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cake artist andrea carusetta
Cake Artist Andrea Carusetta
February, 2014, Page 28
Photos by Garrett Cook
Andrea Carusetta conjures up whimsical cake creations that stir the imagination and whet the appetite
Some people discover the career they end up pursuing while in college; others later in life. Andrea Carusetta
knew what she was destined for at the doe-eyed age of 6, after baking her first cake.
“I’m almost embarrassed to say this, but when I was younger there was no Easy-Bake Oven,” Carusetta explains with a small laugh. “For Christmas that year, I got some cake pans and a tiny cake mixer, and I just flipped out over them.”
Under the tutelage of her mother and her aunt, the native Canadian became further enchanted with the world of confectionery delights. With her artistic talents beginning to bloom, her parents enrolled the budding baker in private art lessons at age 7.
Fast-forward to the ’80s—Carusetta moved to Florida and decided to open a bakery to reconnect with the craft that she had fallen in love with as a child. Her formal art training allowed her to quickly adjust to her new medium—sugar.
This highly detailed urn is a cake created by artist Andrea Carusetta, shown above in her kitchen. It won awards for both “People’s Choice” and “Best of Show” at the 2008 Event Elements Competition held at the Arizona Grand Resort.
When a regular customer asked her to bake a wedding cake for the first time, “I never looked back,” the artist recalls. Sixteen years later—an announcement from her Arizona-based son and daughter-in-law spurred the soon-to-be grandmother to move to The Grand Canyon State.
A short time later she opened Sedona Cake Couture. The upscale bakery was an instant hit with customers near and far, and has thrived ever since. The secret to her success, she believes, is “real” ingredients. The artist even makes her own vanilla, soaking the beans in brandy. She also makes homemade Italian meringue, roasts her own pralines and hand-rolls an icing made from Swiss white chocolate that she refuses to call fondant—not wanting it to be associated with the “wine box-variety people are used to.”
“No artificial ingredients, no preservatives—everything is organic,” she states. “People are often surprised at how sweet my cakes aren’t. Their taste buds are used to unnecessary amounts of sugar in boxed cakes, which mask artificial ingredients. In my cakes, you taste the butter, the vanilla and a little bit of sugar.”
With 18 years’ experience to her credit, Carusetta no longer faces the common bakers’ challenges that include questionable tastes, strange textures and off-kilter shapes. She’s made cakes for brides who come from as far away as New York, England and France. “I’m at the point where I’m having fun with it,” she says.
One of Carusetta’s more recent creations, this “shoe box” cake is entirely edible.
This “fun” includes a detailed 5-foot-long by 3-foot-wide cake re-creation of Cliff Castle Casino; a pink jeep cake commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Sedona Pink Jeep Tours; and a 6½-foot-tall crystal-laden cake topped with caged geese made from blown sugar—a creation that subsequently sent Carusetta home with First Place in TLC Network’s “Ultimate Cake Off” in 2010.
When asked if it is difficult knowing her hard work will be consumed, she responds “they live on in photos. Cakes make people happy,” she adds.
“There’s a lot of hardship in life, but there also are weddings, graduations, birthdays. It’s these beautiful memories that make the journey all worthwhile. And it’s like my favorite quote: ‘A party without a cake is just a meeting.’”
Photos - Clock-wise from top left: The “cigars” in this groom’s cake rest inside an edible “wood-grain” box made of sugar. • Sugar daffodils spring forth from another cake. • Carusetta’s attention to detail takes her work to an award-winning level. • Using a food writer—one of her favorite tools—the artist is able to create elaborate freehand designs on her cakes. Mixing powdered colors with lemon extract allows her to apply water-coloresque hues and effects with a brush.
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