This year we did something huge. As I entered my forth year in business, I took the entire month of January off and traveled around Ecuador for a few weeks. It was a scary leap to actively sign up for a month without income, but in hindsight it was also very necessary. For nearly a full month, I baked nothing. I allowed myself to back-burner business questions, uncertainties, and scheming in order to practice my Spanish, eat tropical fruits, and wiggle my toes in the sand. And it was amazing.
Not to suggest that food was ever far from my mind. Let’s be honest—that never happens. I ate desserts and fresh fruits at basically every available opportunity (think 3 ice cream cones in one day), tasted some new favorite flavors, and found inspiration around every corner.
On the seemingly never-ending return trip, I found myself bubbling over with ideas, new flavors and designs inspired by the things I’d seen, tasted and felt. They took shape as I scribbled everything in my journal and a creative little side project was born:
Ecuador Through Cake, a 3-part practice in form & design
Cake #1: Architecture in Quito
It all started here. When we first arrived in Ecuador, I spent the first several days in Quito, an old, very large city nestled high in the mountains. Narrow city streets lined with Spanish Colonial-style houses rising tall on either side. Brightly painted plaster facades in various states of decay: some smooth and freshly painted, others faded and chipping to reveal the layers of concrete and depth of history. Rich textures everywhere. A common feature was a row of vented blocks above the door, creating a variety of sunken patterns at each entryway. I can’t tell you how many times I stopped while wandering the city to snap a close-up of perfectly chipping plaster, an elaborately carved door, or any other beautiful architectural feature to catch my eye.
All of these things seeped into the cake design, but as I sketched ideas on the flight home, I slowly peeled back each layer to find a more simplified design. As I sat with it, I found that one of the things I came to love most about the Ecuadorian architecture was how unfussy much of it seemed in design. Somehow both beautiful and uncomplicated-- a reminder I could often take to heart.
This first cake was the easiest: I had a clear picture of what I wanted and an excuse to make a fancy cake within the first few days of returning home. The second and (still unbaked) third concepts took a little bit longer to come together, but here's what you can look forward to:
Cake #2: Fruits & Flowers of Ecuador
Bright colors and my favorite Ecuadorian flavor: Passionfruit (maracuyá) and an abstract wafer paper crown inspired by the hibiscus flowers around every corner.
Cake #3: Enter the Cloud Forest
An homage to my favorite part of the trip: staying in a small-batch chocolate factory in the Cloud Forest region. This cake will be flavored with some miel de cacao I brought home from this part of the trip, and capture all the enchanted vibes that made me fall in love.
**This cake is as of yet unclaimed! If you're interested in ordering this one-time-only design, let me know!
Between wedding cakes, baking production, and humble gardening ambitions, there's constant experimentation, growth, and a never-ending learning curve. Follow along to see what I'm up to.