Monday, July 19, 2010
Cake Girls of Sacramento: Rebecca Salinas, Sweet Cakes by Rebecca
Wedding cake: Vida Mia-Botner: Vida Mia Photography
This edition of "Cake Girls of Sacramento" spotlights Rebecca Salinas of Sweet Cakes by Rebecca. Artistically, she is one of the best in town, and I am amazed at some of her replications of things in cake such as cognac and beer bottles/packaging, and even a bag of Cheetos. Check out the photo gallery here.
1. How did you get into the business of making/decorating cakes?
My mom bought me my first Wilton Cake decorating yearbook in 1994 and from that point on I was making cakes as often as I could and always trying new things. Then years later during a family BBQ while everyone was eating cake the conversation about opening a cake business started, with everyone telling me to leave my job and make cakes! So after 14 years of making cakes as a hobby, my husband and I decided to open our bakery. We posted some pictures of my cakes on the Internet and they received such a positive response. We began looking for a retail location and got lucky when we found a bakery fully equipped and ready for us to move into. So we made the leap of faith in ourselves and officially opened Sweet Cakes in Oct. 2008. What started for us as a curious idea has developed into an exciting and rewarding business venture.
2. Do you have any formal training?
I have thought about getting formal training several times during my years of cake decorating, but it never was the right time. When I decided to open the bakery, I had already had 14 years of recipe testing, cake building and studied many books about baking and cakes. I still at times think about attending and I’m sure that I would gain useful information, but for now I feel that I have a good understand of cakes and that is what I specialize in creating.
3. What is a typical day like for you at your shop?
There is nothing typical about a day at the bakery because there is nothing typical about the cakes. It is more of a weekly operation, than it is a daily operation. It depends on the cakes we are making each week how the days will be spent. I can say that Sunday is a reorganizing and deep cleaning day, Monday is a paperwork and shopping day, Tuesday is a day of prep and/or baking, Wednesday is a definitely a baking day, Thursday is a crumb coating day and Friday (the busiest day) is when the cakes began to transform in to finished masterpieces. Saturday is pick up/delivery day, and sometimes the day we start and complete orders for Sunday. It is 7 day a week operation, that I do with the help of my amazing team.
5. What is your favorite material to work with?
It would have to be our marshmallow fondant. I am able to mold it, cover cakes with it, make flowers out of it and it tastes good.
6. What are your favorite and least favorite foods to prepare?
This is a funny one, I don’t cook! I have always loved to bake and make sweets but never really been a fan of cooking. So with that said, my favorite food to prepare is pizza and my least is anything that I have to touch raw meat.
7. Please tell me about any cake wrecks or bridezillas you may have encountered. You needn't name any names. :)
I would say that when I look back at pictures of cakes I have made that I don’t have cake wrecks, but there are some cakes that I can tell I allowed the client to push me around regarding the design. It is not just brides, so I won’t use the term bridezilla, that want to much control over the final design of the cake. They don’t trust enough to let go and let me design a cake I know will fit their style, and event and be amazing.
8. What is your favorite flavor combination?
Ok, so my favorite cake combination is chocolate cake with caramel and cream cheese frosting and my favorite cupcake is cookie dough: a vanilla cupcake with mini chocolate chips baked over cookie dough topped with vanilla buttercream and a piece of cookie.
9. In what sort of cakes do you specialize?
I specialize in one of kind cakes. I enjoy to make tiered cakes (cakes that look like cake). But I also make sculpted cakes, ones that you have to take a second look at to know it’s a cake.
A sculpted cake: A 1957 Chevy Bel Air
10. What is your "can't live without" cake decorating tool and why?
It has to be my icing scrapper; it is a plastic 6” putty knife that I buy at Lowe’s. It helps me to make sure the sides of my cakes are straight and edges are sharp. That will ensure that the cake will look great when it is stacked and has its final decorative elements added on.
11. What types of flavors can we find in your shop. Are customers limited to a list or will you work with them on requests?
