Covered With Icing

Early Saturday morning brought the beginning of the NCACS and another really great day!  We were at the show bright and early while people were still running around trying to get things ready.  Most of the show cakes had been brought in the day before, so we were ready to view the beautiful designs and visit the vendor spaces.  We were greeted in the lobby by a tribute to my favorite building in Washington, DC and also to the Cherry Blossom Festival which started that day as well.

The Capitol Building in sugar and covered with cherry blossoms

Closer because I love the detail

B. Keith Ryder was running around crazy as usual but we cornered Mike Elder for hugs and photo ops.  I have to tell you that going to this show was like going to Fan Fair for country fans.  I love seeing all of my cake stars under one roof.  There were many up and comers and incredibly talented veterans.  The show is hosted by Norman Davis, who along with Zane Beg, has been on more Cake Competitions than anyone.  He’s such an incredible cake artist I was in awe of his presence.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Black Sheep himself with ME!

Laura with friend and amazingly talented cake artist, Susan Carberry

We went into the vendor area and decided to take advantage of the special fondant pricing right away.  We had about 50 pounds of fondant in boxes and wanted to take them to the car then come back.  I had told Laura to just put her box down and I would get it when somebody came barreling at us in a mini van and honking like crazy.

It was sunny outside and I couldn’t see in the van, so I had no idea if somebody wanted to run us over or just say hi.  The van pulled up and it was our friend Jay Qualls from back home!  If you don’t know, Jay owns Maples Cakes and recently competed on the Next Great Baker on TLC with Buddy Valastro of Carlos Bakery.  Jay was driving the lovely Miss Ashley Vicos van and we hopped in with him to haul our fondant to our car in the back of the parking lot. 

We walked back in with Jay who invited us to hang out in his class later in the day if we had time.  There were several demonstrations, competitions and classes throughout the weekend, so a person could stay as busy as they wanted to be.  There was an amazing live competition featuring Castles of the Silver Screen that we spent several hours watching.  Dana Herbert, the winner of the Next Great Baker competed, along with Mike Elder, Bob Brougham, and Kathy Scott, all well-known in the cake world.

Norm gave clues as to the movies that were featured in the cakes and audience members that guessed correctly won prizes.  Zane came out dressed as Troy featured in Dana’s cake and Dianna Lopez was dressed like Edward Scissorhands, the movie featured in Bob’s cake.  Mike Elder featured Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Kathy’s cake was based on The Wizard of Oz.

Norm onstage with Ashley Vicos

Norm onstage with Dana, Mike (hiding behind him), Kathy and Bob

Zane Beg answering questions onstage

Zane dressed as Troy

Dana's Troy cake

Bob's Edward Scissorhands cake

Kathy's Wizard of Oz cake

Mike's Monty Python cake

Mike was the only one who used all real cake instead of styrofoam featured in the others and his details were amazing by the end of the competition.  He had my vote hands down.  We received one right to vote each to make it fair but I don’t know how Mike’s cake could have been beat.  He is such an incredible cake artist!  I remain in awe of his cakes every day.  He is in the same place in my mind as Mike McCary of Mike’s Amazing Cakes, another cake hero I was able to meet over the weekend.  Mike Elder DID win the competition but that wasn’t announced until later.

I did sit on on Jay’s class for awhile and acted like his turntable when he put fondant ribbons on his cake.  LOL  I knew my purpose in life was something important!  He had several really nice people in his class and they were all very eager to learn his Platinum and Pearls techniques.  Jay is very charismatic and fun to take class with.  He started out making his daughter’s birthday cake, just like many of us did and he’s done well with media relations and cake design.

Jay teaching class

We met up with Linda Milea at the hotel, who I believe might be a force to reckon with in the future.  She makes very detailed cakes for family and friends and does really great in competitions.  Her sunken pirate ship and her cupcakes both won in her division during the cake show and the wins were well deserved.

Linda Milea's sunken pirate ship

Linda Milea's cupcake entry

Linda Milea cupcakes closer

Laura and I spent some quality time at Starbucks during the week as we both had gift cards that were just begging to be spent.  We did make the mistake of trying their cake pops which I would NEVER recommend to a friend.  Yuk.  I’m not sure what they actually use in those things but I’m convinced it’s not even real cake…and I don’t know if it’s cooked.  It tasted like chemicals with a horrible mouth feel and aftertaste.  Okay-enough of that!  They make Chai Tea Lattes very well and should maybe stick to what they know best.

I was SO tired Saturday night but went to sleep with cake dreams in my head and the excitement of a wonderful class the next day!

