For years a highly sophisticated Hoosier, I thought cake came in two forms: the box mix or the homemade fluff cake with frosting and little plastic animals on top.
Now, as a veritably refined Californian, I know that there's more to cake than fluorescent frosting, skinny candles, and just "chocolate" or "vanilla." Most of us, in fact, recognize that cake can be elegant, scrumptious, and creative; but did we ever imagine designer handbags, coliseums, fairies and mushrooms, and other fanciful shapes made of strawberry cream or fresh coconut cakes layered with Grand Marnier custard?
Among a rare handful of cake creators, two extraordinary women are turning the cake world upside down with their artistic visions. These ladies' mouth-watering creations are bold, flamboyant, demure, and even flirtatious...and they satisfy more than just our taste buds. Their gravity-defying cakes fulfill our wildest fantasies by stretching the limits of what these tasty triumphs of flour, milk, sugar and eggs can really be.
Farmer's path towards cake creation hasn't been traditional and it certainly hasn't been straight and narrow. She's an artiste through and through, with a background in fine arts, sculpture, and jewelry design. Her first run-in with baking-which she now leaves up to her partner and pastry chef Kirsten Soria-was actually quite disastrous. "Ten years ago, I began working for Debbie's Delights; I was horrible," she laughs, "I burnt all the cookies."
Ten years later, she's found bliss and her place in the kitchen. "I'm not the baker. I leave that up to Kirsten. She's the artist from the inside out and I'm the artist from the outside in." When Farmer first started out, working with cake proved nearly insurmountable, but "then I realized how similar frosting is to oil paints and cake is to clay and I was able to translate it.
Two years ago, Sarah and Kirsten teamed up to create "Sugar" with the goal of creating masterpieces of sugar and buttercream in the name of birthdays, weddings, and parties.
Among their extensive portfolio rises a giant Moroccan-inspired wedding cake in vibrant cherry red, bedecked with iridescent pearls made of white chocolate, and tiny mirrors dusted with edible "luster dust." One client requested designer high-heeled shoes covered in shimmery bugle beads, complete with a shoe box and pink plaid tissue paper - all edible and made of cake and sugar. One of Farmer's larger projects was to create a small colony of pastel-capped mushroom cakes (12 in all and up to 3 feet in height) for a child's Willie Wonka inspired birthday party. An especially challenging project was to create an exact replica of the Biltmore Tower for a group of architects, including it's tiled roof, winding staircase and wrought iron balcony, all in perfect proportion and all made of cake.
Farmer says she owes much of her artistic development to Debbie Saucedo and David Gronsky-the former and current owner of Debbie's Delights - and to Katie Scott with whom she also worked. Without them she wouldn't have had the exposure to cake, or the room to stretch her artistic legs.
  "I wasn't formally trained in the culinary arts," Farmer explains, "So I was never told that something can't be done."