The bakery has a wide variety of flavors to select from and we encourage our clients to make their own combinations. We are constantly experimenting on new flavors and welcome requests from clients. We recently took and order for a blue velvet cake to be filled with fresh blueberries and cream cheese frosting.
12. If you had a different career choice, what would it be?
I had a career in automotive industry for 14 years which gave me a lot of experience in retail and accounting. I have also been to college and studied mathematics, computer science and accounting. I have interests in interior design, animal conservation, the environment and art, specifically painting. I had thoughts of being a teacher, an activist and CPA. But now that I’m a cake designer and decorator, and operate my own business, I can’t imagine a different career.
13. What was the biggest cake you ever made? What was the event? What kind of cake/filling/decorations?
I have made a few 6 and 7 tiered wedding cakes that stood just under 3 feet tall and served over 250 guests. One of the cakes had a 16” round base cake with 6 tiers above it with damask stenciling and draping. Another had an 18” round base with multiple tiers above it shaped like pillows each decorated differently.
Photographer: Vision One Studios
14. What would you like cakegrrl readers to know about your business? Why are you one of the best?
That is a big statement to say we are one of the best. I feel that each bakery and every decorator has a different approach to their cakes. That we all offer something different with our designs. The best example of this was at a cake show held this past February where 10 of the local bakeries made cakes with a Marie Antoinette theme and the cakes on display could not have been more different.
Marie Antoinette cake: Carmen Salazar Photography
I think our bakery stands out because of the attention to detail and craftsmanship that we put into every cake. We are not afraid of color, we are able to sculpt cakes, hand pipe cakes, hand paint on cakes, work with fondant or buttercream, make flowers, and work on cakes of all sizes.
15. On average, how many cakes do you make per week?
We have had weeks were we have made up to 26 cakes and others with as few as 5 cakes. It really depends on the size of the cakes and level of detail and decoration on each cake.
16. Is your business strictly made to order or can people buy something from you the same day?
Currently all of our cakes are custom designed and made to order with a 2 to 3 week lead time. We do have cupcakes, cake pops, caramel dipped treats and cookies ready to take home the 7 days a week.
Photographer: Jasmine Randall Photography; Picture of Rebecca at the Glitz and Glamour wedding showcase at Scribner Bend.
17. In your opinion, Is it all about the cake or all about the frosting?
It's all about the cake! The cake is the foundation of it all and it can be eaten with or without the frosting.
18. When making special projects, what is your opinion about using non-edible materials to make cakes (Styrofoam, PVC pipe, etc), or things that aren't cake to support the cake?
Of course the more edible everything is the better, but some of the designs we are being asked to create require structural elements that are not edible.
18. Have you ever won any types of awards? Please take the time to show off and let me know how you have been recognized.
We were recently recognized as one of the 2010 top 5 wedding cake bakers on KCRA’s A-list. We have been awarded the bride’s choice award from Wedding Wire for 2010. We are members of Style Me Pretty’s Little Black Book of wedding vendors. We were awarded “Best Presentation” by brides at the Let Them Eat Cake custom cake and dessert showcase. One of our Las Vegas themed cakes won 2nd place from Cake Central. Most importantly we have our client’s thank you cards and referrals and our wedding industry colleague’s recommendations; that is the best recognition I could ever want.
Best Presentation Table
19. Please tell me about the project or cake in which you took the most pride.
This is an especially difficult question because we really are proud of all our work. I think most recently it would have to be the dessert table we created for my niece’s 16th birthday party. We made a 2 tier cake, mini cupcakes and standard cupcakes, sugar cookies, cake pops, and caramel dipped pretzels and displayed them on cake stands and trays among jars filled with candy. It shows the team work of our bakery and our designing abilities.
You can learn more about Rebecca via her shop's website at Sweet Cakes by Rebecca and you can follow her on twitter here. "Like" her company on Facebook here. Her Myspace page is here.