Cakes have always been a focal point of celebrations. Who hasn’t said ‘Happy Birthday’ or ‘Mazel Tov’ with a cake?
Melissa Alt, who lives in New York City and grew up in Teaneck, learned to bake from her mother and grandmother. She began making custom cakes as a side business while studying painting and sculpture at Pratt Institute. Caking Art, her latest venture, offers online courses to teach anyone interested in learning how to make a delicious, intricate, beautiful cake. You can purchase a single lesson or subscription to receive new cakes courses every month. Her site also offers the Caking Art pro kit which comes with all of the tools needed to create six cakes. It includes a free cake course specifically designed for the kit. Most importantly, you access the instructional videos online, so Alt is right there with you as work.
“I decided to put together pro kits when COVID-19 hit and people were at home; no one was going out,” she said in a phone interview. “My goal is that anyone can do it. It’s a step-by-step process and you follow along with me. I came up with unique, artistic designs that everyone can create.”
The designs in Caking Art kits are separated by level––beginner, intermediate and advanced. Each level builds on the previous one with added structural creative elements. She also has more advanced courses online. The easiest cakes begin with buttercream filling and frosting; the most advanced use fondant which is more challenging to work with.
“For me, it’s all about combining the art and the cake,” she said. “Taste is always important. The cake has to look good and taste delicious. Before my first course, I made the cake a bunch of times to perfect it the way I like, with the right ratio of liquid to dry ingredients, and the amounts of flour and sugar.” Alt’s lucky family and friends helped with the testing and tasting.
Alt said her Caking Art customers have included beginners and accomplished bakers who wanted to learn more advanced techniques. She is also reaching families who are enjoying making the cakes together.
“It’s an activity for all ages,” she said. “Older kids and adults can do it by themselves and younger kids can do it with their parents.”
Think of Caking Art as an artistic project, not a task to check off on a list. Alt is a great teacher—she is clear and thorough. Her pace is not too slow or too fast. You can replay segments as you work to hone in on the details. A word of advice: When you purchase the pro kit, review the supply list closely to know what ingredients to buy and how much.
Alt’s love of baking is taking her in several directions, in addition to her online school. She has been the culinary creator for a television program and is about to begin a new one. She is the exclusive cake artist for Dylan’s Candy Bar in NYC, and is still making made-to-order cakes for customers. She will be getting married this month in a small backyard wedding, postponed from a date in May. And yes, she is making the cake.
For more information, and a look at all the exquisite cakes you can make, please visit https://www.cakingart.com.
By Bracha Schwartz