About Me

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Durham, NC, United States
My name is Veronica and I own Southern Gold Leaf Cakes. I opened my home-based business in 2008. I am a licensed and inspected home bakery specializing in custom cakes. Since all cakes are made to order there are no frozen cakes here, only fresh and only home made. I am a self-taught baker but I have a strong art background with years of baking experience. It is the most rewarding feeling in the world when you can apply your skills to do something you love. To see my cake creations and view our yummy menu visit us at www.southerngoldleafcakes.com!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas cookies

 Yesterday we made our cookies for Santa and needless to say they were yummy.  I think they also looked their best this year. 
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just a few cakes...

I really need to find a balance between baking all day and getting to the computer in my constant need to update everything.  But baking, decorating and delivering take time and then somewhere, some time I'm supposed to sleep.  Eh, sleep is negotiable.  Anyway, last weekend I had a tremendous amount of baking to do.  It was absolutely one of the busiest weekends I've had yet.   Not only did I have my regular cupcake order, about 187 of them, but I also catered a Christmas party, a baby shower and a birthday. 
  The Christmas party was for my husband's office and they like chocolate cake/chocolate frosting and carrot cake/vanilla buttercream.  They also like them in individual serving sizes, 25 of each. 
  The baby shower was done in "block" style and, once again, individual serving sizes totaling 24. 
Lastly was the bumble bee cake.  How can you turn down a cute little face turning 4 who wants a bumble bee cake. 
 I couldn't and she was so cute when I delivered it because she was dressed like a bumble bee. 

If I have anything to add to this mayhem it's that being busy with work is still a blessing.  If it's a complaint it's a good one and I'll gladly take on more.  And if I don't remember or get the chance to post before Christmas I sincerely wish everyone a Merry Christmas with warmth and love this holiday season ad new hope for the New Year.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mixing Bowls

Sometimes it's just the little things that make me so happy.  As a baker, mixing bowls aren't just "little things" but in the grand scheme of things....

Anyway, picking up a few items at the local store (that starts with "W" and ends in "T") I found a set of glass, nesting mixing bowls by Anchor.  A total of 10 bowls for about $15.  They are awesome for melting chocolate in the microwave.  They are great for mixing meringue.  They are dishwasher safe and can go into the freezer.  It may not seem like a big deal but just the immediate convenience of multiple sizes and bowls can sometimes make all the difference.  There are some things you just can't have too many of, like, mixing bowls, good silicone spatulas, hand towels, aprons, shoes....

Monday, November 29, 2010

Little Thanksgiving Blessings

 This turned out to be just a cute little pumpkin cake (really carrot cake on the inside) for a friend who wanted just a small dessert for Thanksgiving.   Sometimes just some delicate piping is just enough. 

The pumpkin was sugar with vines and leaves piped on it.  All in all a wonderful little cake that was a joy to make.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cake pops - experimenting

So here is the beginning of my experimentation into the world of cake pops.  Step one is crumbling the cake and preparing it for shaping.  The next step is to add your frosting to a sticky but not overly mushed consistency.  The size does matter in this case because they will fall off the stick of they're too big.  Chocolately coating is next and then you're done. 

This is a new level of mess in my kitchen.  You become accustomed to a certain level and type of mess when baking.  Working with chocolate is a whole new level of mess and patience.  However they are very tasty and very popular.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gift card purchase and chocolate!!

Thanks to a very awesome birthday gift card from Kara of  A Cake to Remember, I FINALLY got out to Barnes and Nobles and realized it had been far too long since I was in a bookstore.  I had a couple of books in mind but was immediately captivated by the cooking/baking center table that had some really great finds!

My eventual purchase was "Cake Pops" by Bakerella (Angie Dudley)!  I was so excited simply because I've seen her on-line so much and find this the cutest idea.  I am constantly baking for preschool classes and the idea of keeping things neat and small - they're four.  It's hard to do both small and neat when you're talking snacks for this age group.  But the ideas in this book are pretty endless once you get the hang of it.  She teaches you the basics of over three dozen different designs and that is the ground work for you to be able to expand in any direction you'd desire!  If you are the experimental type this is an excellent find and can be used for so many occasions.  I am super stoked about trying this out! 

I also picked another little piece of literature called "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" - yes, I'm weird but I've never said otherwise!  All in all a fun trip to the book store that reminded me I have got to get out more! 
Another quick tid bit for the fans - Bobby Flay has just put out "Throw Down" and will be in Cary, NC on 11/14 for a book signing!  This is local for me and very exciting so I thought I'd share! 

