We often talk about how cakes are a work of art. And while of course the recipe itself is a masterpiece, when it comes to designing a breathtaking cake, you can’t deny the passion and skill behind it. Cake artist Alexis Sturgeon, owner of A-Cups Cakery and resident cake artist at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, knows a thing or two about creating a gorgeous cake.
After all, the young chef has worked as a commercial artist, muralist, abstract painter, folk artist, and showpiece-style rosary craftsman. She found herself captivated by shows like Ace of Cakes and Food Network Challenge and she eventually landed herself on two of them, competing on TLC’s Ultimate Cake Off: Ringling Brothers and on Cupcake Wars: Hollywood Walk of Fame. Both times, her artistry contributed to wins for the team during the competition.
When it comes to Halloween, it is all about the artistry on the dessert table. We caught up with Sturgeon via email to talk decorating cakes, Halloween, and all things baking!
The Daily Meal: We love these creepy cakes! What are quick tips you can give on making typical desserts "gory"?
Alexis Sturgeon: Piping gel! This clear edible food can be turned into any gory color you can imagine. Makes great fake blood!
TDM: What are your tips for combining savory and sweet into your cakes?
A.S.: Always design your desserts around the seasons! Know your seasonal fruits, nuts, and berries. Then, create your menu based on those ingredients. Getting a book on flavor pairing will also help to inspire and teach the art of flavor pairing when using unfamiliar ingredients.
TDM: What is the most challenging Halloween cake you’ve ever created?
A.S.: A haunted house! Making the dimensions look realistic and installing the proper supports within the cake is very difficult.
TDM: Tell us what your ideal Halloween dessert table looks like.
A.S.: I LOVE Halloween!!! It's my favorite time of year. If I could have a dessert table, it would include all my favorite types of Halloween candy. I LOVE Oreos! I would have mountains of homemade Oreos with varied Halloween colored filling. I'd also have candy corn cupcakes, Snickers mini pies, and Mars Bars candy apples!
TDM: What was your biggest decorating disaster?
A.S.: I once did a cake for Direct TV's 15-year anniversary. This was to be delivered on a particularly hot summer day from Beverly Hills to Manhattan Beach. During the drive over, the logo had melted and slid down five tiers all the way to the bottom, ending in a sloppy mess. I had to fix the cake on site with everyone watching me! Fortunately, I pulled it off just in time for the photo opp. That moment was so nerve-racking. I could have died when I opened the back door of the van to discover the disaster!
TDM: What are emergency quick fixes for different dessert disasters?
A.S.: Always bring an emergency kit. Example items in a kit could be: Extra butter cream and skewers to attach decorations in a pinch.
TDM: What should every baker have in their pantry at all times?
A.S.: Butterscotch schnapps! Great flavor additive.
TDM: What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
A.S.: The hand blender. It makes mixing sauces, ganache, and syrups easier.
TDM: What dessert are you most proud of making?
A.S.: My Simpsons cake. It was seen all the way in Tel Aviv on the national news.