100 Years of Michigan Aerospace Engineering

As a part of the University of Michigan’s Aero100 celebration, we recreated this historic, record-breaking Lesher Teal aircraft in cake.  After a very long week of planning, I have to say that constructing the cake was an engineering feat in itself, though maybe not rocket science.

You’ll notice that the plane is resting atop the sine wave field.  For anyone who hasn’t experienced this outdoor sculpture on North Campus, we highly recommend a visit.  Whether you’re in the mood to sit on a lump, or frolic like a child among the waves, you’ll find that the sculpture’s allure is derived from how you interact with it.  Heather counts sculpting the field among her favorite projects ever.

Climbing from the plane is a sugar figurine of the late Edgar J. Lesher, creator of the Lesher Teal and long-time U of M aeronautical engineering faculty member.

Thanks to Abby Rose Photo for these lovely studio shots.

573C5869573C5865573C5877573C5883 573C5881 573C5875

 

Thank You A. Alfred Taubman!

At Sweet Heather Anne, we are truly blessed to have an ongoing relationship with the University of Michigan.  We were  commissioned to make this cake, with it’s sharp corners and cantilevers, for the reception of donor A. Alfred Taubman.  We hope you enjoy these beautiful photos by Abby Rose.
ImageImageImageImage

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Meet Claudia

A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to Heather, with promises to introduce you to the rest of the team.  (By the way the team consists of Heather, Claudia, and myself.)  Claudia is a cake designer extraordinaire with an eye for detail.  I asked Claudia some probing questions thinking that I would write about how awesome she is and fill in the blanks with some fun facts.  Turns out Claudia’s answers are just as awesome as she is, and I decided to do a direct cut and paste instead, and let Claudia tell you about herself in her own words…Boutique Cake Studio. Ann Arbor

I studied Cultural Anthropology in college {at the University of Michigan}.  Coming from a small town, it really opened up my understanding of how different people perceive the world.
I was raised with an appreciation for home cooked food.  A love of food is something that my mom and dad shared when they were falling in love, and it was always a part of their home. I can remember making pancakes with my dad sometime before I could read.  At some point when I was still really young, I memorized the recipe and could make them by myself.  I was very strong willed.
Claudia Kimble baking
The first recipes I made as an adult were baked goods that had sentimental value to me,  like my mom’s peppermint frosting and my grandma’s date pinwheel cookies.  Baked goods are especially wonderful this way, because we eat them on holidays and birthdays and at special times of the year.  They seem to conjure up years past and are more potent and delicious because of it.  It’s also a craft that women have carried on, for the most part, and that’s pretty badass.
My favorite S{weet}H{eather}A{nne} cake flavor is the Citrus Almond.  I think it’s one of the most creative, and it has the most meaning for Heather.  However, when chocolate with chocolate ganache and chocolate buttercream makes it on our menu, that will be my favorite.   I’m really excited for some of the more adventurous flavors we are working on for the summer.  I love floral and bitter flavors, so I’m pumped that we’ve been throwing around using ingredients like fresh garden lavender, basil, and candied fruit.  Maybe fennel will make it in one as an homage to you, Rachel.
Boutiqe Cake Studio. Ann Arbor
The first, more selfish reason I like cake decorating is that I love geeking out on an artistic task and being left alone to be as meticulous as I want about it.   When I find my flow zone, I can transcend space and time.  It’s wild.
The second reason that I love cake decorating is the WOW factor.  Cakes, the giant sculpted kind, are one of the most frivolous luxury items I can think of right now, and it’s so fun to see people’s reactions.   I love the moment I pipe the final rhinestone on the sculpted jean booty, and I’m like, “WOW, that looks like a booty in some jeans.  Suzy Q is going to freak out!”  Or when the little sugar dog I made really does look like Johnny’s favorite boyhood beagle.  I think that stuff is hilarious.
If I could go anywhere tomorrow, I might stay at home all day.  I love being home.  I love my housemates.  I have so many projects that I could never work again and be busy every day.  I would cook, sew, screenprint, work on my bike…  THEN I would get on my bike and ride all around Ypsi.  I would get Ugly Mug and Beezy’s and Bona Sera (It’s a very long day).  I would ride to my friend Jen’s house and make her come out to play with me.  At the end of my day at home, I would totally jam with my house band!  It’s comprised of anybody that happens to be in our house at the time (“If you’re in the house, you’re in the band.”)  We call ourselves Alpha Uterus.  We’re the best worst band you’ve never heard of.
Because we have Sundays and Mondays off, I consider Sunday my Saturday and Monday my Sunday.  On Monday (my Sunday), my favorite thing to do is sleep in.  I love sleeping.  There’s an lcd soundsystem song, “I’m Never as Tired as When I’m Waking Up.”  That’s how I feel every time I wake up.   Once I’ve committed myself to the new day, my favorite thing to do is make some Ugly Mug coffee, pour-over style, and do the Monday New York Times crossword.  See how I worked it so that on my Sunday I can finish the crossword?  It’s good in my world.
Many thanks to Abby Rose Photo for the beautiful images of Claudia.

