Cake Decorators Demonstrate New Tools and Techniques

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Linda Shonk (left) and Marsha Brooks with Shonk's antique candy box.
The baby doll is made from gum balls and Tootsie Roll pops.

Photos by Linda Karn

(posted Apr 13)

The Indiana Cake Exploration Society provides a forum for artistic lovers to share their cake decorating talent, tools and dreams. Chef Linda Shonk, owner of Sweet Art Galleries in Beech Grove, demonstrated her tylose gum paste, available at Ms. B's Sweet Supplies in Speedway.

"Marsha Brooks (owner of Ms. B's Sweet Supplies) inspired me to make gum paste," she said.

Shonk said she developed it about three months ago for a company on the east coast, but the company decided to go with a different version. She is not sure why the company selected her other version because she favors the tylose version for its quick drying time.

Shonk crafted a candy box from gum paste at the April 13 chapter meeting. Shonk said 10 of the 12 ingredients are the same as Necco Wafer candies. She said it takes about 15 minutes to make the edible product, but it has a 24 hour rest time for the chemicals to combine. The gum paste also has a porous quality that is excellent for using edible paints.

Dott McBride interjected that "men and kids love to eat gum paste, but not women."

Shonk said her company manufactures products for other companies. She also showcased her pattern-printed acrylic rod rolling pins. The rolling pins come in 60 different patterns that retail for around $42.00. Two of the rolling pins have brick and cobblestone patterns that are popular for making ginger bread houses.

Shonk donated the heart-shape-candy box to Brooks to be displayed at her store. She recommended a suggested retail price of about $50.

Vi Whittington promoted her daughter Autumn Carpenter's imprinted mats. The decorative imprinted mats are placed on the fondant. When peeled, the fondant is left with a beautiful pattern imprint.

Whittington and Carpenter co-authored a book titled "Creative Cup Cakes." She said her daughter has written another book titled "All About Candy Making." Carpenter also has websites promoting her cookie decorating business, and She made autumn sugar cookies decorated with Caramel Choco Pan for the society members to sample.

Debi Brim, owner of Cater It Simple, said she has been a butter cream person for 25 years, but after the demonstration she decided to switch to gum paste and Choco Pan. Brim was impressed with the gum paste's long duration of pliability while making roses. Brim also liked the gum paste's porcelain finished look. Brim also suggested using Tootsie Rolls for making delicate chocolate roses.

Betty Lou Horvath, owner of La Candy Shoppe in South Bend, said she moved her 27 year old business to a bigger location due to an increase in demand. Horvath contends these types of do-it-yourself businesses are more recession proof. Horvath said she was going to try the gum paste.

Tanya Rabideau of Mooresville classified her cake decorating business as more of a creative hobby for her than a profession. She lacks the necessary time needed to operate the business. Rabideau confessed that she has put more money into supplies than making dollars from selling her cakes. She bakes wedding cakes on the side, but it is difficult to balance with her full time job. She usually ends up pulling all-nighters to fulfill a cake order. She said people encourage her to evolve it into a full-time business, but she is not sure how to grow it into a profitable entity. Her real passion is to open a cake supply shop and an affordable banquet facility.

Millie Green, owner of Amazing Cakes of Indy, has been a professional cake decorator for 14 years. Mildred Brand and Green are some the charter members who started the Indiana chapter in 1976. The chapter currently has 65 members. Green and Brand have traveled overseas to International Cake Exploration Society events. The events have taken them as far as Japan and Australia.

"It's a caring and sharing organization," Whittington said.

Green said Indiana's retail cake industry is one of the cheapest in the country. Green has compared prices with surrounding states.

For more information about the Indiana Chapter of the International Cake Exploration Society, call Marsha Brooks at 317.347.9604.