niki: give me 3 words that describe you.
erika: three words that would describe me are personable—i can get along with just about anyone, energetic—i’m always trying to do something (and i’m a morning person), and dynamic—i’m up for anything—one minute i’m cooking or baking, the next i’m writing, the next i’m partaking in some outdoor adventure. i have to live life while i can!
niki: what made you venture into baking? how long have you been doing it?
erika: baking for others happened by accident really. it’s something that i’ve always loved to do and so i would just do it for friends and family at our bar-b-ques, cookouts and things of that nature. i ended up making a white chocolate cake with a strawberry/raspberry glaze and it was an instant hit. after that a couple of close friends urged me to take my baking to the next level. so here i am. i’ve been baking professionally now for about a year, but for a “hobby” i’ve been doing it forever.
r: unlike traditional strawberry shortcake, this three-layer shortcake is made of strawberry cake with sliced strawberries, homemade biscuit and homemade whipped topping placed between the layers—all wrapped in a strawberry buttercream frosting, garnished with strawberries, crumbed biscuit and whipped topping.
niki: where do you draw inspiration for your flavors?
erika: i have, of course, the tried and true flavors that everyone goes for—chocolate, white, red velvet, lemon, etc., but being a “haute” type of girl, i wanted to take it to the next level of flavors. so i thought about those standard flavors and thought about how i could enhance flavors by mixing this ingredient and that ingredient. a lot of it is trial and error and sometimes a bunch of cake ends up in the trash, but if it doesn’t move me, i figure it won’t move anyone else. one of the favorites is my crème brulee cupcake which is my interpretation of the classic dessert, in a tiny cake.
niki: what’s your signature flavor?
erika: i’d have to go with my original cake flavor that started it all. the white chocolate strawberry/raspberry. one of my good friends, sonia, said the flavor was like “an explosion in her mouth.” she should have branded that, because now i hear it a lot with the other cakes as well.
niki: what creative power do you wish you had?
erika: if i could have a creative power, i would want it to be for me to be able to sculpt cakes. i haven’t learned how to make the eiffel tower, or the michelangelo out of cake yet. so to be able to do that naturally, without training, would be pretty sweet. but with classes and the will to learn, i’m sure i’ll be on that train in no time.
niki: what music gets your creative juices flowing?
erika: when i get ready to bake or get my ideas going, i throw on the old school or gospel… gap band, marvin gaye, kirk franklin, mary mary, j.moss—stuff that just makes me feel good on the inside. with those good vibes going, sometimes i begin to dance around the house and sing to my dogs then i’m ready to go. i get full of ideas and can’t wait to start trying whatever combinations that i’ve thought of. certain colors can also inspire me. if i see a bright pink or a green i may think of a watermelon cake, or keylime. it can also hit me in the middle of the night, in which case, my sleeping is over.