Before discovering her passion for cake and cookie decorating, Loren worked for 15 years in sales and marketing at a large technology company. Currently, as a wife and stay-at-home mom to her 5 1/2 year old son Ryan, she now has much more free time to play in the kitchen. What started as a hobby has now become an obsession!
Loren is a self-taught cake and cookie decorator who also documents her endeavors as an amateur baker on her blog “The Baking Sheet”, www.thebakingsheet.blogspot.com. Three of her creations have been published in a popular decorating book “1000 Ideas for Creating Cupcakes, Cookies and Cakes”. She is an avid collector of dessert cookbooks, cake pans and cookie cutters. Her dream is to one day open a sweet shoppe in her hometown on Long Island, NY where she currently resides.
1.How did you first get started with cake decorating?
I never had any real hobbies or interests outside of my career. I was a workaholic in the corporate world! My obsession with cakes didn’t begin until after I married, had my son and became a Stay-At-Home Mom, 6 years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a baker…brownies, coffee cakes, crème brulee, pecan pies…but not until I made hand decorated sugar cookies for my son’s Christening party, did I get the bug for decorating. I found an excuse to make cookies for any occasion while developing my piping skills. Everyone started to take notice so I thought, maybe I was on to something.
2. Why did you decide to decorate cakes?
Being a “cookier”, it was a natural evolution for me to start cake decorating. Piping with royal icing is similar to piping with buttercream so it was easy for me. Plus, I already had many of the tools that you need for cakes…piping bags, couplers, tips, gel paste. I made my first decorated cake for my son’s 1st birthday. Soon I was making cakes for all his friend’s birthdays!
3. What are some things you do differently now than when you first started decorating?
When I first started cake decorating I was definitely a buttercream girl. I only tasted fondant a few times and didn’t like it, so I had made up my mind that I never wanted to make a fondant cake – why make a pretty cake if it tasted gross? I thought “The Cake Boss” and “Ace of Cakes” –type cakes were a fad (Sorry Buddy! Sorry Duff!). Boy was I wrong! It took me a long time to get on the fondant bandwagon. I discovered there are some wonderful brands of fondant that taste great and I make my own fondant too. It has been a very long time since I made an all buttercream cake. I am, however, secretly hoping the art of decorating with buttercream doesn’t become extinct!
4. What has been your greatest challenge?
My greatest challenge is my greatest restriction! Here in Suffolk County, NY (Eastern Long Island) we don’t have a “cottage law”. This means home-based bakers cannot be licensed therefore cannot legally sell our cakes and cookies. The only option for me is to rent a commercial kitchen or open up my own shop one day. In the meantime, we eat A LOT of cake and cookies around here. My friends and neighbors think I’m awesome!! LOL!
5. What is the most rewarding part of cake decorating?
The most rewarding part for me is when someone says “ you MADE that?”, or says “you have talent” or describes me as an “artist”. This really blows my mind. Of course it isn’t all about me- It is also equally as amazing when you reveal a cake for the first time and the look on the recipient’s face keeps me coming back for more.
6. What are your favorite cake decorating tools?
- Ateco Palette Knife
- 6” flexible blade used for clay crafts
- Five-wheel pastry cutter
- Americolor edible markers. (great for cookie decorating, but also great for marking cakes)
- Cookie cutters! Being a “cookier” has it’s advantages…I literally have hundreds of cutters.
7. Which one of your cakes is your favorite?
My favorite cake is probably not my best cake or most technically difficult, but it is special because it is the very first fondant cake that I ever made- I call it “Sadie’s Cake”. I also love “Tom the Turkey” and the “Stack of Pancakes” cake.
My favorite cookies are my wedding cake and bridal bouquet cookies…they have my signature ribbon roses that I use on many of my designs.
8. Could you give some tips to people who have just started decorating cakes or would love to start?
- Go to CakesDecor.com! It’s an amazing resource for inspiration.
- Be fearless. Don’t be afraid of trying a new technique or design. Push your boundries. Some of my best cakes and cookies were a result of trying something I thought was beyond my skill level.
- Enter cake contests! Not only it is fun, but it’s a great way to show off your skills, learn from fellow decorators and engage with others who share your passion for cakes!
9. How did you find CakesDecor.com and what is it that keeps you coming back?
I found cakesdecor.com through one of my “cake heros”, Peggy from PeggyDoesCake. I fell in love with the site because it is easy to navigate and you can upload pictures in seconds, not minutes like some other cake decorating sites. Of course what makes the site work is all of the amazing, talented cake decorators out there that share their secrets, recipes and tips. I can easily get lost for hours studying their photos. I learn something from every single cake that is posted. Being engaged online (also through my blog and Facebook page), I’ve developed many friendships with supportive and encouraging women from all over the world. You often hear about how women can be catty and competitive….. Not in this community! Cake people are the best!
