Tucked away in a quiet cove on Sawyer Island and looking a lot like a cover spread in Maine Magazine is the picturesque and unassuming home of Starlight Custom Cakes and the talented Patricia Moroz. With the encouragement of Christian and Christine, Kelly and I decided to pack a lunch, hop in the car, and head north to meet Trisha, where we would spend a day elbow deep in buttercream frosting. While her skill set ranges way beyond what we could hope to pick up in a day, we were there with the mission of learning some new techniques to elegantly and efficiently frost small cakes.
The first cake we see in Trisha’s pristine studio is a large sculpted model of the Portland Pirate’s mascot, perfectly rendered in sugar, right down to the skates and eye patch. We tell her she is a confectionary genius, but she humbly breezes on by the pirate masterpiece like it was child’s play. We realize that we have an awful lot to learn, so we get down to business. We break out the 6”, 8”, and 10” cakes, the turn-table, cake-leveler, bench knives, offset spatulas, nonskid pads, acrylic discs, parchment, scissors, dowels, level, pastry bags, and of course, mountains of the dreamiest buttercream frosting. With the confidence of someone who’s frosted more cakes than there are days in the year, Trisha sets about showing us the basic techniques involved in using acrylic discs to create a perfectly level, tall, and smooth-sided cake. After seeing her sculpted cakes, it is no surprise to us that she makes this process also look ridiculously easy. While that’s not exactly the case for me and Kelly, we do eventually start to get the hang of it, and begin producing some beauties. Keeping one hand steady on the bench knife, and one hand rotating the turn-table, we spin and spin until all the flaws and bubbles are erased, and only glossy buttercream remains. Meanwhile, we get frosting absolutely everywhere imaginable and sneak bites of cake scraps, much to the dismay of our good-natured host.
About 6 hours into our cake education, we realize that we have succeeded not only in pushing ourselves over the brink of a sugar coma, but also in creating two smaller three-layer cakes, and one absolutely massive three-tiered cake, all with beautifully smooth sides, and perfectly aligned layers. Our joy at this success is quickly followed by the realization that we now possess about 50 pounds of assembled cake and frosting, all dressed up and nowhere to go. After finishing up our lesson and writing down some more insightful tips and suggestions for continuing our cake decorating education, we bid our gracious host and teacher Trisha farewell and giggle all the way to the car, treacherously balancing this outrageously large cake between us. There is some legitimate concern that we may not be able to fit the cake in the back of my car, even after emptying it completely of camping gear and spare shoes. Our fearless leader Trisha looks skeptical but also amused as we drive off at 3 MPH and wave out the window.
Kelly and I spend about 10 minutes gushing about the incredible lesson we just received, then about 10 more laughing until we cry about what the heck we are going to do with this three-tiered wedding cake in the back of my car. With a stroke of genius, Kelly thinks to call our friend and co-worker Stacey, who also works at the Preble Street Teen Center. Yes, she says, you can absolutely bring the cake to the Center! Yes, she says, it will be eaten! Having found the cake a home and having tucked some sweet new skills in our back pockets thanks to Trisha, we head our separate ways to eat nothing but vegetables for the next 12 hours.