Thank you Penny Stamps

It was a big weekend for the University of Michigan.  In case you haven’t heard, the basketball team played in the NCAA  Division 1 Final Four and National Championship for the first time in twenty years.   Perhaps with less national pomp and circumstance, but no less worthy, is the celebration of  the re-naming of the School of Art & Design to Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.

Penny Stamps and her husband E. Roe Stamps have been instrumental in positioning the school to become a national leader in art and design education.  Their generosity is particularly poignant to our own Heather Leavitt, Sweet Heather Anne‘s owner and head decorator. Heather not only is a graduate of the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, she also was a Stamps Scholar.  Much thanks to the leadership and generosity of Penny Stamps, Heather’s time at the University of Michigan sculpted who she is as an artist today, laying the foundation for Sweet Heather Anne‘s signature artistry.

In celebration of the re-naming  Heather created a cake (and accompanying cookies and macarons) to commemorate Penny Stamp’s enormous impact on the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.

Sweet Heather Anne. Corporate Cakes“Creating this cake was such an honor.  When I was in art school, my thesis involved creating cakes as edible monuments to local farmers and food producers.  Now that I am a local food producer, it was amazing to have the opportunity to create an edible monument to Penny Stamps and the art school.  I feel like I’ve really come full circle.  It was awesome to see all of my Professors, and celebrate Penny, and everything she has done for the school and the arts. ” -Heather

Penny W. Stamps.School of Art & Design. University of MichiganPenny W. Stamps. School of Art & Design. University of MichiganPenny W. Stamps. School of Art & Design. University of MichiganPenny W. Stamps. School of Art & DesignPenny W. Stamps. School of Art & Design

Many thank to Abby Rose Photo for the gorgeous images above.

Cake, Art, Univeristy of Michigan, Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design

Edible Monument to Tantre Farm, part of Heather’s thesis project at the Stamps School of Art and Design in 2007.

Buttercream vs Fondant

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, or even thinks about it much, but fondant has gotten a pretty bad rap for itself.  It’s not that I don’t understand why, I do.  At its worst it can be a thick gummy paste with a strangely chemical after taste, at its best it is what I call marshmallow-flavored  Play-Doh.  And this is how the buttercream versus fondant debate usually starts.

There are a few points that I always like to make.

The first is that you’re not losing buttercream but gaining fondant.  Every fondant cake has a layer of buttercream underneath the fondant.  We try to make the layer of fondant as thin as possible (typically about an eighth of an inch) that way guests who don’t prefer fondant are easily able to remove their fondant and push it to the side. .

Secondly, because event cakes are typically large, and are serving lots of guests, they are cut differently from your typical home cake.  Instead of the typical pie wedge the cake is cut in concentric circles and then thin slices.  What this means is that most guests will be served interior slices of cakes, which will have only a thin layer on the top.  And in case my description made no sense, perhaps this diagram will help.

How to cut a wedding cake

What the decision really comes down to is a decorating decision.  Buttercream is delicious.  Here at Sweet Heather Anne all busttercream is Swiss buttercream, made with brown sugar and vanilla bean paste.  It makes for a lovely ivory tone with flecks of bean.  Not ideal for a white on white ultra modern affair, but definitely wonderful.  Fondant also receives color better than buttercream, and allows us to make that perfect color match more so than buttercream.   Fondant in all its sugary glory is a tool that allows us to achieve a desired aesthetic.

Buttercream cakes are delicious and stunning in their simplicity.  Check out some of our most recent…

Buttercream Cake by Sweet Heather Anne

photo by Abby Rose Photo

Buttercream Wedding Cake by Sweet Heather Anne

photo by Adrienne Fletcher Photography

Wedding Cake by Sweet Heather Anne

photo by Abby Rose Photo

Buttercream Wedding Cake

photo by Jess + Nate Studios

Celebrate Spring in Style

I love Easter because it means that spring is coming.  After a long winter of bitter cold and lots of snow, the pastel colors and green buds add welcome cheer and a reminder of what is to come.

We are so exited about spring, and welcome you to celebrate with us Sweet Heather Anne style.  Thursday March 28th we’ll be teaching our Easter Cookie Decorating class.  Students will learn our signature cookie decorating techniques, leaving with two dozen decorated cookies and the skills and recipes for dozens more.

Sweet Heather Anne Custom Cake Boutique

The Dessert Counter will be featuring gorgeous treats perfect for Easter baskets and celebrations.  In case you miss the class we’ll be selling our decorative sugar cookies in dozens and 2-packs.  Our Easter cake is 6-inches and serves 8-10 guests.  It features lemon cake layered with lemon and raspberry curds and covered in a light pink vanilla Swiss buttercream.  All topped with our adorable Easter banner.

Sweet Heather Anne Custom Cake Studio

Packaged for gifts in boxes of 5, our pistachio and blood orange French macarons  are beautifully tied up with a ribbon.Sweet Heather Anne a custom cake boutique

Our chocolate cake pops with pastel drizzle, packaged in 2-packs, will brighten up even the dreariest of days.

