Sugandha Aggarwal from Expressions Cake Art.
Couture Cakers International Sugar Art Collaboration is hosted by Heba M Elalfy of Sweet Dreams by Heba. This is the fourth annual celebration of couture using all types of sugar medium as created by an international team of Sugar Artists. The theme this year is Islamic / Hijabi Bridal Dresses.
For the next few days I will be interviewing sugar artists who are participating in the collaboration.
Here is my interview with Sugandha Aggarwal.
Tell me about yourself. How long have you been decorating? How did you learn to decorate? Do you decorate professionally? Have you taught any cake decorating classes? Have you competed in any competitions?
My name is Sugandha, in the cake world people find it easier to refer to me as Su. I currently live in Papua New Guinea but have shared most my past life between India and Singapore. I live with my husband and 2 children.
I completed my Engineering and MBA almost 2 decades back and worked in Banking. I decided to take a brief break as my elder child was young at the time and experimented with baking to kill time. Now I have been baking and decorating since the last 8 years now. What started off as a series of unsuccessful experiments with home made fondant and bakes, has now become an essential happy place for me. I sell decorative cakes mostly, but when I am not able to either because of a temporary change in location or otherwise I like to experiment and take part in these international collaborations.
I have had intermittent trysts with teaching cake decoration, but look forward to doing it more in the future.
What is the name of your business/bakery, where you are located, what area you serve, and what you specialize in.
Expressions Cake Art. Singapore and Papua New Guinea. I make customised cakes and cookies.
Social Media Links
My Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ExpressionsCakeArt
Tell me about your design.
My collaboration piece has been inspired by a beautiful Muslim wedding dress. I wanted to make something in white and the image caught my attention instantly. The design required a lot of manual labour as I did not have a mold for the design overlays. And I had to roll out each individual leaf and place it on the cake. The tricky part was to depict the white over lay pattern over a white fondant covered cake. I added a very light tinge of lemon and brown to make the white in the background a slightly different shade from the over lay design.
Another difficult situation came in the form of taking appropriate pictures. I take all my cake pictures with my iPhone 7+ and its served me very well so far. Its main camera happened to crash a few days before I did this cake. I had to use its secondary camera that is usually used only for Zooming in while taking pictures. Though my home is very well lit and I have options of very good backgrounds since I live next to the sea, I struggled to get decent pictures for this cake and took pictures through out the day against umpteen backgrounds. I hope whatever camera tricks I managed to pull have done justice to the cake.
What Do you do when you are not caking?
I like to experiment with Art,crochete and building stuff. I love Drawing and colouring Mandalas. I am currently in the process of building a doll house with all my childhood fantasies. I spend a lot of time playing games with my kids and reading. My son and I have a lot of fun bonding over jigsaw puzzles. all our best conversations happen over jigsaw puzzles. Apart from that we as a family love Music.
When and why did you decide that you wanted to create a business/hobby?
During my initial experiments with decorating I started getting calls from my neighbours for ordering cakes for their kids on a payment basis. They had seen my work from the social media posts I had been sharing ( that is why I love social media, it creates opportunities). Initially I didn't take them seriously, but eventually gave in and decided to extend my break from banking. After 8-9 yrs now the break still hasn't ended.
Do you have a favorite story about something you made?
daughter's 5th birthday party. It was a white with light shades of pink. it came out very earthly and dainty. I am usually a critic of my own work, but Ioved this one. Especially because I was working on it just the night before the party and I didn't have a plan in place for what I am doing. My daughter's expression when she saw it the next day -Priceless!
Do you have a favorite story about a disaster?
Disasters are the necessary troughs, to help build our peaks and teach us important lessons. I have had multiple failures in my cake journeys. The ones where I have had layers of cake toppling down and the need to fix it back up. Or the ones where my clients mixed up their event dates and me an 8 month pregnant woman just about to go on a break decides to bake fresh brownies on the day of their event just incase the cake doesn't remain intact till then. The ones where I have almost lost my temper because I have been tired to the bone and cant keep my neck straight up any longer. Caking requires heavy labour and a very deep understanding from your own family. Thankfully I was able to do the former and have a lovely family who supports me. All my cake experience has taught me resilience and persistence.
I would like talk more about what disasters I was able to avert because of a deep sense of not getting involved in the politics of my profession. Like every profession has background noise going on, our creative industry has it too. I took an important decision very early on to not make cake my life and keep it just to one of the passions that I find happiness out of. I have a wonderful circle of baker friends in Singapore and we only help build each other , in cake as well as every other way.
Additionally when I moved to Papua new Guinea, my sales went down drastically from what I used to do in Singapore. Each country has its own rules and limitations were home businesses are concerned and I decided not to stretch them in my current location. The important thing is that I did not let this hurt me on a spiritual level. That did not happen in a day, it build over the 8-9 years where I have been working on my Caking Temperament. The idea is to be creative, no matter what situations you are put into and taking part in these collaborations and/or the inedible art I create has kept my spirits high.
If one of the famous cake decorators offered to make you your dream cake, what would you ask for?
I would certainly ask them to make a dainty looking edible doll house for me:)
Do you have a favorite superhero? What is your favorite superhero movie? If you read comics, what is your favorite comic or run on a comic? If you could be any superhero, who would you want to be? If you could have one super power, what would it be?
My favourite super hero and movie is Iron man. He is shown to be slightly narcissistic but the larger good that he achieves as well as his wit make him come across as a deep person. I would love to play iron man if given a chance along with all his powers , well with an extra heart , just to be safe 😛