Spending her days as Editor of "American Cake Decorating Magazine" to evenings crafting beautifully elegant sugar flowers, Rebekah is fully entrenched in the world of cake! Get to know more about this talented star in this exclusive interview!
Brief history of your business and how you got to where you are today? I started the first incarnation of my business in 2011 (Cakelicious). I was really more of a hobby baker, back then - making small celebration cakes. In my second year of business I noticed I was primarily booking wedding cakes. I decided to re-brand my business and focus on the high-end wedding market. This move has been very successful for my business and me. I now make wedding cakes exclusively and my business remains by appointment only.
How were you first introduced to Satin Ice? When I first started making cakes, I used to buy Wilton fondant from my local Michael's store. However, I found my clients didn't care for the taste. I moved into making my own fondant for a while, but found that it was too time consuming to make the quantity I required. I needed a better tasting fondant that I could buy in large quantities. After a little research, I decided to try Satin Ice; ordering a 20lb pail from Amazon I instantly fell in love with the product. It has served my business and me well, my clients like the taste and I like the work-ability, affordability and availability.
What is your signature style & inspiration? My signature style is constantly evolving. I believe I am mostly known for making tiered, elegant wedding cakes with floral accents. I also like to make "out-of-the-box" cake designs and I like to work with clients who are not afraid to push the creative envelope.
What is your favorite cake? My favorite cake was an Italian Garden Cake themed cake- I made this cake for my first collaboration, and it really signified a change for me- in style and it was the first time I looked at my own work and thought I had really achieved something. It was also featured as a Satin Ice cake of the month, and soon after I was invited to become an Artist of Excellence. There were so many great things that happened to my business and me because of this cake.
Most challenging cake to date?
Beside the 14-tier cake the most challenging cake I ever made would definitely have to be a cherry blossom wedding cake I made earlier this year. I created this cake as a last minute request for a photographer friend. A good friend of hers had recently lost her fiancé whilst he was serving overseas. She and a group of girlfriends decided to give the bride-to-be the wedding she was never able to have. They told me they were going to do a photography session in DC under the cherry blossoms and asked if I could make a cake. After I heard the story I agreed, even though I had just one day to make the cake from start to finish. It was quite emotional! Seeing the photos of the beautiful bride holding her fiancé service jacket was very profound.
What advice or tips can you offer to Satin Ice newcomers? Cake making is equal parts challenging and fun. There are times you will cry and curse the day you ever decided to become a cake maker. There will also be those rare times you step back from a cake and can't help but feel a sense of pride; that you were able to create something so beautiful. There are plenty of challenges to be faced whilst making a cake, but worrying about fondant shouldn't be one of them- that's why I used Satin Ice!
Describe your cake decorating style in 3 words: Classic, elegant, floral.
If you weren't decorating cakes, what would you be doing? I'd probably be a music teacher, but who knows...likely something else in the creative field..
What is a 'regular' cake decorating day like for you? Well, I bake from my home- so it usually involves a lot of chaos, and a lot of late nights. I like to work in the evening after my children have gone to bed. My favorite part of the process is making sugar flowers. I can sit for hours making sugar flowers, with a hot cup of tea, and the Gilmore Girls on Netflix! I like to make all my decorations in advance and then the cake itself is a 2-day process. I bake and make all my frostings and fillings on Thursday. I then fill my cakes, ganache and fondant on Friday for a Saturday delivery. This ensures the cakes are as fresh as possible!
What is your creative process for making cakes? With a client, it usually involves Pinterest. I like to ask my clients to bring a mood board, swatches and details about the venue, their personal style and their color scheme. I like to design something completely original that incorporates all the things they love. I love to look at floral bouquets, fashion and architecture for inspiration too. The venue can really dictate a lot about the overall style of the cake. A barn wedding might lead me to incorporate more natural and rustic elements, compared to a gallery wedding where the esthetic might be more modern and colorful.
What is your favorite part about making/designing cakes? Definitely making sugar flowers - it's just so relaxing. My next favorite part would be adding the adornments to the finished cake, and then photographing and editing pictures of my cakes as I am making them.
What is your favorite cake flavor? Black Forrest Cake is my favorite cake flavor. There is just something about the combination of a rich chocolate cake and kirsch soaked cherries; covered with lashings of chocolate mousse and chocolate shavings! Most of my wedding clients are quite unadventurous when it comes to flavors, so I like to surprise them at a tasting with something unexpected. Pink Champagne and Strawberry is a pretty popular flavor at the moment.
What is inspiring you this very moment? The new Pantone color of the year; greens, I mean who knew? I am always surprised by the color of the year choice. I can't wait to start designing cakes featuring the new color inspirations.
(Some of Rebekah's favorite Pantone color cakes - below)
Who would you love to learn from in the industry? I'd love to take a class with Ron Ben-Israel because he speaks to my esthetic and his artistry has been very influential on my style evolution. I'd love to learn from Sylvia Weinstock and Eddie Spence too! There are really so many veterans of our industry that I would love to take a class with.
What are the big trends you are seeing right now in cakes? Metallics are still going very strong, over-sized floral, jeweled accents, bold colors, rose gold, bohemian chic. The trend for drip cakes is also still going strong. I created a lot of jewel tone cakes in 2016 and I am eager to see what 2017 will bring. I feel like cakes will be tending towards the more natural - like simple foliage and floral with a classic clean design.
What do you aspire to accomplish with your cakes? I aspire to make a great tasting cake that wows the client. The last cake that I made, the event planner thought it was a "dummy cake", she couldn't believe it was real because the work was so clean. That was a great feeling; to create a super clean looking cake that surpasses expectation. From a personal perspective, I like to constantly push myself with every cake. I am always looking to improve my work and to learn something new. I'm never 100% satisfied with a cake but I work hard and I get better and better with every new cake.
If you could create a cake for anyone in history (past or present): Who would it be and why? Andy Warhol - I'd just love to see what a cake design for him would look like!! I also wouldn't have minded attending the party either!
(photo from biography.com - below)
Finally what is the next big thing for you? I recently became the Editor of "American Cake Decorating magazine" - so that is definitely a BIG thing. I really love the role and all the wonderful opportunities that come with the position. Lately I am being asked to teach a lot more, with invitations to teach at a lot of cake shows both nationally and internationally. My business is expanding- I have big events booked in 2017 that would see me traveling to different parts of the country to make cakes for VIP and celebrity clients. This is something that is completely new to my business. Traveling to Texas for instance to make a wedding cake presents a lot of new challenges, such as finding and renting kitchen space, shipping my decorating supplies etc. I really look forwards to all the new and exciting things to come.
Name: Rebekah Wilbur
Location: Montclair, Virginia, USA
Education/Training: No formal pastry education or training, I have a Bachelor in Music Performance from Leeds College of Music and 3 Associates Degrees in Business Management, Business Administration and Customer Service.
Business name: Rebekah Naomi Cake Design
Facebook: Rebekah Naomi Cake Design