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot...my splurge ended with a lovely piece of Godiva Chocolate! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Baking substitutions

Since I bake scratch I've never really tried this method, and I'm sure there's a scratch recipe that uses it I've just never looked, but last night I had some cupcakes a friend made where she replaced the oil, water and eggs in the box mix with a can of diet soda (sprite alternative).   I'd read about such substitutions before but never really felt the urge to see what would happen. 
  Overall the cupcakes were still tasty.  The texture was light and the crumb moist but they didn't want to hold together once removed from the wrapper.   It was as though structurally they just didn't hold together if that makes sense.  They were tasty but felt, I guess the word is, insubstantial.  I felt like I could probably eat a dozen before I felt like I'd had cupcakes.  This is not to say the weren't tasty or bad just very different. 
  I'm not sure the purpose of making such a substitution but now I know the outcome.  Would they have been different had she just used regular soda (or regular sprite alternative)? 
  Has anyone else ever tried this with different results?  Did you like them or not?  Curiosity takes the field on this one.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Listen to the words...

A recent phone conversation that went something like this:

Me: "Good morning, Southern Gold Leaf Cakes.  This is Veronica.  How may I help you today?" (said smiling)

Lady:  Who is this?
Me:  This is Veronica.  May I help you?
Lady:  I'm trying to call this cake place.
Me:  Well, I own a cake place.
Lady:  Where's it at?
Me:  Well, I do appointment only meetings.  What can I help you with today? (not giving her my address)
Lady:  So you make cakes?
Me:  Yes, ma'am.  Do you need a cake?
Lady:  Where do you get them?
Me:  I'm sorry?
Lady:  Is this the place that makes cakes?
Me:  Yes, ma'am.
Lady:  Where do you get the cakes?
Me:  (deep breath, roll eyes) Ma'am, I bake and decorate all the cakes at the time they are ordered.  Do you need to talk about ordering a cake?
Lady:  Yes.  That's why I called.
Me:  What type of cake would you like to order?  Is it a wedding  or birthday? 
Lady:  No. 
Me:  Ok.  Well, why don't you tell me the kind of cake you need and we can set an appointment for a tasting.
Lady:  Chocolate.
Me:  Ok.

This went on for some time and eventually she realized that she wasn't the right person to make this call and said she's have someone else call me back.  I wasn't sure if I wanted them to or not. 
The lesson (I think):  no matter who is on the other end of the phone you must always maintain a level of calm professionalism.   Even if they don't call you back and place an order the amount of bad advertising they can spread when telling their friends about the rude phone call can do massive damage.
On the other hand, if you happen to be the person making the call (we're all consumers at some point) know who you're calling, what you want and listen to the words on the other end to avoid confusion!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Cookies

I'm getting lots of practice at icing cookies it seems.  My daughter's preschool class is having their Halloween party tomorrow and I'm bringing cookies.  I would have preferred micro-mini cupcakes or some such but they really wanted something with less crumb and easier to eat - oh, well.  Since this is the last year I can bake and take to school and I'll do what I can.  They're actually pretty cute and I made little goodie bags to send home (with a card inside just in case mom wants more)!

Two blue cakes

The weekend of the 23rd and 24th were particularly busy and I will admit that part of it was due to an unusual lack of organization on my part. However, I did have so much fun working on these cakes. I have later found out that everyone but the bride and groom knew about the rehearsal cake.

The cat and dog represent our bride and groom.  The chuppah that they are under was recreated to match the one that they used in the their wedding and was made by their very good friend.  I am told that they were thrilled and many laughs were shared over this cake. 

This was a delicious chocolate covered cherry cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate covered cherries on the border! It was a lot of  fun.
And the wedding cake the next day...
Congratulations, Marsha and Rick Ohayon!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Honeymoon Cake

Not all cakes have to be big and full of flare.  Sometimes it's the more personal cakes that just make the difference.  I was asked to make a "cake for two" for a friend recently as she and her hubby were now taking their long awaited honeymoon.  When I told her this was becoming the new trend she said, "We just never had time before now!"  So they were taking a well deserved vacation/honeymoon and she wanted a cake that would last the weekend and was beached themed. 

The simple cake was white cake with a raspberry filling in the bottom and just vanilla in the top.  But it was brining the little details in that really won her over. 

Happy Annviersary Candis and Edrick.

Social networks and your business

Last week I had the priveledge to cater dessert to a Perfect Wedding Guide event at the Croasdaile Country Club.  The topic: using social networks to the best advantage for your business.  It sounds pretty simple and no-brainer but even for someone like myself (and I felt I was pretty savvy on how to use Facebook at least) it was extremely informative and extremely simple.

Angel Guerrero was the guest speaker and he did such an amazing job at conveying information that could be understood at any interaction level.  He managed to break it down to it's easiest to understand format but at the same time reminding us that we are still in control of what we put into it.  It doesn't have to be a scary thing.  You can find Angel on Facebook. 

