Today, In Studio moves into the kitchen for a chat with writer and baker Amanda Rettke. Amanda is a Fargo native and a mother of five and the amazing desserts and colorful treats she dreams up in her Minnesota kitchen have inspired bakers around the world.
She’s passionate about the art and science of baking and I’ve learned more about baking cakes from reading her blog, i am baker, than I ever did playing around in the kitchen on my own. Every every single photo makes me hungry, so if you’re reading this post on an empty stomach, you’ve been warned.
Now Amanda’s exuberant cakes are featured in a new cookbook called Surprise-Inside Cakes, where she shows us all how to make cakes with a little extra wow.
Here’s more from Amanda…and some completely drool-worthy photos.
How did you start baking?
“I started baking after I started having babies. There were birthdays and events and potlucks and I needed to bring something! So I started making decorated sugar cookies. I have a real passion for those cookies, but found they were too time consuming for the amount of kids I had. So I started making cakes, and found that I really enjoyed decorating them.”
What made you decide to write a book?
“I got a call from a publisher one day, asking if I would consider it. From that moment on it was all I thought about!”
How has your current environment influenced your baking?
“What a great question! We just moved to a new home with a beautiful kitchen. The windows in the kitchen overlook our backyard, which is about 15 acres of God’s glorious trees and ponds. The setting alone is magical, but pair that with growing kids, who are now actually enjoying spending time in the kitchen with me, and I pretty much feel like the most blessed woman on the planet.”
How do people respond to your cakes?
“One of my favorite things in the world is seeing peoples faces when they are given a cake. Add to that their shock and awe on seeing a surprise inside cake… well, that is priceless. I equate it to a drug! I want to bake more, to give more, to share more, to inspire more. Baking for me is more than a passion. It is a life-giving affirmation.”
How do you get such bright, saturated color?
“I use gel food coloring. It’s great!”
Your use of food coloring has drawn criticism in the past. How do you respond to that?
“I can’t help but laugh about it now. I once had a person tell me that I should not be allowed to procreate based on me giving my kids rainbow colored pancakes. That was a low blow! I am a sensitive soul and take things very personal, but I try to look at how critics can help me, to make me better. I do try to give my kids good food, to feed them whole food and fruits and vegetables and limit the junk. But at the end of the day, I think the world is a better place with a bright, beautiful cake in it.”
What’s your favorite cake in the book?
“I love the Vampire Cake. And the Opposites Cake. And the Maypole Cake. And the Rose Candle Cake. Ah! I can’t decide.”
What’s your most popular cake?
“In 2011 I created a cake called the Vertical Layer Rose Cake. I used a 1M tip and placed big rosettes all over a cake. That cake design in now replicated and sold in bakeries around the world. I most recently saw it featured at Harrods of London.”
Why should people make the effort to make a surprise inside cake?
“I think people like to bless others. I know that my cakes can be difficult and take a long time, but all of that time and resources and effort is worth it when you are giving someone you love a beautiful cake. I hope that my book would give people basic methods for how they can personalize a surprise inside cake for someone. I would hope people are inspired to do something really special. Everything is better with cake.”
What do you say to someone that’s intimidated by your recipes?
“Start easy. Start with a box mix and a layer cake. Once you get in there and feel a cake and manipulate batter to make it do what you want, its a very freeing thing! You start to develop confidence and the ideas flow. Its a wonderful medium to share your artistic talent!”
Why is knowing how to bake important?
“I don’t think having a huge foundation of knowledge is important in baking. I think everyone has a different process and all of them are great. Wether you are from-scratch only or utilize a box mix, what I love is the sharing. The moment when kids rush in the door and smell freshly baked cookies. That moment when you walk in the door to a friends house with a chocolate cake covered in sprinkles. That moment when you cut into a cake that you designed specifically for someone you love, and tears come to their eyes. I want everyone to have those moments.”
Want to learn how Amanda does it? Of course you can buy the book wherever books are sold. Or you can check out her tutorials.
She uses two techniques to get the surprise-inside look. The first is a Cake Mixture method, which you can read about in this Heart Cake Tutorial and the second is The Twice Baked method, which puts a surprise shape in every slice. Click the links to see a quick video tutorial on how to create an Egg Surprise-Inside Cake, which will be awesome for next Easter and a Countdown Cake for New Year’s Eve.
If, like me, you’ve fallen in love with Amanda’s cakes, come see her in person and get your book signed!
Book Signing Event:
Saturday, April 26
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