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May Decorator Spotlight

Hi everyone! I am excited to be featuring Theresa (Cici’s Cakery) in New Jersey. Theresa makes the most beautiful paper sails and incorporates them in her cakes which have a distinct style. Read on to learn a little bit about Theresa to learn a little more about her and check out her favorite creations!

Hi Theresa! Can you share some about yourself?

Hi, I’m Theresa (not confused with CiCi, my daughter, who is the inspiration behind CiCi’s Cakery).  I’m a stay-at-home mom to my two girls by day and a baker/ cake decorator by night.  I worked as a lingerie designer for 10 years before leaving the industry to focus on my family and build my cake business.

How did you get started with making cakes? What made you to decide that this is your career?

The first cake I made was a smash cake for CiCi’s 1st birthday.  It was so difficult to make, and I was so frustrated that I said: “I will never make another cake in my life again!”  Six months later, CiCi had an anaphylactic reaction to tree nuts and wasn’t allowed to eat at any of the bakeries due to cross-contamination.  This meant that she might not have a 2nd birthday cake, and I was not going to let that happen.  I spent the next six months watching cake tutorials on YouTube and practiced making cake after cake until I felt comfortable enough to make CiCi a 2nd birthday cake.  Making cakes was a challenge for me, but I was curious and always wanted to continue learning.  Caking was a stress-reliever for me as a new mom, and it was my creative outlet. My husband encouraged me to build my cake business, and it was my solution to doing everything I can to not return to the cut-throat fashion industry.  Being able to raise my own child while building a business is a luxury.

What is your favorite process of baking/cake decorating?

I have spent countless hours baking and experimenting with different recipes and flavors to get my cakes to taste the way they do.  As a foodie, taste, flavor, and texture are the most important foundations of a cake.  Baking is now the mindless part, so cake decorating is where I can express my artistic side and my emotions using different cake techniques.

What are your must haves cake tools?

Every cake designer should have a proper cake-turner, an off-set spatula, a proper camera, tripod, and photography backdrops.  I’d like to add a must-have ingredient, which is an edible gold highlighter!  It adds shine and always elevates any cake design.

What is the biggest accomplishment to the date of your baking career?

In the cake world, I’ve been featured in Cake Masters Magazine and a few cake blogs.  But in the real world, my biggest accomplishment is connecting with my clients and building relationships.  I can bake a delicious cake and make it look all pretty, but building a connection and good customer service is key.  My goal is not to become famous but to bring a slice of happiness to everyone’s party.  Life is too short to waste your calories on the bad cake.

Do you have a memorable cake that challenged you?

The most challenging cake I’ve made was a 3D sculpted Boba Fett helmet cake I made 3 years ago.  It was a pretty cool cake in the end, but I was sweating bullets when making it, not knowing if the helmet pieces will hold up.  

What are your favorite cake trends? 

I’ve been having a lot of fun doing palette knife painting with buttercream and try to use this technique whenever possible.  I also love the mini cake trend, especially during these pandemic times!  And I can’t wait to try the cake top forward technique.

What is your favorite dessert?

This is a tough one because I love almost all desserts!  My favorite dessert growing up was cannolis.  I would go to my local Italian deli, and they piped the cannoli cream as you ordered into their homemade shells.  They were $1/ pc back then and the most delicious cannolis I have ever had. Unfortunately, I have not had the same cannoli since.  So since I can’t have a good cannoli now, I’d have to say my next favorite is a mille-feuille- also hard to find a perfect one!  

Where do you find your inspiration from? 

Aside from Pinterest and Instagram, I look for inspiration from art, fashion, textiles, and anything that might evoke emotion to create a mood.  I always try to add movement and whimsy into my designs.

What do you enjoy doing besides making cakes?

I enjoy spending time with my husband and our two daughters- they make me laugh and are so good for my soul.  I’m so proud of the little family that we’ve built.  We do everything together as a family- so if we’re not dining out at the best restaurants, we are traveling, going on adventures during our nature walks, family art, or just running around being silly.

Share a fun fact about you! 

I’m a 4’ 11” introverted firecracker.  😉

My Favorite Creations

Floating Ombré Hearts Cake

I created this Pink, Purple, and Turquoise ombré cake and decorated it with ombré rice paper Heart Sails, and finished it with gold splatters. I always like to add some movement to my cakes so I strategically placed the hearts so it looks like they’re floating up.

Mermaid Cakes

This mermaid cake was designed by CiCi (my daughter) for her 7th birthday. My customer ordered this same exact cake for his 5 yr. old sister’s birthday. Their mom has been fostering 57 (?) kids over the years and decided to adopted the last two kids- one of them is Ruby. I felt the love that this family has for this child, and know there are so many other beautiful kids out there waiting to be adopted too.

I’m so excited to share this mermaid cake with you all! My client ordered these to help her 2-year old celebrate her birthday. The little one didn’t have a birthday party last year due to the pandemic so her parents threw her an awesome one this year!

For more mermaid cake inspiration, click here.

Metallic Origami Heart Terrazzo Cake

Tonal animal terrazzo (carved terrazzo technique by Sasha @sashacakeschicago ) and wafer paper origami are both firsts for me. The metallic wafer paper hearts are my version of origami- wavy lines and perfectly imperfect! Because let’s be honest, wafer paper is not easy to work with! The true master of this wafer paper fan technique is Anna Astashkjna @astashkinacakes so go check out her tutorials.

Rice Paper Petal Cake

My rice paper petal cake designs has quickly become a customer favorite! It is super difficult to re-create cakes like this because of the rice paper’s organic nature. I love how organic it is, the movement it creates, and the many looks at different angles.

Ocean Waves Cake

I was given creative freedom with few guidelines on this baby shower cake order, and I really appreciate that. As a cake designer, it’s important to have that creative freedom and most of the time that’s when beautiful new creations are made. I decided last minute to do a marbled buttercream instead of ombré and I love how it came out. Marbled buttercream is so unique and different for every cake and really elevates the overall look. Of course, I had to add my rice paper petal sails.

Pot of Gold Cake 

My friend, Eileen @makemoorecake inspired me to make a rainbow rice paper sail topper.

For more St. Patrick’s cake inspiration, click here.

Hot Air Balloon Cake

I tried 3 different ways to make a hot air balloon topper for this cake: once with chocolate (failed), another with isomalt (failed), and finally with rice paper sails. Third time’s a charm! 😅

Wafer Paper Flower & Gilded Leaves Stripe Cake

I wanted to experiment with making wafer paper flowers so here’s my first 3D wafer paper flower. It’s not a realistic flower, but as CiCi would say: “It’s very rare!”

Thank you so much Theresa for allowing me to feature you and your gorgeous cakes! I wish you the best with your booming business.

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