The food was excellent and a big thank you to John Sluck at the Croasdaile Country Club here in Durham.  The the made the entire event seem flawless and effortless!   Shavon Via Photography did some really amazing work as well.  You can find her on Facebook also.  She was kind enough to allow me to repost the her work here.  She made my work look absolutely fabulous.  Thank you Shavon.  

All of this is a constant reminder that social networking is all about people.  Whether it's on Facebook or any other forum it's still about people.  We are in the people business.  That's why it's called social networking.

Myself, Michael and Gary of
Flowers by Gary

White and roses display

Caramel Apple cupcakes, pecan pie tartlets and cookies.
Link to Shavon Via Photography on Facebook

Link to Angel Guerrero's page

Monday, October 11, 2010


I don't know if this means I've reached a professional, albeit annoying, milestone or if I've just made it onto their grid but I was hit with my first "cake scam" this weekend.  Fortunately I had read about them in another blog but I think I would have figured it out anyway simply because they are so obvious. 

They tracked me through a professional on-line wedding vendor site which is not much different than the way any other spammer/scammer gets their information.  Once you reply and they give their return email that's when you know it is completely fake.   There must be a written script that all of these people use; broken English, (really) bad grammar and structure and impossible to believe sums of money and numbers.  The dates were contradictory and best yet it was for two weeks from today! 

I decided a semi-professional email was in order this time, with some slightly unrealistic demands on my part, but I also made sure that I went back through the original website and marked this item as spam.  I do not know if this will help or not but there's not much else I feel I can do.

The moral of this story:  knowledge is power!  No, really.  Keeping yourself current in your chosen field is a must but that means on the wackier side of things too.  Double check, check back and run with your gut feeling. 

Oh, well, I guess I'll have to wait a for a legitimate $4000 wedding cake order to come my way *sigh.* 

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I'm excited about my new weekend schedule.  Does it mean I get to sleep in an extra hour?  No.  Will you get to relax a little more?  No.  Then is it more time for myself somewhere in the day?  No.  How, you might ask, can I become excited about a schedule that includes none of the above?  The answer my friends is cupcakes!  While they have not always been my friend they are now becoming a fond aquaintance. 
  PlayNation in Morrisville, NC is an outstanding indoor play place that does birthday parties every weekend.  The parties are two hours long and include over an hour of indoor play on the bouncy houses and wooden play houses and then pizza and cupcakes.  Now, just guess where those cupcakes are coming from?  That's right, Southern Gold Leaf Cakes.  Each weekend I deliver fresh chocolate and vanilla cupcakes to them for their weekend parties.  They also do weekday parties and we deliver for those too! 
  The Powell's are incredibly friendly and wonderful people.  They are the owners and have created a family business for family fun.  I love that!  The also have times when you can come and "pay to play" which doesn't require a party and covers a lot of time.  The facility is clean and well monitored.
You can find them at their website http://www.playnationparties.com or on Facebook. 


A small side note, Kara from A Cake to Remember just informed me I won her birthday give away!  Almost as exciting for me is she decided to post to my blog.  I'm an avid reader of hers and love her work.  So a big thank you to Kara, happy birthday to both of us, and let's keep baking!

You can find Kara at http://www.acaketorememberva.blogspot.com/.   Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's my birthday!

Yep, it sure is.  Yesterday was experimental cookie day and today is experimental cookie icing/painting day.  I can think of only a few better ways to celebrate than making a mess, I mean, art in the kitchen.  I hope to have a few photos later today.

I can honestly say my kids and hubby get much more excited about cookies than cake at this juncture simply because I'll let them eat the cookies.  Oh, sure, I give them some of the little left overs of cake but it's cookie and candy time they get excited about.  They also know at their birthdays they get to pick a really cool cake and even at 10 and 5 they can totally design a cake!

It's my birthday - everybody eat cake!

Our first cut outs - playing with Halloween shapes             Playing with icing to "liven" them up. 

It's a work in progress but you can see we're moving into fun new places with the cookies. 

And my kids, who really aren't into sweets, have given them the sticky thumbs up that they're awesome! 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New items we're adding! Shaped iced cookies and tarts!

If I had nothing else to say about the bridal show we attended two weeks ago I would now add that it as very educational.  The number of different items that brides, grooms, mothers of the bride/groom, friends all asked for were quite numerous.  A couple of items stood out more than others.  The first was how to construct, or the possible combinations you can use to construct, the wedding cupcake tree.  The second concerned wedding favors, specifically either smaller, boxed cakes or iced wedding cookies.  I brought these ideas home and have been working them over.   You just never really know what people want or what they are looking for until you get the chance to ask and then listen. 

So we wanted to announce here, and will be updating the web page and Facebook soon, that we are now offering shaped iced cookies and tarts as wedding favors or additional desserts.  We have a variety of packaging that can be offered with the cookies or tarts so that they can be added as a lovely favor to any occasion that will compliment and coordinate with your entire theme.

