Montreal, meet cake artist Albena Cake Design
With a background in arts, a diploma in pastry-making and an award-winning resume of cakes, it’s no surprise that Albena Petrova of Albena Cake Design has a keen eye and magical touch when it comes to decorating wedding cakes. Her pieces are entirely unique, exquisitely tailored and sophisticated to the point that “edible art” doesn’t begin to cover her creations. Here, we get an inside look at what inspires the creative genius and draws focus to what we’ll simply call a series of Michelangelo-esque cakes.
Q: How did you get started in the cake industry? What’s your baking background?
A: I was raised in a family of artists where I developed an interest in painting and sculpting at an early age. During my early years I studied pottery-making and glass engraving and six years ago, after receiving my diploma from the Pearson school of Culinary Arts in Montreal, decided to make baking my artistic passion of choice.
Q: How would you describe your style? What inspires you?
A: I think art should be an important part of our life, as it is inspiring and stimulates our senses towards beauty. My style in cake decorating is versatile. I love classic, but I also love to challenge the conventional and break the rules. I like to explore new forms and other potentials for my media, to think outside the box. My aim is to create centrepieces that are entirely unique, “…an edible art that turns common pastry into visual poetry.” – Maggie Austin. I find inspiration everywhere: flowers, fashion, art, architecture, nature and people.
Q: What’s your favourite technique to use when creating cakes?
A: I like to cover my cakes with sugar paste. It is like I am preparing the canvas for my painting. I use many different techniques, depending on the project. I love making sugar flowers which are beautiful adornments to many cakes or paint directly on the fondant using edible colours. My favourite, however, are the laces. They’re so delicate and yet so elaborate I love recreating them out of sugar. I like to experiment and to accept imperfections during the process.
Q: What’s the process you have when designing a cake for a bride?
A: I meet and talk to the couple. We discuss their overall vision about their wedding day: colour scheme, flowers, ambience, flavours, etc. Anything that could be inspiring for the cake design. We exchange ideas and brainstorm together. We talk about how to customize the sweet dessert and make it more intimate and personalized by incorporating elements that are meaningful to them: monograms, family jewels, writing a quote, etc.
Before I start, I draw a sketch to introduce my vision. Wedding cakes are very often the centrepiece, the focal point, one of the most important elements of the wedding. They are not only a decorative centrepiece, but also the final meal, the main dessert for all the guests. Choosing the best flavours and properly pairing them is a very important part of the design process.
Cakes represent the tradition, the ritual, of cutting it as a couple. Feeding each other with a piece of cake symbolizes their commitment to provide for each other and contains the meaning of good luck and fortune. In the process of designing it I must think as well of the cake structure and how to make it not only beautiful but also stable so to resist the long hours.
Q: What was the most challenging order you received from a bride?
A: A seven-tier cake that took three months hard work of making the sugar flowers.
Q: On average, how long would you say it takes to create a cake from start to finish?
A: Everything depends on the project and how elaborate it is. It could be a day, or it be could months.
Photography: Anda Panciuk