I went to pastry school to learn the science of baking, but my true education came from my former boss, Milette Raz, at my first bakery job. When Milette hired me, I was hired as a cake decorator. Other people at the bakery did the actual baking, and then we finished off cakes, cookies and cupcakes. At the time, I was far more into the baking aspect of things, but this was my first job offer in the field and I was eager to learn, so I jumped right in. Milette was wildly creative, talented, patient, and caring. She taught me everything I know about cake decorating and cake design and how to work with different mediums like icing, chocolate, and fondant. Coincidentally, she is trained through the Wilton Method of Cake Decorating, having attended The Master Class at The Wilton School of Cake Decorating and Confectionary Art many years before.
It feels weird to call Milette my former “boss” because she was, and continues to be so much more than that. We have silly pet names for each other. I call her “Milly” and she calls me “Betty”. She’s my cake decorating mentor, my second mother, and my friend. We cheer for each other and celebrate each other’s successes. She recently opened a brand new bakery called Milette’s Cakes, and I’m so proud of her. I went to her son’s wedding. She’s on retainer to make my wedding cake someday. We ask each other baking and cake decorating questions all the time. I “like” all of her gorgeous cake creations on Facebook. She’s been a huge part of my life and I am lucky to know her. I really love her.
Milette and I competed on Cupcake Wars on Food Network in 2012 and it was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, not just in terms of baking or cake decorating, but in my entire life! At that point, Milette and I had not worked together in about 5 years, so it was so great to come back together as a team. We created awesome flavor combinations with perfectly-matched decorations. It was really collaborative and creative and fast-paced, and we just fed off of each other’s energies. When we won, I was so happy and proud, and felt like I had done something to give back to my mentor, who has given me so much.
The Tropical Getaway Cupcake is my favorite cupcake from our Cupcake Wars episode. The coconut cake is the lightest and most tender that I’ve ever had. It’s filled with mango, which I think is an underused flavor in cakes. The natural acidity in the fruit balances the sweetness of the cake very nicely. The cupcakes are finished with a cream cheese icing laced with orange zest. The overall flavor is bright and reminds me of palm trees and beaches. I’d love to take both Milette and my mother on a tropical vacation this Mother’s Day, but until I can afford that, these sunny cupcakes are a delicious alternative.
For over 100 years, mothers have had a special day that honors the care, love and guidance they provide to their children. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and many of us are blessed with more than one special woman in our life – aunts, sisters, grandmothers, friends, mentors. In celebration of Mother’s Day, we’d like to share a story each day from now until May 10 from our Wilton Test Kitchen as well as our Wilton Sweet Treat Team honoring the females who have inspired them most.