Cake designers Ted Scutti and Adam Starkey
have a passion for creativity and are both amazing sugar artists at Sugar Sugar Cake Studio
. They have done everything from wrapping a cake in Swarovski crystals to sculpting a purse out of cake! After talking to Ted, we quickly learned that building these edible masterpieces isn’t always a piece of cake… And, that if you want to make a bold statement with your work, then you can’t be afraid to get a little crazy.
Your cakes are elaborate, personal and incredible/edible works of art. Where do you find your inspiration?
Everything we do is custom and we seek inspiration from the specific details of each client’s event. Our clients pre-order their cakes anywhere from six months to a year ahead of time. We often ask for a copy of the invitation to their events so that we can get a feel of what they are looking for – color, graphics, mood and even little details like what type of handmade flowers to use.
What is your average cake composed of?
Our standard cake is six and a half inches tall and is composed of three layers of cake with two layers of filling. A single slice can be made up of as many as five different flavors; e.g., three different cakes and two fillings. One of the many things that we are known for is having tall slices that make them impressive as a standalone dessert. I have found that people often believe that if a cake is visually appealing then it won’t taste good; that is not the case. Our cakes are just as delicious inside as they look outside. We always provide way more cake than a client needs because their guests will want to eat our delicious cakes, and not having enough cake is never an issue when we make the cake for an event.
What are some of the challenges you run into when building your masterpieces?
At first, it took us a while to learn how to perfect our cakes, and we faced setbacks along the way. Temperature is a constant concern; the cake has to be cold enough to remain stable during transport, setup and usually four or five hours on display at the venue. The bigger the tier the longer it stays cold. That is why the small, top tiers of our cakes are usually Styrofoam or faux tiers because they warm up
too fast. But don’t worry, the big bottom tiers are always made up of cake!
To create cakes it seems like you have to be part engineer and part artist; how does the actual construction part work?
I do the designing and sketching and Adam is more of the engineer, so he focuses on the actual structure of the cakes. The first step is to design and sketch out everything. We do this mainly because the client has to have an idea of what they can expect their custom creation to look like before they write the check. Next, comes the structural planning for the building of the cake. All of our towering cakes are structured with a metal rod down the middle of them; making them stand tall and stable when assembled for display.
How would you best define your style?
A Sugar Sugar Cake Studio cake makes a statement from across the room. We strive to make every design elegant and grand down to the last detail. Everything we create is completely custom and our portfolio
is a testament to the aesthetics and quality we strive to maintain or surpass with every project. We love using lush handmade floral pieces as focal points in our designs. Handmade floral sphere toppers are a signature element of our style. We refuse to place fresh flowers on our cakes, because no matter how much you try to clean them, there is always a chance of fresh flowers carrying pesticides or other chemicals. Even organic flowers are rarely grown in food-safe conditions.
How did you get to where you are today?
When I began decorating cakes at a part-time job back in high school, I never imagined that this is where I would be today. We founded Sugar Sugar Cake studio in 2009, where we started on a smaller scale and learned as we grew. We have been fortunate to learn from some of the very best cake designers and flower makers in the world. We believe it is important to watch what is going on in the industry worldwide and to adapt to be at the cutting edge of it.
You posted a great comment online about how OttLite helps with your work, how does it?
Countless hours are spent working on tiny sugarcraft elements for elaborate cakes. An often overlooked but critical part of an efficient and functional workspace is proper lighting. Through our experience, we found OttLite products to be especially effective for sugarcraft. Their bulbs are designed to render true to life colors, clear details, and reduced glare and eyestrain. The bulbs are also low heat and energy-efficient. Low heat bulbs are important because high heat bulbs can dry out sugar before you are done working with it.
Any crazy stories?
An event planner once hired us to create a cake for a woman’s surprise 40th
birthday party. The husband was the one ordering the cake and he wanted to have a “hot and sexy” cake with a stripper on a pole as the focal piece. As an artist you always want to give the customer what they want, but sometimes you need to know how to tell them that what they want may be a little much. We raised our concern with the planner that the husband was ordering the cake design he wanted, but not the design his wife would want. We received permission from the husband for us to create an alternate design. We ended up creating a luxurious shoebox that was topped with a pair of sugar high heels. Our having the discussion with the client was a good thing; the party was filled with everyone from the guest of honor’s very conservative mother to little children.
What’s the most elaborate thing anyone has ever asked you to create?
We make all kinds of luxurious cakes that are placed in large venues. That is why people come to us; they want a big statement cake that will command attention. I have done everything from completely trimming a cake in Swarovski crystals, to designing a replica of an eighteenth century castle.
How do you feel about people eating your creations?
What we do is very rewarding and that includes guests enjoying our creations as delicious desserts. During set up at the venue, we usually have our own professional photographer with us while assembling the final product. He photographs the cake for us so we will always have a record of the design and something to show to prospective clients and to submit for publication. As wonderful as it feels to see people in awe over the beauty of our work, it is even more satisfying to hear them rave about the taste and flavor combinations.
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