10 Minutes With: Maggie Austin Cake

Can you give us a little background about Maggie Austin Cake? 
I was a classical ballet dancer, but an injury brought my professional career to a very sudden (and heartbreaking) stop. I had always loved baking, so I enrolled in the French Pastry School in Chicago to learn from the best. I moved to DC in 2010 to be with my sister Jessica and we decided to start a little business. I designed a few cakes, photographed them and built the website. Two weeks after we launched, we got a call from the Today Show. Unbeknownst to us, our site had gone viral and the fondant frills became an overnight trend.  

Since then, it's just been a blur! We are committed to a "no growth" business model because I want to keep the focus on the art. I only work on a couple of cakes per week, but we have other projects going on all the time. I feel incredibly grateful for this supportive community.  

What's your favorite technique to use when creating cakes?
I work with fondant because I see it as the perfect canvas. It can be formed into endless textures, it can be painted, it can be so thin that light passes right through it... I feel like I've only scratched the surface of what I can do with the medium. Exploring new techniques is something I adore. But my true love is sugar flowers! Right now, I'm working on a variety I've never made before and the journey of discovery is just so exciting!

What would you say your signature style is?
I would say that my style is clean, precise and a bit off-center. I take my cues from the natural world. A flower is never perfectly symmetrical; the torn edge or the wilted petal give it life and movement.

When it comes to cakes, do you think less is more or more is more?
My designs tend to be intensely detailed, but with very simple lines. I am drawn to precision and balance. My aesthetic was born in the ballet studio, so it's no surprise. Whether it's a petite painted gem or a golden tower of frills and rosettes over seven feet tall, I always stive for visual harmony.

What kind of flavors do you use in your cakes?
I compose flavor profiles with a few different elements that come together beautifully: Pear Cake with Blackberry and White Chocolate Buttercream, Double Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Irish Cream Buttercream. I feel it's important for the cake to taste as sophisticated as it looks.  

What’s the most popular cake design brides are asking for right now?
The textile-inspired techniques are hugely popular and I'm working a lot with metallic accents. Touches of gold or silver here and there catch the light and bring an element of fantasy in a beautifully subtle way. I'm fortunate to work with clients who walk in and ask me to play!  

What’s the one piece of advice you have for brides on their big day?
Eat your cake! Sit down for a few quiet minutes and enjoy. 

--Keely-Shea Smith

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