Julie Conrad takes the cake!...by Joyce Oroz...actually, she makes the cake

I am very excited to be interviewing Julie Conrad today. She is a shining star in the AHA's Galaxy. I saw one of her scrumptious cakes up close that just took my breath away. It was just one of many original, beautiful, creative, detailed, yummy cakes.

Julie, how did you get started in the cake business?

Well I have had two daughters grow up in 4-H. They always competed in the Home Arts Division at the Santa Cruz County Fair for baking. Each year we spent loads of time making cakes to come up with a winning cake recipe. The cakes tasted great but looked home made. As my children moved out I started taking cake decorating classes. I just did it as a hobby for friends and family. But the word spread and pretty soon I was getting calls from people I didn't know. So I decided to open up A Slice of Heaven Cakes last spring. We officially opened in July of this year. What are your favorite cakes to make?

Well honestly I enjoy them all, but I would say I have two types of favorite cakes. One is wedding cakes, I love to make the big elaborate cakes with all the fun wedding type decorations. The other type is where a client gives me an idea and lets me get creative with it. Like this chocolate cake they just said they wanted lavender- I had been wanting to do something different, so the dome was a fun challenge.Julie, please tell us a little bit about the process.

I usually ask for as much notice as possible when I am making a cake. It's not like a grocery store cake that is whipped out in a few hours. I start asking the client what they want, carved cake or standard cake shape. Then what type of decorations. Almost all of my cakes are made with some sort of sugar decorations. I start making them weeks in advance if possible. The figurines need time to dry and harden in between working on them. The flowers are a minimum of several days for the same reason. I start a rose by making the center several days ahead of time and let it dry. Then I hand make each petal and add them in one by one. Say for a peony it's about 40 petals, so you can see how this would be a lengthy process. Do you have hobbies or other fun things you like to do?

Over the years I have been an avid gardener, though while raising children and livestock I didn't have as much time to devote to it as I liked. I also love cooking, preserving, crafts. I was the local crafts and 4-H Guide Dog Leader for several years. I think my love of flowers and crafts really helps me now with the different aspects of the cakes. I also enjoy a little spot in my backyard that is reserved for the wild birds to come eat, bathe, and perch. That seems to be my latest passion, along with cakes. How can people see your cakes and contact you?

I have a website now for viewing my cakes and my flavor chart. asliceofheavencakes.com, also people can see my cakes on Facebook. I only make 2 cakes a week, 1 if it's a wedding cake or carved cake. By limiting my number of cakes I make each week, I can make sure to concentrate on the details. I usually ask of a deposit to hold the date. Some people have already booked into July and August of next year!

Contact me by phone at 831-726-1837.Thank you, Julie for a fascinating look at cake making.


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