paychecks, I’ve learned how to budget for a few quiet winter months before things start picking up in the spring. And since time is incredibly valuable, now is the perfect time to 1) finally catch up on all the non-kitchen tasks that involve a lot of paperwork and computer time, 2) make a few coffee dates to catch up with other cake making friends & wedding professionals, 3) work on a few designs from my own idea sketchbook, and 4) fill the “inspiration-well” by taking in many other forms of art. And so, that’s exactly what I found myself doing for the first full week of January.
Here’s a few of the highlights from the week of January 6th:
I had a number of coffee dates this week with fellow entrepreneurs in the wedding industry – including a very long coffee date with two other fabulous NJ cake designers. It’s always interesting to chat with people in the industry, as each of us comes to our craft from different backgrounds. During our conversation, I realized that my strength as a cake designer comes from art & design first. Creating unique and modern designs, as well as realistic 3D cakes is definitely my passion. It’s a tricky balance between keeping one’s artistic integrity and making the all-mighty $. Even though a lot of people would consider it “easy money” to replicate designs, I never like replicating other designers’ or even my own work! It seems like the ever-present challenge for me over the past few years has been figuring out ways to translate über-expensive designs into more budget-friendly designs without losing the overall aesthetic.
Adding emphasis to how important the design process is in my cake creation, I was totally surprised to discover during our cake chat that it’s not a mandatory step for my fellow cake designers to create cake sketches. Almost every cake I create (with the exception of 3D cake replicas of objects), is sketched first – and in many cases – revised a few times too! I think a future post on my design process is definitely in store for this year …
One *big* highlight to my week was finding one of my wedding cakes in the 2012 edition of The Knot’s Complete Guide to Weddings book!
Of course, I couldn’t stay completely away from the studio! I started out 2013 with a cake design for the upcoming spring/summer issue of NY Weddings. The photo above shows an in-process photo of a zillion little hand-cut gum paste pieces and a sneak-peek of the finished cake in the bottom right hand corner.
Mr. Sweet Element & I also had a chance to enjoy our favorite city after the cake delivery to NY Weddings last Wednesday, which meant a long overdue trip to MoMA and a fabulous re-do birthday dinner for Mr. Sweet Element at Empellon. If you’re ever looking for insanely good Mexican – look no further than this gem in the West Village.
Also in the “filling of my inspiration-well” – I finally got to watch The Black Swan (loved), almost finished Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life” (highly recommended), and got to snap some photographs in NYC on Friday before I met up with a few friends. While I live in the land of instagram & cell-phone photos 90% of the time, I am on a mission this year to improve my photography skills with my “real” camera. I think it’s sad that so many people have DSLR cameras and only shoot in the automatic setting! The pics in the collage above will give you a glimpse into what caught my eye during a 3 mile morning walk from midtown to the west village.
Posted in Cake Inspiration, Cakes, Get to Know Jen, Miscellaneous, Press, Wedding Cakes
Tagged cake, cake inspiration, MoMA, NYC, photography, Sweet Element, Sweet Element Cakes, the knot, wedding cake
It’s always a pleasure working with a couple where I have the opportunity to work with them on both their wedding & groom’s cakes. This couple’s wedding theme was especially close to my heart, as it was the same as mine – masquerade!
The delivery for these two cakes was a bit interesting, as both cakes needed to be finished onsite and the groom’s cake had to be hidden from the groom until the reception started. With the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception all happening in the same place on the rooftop at the Ravel Hotel in Long Island City, NY , it was a bit of a challenge to keep the cake hidden! Luckily, the staff was able to get us a screen to work behind, and while there were a few close calls where we had to hide the groom’s cake in the kitchen hallway, the groom’s cake remained a secret until it’s unveiling later in the evening.
Here’s a photo of the two cakes together in their hiding spot on the bar.
During the couple’s tasting & design consultation, I got the distinct impression that while this couple wanted a traditional tiered wedding cake, they were also open to something a little bit different. In the end, the wedding cake design was definitely a collaboration between the bride & groom and me. The monogram on the top tier (which is one of my favorites!) was designed by the groom, and was also used on their wedding invitation. Also, while not too overly dramatic once the decorations put on, this cake was quite unique with offset tiers, two in royal purple for a jolt of color. The sugar anemones were a request from the bride, as she was also having the same flowers in her bridal bouquet. The white tiers with silver decor were inspired by the view of the 59th Street bridge from the venue.
The wedding cake was comprised of alternating tiers of devil’s food cake with peanut butter mousse filling, and red velvet cake, filled with cream cheese frosting. All tiers were frosted in vanilla buttercream, and decorated in fondant & gum paste.
The surprise Coca Cola bottle groom’s cake was extremely fun to make. As you might imagine, the groom is an a huge fan of Coke, so there was no mistaking what the overall theme of his cake would be! To make it a little more personal than just a bottle of Coke, I incorporated a few wedding rings on the top, a lasso around the base of the bottle (to tie in the groom’s love of all things country), and a few custom labels on the sides. The groom’s cake was comprised of pistachio cake, filled with pistachio buttercream and frosted in vanilla buttercream.
