Karen Tack and Alan Richardson on Their Book, Cake My Day
If you like to decorate cakes and cupcakes then Karen Tack and Alan Richardson’s book Hello, Cupcake! is probably on your shelves. They have turned their sites on cakes with the same creativity and inventiveness and the results are fun, approachable and make you want to get into the kitchen and start playing. They chatted with me about Cake My Day!, their newest book and we are featuring their Work Boot from the book. Talking with these two is always fun and energetic. They finish each other’s sentences and of all the co-authors I speak with, these guys are two peas in a pod. Read on…
Dédé Wilson: Alan and Karen, thank you so much for taking the time to chat. Cake My Day! is awesome! Your fans are going to be so thrilled. Tell me how this came about, to make cakes your next topic.
Alan: It was coming down the pike. We had been focusing on cupcakes for so long and what are cakes but cupcakes blown up in size? It is the same premise, using candies and snacks to help decorate, but now we have a larger canvas so there can be even more room for decorating and more room for fun.
So it allows you to do more?
Alan: Oh, yes. But it was challenging. Cupcakes are a certain shape, and so you are more limited in that way.
Karen: Cakes have different sizes and shapes so decorating options are limitless – but it was another challenge.
Alan: We hadn’t realized we were limited by the cupcakes but once we started playing with cakes we felt freed up and weren’t limited at all!
Alan: Think of all the kinds of things you can bake a cake in – the various baking vessels. So many different shapes! So it then required a different kind of problem solving.
Karen: But we kept the book to pans that you will have around the house with nothing bigger than a 9-inch round or a 13×9 brownie pan. We want you to be able to use what you have. Some cakes are baked in ovenproof measuring cups!
Alan: Going to cakes from cupcakes changed our way of looking at things – the scale changed. One gumdrop or M&M on a cupcake can look huge, but not so big in a cake, so we changed what we used or used the same candies in different ways.
Knowing you two I think it was an excuse to stock your pantry with more candy!
Karen: Yes, it was! And now, because the inside portions are bigger, too, we got to play around with that. Some cakes have tinted batter or look like leopard spots or polka dots, or they look psychedelic…
Alan: We threw garbage inside!
Karen: Well, not real garbage…
Alan: Candy garbage! We wanted to play with the inside.
This is a good segue to talk about the Bunny Hill Cake with the surprise inside carrots! This is my favorite.
Alan: We wanted to surprise you twice! Twice the fun!
Karen: The cake is baked in a mixing bowl. Most times when you cut into a cake it is solid and we wanted there to be fun inside, ‘cause you know, there wasn’t enough candy on the outside! (We all laugh).
Alan: It was incredibly popular for Easter and it’s interesting that you were drawn to it…
For me it’s that combo of the whimsy and reality all in one cake!
Karen: And the realization, “I can do that”!
Alan: You scoop out the cake…it’s so easy!
Karen: I do love the vacuum and the boot…
We are going to feature the boot. Tell me why you love it so much.
Karen: Because you go immediately to decorating because you use frozen pound cake and doughnuts and the whimsy of taking Kraft caramels and rolling them out into sheet of “leather” for the outside of the work boot…
That is brilliant, I have to agree…
Karen: And the waffle of the soul is a Kit Kats! Its’ fun – and I have boys so I like rugged stuff.
Alan: I like the ones that have art references, like the Keith Haring Nerd Dance Cake and I love the the Tiger Lilies.
Oh, that one uses the flattened Circus Peanuts candies for the flower petals. It’s brilliant!
Alan: But my favorite is the monkey because when you realize the arms and legs and tail are just cookies and that you don’t even have to frost them, it explains our approach. You can see it; “Oh, those are just cookies; I can do that!” I can turn to people and show them that picture and ask, “Now do you see what we are doing?” And they get it.
Karen: And the fur is just a fork pulling…
Alan: Fork pulling the frosting to make the texture.
Karen: Fork you! (Laughs)
You guys have fun together!
Alan: We do. And this book has really let us go even further.
What would be a good starter cake?
Karen: What I like to call our “press and play” cakes. Like the rainbow would be a good start. It’s a round cake that everyone is familiar with. And you are just pressing them together to make an arc. It’s one of the things we do…take a standard cake and changing it up to make it into something different.
Alan: And people should take a look at our barnyard animals. On our blog we have pictures of these made by little girls, maybe 10 and 13 years old. They made the pig and goat and they turned out so well! We get so happy to see that!
Karen: And with the Barnyard Master Cake you have like 6 projects…with the same simple round cake layers you can arrange them into a new animal…sheep, roosters, we even had more that didn’t make it into the book…
Alan: It’s like a tangram. You just rearrange the pieces. But our editor didn’t know what that was…
Really? Well, I guess I haven’t heard the world in a while…but I know what it is!
So now that you are on a larger scale with cakes, what was new?
Alan: We got to use whole cookies and snack cakes! – Twinkies and Ding Dongs and bigger building blocks in general…
Karen: And breadsticks, too. In terms of candy, I wonder if it’s less per cake because you let the frosting texture show?
Alan: I think with cupcake a gumdrop can look like a large thing…but for a cake you would go to a snowball or even a Mallomar because of the scale change.
Thank you so much for the chat you two. Your fans are going to love this new book!