Rachael Teufel is an award-winning cake designer whose work you have undoubtedly seen before. She has been seen on the Food Network Challenge, The Today Show, in the pages of Brides, Martha Stewart Weddings, and The Knot. She has been named one of Martha Stewart Weddings' top pastry pros in the country and Brides Magazine's "Top 100 Bakeries.” And, her cakes have been featured in Bride's "50 Most Beautiful Wedding Cakes" and "America's Prettiest Wedding Cakes." Phew, she's very impressive.
If all that is not enough, her magnificent Geode Cake went crazy viral on the internet and sparked a new trend in cake design. Trust me, if you spend any time looking at wedding cakes you will definitely come across Rachael's work. And, when I look through her cake designs I am always flattered at the number of stunning creations sitting on one my cake stands. Needless to say, I am thrilled she agreed to answer all my nosy questions so we could go beyond the frosting and get to know the baker behind Intricate Icings Cake Design.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Lorain, Ohio, a small city in between Cleveland and Sandusky (also the home of Cedar Point...the most amazing amusement park ever!).
When did you start baking?
I started baking when I was a young girl. I spent time in the kitchen with my grandmother, mother, and aunts and often had cookie decorating contests with my sister during the holidays. I also was the one responsible for cooking for my family once I hit fourth or fifth grade and often tried to duplicate what I saw chefs making on TV. I remember watching Julia Child and Emeril Lagasse. I had an epic fail trying to make Bananas Foster...let’s just say the house smelled of burnt sugar for days!
One of my first decorated cakes was making the United States out of a sheet cake for a class project in junior high. Turns out, you can get bonus points if your teacher can eat your project!
What initially got you interested in designing cakes?
I’ve always been a creative person. My dad encouraged involvement in the arts and always had projects around the house for my sister and me to do when we were growing up. Things like painting, drawing, and sculpting in play dough, not to mention household construction projects like building playhouses or caulking the bathroom sink. I think all of these things spurred my desire to make things. I took classes like flower arranging, glassblowing, and painting before I finally tried cake decorating at a local Michael’s Craft store. I was hooked after my first class back in 2001.
Which of your cakes is your favorite?
I think my favorite cake to date is the Geode Cake I made in 2016. That particular cake really speaks to me. I love everything about it. It’s simplicity, the gorgeous variations in the coloring, and, of course, the fact that it spurred a major trend in the cake industry.
What is your biggest cake oops?
Back in 2014, I had one of the busiest years of my career. I had 10 cakes in one weekend and two of the cakes were the exact same shape and size but different flavors. One was on Saturday and one was for Sunday. I received a call on Sunday morning that one of the cakes that was delivered on Saturday was the wrong set of flavors. I immediately realized that the two cakes had been switched before decorating so I rushed to rebake the cake for Sunday afternoon’s delivery. I made sheet cakes in the correct flavors to supplement the wedding cake with the wrong flavors. I, at least, could save one of the errors. Sadly, I had one very upset client but at least it wasn’t two.
If you could only use one for the rest of your life, buttercream or fondant, which one would you choose?
Hands down...fondant. Because even with a fondant cake you'll have buttercream underneath so, technically, you get both!!! I love the look of fondant and, if you use the right product, you can have a cake that looks amazing and tastes great, too. I have a very clean line aesthetic that works well with fondant. That’s not to say you can’t get a clean line look with buttercream but it is much easier for me to achieve that look with fondant.
What is the one piece of advice you wish you had received when you first starting baking?
Don't be afraid to say no!!! I think, in the beginning, I tried really hard to please everyone and take any order that came my way. I eventually realized that it was an impossible task and really I needed to do what was best for me and my company. Learning to say no is a difficult process but it's a necessary skill in order to be successful!
What is the one piece of advice you would give to brides and grooms to help them get a cake they will love for their big day?
Don't be afraid to think outside the box. So many people think they need to conform to the norm and do what is expected. Have fun with your cake! Make it yours.
How much cake do you eat in a week?
Um, a lot!
If you couldn’t be a baker, what would you do?
I honestly don't know. It would certainly be something creative and likely involve making something with my hands.
Who is your celebrity crush?
Justin Timberlake!!!! What I would give to be able to make a cake for him!
Be honest, do you eat grocery store cake?
Absolutely! I’m not a cake snob by any means. I grew up eating grocery store cake. Any Convenience fans out there? They had the best whipped cream icing ever!!! I still crave it! I have to share though...when I attend birthday parties with my son, every parent apologizes for serving store-bought cake but, deep down, I'm excited to eat it because it brings back memories of my childhood. It's nostalgic!
Seriously, what’s the deal with your purple obsession?
LOL! Purple and I go way back. I’ve loved this color since I was a tiny girl. I only had one brief hiatus when I was in junior high where I switched to emerald green. It only lasted for a couple of months and I was right back to purple. It’s one of those colors that makes me feel confident and, more importantly, happy. Simply the fact that you asked proves the point that it is part of my brand. People notice when I wear/use purple. But they notice when I’m not wearing purple. It makes people think of my company whenever they see something purple.
Most important of all, if I want you to make me a cake, what is the best way to contact you?
Email is always best because I am usually in the kitchen working and I can’t always stop to grab the phone: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To see more of Rachael's amazing cakes, take a click trip to her site at www.intricateicings.com.