Get to Know a Wedding Bakery: Sweet on Cake (5)

Our second bakery interview ever is with Amber of Sweet on Cake, based in Napa, California! Enjoy:

Tell us about your company and how you got started.

I took an indirect path to get where I am today. I worked as a newspaper editor right out of college and quickly realized it wasn’t right for me, so I decided to go to culinary school to pursue my longtime hobby of baking in a more serious way. I knew I wanted to make wedding cakes, and got my first job out of culinary school at a high-end wedding cake bakery. After two years at the bakery, I returned to journalism (had to pay off those student loans!), working as an editor at a wine magazine. While I was sitting in my cubicle back in 2009, I got a call from Food Network asking me to be on their popular TV series Food Network Challenge. I felt the stars had aligned, so I quit my job and started Sweet on Cake, and I haven’t looked back since.

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When did you first start baking?

I grew up watching my mom bake everything from scratch. She baked and decorated all of our birthday cakes, and it became something I looked forward to every year. Her time in the kitchen rubbed off on me, and baking became one of my hobbies in middle school and high school. I went through a cookies phase, a breads phase, and a cake phase–the cake phase stuck.

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Do you do bespoke/custom flavors? How about gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan, or other specialty options?

We do extensive testing on all of our recipes to make sure they meet our high quality standards before offering them to our clients. We don’t like to use our clients as guinea pigs, so unless it is something we’ve perfected, we probably won’t honor an off-menu request if it’s outside of our repertoire. Currently we do not offer gluten-free, lactose-free, or vegan options.

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What is your favorite cake and frosting combination?

I have a hard time choosing a favorite flavor (it’s like picking a favorite child!), but if I’m in the mood for something light, I’m obsessed with my Coconut Passion flavor (coconut cake with coconut filling and passion fruit sauce), and if it’s something sinful I crave, I go for my Caramel Toffee flavor (chocolate cake with salted caramel, homemade toffee pieces, and truffle cream).

What was your favorite job so far?

My favorite cake gigs are the ones where the brides and their planners trust me fully, and I get to have creative freedom in the design and creation of their wedding cake. They always result in the most beautiful cakes.

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Do you have any tips or advice for others who are looking to start their own bakery?

I think the best advice is to pay your dues and learn the industry before jumping into it. With all the cake shows on TV, people think that anyone with an oven and a rolling pin can be a cake designer, and all you do is play with food all day long. Wrong. Just like any industry, experience plays a huge role in your skill level and success. Save for a select talented few, it will be an uphill battle to open up your business without having worked in a bakery and learned the ins and outs first. And don’t forget that you aren’t just a cake designer–you’re a business owner. Owning a business is a lot of work.

Do you offer anything other than cakes?

In addition to wedding cakes, we offer sculpted cakes and special occasion cakes. Currently, we limit ourselves to just cakes (we won’t even make cupcakes!).

What are you favorite trends when it comes to wedding desserts?

Of course I’ll always be a fan of wedding cake for dessert, but I do love the fun “after-party” desserts that I’m seeing more of these days, like s’mores pits and ice cream sundae bars.

What tips or advice can you give to couples who are ordering their cake and desserts?

Order early!! Small, boutique-style custom cake designers like me book up quickly, so if you don’t reserve your wedding cake early, your date may book out before you have the chance. Also, trust your cake designer to do his/her job (this goes for all your wedding vendors, really). You’ve hired us because you love our work, so trust us to make your cake as beautiful as the ones from our portfolio you fell in love with.

Thanks Amber! For more about Sweet on Cake, check out her WeddingCakeLove profile, or head straight to her website.

What’s your favorite cake design from above? Mine is the clean white cake with the citrus accents! Let us know yours below: