Discover Your Local
Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and nothing symbolizes the day more than beautiful flowers to show your love for that special someone. This year, why not give it a twist? Give your sweetie a custom cake with the most realistic cake top flowers from Crawford artist, Anne Savastano of Faerie Cakes, etc.
We recently reached out to Anne to learn more about her amazing creations, her process, and how she got started down this unique road.
IHeart: How long have you been creating flowers?
Ann: I started in 2018 when my stepdaughter got engaged & asked me to make her wedding cake. I have been baking cakes since I was a little girl, but had started challenging myself about 10 years earlier with more complex desserts like tiramisu, profiteroles, et al. I had made my first batch of Italian buttercream that turned out fabulously. Then I experimented with flavors. I hadn’t really done any cake decorating, so I decided to take online classes. I was OK, but my flowers didn’t look real. I had taken a Craftsy class with Maggie Austin & her flowers were gorgeous. I looked her up & saw that she was holding a class on Introduction to Gumpaste Flowers & thought the hands-on instruction might be what I needed. It was transcendental. She is an amazing teacher! I learned so much from her. I learned more about wafer paper crafting from Anna Ashtashkina from Ashtashkina Cakes in Chicago.
IHeart: So, as I am not a baker and many of our readers are probably not either, can you explain the different materials you use to make your creations, and are they all edible?
Ann: Gumpaste is clay made of powdered sugar, egg whites, tylose (a gum) & shortening. Wafer paper is a paper made of rice & potato starch. Rice paper is spring roll wrappers I get at an Asian grocery store in Middletown. Technically, they are all edible, but in order to make them look like flowers, inedible parts are used. Wires for stems covered with floral tape. Styrofoam for the centers. Thread for the stamen. Also, gumpaste & rice paper harden while wafer paper just dissolves when wet. None of them really taste good. I basically use sculpting techniques & tools specifically designed for cake design to craft the flowers.
IHeart: How long does it take to make a relatively simple collection of flowers for a cake?
Ann: A small gumpaste or wafer paper rose with leaves takes about 1 hour (to create) & takes a few hours to dry completely. A more complex flower like an open peony can take 3 hours with the same dry time.
IHeart: Do you make the cakes as well?
Ann: I usually only make cakes for family & friends. My kitchen is not really set up for commercial baking. I do work with some local bakeries to provide the flower decorations that they apply to their cakes. I have a shop on Etsy where individuals or businesses from all over North America can order the flowers. I also have a website, faeriecakesetc.com, where local businesses can contact me directly or be redirected to the Etsy website.
IHeart: Do you work directly on the cake or separately and then add them all to the cake at once?
Ann: It can be done either way depending on what the client wants. I can arrange the flowers into a bouquet or posy or the individual flowers can be added to the cake in an artistic manner. I can even arrange them on a cake board that can just be placed on top of the cake.
IHeart: Your flowers are so realistic, were you an artist in other media before you found this?
Ann: I was a nursing major in college & an art minor. All through High School, I took art classes. I mostly painted – oils, acrylics, watercolors. After college, I got interested in pottery. I also make jewelry. Throughout my nursing career, I continued to paint, throw pots & make jewelry when I had the time. After I retired from the profession, I found more time to indulge my artistic side.
IHeart: You mention the mentors who taught you, can you tell us a little about them? Also, tell us about the technique you pioneered.
Ann: Maggie Austin was a ballerina who injured her ankle & had to find a different career path. She went to pastry school & fell in love with cake design. She also found a passion for teaching. She has designed cakes for celebrities, athletes & royalty around the world as well as flower arrangements for the Obama White House. She has a studio in Alexandria, VA where she holds her classes & is the author of the book “Maggie Austin Cake: Artistry & Technique “.
Anna Ashtashkina is an award-winning wafer paper cake artist with a shop in Chicago. She is the creator of “The Wafer Paper Academy” & has weekly online classes in techniques she developed.
During one of Anna’s weekly classes, she introduced using rice paper (spring roll wrappers) to make filler flowers. I thought the transparent flowers were interesting & thought I could use some of her techniques to make larger flowers. I have since developed my own processes on shaping the petals & leaves.
Ann: I work with my clients usually online or by phone, occasionally in person. My flowers can be custom colors, sizes, or made to look like a fantasy flower rather than realistic. I have even made flowers not listed in my “inventory “. I recently made a dozen honeysuckle posies & a bleeding hearts vine. All orders are custom made to order.
I also teach classes in any of the three media where anyone can learn the basic techniques. I usually start with the rose & closed peony. I don’t have a storefront. I teach my classes in your home or business space.
Interested in seeing more of Anne’s work? Visit her website below or contact her directly. All iHeart Hudson Valley Readers get 20% off classes and/ or free shipping or delivery on local orders using code iHHV22. Offer good until March 9th, 2022.
Contact Ann directly below and give her the code to receive the discount.
My Etsy shop can be found at etsy.com/shop/faeriecakesetc
My website is faeriecakesetc.com
My phone # – (845) 636-3587
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org