Anne Heap, founder of Pink Cake Box, is known internationally for her award-winning creations and has been recognized as one the most influential cake designers in America, as well as one of the top 10 cake designers in North America. We recently caught up with Anne to hear about some of the hundreds of cakes she has designed in her career, and she also gave us a few tips for budding cake designers and decorators.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you come to own your own cake decorating shop?
After graduating from Boston College in 2001, I began my career in advertising. I soon followed my love for baking and began to sell my pastries to a local gourmet shop. In 2004, I left my job to study pastry arts at the French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center) in New York City.
After an apprenticeship with Ron Ben-Israel Cakes, I became the pastry chef at Ill Capriccio in New Jersey. While there, I started my business out of their kitchen. In 2005, I officially began Pink Cake Box and moved into a commercial cake studio in 2007 in Denville, New Jersey.
Could you tell us what separates “great” cake decorators from the “good” ones?
I think great cake decorators are constantly evolving, and also learning from their peers, trends, and their clients. It is important to change and not continue to create the same stale designs, while keeping in mind your own limits. For instance, I would never create a design I didn’t think I could do well. But in the same regard, I think great cake designers are willing to take calculated risks for an amazing end result.
What’s the most unique or difficult cake design that you’ve created which you’re most proud of?
We created a cake that was over seven feet tall for a televised competition for Legoland in California. It rotated, lit up, and had a working water slide. We won, which helped make it enjoyable!
We also made Tracy and Megan Morgan’s wedding cake last year. It was over 5’5″ tall and held over 1500 hand-made gumpaste flowers.
What is the most unusual cake design that one of your customers has asked you for?
We have been asked to create a lot of animals! Dogs, cats, pigs, a bull, a rhinoceros, a bear, a goat… just to name a few! Most of our cakes are pretty unique – so it’s hard to pick one!
For a foodie who is wanting something a bit more decadent in their cake or icing, what would you suggest?
I always suggest a rich dark chocolate ganache filling if you’d like something decadent! It’s especially delicious with a peanut butter buttercream and chocolate fudge cake!
What’s the secret for making perfect cupcakes that are moist, tasty, and beautiful every time?
I think it’s important to use good quality ingredients, especially chocolate and butter! Also, I like to bake my product as close to the date of the event as possible.
As a cake decorating instructor, could you tell us about one technique or design that looks intricate and difficult but is actually fairly simple to do?
I think one of my favorite easy designs is creating a wood grain pattern. There are so many ways to do it – either by painting with gel color, airbrushing, or using an impression mat.
Finish this sentence: “If you’re going to learn how to decorate cakes, the most important thing you have to have is…”
…a lot of patience and attention to detail, because beautiful cakes are often time-consuming and very labor intensive.
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