Cake Designer Cheri Elder Making Incredible Cakes for Almost 50 Years
For almost 50 years celebrated cake designer Cheri Elder has been creating edible art.
You’ve probably tasted a Cheri Elder cake and just not known it. This Blue Springs, Missouri, baker has been in the cake business in Kansas City for most of her life. Her career started out as a hobby. When her oldest daughter was turning three, she wanted a doll cake for her birthday. Elder says that was her first attempt at designing a cake and it turned out she was good at it. Next thing she knew, people were pleading with her to please “do their cake.”
“It was all word-of-mouth,” Elder says. “And no one was more surprised than I was that people wanted to pay me for my cakes.”
Just a couple of years later she was wooed by the cake design company Wilton to teach classes and then she was hired to train bakers how to craft the perfect cake at various Kansas City grocery stores throughout the metro. Elder says she’s had her hand in a lot of cakes.
“I can’t remember how many cakes I’ve done over the years. But I’d like to think every cake I’ve been a part of has been special. It’s a good feeling to know that I’ve made someone their baby cake, then their wedding cake and now I’m making a cake for their [own] baby or in some cases grandbaby.”
Elder has reached celebrity baker status. She’s won national baking competitions, competed on baking shows, baked cakes for sports stars, Hollywood heavyweights and even President Bill Clinton, but her true love is creating wedding cakes. The designer's face brightens when she says, “It’s wonderful being part of such a happy day.”
In Elder’s five decades of cake design she’s seen it all in terms of wedding cakes and decorations from the simple to the ornate and everything in between.
“When I first started out, it was all about the buttercream; then people wanted to get more fancy and we started using fondant – which allows you to do so much more in terms of decorations. Now I’m airbrushing cakes, using sequins, real edible gold and doing lots of handwork like flowers made from rice paper where it can take me all day to make three flowers.”
Today, at age 71, Elder works with her daughter Pamala Lair. This dynamic duo says it usually takes them two days to bake a cake and two more days to decorate it. Their most popular wedding cake flavor is a white chocolate cake with raspberry curd or a double fudge with chocolate ganache.
Elder says she loves making a cake with lots of tiers. For her, it’s go big or go home.
“I like the challenge. I like the wow. The more over the top, the better.”
Although she shares that an eight-tier wedding cake requires “lots of dowels and prayers.”
For this cake creator, her moment of glory is when all the work is done and she can step back and admire her art.
“I love it at the end when I can see my vision come true. That’s when I’m the happiest.”