More Than Just a Piece of Cake

By Melissa Beverage  ::  Photography by Mark Humphries

Desserts are a wonderful creation; one that completes an experience like the icing on a cake. A sweet ending at the end of a perfect savory meal brings you full circle in an extraordinary culinary experience, and has you leaving with a smile on your face. My joy comes from being able to provide that smile of joy and feeling of bliss before going home. Better yet, creating a special order cake allows me to send someone home with a sweet treat to enjoy with family and friends — and that means more smiles and joy for everyone.

Cakes take my personal joy to a whole new level of sugar high. Creating a special cake gives me the opportunity to contribute to someone’s most precious memories with the simplest of ingredients — butter, sugar, flour and eggs. Despite seeming modest with common, everyday ingredients, cakes can be tedious and intricate in their details, and it is in this process that my happiness is found.

The cake… moist, soft, airy and delicious. Under mix the batter and it will be lumpy; over mix and it will have air tunnels. The oven shouldn’t be too hot or it will create a crust with a gooey inside.  And most importantly, don’t dare disturb the oven or the cake may seem to rise beautifully but in one awful and saddening instant deflate and sink with no hopes of having that airy appeal. This moist, melt-in-your-mouth quality is so simple to attain, but one of the best “secret” ingredients that just about no one would guess.

The icing… creamy, velvety, smooth and lusciously sweet. This is literally the glue of the cake. It holds everything together and creates a blank canvas to begin any masterpiece. Icing is the simplest component of the cake as it is only three ingredients in its most basic form.  However, simple as it may sound, it is all in the balance and proportion of ingredients, the technique and the time needed to yield the perfect result. If you can master making the perfect homemade icing, you can turn any box cake into a delicious dessert by slathering on an amazing buttercream.

The vision… this is where the details of intricate designs come from. The piping, fondant, gum paste, flowers and figures are techniques that require training, precision and practice, in addition to creativity.

I never considered myself a creative or artistic person growing up until I found cakes. I discovered my comfort with icing cakes during Mr. Sweeney’s high school geography class. At the end of every unit, we celebrated with a “Culture Day,” which required each student to bring something to class that represented a country from that region. For every Culture Day, I brought a cake with a country’s flag piped on top of a 9×13 cake — to scale and never missing a detail. Every classmate looked forward to my creations and that was a great feeling of satisfaction. This glimpse of what it was like to share in sweet memories ignited a deeper passion within me.

Special occasion cakes have become a unique part of my career. They have afforded me the opportunity to develop special bonds with each client by helping to create the centerpiece for some of their most memorable and one-of-a-kind moments and celebrations: birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, accomplishments, baby showers, gender reveals and so much more. Let me celebrate your life’s greatest moments with you and let Cordillera Ranch share these experiences to help make them even greater than you could have imagined.

To special order a custom cake for your celebration, contact Amanda Parinella at aparinella@cordilleraranch.com or 830.336.9012.

Melissa Beverage is the Pastry Chef at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. She can be reached at mbeverage@cordilleraranch.com.

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