How To Bake The Most Fabulous Cake

Cake designer Amanda Foong of Amanda Foong Cakes discusses how ‘to have your cake and eat it too’ (in your professional and personal life).

Amanda pictured in her studio. PC : Habiba Abudu

Amanda Foong of Amanda Foong Cakes is one of the most sought out cake designers in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Interestingly enough, Foong holds a degree in Forensics Psychology and English. Foong got her start in the cake industry by baking a cake for her sister about 5 years ago. Fast forward 5 years, Foong has been featured in various magazines such as WedLuxe Magazine, Elegant Wedding Magazine and Today’s Bride. Clearly, Foong is shows that you can have your cake and eat it too.

HA : Growing up, did you watch the Food Network ?

AF : Food Network is my favourite channel.

HA : Who are your culinary inspirations ?

AF : In the cake world, I love Sylvia Weinstock , the flowers on her cakes are amazing. Also, Ron Ben-Israel. Ben-Israel has a great personality and his work is so meticulous and clean.

Inside Amanda’s studio. PC : Habiba Abudu

HA : You started in Forensics Psychology and ended up in the cake industry. Did you eventually receive formal training ?

AF : I was self taught on a lot of concepts. I also went to George Brown College (Culinary Arts Program) to take the baking program for fun.

HA : What was the hardest part of starting a business ?

AF : The hardest part is getting started. You psych yourself out with your own fears of , “ How am I going to do this ? ” It’s just taking one step at a time.

Amanda’s first cake, a three tiered cake and Amanda’s cakes on a vintage stand (R). PC : Amanda Foong and Habiba Abudu respectively

HA : How many hours did it take to make your first cake ?

AF : It took a long time, I had to watch a Youtube video. Now, if someone shows me a picture of something I never made before, like a tropical flower, I can figure it out just by analyzing the picture.

HA : What is some advice for people who aspire to be in the cake industry ?

AF : It’s important to always be inspired. It’s easy to look at other people’s work and want to copy it. I think part of the challenge is pushing the boundaries. It’s important to find your own niche. There’s a lot of people who work in the cake industry, so it’s important to implement your personality in the cakes that you create. Also, committing to taking that initial leap of faith. When I made cakes as a career instead of a hobby, the response was amazing.

Amanda Foong was featured in WedLux magazine. PC : Sin-Design & Photography.ca

HA : You have been featured in various magazines, did you pitch yourself ?

AF : I was helping my sister plan her wedding 4–5 years ago. This was before it ( cake designing ) was a full time career. I participated in a cake show and the event was great. Later, I attended a bridal show to help plan my sister’s wedding. At the bridal show, I received a copy of Today’s Bride magazine in the gift bag. I was flipping through the magazine that night and I came across a picture and I said, “This cake looks familiar.” My friend pointed out to me, that the reason why the cake looked so familiar was because it was mines ! From then on, I was asked to be featured on different magazines (Wedding Bells, Wedlux and Elegant Wedding etc. ). I get a lot of business through referrals and word of mouth.

HA : What was the biggest challenge when you started your business ?

AF : Finding where to place your resources is really challenging. When you start (a business), you want to buy all the “cool” tools. There is also a learning curve with pricing. You are figuring out how much work entails making a cake. It is only through experience that you get a handle on the pricing of cakes.

HA : Do you see yourself expanding your business ?

AF : I am currently working on a project in Dubai. I hope to open a bakery there. I also love teaching , I’ve been teaching classes in my studio. I also hope to teach classes in Dubai. I love sugar flowers and hope to do more cakes which implement them.

HA : Do you have a creative process ?

AF : Sometimes I sketch ideas for my own portfolio. If I see something that catches my eye, I will take a picture. I get inspiration from everywhere. My phone is filled with pictures of cake and random textiles. When, I meet first meet with clients , I make notes about what they have in mind for their cakes (colour scheme, theme, the décor that will be used in the wedding etc.). After, the client and I will do a cake tasting. If all goes well, then I will make a couple of sketches based on the conversation.

Amanda with her sketchbook. PC : Habiba Abudu

HA : When is your peak season ?

AF : May — October. Also Christmas, we do a lot of corporate gift baskets. There is a big learning curve. Initially, you want to do everyone’s cake. Now, we do less cakes but maintain a high level of quality.

HA : That’s important — maintaining a high standard of cakes.

AF : I’m picky about the ingredients we choose, the taste. Consistency is key. I take pride in covering the cake in fondant and redoing a cake if it’s not up to par. I am a perfectionist. A wedding is a special day in someone’s life. They invest a great deal financially and families are involved. I tend to form an attachment with the couples that I work with. I want to ensure that everything goes well. I want to produce a product that I am proud of.

Cake that Amanda made for her sister’s wedding. PC : Amanda Foong

HA : You are a “one woman show”, how do you manage that ?

AF : It worked well for the first couple years, but since taking on more projects I am now seeking full time staff.

HA : Were you always assured of yourself ?

AF : It comes with time. I always loved art. But I wasn’t sure of how to incorporate art into a career. Then, I found an outlet. I think it (confidence) comes with age, life as well as who you surround yourself with. I have an amazing support group.

HA : Is your support group pursuing their own endeavours ?

AF : My best friends have their own businesses. We bounce ideas off each other and also encourage each other during hard times.

HA : What is your favourite cake flavour ? What is the store’s most popular flavour ?

AF : My favourite flavour is vanilla bean coconut mango passion fruit with butter cream. At the moment, the store’s most popular flavour is pink champagne with white chocolate and raspberry.

HA : How do you deal with stress ?

AF : It’s important to have a balance between work and play. Hanging out with friends. Taking time for yourself. I like to try different physical activities such as ballet and aerial silk. I love listening to music as well.

Amanda loves sugar flowers. PC : Sin — Design & Photography.ca .

HA : What is one piece of advice that has helped your career?

AF : The most important thing is to believe in yourself. In our own minds we set limits, we don’t give ourselves credit for being able to do things that seem impossible.

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Originally published on www.facebook.com/habibadoesthings.