Recently, I shared with you my list of “must have” books (https://sugarzen.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/ruths-favorite-sugar-art-books/). At that time, I promised that I would be reviewing some of the new books on the market. I’m excited to bring you the first of several today!
I first met Amy Eilert at CakeLove in Vancouver, Canada. I had heard of her from an appearance on Food Network, but really didn’t know much about her. I have to say, it was love at first sight! She has this adorable husky voice that wraps itself around you and makes you want to hang out with her all day. She exudes joy. When I heard she had written a book, I knew I wanted to share it with you! j
This book features what she lovingly calls “cakelets”. They are NOT cupcakes. They are precious mini cakes that you create, often as you learn to do carving. For many newer decorators, carving into a cake is a frightening experience…they just can’t see the design within the sheet cake. Amy makes it easy.
I sent her a list of questions that I thought might help you get to know her and her book better. Here is the interview:
- What was your favorite project in the book?
I’d have to say the grocery bag themed design called At the Market. This design is a paper grocery bag cakelet with sugar sculpted groceries. This would make an awesome cakelet for your favorite food fanatic. You could can customize the grocery bag with any items this special person loves to cook. I would fill my grocery bag with eggplant, french bread, potatoes, and of course, cake!
- What was the hardest part of writing the book?
Writing a book was such a learning experience for me. I was used to teaching classes and writing tutorials however, writing a book is a completely different beast. I was very fortunate to have a helpful publisher to walk me through the process. One thing I had to keep in mind at all times: Measure Everything!!!
- What decorators influenced you or inspired you as you were learning decorating?
I launched Cupcake Envy before the days of Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. One place I was able to connect and find amazing cake artists was Flickr. It was there that I was introduced to the insanely talented skills of Debbie Goard. Debbie’s approach to cake design was unique and her work so distinctive, it really inspired me to keep practicing.
Throughout my journey with Cupcake Envy, I’ve had the privilege to meet and work alongside such incredible artists/teachers. Norm Davis, in particular, has been a huge inspiration and a dear friend as well.
4. How did you get started decorating?
I started out stumbling into cake decorating unintentionally. I was a NJ public school music teacher prior to relocating our family to NC. I wanted to stay home and raise my sons and once they started school, I started making treats for their class celebrations. I wanted to make something special for each child which eventually went from creating cupcakes to mini cake design. I like to call them Cakelets. I would practice different techniques every night after the kids went to sleep. It was relaxing and gave me a new outlet to be creative. I wanted to get better so I kept my eye out for classes. That’s when I took my very first class with Bronwan Weber. After that, the fire was lit and Cupcake Envy was born.
5. What is your biggest wish for your book?
I have two wishes for this book. The first wish is that people will find my book as a useful reference for creating fun mini cakes (cakelets). I wanted the designs to be easy to create, fun, and approachable for anyone to do.
My second wish for my book is to inspire my sons to follow their dreams. I always tell them that we are here to leave our mark, whatever that may be and to work hard for what you want.
6. What did you learn yourself as you wrote this book?
I learned that I am a complete unorganized scatterbrain. There were many times throughout the process that I said to myself,” you have no business writing a book!”
I learn that I needed to stop looking at the big picture and take it one project at a time. I learned how to better utilize time and how to organize my thoughts so not to feel overwhelmed.
7. Who is your target audience for the book?
The target audience for this book is broad. I wanted the designs to be approachable for beginners. Many people who have taken my class have never touch fondant before and they would leave the class with designs that excite them and that they are proud of creating. I also hope the book, which focuses solely on mini cakes, provides seasoned decorators a fun option to add to their decorating arsenal. A custom cakelet with coordinating cupcakes is a fun option for any celebration. The guest of honor gets a special mini cake created just for them while partygoers can enjoy custom coordinated cupcakes.
8. Do you hope your children follow in your footsteps someday?
I learned early on when I tried, unsuccessfully, to teach my sons how to play the piano that they are their own person with their own interests. The same can be said for Cupcake Envy. I do hope I am a good role model when it comes to working hard and never giving up. Those are the footsteps I hope they will follow.
9. Tell me about juggling your illness with writing the book.
I am not sure if people are aware but I was diagnosed with both Systemic and Discoid Lupus when I was 10 years old. Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. As I grew up, I acquired a few syndromes and challenges along the way that has certainly changed my life. I’ve had my share of difficulties and hospital visits that have certainly impacted my daily life as well as my family’s life. I am so grateful for family and friends that have helped me through those tough times. Sometimes it’s not just the physical setbacks but also the emotional setbacks that become the biggest mountains to climb. Ruth, you have talked me through my most recent episodes and your words gave me strength to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for being there. I experienced 2 hospital visits during the time I was writing the book which delayed the release date but with the help and support of friends, family, and neighbors, the Cupcake Envy book is finally here.
In the end, I’ve learned that no matter the cards you are dealt, never let it stop you from reaching your dreams.
10. Who was your first inspiration?
Early on, I became a huge fan of Colette Peters books, especially, Cakes to Dream On.
Even though I mini cakes, Colette Peter’s book were a treasure trove of inspiration and decorating techniques. I learned so much about cake decorating from her books.
11. How many copies have been sold so far?
Honestly, I have no idea but I wish I knew!
I hope you enjoyed getting to know Amy a little better! Sometimes, we focus so much on the art form that we forget to SEE the artist behind the work. If you are looking for a great book to introduce you to mini cakes, this is the one! You can purchase the book at: http://www.amazon.com/Cupcake-Envy-Irresistible-Cakelets-Little/dp/0804843686.