I’ve already mentioned my dearest cakin friend Laura.  She’s quite possibly one of the sweetest people with the biggest hearts in the universe.  Yes, she can be strongwilled, sassy, and an occasional swear comes out of her mouth…which is why I love her so much.  She reminds me of someone else I know very well. 

Laura and I met at a state fair cake competition a few years ago in the audience.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, she had recently moved to TN and I had as well.  Both transplants put here together for a reason!  My daughter and I were quietly critiquing those competing (one of those being Kaysie Lackey!) when Laura giggled in front of us.  We were so quiet I didn’t realize anyone could hear, but I discovered my soon to be friend has really terrific hearing!

Laura and I in 2009 at class with Michelle Bommarito

Laura and I began as friends in cake and became friends in life.   We share a lot of interests, love our families more than anything and see ever piece of decor as a future cake.  SO when Laura mentioned taking a trip to the NCACS, the National Capital Area Cake Show, I couldn’t wait!

Laura and I cleared our calendars, kissed our hubbies, and hit the road on Thursday, March 24, early in the morning.  We got as far as east TN when we decided to take a detour to visit my brother and enjoy lunch together.  Surprise, Greg! 

My little baby brother and I

That was fun!  After that, we drove several hours when I convinced her to take another detour to Virginia’s Natural Bridge State Park

See the top of the building WAY up there?? That's where we started. There are about 300 steps going down.

We were SO glad we stopped there!  The bride is 20 stories of solid rock, hiding so much history in it you could almost feel it oozing out of the limestone.  We hiked back about a mile to see the forts, the natural springs, and the bridge.  It was really beautiful-awe inspiring!  You never know what gems you’ll find just off the beaten path.

The magnitude is just hard to imagine in this picture...

So I put my sweet friend Laura under it!

my turn-she moved closer so she could find me!

The Lost River is a really great story. They cannot figure out where it begins.

We made it into the host hotel for the show in Fairfax a little later than planned but we had such a fun travel day we didn’t even care.  My sweet friend Laura will drive the wheels off if she has half a chance! 

Friday was just a check-in and sightseeing day and because we had never toured DC, we decided it would be a great time to do it.  We hopped on a sightseeing tour bus and were SO happy that we did!  We were able to get great commentary on the tour with several different drivers, as we were free to hop off at one stop and catch another bus whenever we wanted. 

The Capitol is one of my favorite buildings in the United States. LOVE it.

National Archives-one of many!

The White House far, far away!

We saw most of the major landmarks, the cherry blossoms, Arlington, and the White House.  I was completely overwhelmed with love for DC.  I can’t wait to go back with the family!  I thought several times how my kids would really love certain landmarks.  I tried to get photos of everything they would like to see.  Arlington probably hit me the hardest and I honestly didn’t expect to be so overcome with emotion.  I didn’t know JFK but I found myself weeping at his grave.  I cried again at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and then again at the sheer magnitude of it all.

JFKs gravesite with the Eternal Flame

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Changing of the Guard

Always unsettling to see your own name on a grave

We ate a late lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and took photos outside Ford’s Theater.  We picked up a few souveniers for our families and then grabbed the car and she dropped me to literally RUN in to see our Senator to get flags flown over the US Capitol Building for the two most important little guys in our lives. 

Inside the Hard Rock in DC

Ford's Theatre

I could have spent days in DC touring everything in greater detail but we only had one and truly made it worthwhile.  We enjoyed a quiet evening after a very busy day and knew we would be running off early in the morning for the beginning of the Cake Show!

I know.  It’s just wrong.  The title is wrong, the thought is wrong, the act is wrong…but it’s true.  She loves Santa more than any adult should love Santa but she looked like she took great pleasure in destroying him.

Sure she looked forlorn for about 30 seconds!

See? Told ya.

I know, Santa was alive way too long.  I couldn’t bring myself to destroy him.  If you read my blogs in the past you would know at the first of October he was brought to life with the help of Bronwen Weber.  If you do the math, that is indeed FIVE months he was alive.  He was made of real cake, chocolate and fondant.  Can anybody say EEEEWWWWWWW?!  LOL

She lost it.

She's cutting off his butt!

She beat him with a mallet and tore him apart!

She's enjoying it. So wrong.

This was the last one I could stand to take. He looks like Santa on a stick.

After my mom took great fun in destroying my precious Santa cake, I decided something incredible must be done with the cake bones.  I had always wanted to make myself out of cake, so there was no time like the present.  I whipped up more modeling chocolate, got out the fondant, and looked in the mirror.

The Heather Cake was harder to create than Santa because well, it was supposed to look like me.  I worked for 15 hours sculpting, rolling fondant hair, and detailing the cake.  FIFTEEN hours and if you ask my kids, it succeeded in looking only like my Mii character, but not actually ME.

