Cake: My Artistic Medium of Choice

Many times, I’ve been asked how I got into “doing cakes”. The simple answer is that I’ve always loved to bake and that I’ve always had a soft spot (I’m not literally talking about my thighs here, but… yeah, it applies) for cake, and chocolate, and pastries. But how did I turn that love of eating cake into the love of baking it for others, and what’s more, how did I figure out that this was the best expression of my creativity?

When it comes to baking, I have too many memories to count. Coming from a Hungarian household, many of our holidays were spent helping Mom and Grandma whip up cookies, handmade doughnuts, tortes, layer cakes, and a variety of other delicious treats! Sometimes we’d wait all year long just to make doughnuts at Christmas or have Grandma’s apricot and honey wafer torte at Easter. And don’t even get me going about Grandma’s chocolate cake – my birthday request every year, without fail! The experience of baking with women who knew their way around the kitchen prepped my palate for delicious homemade sweets and set the foundation for my passion. In a heavily Lebanese and Italian neighbourhood, the variety of sweets available afforded me an appreciation for many flavour profiles. When the term “foodie” became popular, I had finally found the right word to describe myself. While I appreciate a plethora of dessert options from around the world, the fusion thereof has always been appealing.  Grandma’s rich chocolate cake is still my go-to comfort food, but I’m constantly dreaming (yes, literally dreaming) of new combinations and ideas for delicious cakes and treats!

I’ve always loved cooking and baking for others. If you ask me, that old idiom “the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” is applicable to everyone. Breaking bread is universally understood to be one of the most welcoming and loving gestures. So when I think about cakes, I’m not just imagining a cake. I’m imagining a family, a group of friends, an entire wedding of guests, coworkers and their bosses, all coming together to share cake and build memories with one another. With every cake I bake and spend hours decorating, love is the number one and most important ingredient. (Oh God, it’s so corny but I love it anyways!!) Like music has the power to be the soundtrack of your memory, my passion is to make your cake the flavour of your event, the focus and light of your experience!

Through love, I was blessed with a son. And that little boy is my everything. When his first birthday rolled around, I knew I wanted to make it special! Without much decorating experience until that point with traditional tiered cakes, I set out to make him a 3 tiered monster of a birthday cake. Well, it was a monster aesthetically speaking but it was one of the best cakes I have ever made! Vanilla cake, dark chocolate ganache, fresh raspberries – super decadent; and way above the palate of a 1 year old! For his 2nd birthday, he got a vanilla Elmo cake and a chocolate Cookie Monster cake. And I was on a roll! For his 3rd birthday, my airplane and peanut butter obsessed boy got a peanut butter and chocolate cake with an airplane runway and DIY style airplanes flying overhead, and buttercream puff clouds. By then, 3 years in, I realized, this was more than just love of my son, this was a love of cake and how I could use it artistically to express my love. It was more than a delicious treat; it was a means of communicating a clear message (in this case: “I see you, my boy. I know everything about you. And I love you. Happy birthday!”) I kept staring at the photos of that cake thinking, ‘This is more than just cake!’  And it clicked. I want to do this! I want to be take part in helping others express their love and their joy! The Mix Baking Co. was born. And over the course of the next year, I set out to perfect my skills. Still to this day, every cake makes me a better designer. Every new flavour combination makes me a better batter baker. (Say that 10 times fast: “better batter baker, better batter baker, better batt…”) Every new trend presents a new opportunity to grow.

There is no shortage of inspiration in the world when you see it through sugar eyes. The colours of a sunset, the gentle folds of a perfect rose, the way fabric drapes on a wedding dress, the intricate designs embroidered into a rug, the sleek air duct work in an industrial style coffee house. It’s everywhere. By no means did I ever imagine myself conventionally good at art. I was never exceptional with a coloured pencil and piece of paper as a kid. But as an adult, when cake is canvas and only the most delicious buttercream, or edible paint and colours are presented to me, everything just clicks. I go into Cake Land, and I live there. It’s one of my favourites places in the world. It calms me and genuinely makes me happy; it’s therapy to me! And that’s what good art has the power to do, isn’t it? I’m always working to grow and be better. Cake is my artistic medium of choice. And with those skills that I constantly cultivate, my art – the cakes that my clients so enjoy – can represent for them and for me an expression of happiness and love.

Eat, Pray, Love, right?

 

Leah Younan

Owner & Cake Artist, The Mix Baking Co.

www.themixbakingco.com