THE CAKE DESIGNER
Tracy Auseklis, The Buttercream Studio, San Francisco, CA
"While in culinary school, I worked as a line cook and an assistant pastry chef. But after moving to California in 1999, I put my baking dreams on hold to pursue a career as a city planner, though I still made cakes for friends and family. But two years ago my boyfriend proposed, and the first thing I said—after 'yes'—was, 'I'm going to make my own cake!'
"We started planning a big wedding, but I was most excited about the cake. Sketching cake designs and baking completely consumed me. Eventually, it hit me—why have this other job, when it's cakes that I really love? I put together some preliminary numbers and realized the money I would need to open my own bakery was about what our wedding was going to cost. So after my fiancé and I talked it over, we decided to throw a more low-key wedding and use the money to start my custom cake business.
"We scaled back our plans from 100 guests to 30, with a City Hall ceremony followed by a cake and cocktails party at a local restaurant. This meant I had to tweak the cake design. My original plan was a grander cake, but now it didn't make sense to have a tiny wedding with a huge cake. I had so many visions for the design in my head—it seemed like everything I came across became inspiration for a cake.
"One day I found a china pattern with a beautiful, shimmery gardenia on it, and that ended up sticking with me. I sketched several different designs, but in the end I decided to keep it simple. In general, I love elegant, romantic cakes, but I also love funky, whimsical designs. So I kept these two styles balanced by giving the sugar flowers a creative, artsy look."
Photos: Lori Eanes Weddings