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To eat it is to believe it
More than just a cake, Edible Gems are dessert, centerpiece and even entertainment at a simcha
by Wendy Margolin on April 11, 2007
From a lump of sugar, Sarelle Weiner of Edible Gems can make a bouquet of flowers that looks so real that it's hard to tell the difference between the decorative flowers on the cake and the floral centerpieces.
Never mind that her cakes are all labeled "Edible" Gems. Partygoers still can't believe the decorations aren't real. At one wedding, recalls Weiner, the hosts had to appoint a guard over the cake. Sure that it was made of fabric, everyone was reaching out to touch the cake that was to be served later as dessert.
Weiner sometimes begins working on a cake months in advance, making each flower by hand. She begins by running the paste through a machine to flatten it. Next she presses it into a flower-petal mold to give the petal veins. She then runs an instrument along the edges to make it curl up like a real flower. Once the malleable sugar paste dries, it's like a hard candy. Finally, she paints the petals and combines them to make a flower. She repeats these meticulous steps to create as many flowers as her clients request, sometimes even a thousand.
The actual cake can be as traditional or unusual as customers like. "I can make anything," says Weiner, though she admits she enjoys making cakes that are out of the ordinary. She molds the frosting into strips that look like satin, adds the belt from the bride's dress to every layer, or reproduces the sequins and pearls of the bridal dress. Of course, every belt, bead and sequin is entirely edible.
Wedding cakes range in price from $3,500-$7,000. "You're not just paying for the cake," says Weiner. "It's the focal point of the party, and people are walking around the room talking about it. It's part of the entertainment."
Weiner creates cakes for every kind of special occasion, including bar and bat mitzvahs, birthdays and anniversaries. The variety of cakes is limited only by the imagination. Weiner has created prayer books, yarmulkes, school bags, Torahs and an orange juice carton. She even replicated King Tut for The Field Museum.
"Where ever I go, I figure out how I can make something I see into a cake," says Weiner.
It's hard to imagine how people could eat cakes that are works of art, but Weiner says there is never any cake left at the end of a party. "If they don't eat it, I would feel like it's such a shame."
According to Weiner, that's because appearance isn't the only element she emphasizes. The cakes, which are kosher, do not compromise on taste, says Weiner. "Everything is an illusion, but I make sure it tastes as good on the inside as it looks on the outside."
Weiner's business began in her kitchen, making birthday cakes for her large family. The kids would ask for themed cakes, and she began experimenting by making trains and other shapes. A gifted artist, who had been running a successful jewelry-making business, Weiner enjoyed the artistic challenge.
Eventually she became a trained pastry artist schooled in creating gourmet and custom-made theme confections. She was trained by world-renowned Gold Medal cake sculptor Roland Winebeckler, and the nationally acclaimed cake designer Colette Peters of New York, as well as others.
Today, Weiner and an assistant both work 40 hours a week designing cakes for all occasions, including gourmet cakes for Shabbat that customers purchase on a weekly basis. When she has time, she offers workshops on cake baking and design.
For more information, go to www.gemsbysarelle.com, call (773) 339-1456 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.