Sending flowers and fruit arrangements is so yesterday. It’s time to welcome the mini-cake.
Amy Eilert launched Cupcake Envy—a Wake Forest, NC, bakery that specializes in custom-made gift cakes—in 2006. Last year, Eilert began shipping her fondant-decorated desserts nationwide. She says the cakes are becoming more popular.
“I see the mini cake as a more sophisticated approach to single-serving desserts,” Eilert says. “Though mini cakes are more time consuming, if used as a gift, the price point is equivalent to a bouquet of flowers, a gift basket or a fruit arrangement but with a more personalized feel.”
No two Cupcake Envy designs are exactly alike. “From color and design to monogramming and personalization, each mini cake is created especially for that client,” she says. Birthdays, showers, corporate gifts and anniversaries are the most common occasions for which people request the bakery’s personalized finesse. Purses, shopping bags and dresses are the top-selling mini cakes.
Designing Mini Cakes
Most of Cupcake Envy’s mini cakes start as sheet cakes and are cut to fit the design; dresses and holiday ornaments require a special baking pan. Eilert bakes, cools and chills the cakes prior to sculpting. After sculpting the sheet cakes, the miniature forms receive a crumb coat of vanilla bean buttercream. Then, every design is covered in fondant. There are two serving sizes. Smaller minis feed one to two people; larger miniatures feed three to four people.
Cupcake Envy chooses to purchase its fondant due to time constraints. All fondant is colored in-house with the exception of red and black, which is purchased already colored. Although Eilert speaks highly of the airbrushing technique, her business does not choose to do so, as airbrushing small miniature cakes presents a logistical challenge.
Eilert is fond of fondant because “it offers endless design possibilities, especially when it comes to creating our fashion-themed designs.” As for inspiration, she may find it anywhere. Color schemes, architectural designs and fashion trends have all served as muses.
Cupcake Envy works closely with a shipping supply company and overnights their designs to customers. “To date, we’ve never had a damaged mini cake design,” Eilert says. If refrigerated upon receipt, the cakes will stay fresh for four days.
Q & A with Cake Sculpter Amy Eilert
BB: What are your favorite decorating tools?
AE: My absolute favorite decorating tools are my exacto-knife and my angle-tapered spatula. Couldn’t live without them.
BB: What is your favorite decorating technique?
AE: When it comes to cupcakes, my favorite icing technique is icing the top flat using my angle-tapered spatula and creating a wall around the cupcake to be rolled in sprinkles. My favorite decorating technique for mini cakes is adding textured elements to simply designed mini cakes.
BB: Tell us about creating a cake for Bon Appetit magazine.
AE: I was contracted by Bon Appetit to create a mini cake design for their e-newsletter back in February. We were very excited about this opportunity and came up with a brown shopping bag mini cake with the Bon Appetit logo and fondant fruits, veggies, flowers and bread overflowing. It was a mini cake design I was very happy with.
Note: Please place picture named “AmyEilert” here!
How to Create a Purse Mini Cake
by Amy Eilert
Dainty, sophisticated, trendy, or whimsical—the purse mini cake design offers endless decorating possibilities. Keep the recipient in mind when creating it; their favorite colors, style, little accents so they will know without a doubt, this special gift was made just from them.
- Cake flavor of your choice baked in a brownie pan
- Dyed in the color scheme of your choice
- cornstarch to dust on work surface
- a pizza or pastry wheel
- a rolling pin
- gel food coloring
- small flower cutters and/or texture sheet for optional details.
- Bake your cake in a brownie sized baking pan.
- Allow cake to cool.
- Wrap cake tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for a few hours.
- Remove the chilled cake from the freezer and cut the cake in half.
- Apply a layer of buttercream and stack one half on top of the other.
- Apply a crumbcoat of buttercream to your purse shaped mini cake.
- Place the template against the cake and carve.
Covering the purse
- Dye fondant the desired color for the purse.
- Roll out fondant approximately ¼ in. in thickness.
- Drape fondant over the mini cake.
- Using an open palm, smooth the fondant against the cake, avoiding wrinkles and tares.
- Roll out a round strip of fondant to create the purse handle. Allow a few hours for the handle to dry before inserting it into the top of the mini cake.
- At this point, you have a ton of creative liberites i.e. texturing, a different shade of fondant, frill cutters etc… to make the flap of the purse and the bottom border.
- A cup of water and a piant brush is all you need to attach the flap and border (water is like glue for fondant) .
- Attach the handle and add your decorative accents.
Coordinating Cupcake Ideas For Fashion Mini Cakes
Add the same decorative detail, the flower for example, on top of each of your cupcakes to coordinate your purse’s theme.
Either plate the purse for the guest of honor or if you plan on giving your purse mini cake as a gift, package it in a clear acetate box with a pretty ribbon and personal not. Voila!