Yep, that kinda looks like me

Here I am!


She is wearing a replica of my red Chef wear chef’s jacket; complete with my name and logo, a replica of a show cake that I used in the last bridal shows, she’s wearing crocs identical to mine, and she has an icing bag with a silver tip and actual icing coming out!  Now I just have to figure out who I will make next!

I’m sure you’ve all heard of Kaysie Lackey of the People’s Cake if you watch any cake shows at all.  What you might not know is Kaysie started decorating cakes right here in Nashville…in fact, she made her first fondant covered cake here with Kathy Wise Gentry of Sweetwise to help her out!  Now she’s been a winner twice on Food Network’s Cake Challenges, has traveled all over the country teaching her secrets, has won numerous awards and has been published in multiple magazines.

When I heard Kaysie was coming to teach her balance cake class, I wanted to jump on the chance to take it.  However, she was teaching on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday when I had two weddings.  I knew that was going to be nearly impossible to pull off as wedding cakes take several hours to prepare and decorate.  When the word came out that Kaysie would offer a second class, I jumped on it.

I had admired the balance cake for a long time and at this point in my cake career, I am interested in different structures and ideas for the future.  I was more intrigued by the inside structure and the execution of the cake than the actual cake itself.  It’s a great design and a really fun mad hatter type cake.

my sculpted teapot

Kaysie covering her teapot

All pieces covered and ready to paint

Kaysie painting her teapot

My finished painted pieces

My dear friend Laura took the class with me, along with some terrific friends in sugar and otherwise, Stephanie of The Sweetest Day, Rachel of She Bakes Cakes, and Casey of Alabama.  We had three days from 9-5 (or longer!) to complete our cakes.  We listened to many stories Kaysie shared about cake and being on challenges and enjoyed talking together during class.

Kaysie covering her board

My prepared board

Kaysie stacking her first cake

My cake in the stacking process

Kaysie finishing her cake

Kaysie's finished product

My finished product

It was really fun to see how we could all be taught the same class, but all of our final products were completely different.  Laura and I are the poster children for Mutt and Jeff of the cake world.  She always chooses pretty, pastel, elegant and I choose bright, bold and whimsical.  We would make the perfect team in business together as we definitely have different styles but work well together.  Sadly, she no longer wishes to be in the biz for public, but that’s another story. ;)

Laura and my Mutt and Jeff cakes

Casey T finishing her design


Kaysie and I with my finished cake

I’d like to thank Sweetwise for hosting terrific cake classes and to Kaysie for coming “home” to teach!

I survived class with Kaysie Lackey-love it!

Karman and I met less than two months prior to her March wedding and she was still very undecided about what she wanted.  She had several ideas, but it took a little prodding to get exactly what she wanted.

Karman and Steven’s colors were a dark purple and muted apple red.  She wanted both of the colors incorporated on the cake and because the couple are both into anime, they wanted an edible anime couple topper.  Karman brought a photo she liked of an anime couple and I was to put them onto a flat topper (not 3D). 

Steven wanted a cake that incorporated the Dragonball Z character and the seven balls used in the show.  He wanted the cake to appear to have a tile floor and to incorporate the logo.  His cake was to be chocolate. 

Steven's groom cake

The couple was fortunate enough to be the first wedding in the Waterstreet Event Center after it had been closed 10 months due to last year’s flooding.  I was THRILLED to be a part of that first wedding.  The Waterstreet was the first venue I delivered a wedding cake to in Clarksville.  I really love all of the wood, the view of the river, now the new floors, the fireplace, and the huge kitchen!  It’s a beautiful venue that can hold several hundred guests.  One of my favorites!

Karman and I designed a three tier offset square cake with quilting, purple dots, and red fondant ribbons with the anime topper.  She chose flavors of Butter Cake and Red Velvet Cake covered with Vanilla Buttercream. 

Karman and Steven's cake

Karman also added gift boxed and beribboned Chocolate Covered Sandwich Cookies as wedding favors prior to the wedding.  They looked so cute all boxed up and tied with red and purple ribbons.  Wouldn’t you know I forgot to take photos! 

Karman and Steven are fortunate enough to be employed by her family, owners of the Kohana restaurants, who also took care of all of the food for the reception.  I’m sure it was terrific!  Some beautiful women, and also a former bride and MOB helped Karman plan the details of her wedding and reception and they did a wonderful job.  The place looked beautiful.

Karman and Steven, may your life together always be as bright and cheery as your wedding cake!

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Heather Noble
PO Box 1077
Hendersonville, TN 37077
(615) 338-0466