  As with any cake, the cupcake tree can be done in a variety of ways.  The top tier can always be the usual cake tier followed by multiple rows of cupcakes with matching paper and designs, unique topper or tags and are easily self serve.  Having a regular cake tier on top still allows the bride and groom to "cut the cake" and eat it too!   There is also the full cupcake tree option where all is cupcake and can be designed in multiple ways to create a look that is signature for the couple.  And of course there is always the smaller cake for the bridal party surrounded by the artfully arranged cupcakes which again allows for self service. 

These are all easy and fun ideas that add a uniquely decorative touch to any event.  Have any other questions or great ideas, please let me know!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

PWG Bridal Show - What a day!

What a great time we had at the PWG Bridal Show at the Durham Marriott on Sunday, September 14th.   We were able to catch up with some old friends, like Gary from Flower's by Gary, and made lots of new friends, like, Catherine Katz from Cherished Celebrations. 
     Gail and Jaime put on an awesome event and were so helpful in everything from set up to clean up.  They helped make sure our booth was situated in the best possible way for traffic and that my secondary display table in the Vendor Showcase was exactly what I wanted. 
   My crew of very talented ladies were awesome.  My mom, Nancy Stroud, did an awesome job creating a banner for our booth so that we would have our name "up there."  My best friend from college, Jennifer Nichols, was very quick at creating a flow to make sure that people got cake and inforamtion.  Alison Byrd, my part-time creative help, was awesome in helping me talk to all the brides, grooms, friends and parents as well as working in the capacity of scheduling cooridinator.  Without them I would have been totally lost. 
   Here are a few pictures of our cakes, crew and the event - enjoy!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bridal Show update - we're in the Guide!

If you go to http://www.pwg.com/ and in their vendor section click on cakes, you will find our listing and picture.  Our phone number and web address is listed.  We are down to 16 days and there is still so much to be done.   Once more little essentials are put together I'll begin posting pre-show pictures.

Lavender and Ivory Roses Wedding Cake
Gregory Wedding, 2008

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Professionalism and great service!

Just as like everyone else I am consumer.  I am advertised to, marketed to and hit by sales pitches every day.   One marketing campaign that has the biggest impact, and is absolutely free, is the tried and true word of mouth effect.  It is said that for every good experience one or two people will know about it but for every bad experience at least 20 people will know immediately.  The fact is, we tend to spread the news more quickly when we have experienced something bad.  We do talk about the positive experiences but just not as quickly.  The plain and simple truth is a customer complaint is a huge black mark against any business.

When I hear complaints from brides I am speaking with I am often appalled at the manner in which they've been treated.  These are ladies who are preparing for one of the biggest days in their lives and they walk away feeling like they are unimportant;  just another client.  It can have a negative impact on the whole wedding community when their experiences are less than stellar and they begin to view all vendors in this light.

I recently had such an experience during a tasting.  While discussing the different aspects of the cake they were sampling the couple began to tell me of a tasting they had recently had at another bakery.  They had very little good to say about the event.  They continued to tell me about how many bakeries and cake caterers they had contacted who had not even returned their calls for an appointment.  They were amazed at how difficult it was proving to be to find a "professional" baker in the area.  I was stunned, not only on a professional level but on a personal level as well.   To call a bakery to ask for an appointment to taste wedding cake samples and not even get a phone call returned?  It's just rude and a bad business practice.

What has happened to professional courtesy in the service world?   It is the level of service and professionalism you provide that could be what shapes the decision of whether or not you are contracted by someone with their most special of days - their wedding.   Because I was available to take a phone call I was able to meet a wonderful couple, have great conversation and, after a second meeting, hope to bring them a beautiful cake to help them celebrate their special day.

Just remember that everyone is a consumer!  Give the service and professional attitude you expect to receive when dealing with other professionals because they are consumers, too. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Preparing for the Bridal Show - Part 1

      I'm very new to blogging it felt right to start off with our preparations for the Perfect Wedding Guide Bridal Show that will be held at the Durham Marriott on September 12, 2010 from 1 pm to 4 pm.  Ths is my first big event and while I'm super excited I'm also extremely nervous.   There is so much to do but I feel I am on target.   
     I have lined up some great assistants: Nancy Stroud, my mom, Jennifer Nichols, long time best friend, and Alison Byrd, very good friend and client.   There will be more posts concerning this event and some preshow photos. 

Any bride who would like a free ticket to this event can place a request through comment or go through the website and email me directly from www.southerngoldleafcakes.com

raleigh-durham Bridal Shows


Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's new and coming soon!

Hello to everyone out there.  As I learn this new tool please be patient as the blog is born. 
We hope to bring you all kinds of information, photos and general cake related "stuff" through this new blog.