The Cake Designer

Photo: Hannah Whitaker

Sarah Magid

You designed accessories for J.Crew and Henri Bendel before becoming a full-time cake designer. How did you get into baking?
I would bake at night for meetings, and it was sort of a joke that at four in the morning, working on a presentation board for the next day, I’d think, Oh, I should be a baker. After I had my two children, I started baking more—I was working on my cakes and in fashion at the same time. Then in 2005 someone at Domino asked for a cake, and when it was featured I got over 500 e-mails. Now what I do is almost like fashion design for cakes—it involves a lot of sketching. The couples who come to me want something that looks homemade, but is still very sophisticated, totally unique, and, of course, organic.

Why organic cakes?
The quality and the taste are inherently better. I would say 60 percent of my customers come because it’s organic, and 40 percent are drawn to the handmade-looking decorations.

There must be some traditional elements that simply can’t be done organically.
I don’t work with fondant. But that’s also because I don’t like it. To me, it just doesn’t look like something you would want to eat; it’s beautiful, but it’s like a big canvas wrapped around the cake.

I’ve heard that some couples are skipping the cake altogether.
Brides are trending away from the huge, extravagant cake in favor of something smaller, but there’s a certain symbolism that’s important. It’s like the ring or the big white dress—everyone says they want something different, but they still return to the traditional idea. Some request a smaller cake to cut, and then surround it with Goldies [Magid’s chocolate, gold-dusted take on the Twinkie].

What about little cakes to use as centerpieces?
I’ve made tabletop cakes for a few weddings. Each cake can be a different flavor and design, so guests can mix and match.

Have you ever had any delivery mishaps?
That is the No. 1 fear of the New York City cake baker. You have to pray to the cake gods. Sometimes I feel like I need to down a shot before I deliver a cake, because the situation is just so unpredictable. Last summer during a heat wave, I had to single-handedly carry a 60-pound cake through a construction site—the whole block was closed due to an exploding manhole. And more recently, I made an elaborate lace-and-pearl cake, with flowers inspired by vintage fabric, and the driver took me down the most pothole-ridden street in town. It cracked.

Oh no! What did you do?
I always carry a repair kit with me, with additional decorations, piping bags, and spatulas. I’m like a little cake doctor. In that case, I had extra sugar pearls and flowers that I was able to attach; the end result was gorgeous, and the couple probably just thought I was hit with a last-minute burst of inspiration.

make your cake
“For a small wedding (80 or less) save money by baking your own cake, then buying special decorations—such as my hand-sculpted flowers.”


The Cake Designer