Andrea Boudewijn is the brain behind Superfine Bakery, a Los Angeles cake boutique known for its food-centric approach. Recently, our lead planner, Nira, got to learn a little more about her and her creations, and now we’re reporting back to YOU on why you should consider ordering a cake from this exceptional bakery for your next special event!
(Nira) How did you come into this industry?
(Andrea) I used to produce TV and movie websites for the studios around LA, and burned out! I had been doing it for 13 years, and after receiving a panicked, middle-of-the-night phone call about Nicolas Cage’s toupee being crooked on the home page of one of my sites, I’d had it. I finished my work, did my last day, and the very next day started culinary school for baking and patisserie.
(N) You are often considered a designer rather than just a baker. Why do you think that is?
(A) Yes, this one’s funny to me, because I’ve never considered myself a designer. I’m not trained in traditional design, though my father was a painter, sculptor, and aviation engineer, and my mother was a potter (it was the 70s, man). I’ve always thought of myself as a chef–I’m so focused on, and interested in, innovating with food, and eating something mind-blowing. So that’s always been my focus first. However, I think my parents’ skills must have rubbed off on me, and I see the world through their eyes. So each piece in my home, my closet, and my kitchen has to be aesthetically beautiful. Artful. Has to make an impact somehow, y’know? I can’t even handle commercial packaging on a dining table during a meal: sugar, milk, and even wine need to be placed in bowls and a decanter to make the table more visually “warm.” I’m a little nuts like that.
(N) Tell us your process for meeting with a client.
(A) I love client meetings. They’re like small parties and I get to have four or five a day! We sit, eat cake (well, they do; I just talk), drink water and occasionally champagne, and look at pretty pictures of cakes! We talk through details like where the cake table will be (indoor, outdoor), special touches like sugar flowers or gold leaf, whether or not they’d like to rent a cake stand, then voila! Their perfect cake appears on the day of their wedding.
(N) What would you consider to be your specialty?
(A) Hmm, that’s a tough one. There are so many things I like to do, but I guess I’m most known for intense details on my formal side, and naked cakes on my rustic side. Hundreds of tiny sugar beads and jewels can be used on a single cake, or yards of paper-thin ruffles might encircle one of my more formal pieces. But I love the simplicity and “foodie-ness” of a pretty naked cake. The lack of icing (or a very thin coat of icing) on the exterior of a stacked cake, adorned with simple berries and powdered sugar can make such a statement! This also appeals to my foodie-leanings, as you can see all the cakes and layers of filling in between. To. Die. For.
(N) Do you construct all cakes on site or have a very careful delivery service?
(A) I do both–a cake that’s 11 tiers tall simply won’t fit in my delivery van, so it has to be brought in in two or three separate stacks, then built and finished on-site. Smaller cakes of up to six tiers can be delivered completely stacked, but anything over four tiers, I have a lovely delivery guy to help lift.
(N) Do you ever decline cake concepts?
(A) Yes. We don’t do sculpted cakes (cakes made to look like other things such as cars or dogs) because to me that’s A) a whole separate business focus, and B) there are so many other bakeries that do it so well, like our favorite sculptors over at Charm City Cakes West.
(N) What is the ideal time for a cake delivery?
(A) One to two hours before guests arrive. We deliver our cakes cold (they’re more stable for the car ride this way), and a typical wedding cake takes about four to five hours to come up to room temp (eating temperature). To be honest, the longer a cake sits out, the better it tastes!
(N) What is the most elaborate cake you have ever done? Why was it challenging?
(A) I did that 11-tier cake I mentioned earlier for a lovely Indian couple marrying in Westlake Village. They’re guest count was 500, and the stack required a full cascade of sugar flowers. Originally it was to be about six tiers, and I got a call two weeks before the date saying they wanted it much taller. I had to call in the reserve troops to help me generate the amount of sugar flowers it would take, and rush order more ingredients to get it done! It worked though, and we were so happy with the result. We even invented a custom chocolate-cardamom cake flavor for them that was out of this world.
