If you want a highly detailed cake, baked for a birthday or other special occasion, even one which can be made to resemble your beloved dog, the Sault’s Alex McFarling can do just that for you.
In fact, she’s been baking her own creative, impressively designed cakes for paying customers for the last two years.
And she’s only 12 years old.
A St. Francis French Immersion School student, Alex will be heading into Grade 8 when classes resume Sept. 8.
“I began baking with my mom when I was three, just pouring in ingredients and cracking eggs, but I really started baking two years ago when I got a request for a cake to be made for a benefit across the river,” Alex said, chatting with SooToday on the patio of her grandmother’s home Sunday.
“About a year after that I got a cake request from a neighbour who asked me to make him a birthday cake and it all started from there.”
“I usually get around $60 (per cake order, depending on the size, detail and baking supplies required).”
And, they’re worth every dollar and sweet, tasty bite, Alex making everything from scratch.
“I really liked the first cake I made, an American-themed cake, and an Hawaiian-themed cake,” Alex said when asked which of her creations stands out as her favourite.
And, baking cakes for customers is not just a ‘once in a while’ gig for Alex.
“I’m busy baking cakes almost every other weekend,” she said.
“She needs at least two weeks notice to make these cakes because she makes everything from scratch, and when she makes the special designs and decorations it takes two or three days for them to dry,” said Stacy McFarling, Alex’s mother.
Stacy posted photos of Alex’s work on her Facebook page and things started rolling from there, word of Alex’s skill also spreading through word of mouth.
Customers, the McFarlings said, react with wide eyed, jaw dropping amazement upon seeing the skillful baked creations Alex makes.
“I’ve had a few customers who were blown away. It makes me really happy when they get so excited.”
After her first, American-themed cake, Alex followed up with an Airedale Terrier birthday cake for a friend, the dog’s fur meticulously portrayed in the form of carved cake icing.
“They send me a picture of what they want and I just go off with that,” Alex said.
“Before I do anything with the cake I make the decorations first because they need time to dry and I usually make the cake the day before I deliver it or they come to pick it up. I use a lot of buttercream icing and home made fondant icing.”
“My mom was an avid baker too and I still bake, but Alex is baking more than I do right now. I never made specialty cakes like that,” her mother Stacy chuckled, agreeing Alex is the artist and entrepreneur of the family.
“I’m learning a lot from her.”
“My favourite thing about baking cakes is when I get to decorate them and drop them off, and it really makes me happy because so many people are surprised with what I do. That’s what makes me really happy about it,” Alex said.
Not one to do preliminary sketches as an artist would before starting a painting, Alex said “I look at photos and take a mental image of it and go from there.”
Is a career as a baker or chef in Alex’s future, perhaps running her own business?
“I’ve never really thought about it, but I think I would like to do that someday. I do enjoy baking, maybe as a part time job (apart from whatever career path she eventually chooses). I wanted to be a firefighter, but now I want to be a nurse like my Mom.”
“The neighbours are happy. They’re all fed well. When I retire soon, Alex can hire me to do her dishes,” chuckled Sandra McFarling, Alex’s grandmother.
Alex, who has put some of her earnings back into purchasing her own baking supplies and tools, has also baked and donated goodies such as cupcakes and brownies to ARCH.
“They took pictures and put it on their Facebook page,” Alex said.
Alex said she feels (justifiably) proud of her work.
“But, I do feel really nervous when they’re on their way to pick it up or when I’m on my way to drop it off, I think ‘are they going to like it or not like it?’ I try my best,” said Alex, who once had to sit and hold a cake on the way to a customer on St. Joseph Island.
“She’s her own worst critic (as many of us are) but I think it’s awesome. I’m glad she’s doing something she loves, she’s learning and she keeps getting better at it,” Stacy said.
“I’m very proud of her. She’s amazing. Everything she does with these specialty cakes is self taught. She’ll research, look at videos and read about it and then she just ventures off on her own and does it,” Sandra said.
Alex, an active young lady, loves working out, swimming and skiing, and names science as her favourite school subject.
She has cake orders for mid-September, October and November.
She plans to make a unicorn themed birthday cake for her Catalyst Fitness and Crossfit coach’s daughter in September, 50 chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and a cake for the 50th birthday of a friend of Stacy’s in October, and a fishing themed birthday cake for another family friend in November.
Alex’s favourite type of cake?
“I like vanilla cake with chocolate icing,” she smiled.