Cool Stuff

Cake Boss: An Inside Look at Life as a Baker

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Chocolate or vanilla? I’m not here to settle that age-old debate, but I can assure you that your sweetest desires can be met with the right baker.

Whether or not you partake in a slice or two of cake, it’s in good taste to know someone that can hook you up. Like all things in life, we all have different tastes, so when it comes to creating the perfect cake it’s helpful to have a baker on speed dial!

The 416 Mag spoke to local baker Jenna Kouri about her love of cake, her sweetest creations (and disasters), and what goes into bringing a cake vision to life.

About Jenna, Jenna Kouri (JennaCake Creative Cakes and Cookies) is a food scientist, chef, baker and foodie who has had a passion for baking since the age of 15. Her baking inspiration began with obsessive watching of Anna Olson’s “Sugar” on the Food Network. Fast forward to 2017 – hundreds of cakes, cookies, cupcakes and “you should start a cake business” comments later, JennaCake bake shop was born! After extensive baking in her home kitchen, Jenna finally moved to a commercial kitchen space to share her passion and talent for baking to an even wider audience. Today, she is always in the kitchen baking up new creations and enjoying every minute of it!

416 Mag: Why did you decide to start your own business?
JK:
I always enjoyed baking, from when I was about ten years old I started making a mess in my grandmother’s kitchen. In high school, I started baking for my friends and making birthday cakes for them, and I got a part-time job at a grocery store bakery as a cake decorator where I learned the basics. After that, I just constantly baked for my friends and family, and at some point, people started offering to pay me for it. For years, people have been telling me I should start a legitimate cake business, so I did!

416 Mag: What’s the process involved with the custom cakes, cupcakes, and edible figurines?
JK:
It takes a lot of planning, organization and creativity! Most clients just provide a theme/idea and ask me to take it from there. I have to start by doing some research, especially if the theme is something I’m not familiar with (I recently made a cake based on a video game that I’ve never heard of or seen, so I had to familiarize myself with it – I watched YouTube videos of the game). From there, I start sketching up some prototype concepts for the cake, like a blueprint, and listing the materials I need (colourings, fondant, gum paste, moulds, cutters) to make it come to life. If the cake itself is a 3D shape of something, for example, a shoe, the carving of the cake into that shape has to be carefully planned because that’s crucial! You can’t un-carve a cake!


Each component of the cake is meticulously planned so that when it comes time to make it, everything comes together smoothly.

The biggest challenge is putting all these components together with only EDIBLE materials! Need to get really creative here sometimes. Having an edible image printer makes it a little easier though.

416 Mag: How far in advance do people need to place an order?
JK:
For decorated sugar cookies and cupcakes, we recommend placing an order at least three weeks in advance of your event. For larger orders or wedding cakes, 3-4 months is recommended as we book up quickly during wedding season. We may be able to work around these times depending on availability, so it’s best to contact us to inquire.

416 Mag: What were some of your greatest creations and epic disasters?
JK:
My greatest creations was a cake that looked like a Yeezy shoe perched onto a shoebox and one that looked like a military jacket. The Yeezy cake, when I posted a photo of it on Instagram, people sent me messages saying how nice it was for me to buy Yeezys for my boyfriend. They thought it was an actual shoe, not a cake! That’s how I knew that cake was awesome.

The military jacket cake had a lot of specific details, and I’ve never gotten so many compliments on one of my cakes as that one.

Epic disasters? There have been a few. These are the things that cake artists don’t like to talk about! I’ve had a 4-tier wedding cake completely collapse because the weight of the cake was too much and the whole thing just imploded. I’ve also had to decorate a cake in a room where the air conditioning was not working so well on a July afternoon, and the icing started to melt and 3 hours worth of work just melted and slid off onto the floor.

In these cases, there’s nothing you can do except start a new cake, even if it means pulling an all-nighter. In both of the cases I mentioned, I never told the clients that there was a failure cake. I think I speak for all cake decorators when I say that we just pretend those cakes never existed.

 

Kelty Campbell

Kelty is a marketing guru and glass half full type of gal. When she’s not at work, you'll find Kelty on her yoga mat or lacing up to reach a new personal best running. Passionate about people, health & wellness, and checking off her Toronto taco bucket list. Kelty is proud to call the 416 home and loves all things Canadiana.