guest post: ahimsa custom cakes


i found ahimsa custom cakes when i was doing research for my gluten free/vegan/sugar free blog post. i was really impressed with the owner's philosophy behind cake baking. i haven't yet worked with kristi, but i hope to, especially now that i know what "ahimsa" means. her wedding cakes look carefully crafted and delicious! i was lucky enough to get kristi to answer a few questions for me. 

where does the name ahimsa come from?
ahimsa means “non-violence.   it is a hindi, buddhist and jain philosophy and also the practice that gandhi followed.  the basis is respecting all life, all living things and doing no intentional harm.  

why wedding cakes?  how did you get into this business?
i specialize in sculpted and specialty cakes, but my main focus during the summer months is wedding cakes.   i launched my business when my daughter was three.    when my daughter was born i began working from home drawing pencil portraits from photographs part time.  i wanted to remain home with my child and supplement our income, so i decided to combine my art and baking skills into another business.   

what is popular/trending in wedding cakes right now?
i really don’t follow specific trends since i create cakes based on the individual personalities of each couple.    however, some current mainstream trends include:  cupcake towers,  ombre style (or shaded) cakes, vintage style, hand painted cakes (which i love doing) and ruffled cakes inspired by maggie austin.   

what should couples know about the wedding cake from start to finish?
wedding cakes are not cheap.  a lot of hours go into planning and creating.  it’s really not reasonable to expect a 100 serving cake for $200.  reputable bakers will generally charge more depending on skill level and ingredient quality.  cupcakes are not necessarily a money saver nor are sheet cakes. 

a few important questions to ask are:

is the baker licensed and insured?   how much experience do they have?   is the baker stressing quantity over quality?   the baker who has decorated 1,000+ cakes may actually have fewer skills than someone who has done 100+ cakes and is continually developing new skills.   take a close look at portfolios and read reviews.    will the cake be made from scratch or from a box?  fillings:  from scratch or from sleeves/cans?   how far in advance will the cake be baked?  i bake no more than one day before an event to ensure a fresh cake.   

what would be helpful if couples had already done before they contact you about a wedding cake?
a couple should have a firm grasp of what their budget will be for the wedding cake.   the easiest way to stay within budget is to trim the guest count and get that under control.    location:  knowing if the cake will be indoors or outdoors is very helpful in planning a cake.    if the cake must be outdoors, i will recommend fondant icing.   it’s also helpful for couples to have an idea what style cake they’re most interested in.  do they want a traditional cake, a unique twist on a classic, or something sculpted and whimsical?  are they working with a specific theme or color palette? 

why are all your cakes egg, honey, and dairy-free?
i first learned to bake without the use of animal products as a child.   at that time, it was more coincidence than personal choice.   years later it grew into an ethical choice.  i’ve never really baked with eggs or dairy, even when i ate eggs and dairy…doing so would be really weird for me. 

dairy-free ganache? how?
i don’t normally give out my personally developed recipes, but there are several decent dairy-free ganache recipes found online (but beware of the many, many duds!!).   you can substitute dairy with coconut milk or any dairy-free milk of your choice depending on the results you’re looking for.  coconut milk generally will yield a lighter color than soy or rice milk, and change the flavor slightly.  the better quality chocolate used the better.   i use organic, super dark chocolate.     

you can see many more photos of her cakes on her facebook page or her website