(N) Explain the different core ingredients a client should understand before deciding on what kind of cake they should want. For example, the different types of buttercream versus fondant.
(A) They should have a working knowledge of the difference in buttercream icing and the sugar dough-like consistency of fondant. It might be helpful for them also to understand sugar flowers versus natural flowers in terms of cost and sanitation (frequently, perfect natural flowers have been treated with chemicals to keep bugs and disease away–you don’t want those chemicals in the cake!). Last they should read through a baker’s website to understand their style of cake design and baking–you can tell a lot by a baker’s site. Does it look tidy and current? Is the focus on flavor or design? Also, research their Instagram and Facebook accounts. That can tell you a lot.
(N) So many clients of mine get turned off by the idea of fondant. However, when they meet with you, they enjoy it and decide to use it! Why is your fondant different than others?
(A) Our fondant is handmade in-house with white chocolate, so it’s not the typical gritty, super-sweet fondant you get from the store-bought brands. It’s definitely easier and cheaper to use store-bought, but our focus is on clean ingredients and good taste, so we choose to invest a little more time and money. I think that shows, and that’s why I think it converts fondant haters into fondant lovers. And our dark chocolate fondant tastes just like a Tootsie Roll! How can that be bad?
(N) I’ve seen so many GOLD inspired cakes! What are the different ways of applying gold to a cake design?
(A) I absolutely LOVE using gold! It’s looks so warm and posh–out of this world. I use three types: gold leaf, used to completely cover a tier with shiny gold or as ripped pieces in a design; gold flake, small flakes of gold about the size of dried oregano that’s been crushed up, used with a shaker to adorn a whole cake with gold shimmer; and gold dust, a very fine powder of 24 karat gold mixed with vodka, used for painting with gold on cakes.
(N) Do you think a frozen cake is still good on a one-year anniversary to eat? It’s an old tradition, but so many try to keep it up!
(A) I have a saying: Friends don’t let friends freeze cake. Ever. I mean, what are you celebrating on that one-year anniversary with that old, stiff cake? The cold, hard reality of marriage? No! I wouldn’t save it, but instead call your baker for a replica of your top tier on your one-year anniversary. Instead, celebrate with something fresh and sweet–like your first year of marriage! I wrote a blog post about this very subject: http://superfinebakery.com/to-freeze-or-not-to-freeze/
(N) What do you think of faux “styrofoam” layers I hear many bakers offer clients. What are the pros and cons of this?
(A) Yes, many bakers offer this option and we do as well. These styro tiers are useful when a client wants an extremely large or tall cake, but only needs actual cake for say, 200 guests. They’re very strong and stable, so can be stacked with real cake tiers, and they blend seamlessly with real cake tiers when decorated properly. They also can contribute to a safer set-up of the cake because cake is heavy and styro is light. If you had a 15-tier real cake, that could break a cake stand, heck or even a cake table! Drawbacks might include a boo-boo during cutting, when the couple reaches out with the knife and accidentally aims for a styro tier as opposed to a real one. Oops!
(N) Can you explain the purpose of sheet cake? How does it benefit the couple in terms of efficiency and price?
(A) Yes, a sheet cake is great for those trying to save money. It’s best used with large guest counts of say 200 or more. Generally a main cake is ordered (real or faux styro), and the sheet cake, because it’s undecorated, costs less than the slices in the main decorated cake. All bakers have different policies on offering sheet cakes, so it’s best to call your targeted bakers and ask what they offer. Some will simply make a sheet cake for you and that’s that. Others require an order of a main decorated cake of a certain size before they’ll add on a sheet cake. It just depends on the business model of a particular baker.
(N) Where do you see Superfine in the next five years?
(A) In five years I see us moving into different areas like publishing and TV, growing into partnerships with entities around LA to bolster our knowledge and access to resources, and of course bigger and better cakes!
Photos | Chelsea Prestin Photo