Here’s a few detail shots I took during delivery of the custom labels. As you’ll notice, The top was left off the cake until we got to the venue, as this was another cake that I sat with in the back, and I needed a spot to hold in case of any sharp turns or unexpected short stops during the drive from the studio to the venue. Luckily, we had a fairly smooth ride and the cake construction held up just fine!
And lastly, here’s a shot of me finishing up decorations on-site. (This was our first cake delivery with our new DSLR camera … so Jay went a little camera happy :D) You can see the offsetting of the tiers a lot more here.
Posted in Cakes, Groom's Cakes, Wedding Cakes
Tagged 3D coke bottle cake, coca cola cake, grooms cake, mask wedding, purple and white wedding cake, sculpted cake, sugar anemone, sugar flowers, sweetelement cakes, wedding cake
Yet another last minute wedding cake this year … the city skyline cake!
We delivered this almond cake, filled with strawberry preserves, frosted in almond moussaline buttercream and decorated with gum paste skylines to Attic Studios in Long Island City, NY.
During our tasting & design consultation, the couple decided that they wanted to tell their long distance love story in cake. With the groom being from Copenhagen, the bride from San Francisco, and the couple currently living in New York City, the skyline idea fit perfectly. The stick figures on top were colored copper figurines with a gum paste heart that were taken from the couple’s wedding invitation design.
Here are a few more shots of the skylines that wrap completely around this 360º design.
Posted in Cakes, Wedding Cakes
Tagged buttercream wedding cake, city skyline wedding cake, copenhagen skyline wedding cake, Modern Wedding Cake, ny wedding cake, nyc skyline wedding cake, round wedding cake, san francisco skyline wedding cake, Sweet Element, Sweet Element cake, tiered wedding cake, wedding cake
Earlier this fall I worked on a wedding cake for a lovely couple who had a very intimate wedding of about 30 people at The Peninsula Hotel in New York City. While discussing design at my cake studio during our initial tasting & design consultation, the groom fell in love with the design below that I had created for New York Weddings magazine back in the summer of 2010. Given the theme of fashion oriented cakes, I designed a cake inspired by one of my favorite Monique Lhuillier‘s wedding dresses. As you can see by their final cake above, the design was altered slightly, changing the tiers to hexagons from octagons, switching up the color palette to fall colors & adding on a few orange calla lilies as a topper.
This cake was comprised of a delicious combination of vanilla cake, soaked with Grand Marnier, filled with lemon moussaline buttercream and fresh strawberries, frosted in lemon buttercream, and decorated in a combination of fondant and gumpaste.
Posted in Cakes, Wedding Cakes
Tagged cake, fall wedding cake, fondant wedding cake, gum paste calla lilies, hexagon wedding cake, ny wedding cake, small wedding cake, sugar calla lilies, Sweet Element, Sweet Element cake, sweet element wedding cake, tiered cake, wedding cake
We delivered this cake to a small home wedding in nearby Maplewood, NJ last weekend. The cake was super lemony – made of lemon cake, filled with lemon curd and frosted in lemon curd buttercream. Fresh orange orchids gave a pop of color to top off the cake.
Whew … where did the summer go?! I can’t believe fall is right around the corner, but I will definitely be welcoming it with open arms. Between the heat waves, power outages and ridiculous humidity, I can’t say that summer is my season of choice. Fall is definitely my favorite season of the year though: crisp autumn days, chilly nights, the brilliant colors of fall foliage, warm apple cider and Halloween!
And what better way to start off the fall than with showing off some of the latest Sweet Element press! 😀
It’s always nice when your first cake in a publication is one of the biggest 😀 Here’s Sweet Element’s debut in Brides New Jersey.
Close up of the lavender and blue lace and blossom wedding cake.
Also featured in Brides New Jersey (as well as Brides New York & Brides Pennsylvania), was one of my favorite styles of wedding cakes, The Sequin Cake, that seems to be becoming a Sweet Element signature. These cakes are extremely time consuming & definitely labors of love, but the end result is always stunning (even more so in person than in print!).
Close up of the metallic sequin wedding cake.
As all my friends know, I *love* shiny things … so I was super excited when the editors at The Knot asked if I would make a silver cake for one of their color report pieces. I couldn’t have asked for a better shot of the cake … and I totally LOVE the shoe on the bottom of the page as well!
Here’s a close up of the silver cherry blossom wedding cake.
And last but not least, my first published groom’s cake! I don’t know why they didn’t choose the front shot of the AT-AT cake, but I’m still psyched that one of my sculpted cakes has finally garnered some attention from the press. The other nice thing about this cake, is that since it was a real cake created for a client a few years back, I was able to reach out to my client and let her know that her groom’s cake was in the press!
Close up view of the AT-AT cake from the rear.