Sweet Heather Anne a custom cake boutique

Last, but certainly not least, carrot ginger is back!  It will be making a limited time appearance at the Dessert Counter in the form of cake-in-a-jar.  Come and get it before we sell out.

Many thanks to Abby Rose Photo for the gorgeous images.

Meet Heather

I thought it might be nice to take some time to introduce you to the Sweet Heather Anne team.  I’m going to a blog entry about all three of us, but we will start with Heather since she is the owner and namesake of the business.  She also is going to be doing a Culinary U workshop at What’s Cooking Detroit this coming Saturday (March 2nd), so if you like what you hear you can check her out there–be sure to ask her about her love of spoons.   Carla HallMichelle BommaritoJohn Somerville of Lark, and many others will also be there.

Heather’s love for cake design stems from an education in art, a passion for food, and a childlike refusal to believe that there isn’t anything she cannot create.  While attending the University of Michigan School of Art and Design, she packed up her paintbrushes to study abroad in Florence. Though she had hoped that immersing herself in the realm of the Italian masters would rub off on her artistic prowess, she found herself more interested in the perfect foam atop my cappuccino.

Upon returning to the States, her new-found passion for food seeped into her art making. For my art school thesis, I dedicated myself to forming the same connection to food in Michigan that I had experienced in Italy. After working with food producers and artisans in the Ann Arbor area, she created a series of edible monuments to honor each one.

Before opening Sweet Heather Anne, she took time to carefully refine my craft: developing and refining her palate with Eve Aronoff at eve the restaurant and braving the Food Network’s Last Cake Standing as an assistant to Courtney Clark of Cake Nouveau.  As owner and cake designer at Sweet Heather Anne,  she loves what she does, and looks at each new cake as a challenge to create something beautiful that will make your day extraordinary.

Glimpse into the Sweet Heather Anne kitchen, and check out Heather in action: hand-painting a cake topper, decorating cookies, and making royal icing.

at work

Heather at work

Heather at Work

L-O-V-E + 2.14.13

We talk and think and talk about love and weddings all day here at the Sweet Heather Anne studio.  This being our first February 14th in our new studio, we couldn’t be more excited.

So we have planned exciting only-for-V-Day-flavors and events.  Don’t forget to sign up for our Valentine’s Day cookie class on Wednesday February 13th.  You’ll leave with 2 dozen beautifully decorated cookies for you and your loved ones!Ann Arbor, Valentine's Day, Cookie Class

On 2.14.13 we’ll be popping up with Sweet Pea Floral Designs at Rock Paper Scissors on Main Street in Ann Arbor and at VLNTSDY MRKT by Pot + Box in Detroit.  We also will be selling our super cute and superbly delicious treats at the #DessertCounter on Thursday February 14th through Saturday February 16th.

Our Cakes-for-Two are topped with a gilded gold heart, and are all-around super special.  We’re baking these in two flavors: Mexican spiced chocolate and strawberry ginger (a V-Day only flavor!).  Must I remind you that both chocolate and ginger are aphrodisiacs?  Just saying guys.Pop Up, Rock Paper Scissors, VLNTSDY MRKT

We’ll also be doing ombre french macarons (chai spice + raspberry) and conversation heart sugar cookies.Valentine's Day Cookies, Sweet Heather Anne

French macarons, Ann Arbor

Pop by and say hello at one of our Valentine’s Day locations, we’d love to see you.

Sweet Heather Anne Pop-Up Shop at Rock Paper Scissors Ann ArborSweet Heather Anne, Detroit

Many thanks to Abby Rose Photo for the gorgeous photos

“I Love You More than Michigan Loves Football” (+ other fine details)

Ann Arbor is home to so much talent, wedding industry included.  As our business has developed I have been amazed at the power of community among Ann Arbor’s wedding professionals.  And it is such a wonderful experience to be amongst such a talented group.

Amanda & Chad’s wedding was so much fun, in part because so many of us were involved.  Abby Rose Photo (our next door neighbor and lunch buddy) took the photos, Stacy at The Gown Shop did the dress, and we did the cake and dessert table.  Amanda also had a very specific vision for her wedding (fun!) and was totally involved in the planning process.  She and her mom had the most impressive binder and organizational system.  I don’t know if they’ve thought about planning weddings, but if they have watch out!

Judging from the photos all that work was worth it.  Amanda and Chad had a beautiful day full of gorgeous details and personal touches. (Be sure to make it to the end of the photos, the signage in the last photo totally makes the cake display, I can’t stop loving it!)

Sweet Heather Anne Metro Detroit Wedding CakesMetro Detroit Wedding Cakes, Sweet Heather AnneMetro Detroit Wedding, Sweet Heather AnneMetro Detroit Dessert Table by Sweet Heather AnneMichigan Football Helmet groom's cake by Sweet Heather Anne

One Beautiful Dessert Table

One lovely dessert table in the ballroom at the Inn at St. John’s. Featuring a buttercream cake, french macarons, decorative sugar cookies and lemon thumbprint cookies.  Captured beautifully by Abby Rose Photo.

cake and desserts by Sweet Heather Anneconlon_powers-532conlon_powers-531conlon_powers-521Images by Abby Rose Phot