Creative inspiration comes from many places. The colors of the sky. The patterns of architecture, old and new. The flavors of our childhood.

When Yolanda Chavez, owner of Panadería La Central in Avondale, Arizona, starts the process of decorating a cake, she taps into her inner child and imagines candies and bright colors. The tops of her decorated cakes become creative masterpieces — full of chocolates and brightly colored sprinkles and other unique decorations at her disposal. At times, she will even decorate the tops of her cakes with brightly colored macaron cookies.

“We used to do only custom-cake orders, and now we sell cakes every day,” Chavez says. “We keep our display full of cakes every day of the week. We offer 8-inch and 10-inch rounds and cheesecakes. Customers know that we have cakes ready to go.”

At El Rancho Gilbert in Mesa, one of their signature techniques involves decorated cupcakes. They pipe swirls of icing on the tops of cupcakes in the pattern of flowers, making a beautiful impression. For some, they will pipe a lighter color (pink, for example) as the body of the flower petal and add a darker pink on the tips.

Chavez of Panadería La Central recognizes that fondant is a trend, but she prefers to ice her cakes with whipped topping. Whipped toppings can be more flavorful to customers who prefer these types of cakes, she says, and Chavez is highly skilled so she can decorate each cake with a smooth finish.

“We stick with whipped topping and mostly chocolate decorations,” Chavez says. “Our customers love our tres leches cakes. That’s why they come here.”

As the months of fall arrive, the cakes at Panadería La Central will shift from summer pastels to richer colors like orange and green. They will create 1-, 2- and 3-tier cakes for weddings, and big wedding cakes are still as popular as ever.

At La Estrella Panadería in Mesa, Arizona, fresh fruits such as strawberries take center stage on the decorated cakes and cheesecakes available here.

Owner Veronica Ortiz points out that today’s customers are pushing the boundaries of creativity and expect more from their local bakery, when it comes to decorated cakes.

“People bring us very creative ideas, and we always work to make the exact cake they want for their special occasion,” she says.