Posted in Groom's Cakes, Press, Wedding Cakes
Tagged AT-AT cake, brides new jersey, brides new york, grooms cake, sequin cake, sequin wedding cake, star wars cake, Sweet Element, Sweet Element cake, sweet element grooms cake, sweet element sequin cake, sweet element star wars cake, sweet element wedding cake, the knot, wedding cake
This wedding cake, a perfect example of a very elegant, modern cake for a couple on a budget, was delivered to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the Time Warner Center in NYC a few weeks ago. Using fresh flowers, a custom clay topper and satin ribbon as decor is a very cost effective way to get a very big design impact!
All tiers of this cake were red velvet cake, filled with cream cheese frosting, frosted in vanilla buttercream and decorated in fondant, satin ribbon and gigantic fresh fuschia moth orchids. The super cute topper was made by Bitter Sweetz.
Close up of the bull dog bride & groom topper. These are just beyond adorable!
Posted in Cakes, Wedding Cakes
Tagged brown and white wedding cake, cake, fresh flower wedding cake, Modern Wedding Cake, ny wedding cake, nyc wedding cake, orchid wedding cake, square wedding cake, Sweet Element, Sweet Element cake, wedding cake
I was honored when our friends Shawn & Doug came to me to create their wedding cake for their wedding at People Lounge in the Lower East Side of Manhattan a few weeks back.
After a few design sketches back and forth, we came up with a very modern buttercream design, with a round quilted bottom tier highlighted with dragees, a round center tier decorated with the grooms’ initials and an hourglass shaped top tier with scattered multi-sized dragees that was topped with lavender sugar moth orchids. Each tier was banded with purple satin ribbon.
The cake was comprised of a combination of almond and devil’s food cake and was filled and frosted in almond buttercream. We also brought along a red velvet sheet cake with cream cheese frosting as a third flavor option since the number of wedding guests ballooned quite a bit a few days before the wedding!
Setting up this wedding cake was a very interesting challenge – as this was the first wedding cake I’ve assembled on an active bar! Luckily, Jay is very comfortable behind a bar as he was a bartender many years ago. With his help on the working side of the bar, and gaining a little height myself by standing on a bar stool we were able to set this up fairly quickly and then enjoy the wedding as guests.
I can’t emphasize enough how wonderful it was to be able to witness such a beautiful, loving, and funny ceremony for these two guys. While I always think of them as already married, since they had a civil ceremony in NJ years ago, this official wedding ceremony in NYC just cemented how perfect these two are for each other. There was definitely a lot of happy tears and laughter during the vows.
I just love this close up of the grooms holding hands.
The grooms with their cake!
Having the cake on an active bar and being a wedding guest was making me crazy as all I could picture was someone elbowing the cake before the cake cutting ceremony. Luckily that never happened, but I can tell you that I literally had to force myself to stop looking at the bar!
The cake cutting!
I love this picture from the cake cutting ceremony! That man wants CAKE! 😀
Here’s one last close up shot of the sugar moth orchids topper.
Posted in Cakes, Wedding Cakes
Tagged buttercream wedding cake, gay wedding cake, gum paste orchids, monogram wedding cake, ny wedding cake, orchid wedding cake, purple wedding cake, quilted buttercream, round wedding cake, sugar orchids, Sweet Element, Sweet Element cake, tiered wedding cake, wedding cake
I was thrilled to be able to work with the stellar team at Parties with Panache on this wedding cake that we delivered to an in-home wedding in Wayne, NJ last month. Believe it or not, I don’t get a slew of buttercream wedding cake orders, so it was kind of nice to be able to get back to the basics with this buttercream basket weave design.
This cake was an all vanilla cake, filled and decorated in vanilla moussaline buttercream and real roses.
Posted in Cakes, Wedding Cakes
Tagged basketweave buttercream wedding cake, basketweave cake, buttercream wedding cake, fresh flower wedding cake, nj wedding cake, round wedding cake, Sweet Element cake, SweetElement, tiered cake, wedding cake
This wedding cake was definitely one of my recent favorites both in design & flavor selection! All hexagon tiers were pistachio cake, filled with lemon zest cannoli cream, frosted in pistachio buttercream and decorated in fondant and gum paste. The top dusty rose calla lilies were handmade to match one of the wedding colors.
View of one of the side panels.
Close up of the calla lilies.
This was our first delivery to Rat’s Restaurant within the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. I was overwhelmed with how absolutely magical and enchanting the venue was & cannot wait to go back for dinner myself with some friends and dine at the chef’s table! If you ever find yourself looking for a special venue for a small dinner or a larger catered event ~ definitely check them out!
Just in case you were wondering … the design was heavily inspired by this one element from my clients’ wedding invitations. Yet another example of how valuable an “design inspiration” package of all other event elements can be to your cake designer!
Posted in Cakes, Wedding Cakes
Tagged burgundy wedding cake, filagree wedding cake, gold wedding cake, gum paste calla lilies, hexagon wedding cake, nj wedding cake, Sweet Element Cakes, sweet element wedding cake, SweetElement, tiered wedding cake, wedding cake