10. What’s been the biggest surprise in all of this for you?
The biggest surprise in all of this is that I actually have people from all over the world login to my blog and Facebook page to see what cake or cookies I will make next. Little old me, the stay at home mom, “The Cake Lady” from the NY City suburbs has people who appreciates my work! Sometimes I receive emails from strangers telling me that I inspire them. They send me beautiful pictures of their cakes and cookies. It is amazing and truly humbles me.
==================== QUESTIONS FROM OUR MEMBERS: =================
1. Since I’ve been following your work for a while now and everything you do seems so effortless and flawless, I’m wondering what, if any, was your worst decorating disaster. Come on, you have to have at least one to prove to us that you’re not super-human.
—Pam, New York
Hi Pam! Thank you for the sweet compliment! I take great care to avoid any disasters, but unfortunately I do have one “cake-tastrophy” to report. It was a few years ago when my son graduated from the 3 year old program at preschool and we were invited to a pool party to celebrate. The entire class was invited and I was asked to make the cake! Afterall, for the entire year many of the mom’s have been interested in hearing about my caking endevours and have been following my blog and looking at my pictures. Often, my cakes were the topic of conversation in the preschool parking lot and of course I’m always eager to talk cake! With all the hype I sure felt pressure to impress them with this cake! To add to the stress, a few of them are talented bakers and decorators themselves! UGH!
I decided to make a 2-tiered sandpail cake with a crab in the sand. It was one of my finest efforts and I was really proud of it. My problem was transporting it. I only had to travel less than a mile to the party. (Can you tell where this story is going?) How would I get it there? I couldn’t drive with it on my lap. My son surely couldn’t hold it. I’ll put it in a plastic tub! In the trunk! Yeah, that’s my best option. What was I thinking???
I barely made it out of my driveway when I heard a thud. I instantly knew it fell over. I nearly cried when I got to the party and opened the tub. There was nothing I could do to fix it. It was a box of chocolate crumbs. Boy was I embarrassed! Luckily the moms and kids didn’t care one bit and they all grabbed forks and served the cake anyway. Huge lesson learned about properly stacking, supporting and transporting a cake!
2. What was your most challenging cake, and your most favorite cake to make? What do you enjoy making the most, cookies, cupcakes, or cakes?
Thanks for your question Toni! My most challenging cake was the “Leg Lamp” cake – a replica of the famous leg lamp from the popular movie “A Christmas Story”. How would I make a rather large woman’s leg with fishnet stockings in cake form? I tried it several ways.
The first attempt was to drape ivory colored fondant over a 3’ long Barbie Doll leg. (Thank goodness 3 young girls live nextdoor!) Tried it twice, didn’t work…first time couldn’t get the fondant off. Second time it cracked.
The second attempt was to carve it out of cake. My carving skills aren’t the best. Scrapped that idea. (LOL, no pun intended). The third attempt was just to make a log out of fondant and mold it into a leg shape. It took a long time to harden and wouldn’t hold it’s shape to well, but at least it looked like a leg. I used black edible marker to draw on the fishnets -freehand. Another challenge there! It didn’t really turn out the way in envisioned, but the birthday boy was thrilled!
I have several favorite cakes – my “Stack of Pancakes” cake, “Tom the Turkey” cake and a 3-tiered Candy Shoppe-themed Topsy Turvey cake (inspired by Pink Cake Box), but I have to say my very first fondant cake that I ever made is my favorite. I call it “Sadie’s Cake”. It really opened my eyes to what I could do and my potential as a decorator. It lit something inside of me!!
Cakes, Cookies or Cupcakes? That is the question! Tough one! When I make a really great cake and I’m thrilled with the way it turned out, cakes are my favorite. But when everyone compliments me on a new cookie design, cookies are my favorite. Not a big fan of making cupcakes, although I still chuckle when I look at pictures of some Yo Gabba Gabba cupcakes that I once made. I’ve never even attempted making a cake pop!
3. Ooo! I’d like to ask Loren if she’d be my best friend. :) HA! Just kidding (sort of). Where does she find the majority of her inspiration?
—Rachel, Fondant Flinger , Kodiak, Alaska, www.facebook.com/fondantflinger
Hi Rachel! I would love a new cakey-bakey best friend!! (Not kidding) HA! That is the best thing about sites like this. I have made so many virtual friends through blogging and Facebooking. Athough I’ve never met them in real life, I do consider them friends, bound by a common interest. Amazing!
Where do I find the majority of my inspiration? Everywhere! Fabrics, wall paper, my son’s toys, walking the aisles at Michael’s Craft Store, fashion, nature, other decorator’s creations and of course…www.cakesdecor.com!
Here are some cakes made by The Baking Sheet(To see all The Baking Sheet’s Cakes, click here.):
Thank you Loren for the interview.
-- -- Michal, http://cakesdecor.com | My Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/michal.bulla