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!

Monday, April 30, 2012

What's the difference?

Many times while talking with clients they describe their cake like this:
"I want three layers with...and each layer a different flavor."  This caught me by surprise the first couple of times simply because you can indeed have a three layer cake.  This isn't what they really intended.  What they were really trying to describe was a three tiered cake with each tier a different flavor. 

The first time this happened I decided to give the same description to a friend and see if she would catch the difference.  I started to describe a wedding cake that was three layers and so forth and, again to my surprise, she didn't see anything wrong with what I proposed.   Again, there are three layer cakes but I guess I took for granted that most people would know and understand the difference between a layer and tier.  Then again, depending the subject matter, I'm sure there are plenty of things I presume I know plenty about and I'm completely off the mark.

The difference between a layer and tier is this:  a layer is one part of many layers that create a tier.  It usually takes four layers of cake to create one four inch tier.  One cake pan will create one  2" layer of cake.  (There are 3" cake pans but I'm working with standard numbers today - and yes, you can fill the pan half way and make a one inch layer cake but that doesn't fit today's purpose either.)

You would need to bake two 2" cakes to achieve a tier.  Once those cakes are cooled and leveled (meaning cut off that bulge at the top so it's nice and flat) you then cut them in half horizontally so that you now have a total of 4 thin layers of cake.  Now you fill them with frosting or your desired filling and stack them one on top of the other until your assembled tier begins and ends with cake.  Once this has been crumb coated (that just means the first layer of frosting) it should measure approximately 4" tall.  That is an assembled tier.

Reflections by Cathy Foreman Photography
The picture to the right is a 5 tier cake.  I like doing really tall cakes since they are a rarity for me.

So now I know that taking even the smallest bit of information for granted is not a great idea.  Live and learn and never, ever presume.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tisha and Rodney, a June wedding

So my good friend Catherine Katz of Cherished Celebrations http://www.cherishedcelebrations.com/ emails me to see if I have June 2nd open because she's got this fabulous couple who are in need of a great cake.  Um, yes!   We met at a Panera Bread in Cary where I toted dozens of samples.  It really wasn't dozens but I got creative with their requested combinations so they could get the most out of their time and taste buds. 

After a couple of hours of cake, coffee, lots of laughing, wedding talk, cake designing and so forth, I have to completely agree with Catherine (http://www.facebook.com/#!/CatherineKatz and  http://www.facebook.com/#!/CherishedCelebrations ) and she was so right.  Tisha and Rodney are so much fun and I'm so excited to make their wedding cake.  It's going to be....FABULOUS! 

Once we get through their big day we'll update this post with some awesome pictures!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Forums and advice

I know this has been touched on a lot lately and recently by my friend Kara at http://acaketorememberva.blogspot.com but I felt the need to put in my two cents worth. 

Here's my gripe: there are some fairly popular forums out and at least nine out of ten posts are about "How do I...?"  That in whole would not bother me.  I have often had to consult more experienced decorators and ask they opinions and advice for something I've never tried or to see if my own theory is at least on the right track.  But these "how to" questions are almost always, and I mean 99% of the time, about the most basic things. 

Like what, you might ask?  Well here is a short list off the top of my head:
Where do I buy pans? 
How do you make frosting?
How many tiers make up a cake?
I've never baked but....

And this is my favorite one that makes me shake my head the most. 
I am making my first (fill in the event blank) cake and I've never done it.  It's this Saturday (post being on Wed) and I need help.  Where do I start?

This takes me back to the finger pointers that say, "See, home based bakers don't know what they're doing."  

But back to my original point that these are the types of questions being asked in forums where you may get 100 responses but some of them are as inexperienced as the person asking the question.  These are the things you either take the time to learn on your own, before volunteering to accepting a client or you take classes.  Most public libraries are full of books in the baking section that cover baking, decorating, how to, etc. that the most inexperienced baker can learn.  You can find books on recipes only to try your hand at, you can find basic decorating books, you can find advanced books on full dessert tables and it won't cost you a thing.  Heck, in this new world of video media you can Google just about nay topic and get dozens of Youtube responses back where people have actually made tutorials. 

Forums are wonderful.  I have several bookmarked.  I read several blogs.  But as it's previously been said, you need to know that the people you are getting advice from are experienced enough to know what they are talking about and credible enough to trust.  You can get the same advice from your next door neighbor as you can someone in a forum and it may be as accurate.  And just because you get a dozen people telling you the same thing, depending on who they are, doesn't make it right. 

If you're new to baking and just want to see what you can do, take a class or borrow a cook book, get a tutorial and have a fun in the kitchen.  It really is the best place to start.  If you've ever been to a craft store you know they all have a cake section where pans are sold.  If you feel you've got a knack for baking then find a good class.  These are the places to ask those basic questions and for heaven's sake take notes.  You can always research what they've said and validate the advice. 

I love forums and they are great places for people to share ideas and how tos and so forth but if you're really at the first step of the process and you really don't know what to do first, please, look into a local class where you have an actual person to answer all these questions for you; face to face, hands on, personal interaction is the best way to learn the very basic beginning stuff.   Teachers/instructors are there for that very reason and then consider the forum's as extra credit reading!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mom and dad, you pick the cake!

What a great way to usher in the month of April.  The first true spring cake and it was picked by the bride's parents.  Mom and dad, you pick the cake - these are the very words Mrs. Robinson said her daughter told her.    

These are not often the words you will hear from a bride.  I've had brides tell me that they are only getting cake for the reception because they have to have one; they don't really eat cake.  (They don't really have to have a cake but I'll talk about that another time.)   In this case, the bride eats cake but it wasn't the most important aspect to her and she trusted her parents with the entire process.  That takes a lot of trust and I could tell when speaking with Mr. and Mrs. Robinson that theirs was a family that was close and that they would design the perfect cake.

They brought in two very different but specific images to help make their choice and chose a simple selection of white, chocolate and lemon cake.  We talked, laughed, discussed and really enjoyed the mutual company.  In the end, they chose all white cake and frosting but also wanted chocolate cake and we did those in sheet cakes to be served as requested.  They chose a simple but lovely design and we tweaked it just a bit to make it stand out.  They provided me a color swatch to match the banding and in the end we had a lovely four tier confection.

This cake was also a thrill for me as it allowed me to work with two of my favorite vendors who both recommended me to this lovely family.  Flowers by Gary provided our bride, Chanita, with her flowers and Pine Lake Pavillion was the venue.  A huge thank you to both!

Sarah and Andrew, an October wedding

Sarah and Andrew, an October wedding

I'm a short person.  I reach about 5'2" on a good day.  When Sarah and Andrew arrive for their tasting the first two things I notice are, 1) they are both about 5'11" and 2) they look relaxed and comfortable; both smiling!
As we began our consultation I asked them to talk about themselves for a moment so that I could get a feel for their personalities, see if I could get a real sense of where they were going with their wedding celebrations.  We talked about everything from school to solar panels to how to survive the zombie apocalypse!  Oh, yeah, I love these guys.

What I found was that Sarah and Andrew were very down to earth folks, fitting since Sarah is going to be studying horticulture and Andrew works with solar panels, and that they aren't afraid to do their wedding exactly as they want.  This means no big party, no bending to what everyone says they have to have, no creating a memory that isn't in keeping with their lifestyle.

Our finished cake will be simple, delicious and homey.  I can't wait to update this with a follow up story and photos!