The Cake Ninja : Abby V. Rivera

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Abby is a cake designer and mother of two who resides in the big and beautiful Dallas, Texas. Abby first fell in love with baking when she was a child; digging through her mother’s cookbooks and baking every and any type of cookie she could find. Abby now works for a local, family owned cake studio. When she’s not in the studio she plays video games with her kids (the current game of choice is LEGO Jurassic World) and spends time with her sister. On the surface, Abby is very modest of her talent and skill but you definitely feel the confidence and pride radiate from her when she speaks to the specifics of her craft. I could sit here and tell you all about Abby and her story but I’d much rather let you hear her voice.

Abby Rivera

I know you build cakes. Is that even the right term? Build cakes? Baker? Cake builder? I don’t know, you tell me.

I prefer to be called “cake ninja” because it’s definitely some ninja stuff that I do with bread and icing. I guess if we’re looking for an official title, I typically call myself a cake designer and decorator so they think I know what I’m doing.

When did you know you wanted to “ninja” cakes? Who is your Master Splinter?

Well, I’ve always loved baking and making cakes for family since I was a kid, but never really tried to make one actually look good until I spawned a couple minions of my own. The first one that I honestly tried to make look good melted in the sizzling Texas summer heat and bummed me out so hard that I swore to never touch another cake until I learned how to officially decorate. That lasted about a week until I got in my kitchen, YouTube’d every cake decorating tutorial I could find and taught my damn self. I, since then, have fallen madly in love with all things cake.

Self-taught? That’s admirable! You say minions, I’m assuming they aren’t yellow and weirdly shaped. Did your minions give you extra motivation?

Only one is weirdly shaped, but we still love him! They definitely give me an extra push. I started it all because I wanted to be able to give them something spectacular every birthday. It’s kinda crazy how they ended up giving ME something to dive into and find so much passion for. It’s pretty amazing how things work out.

That’s adorable. I love it. What’s been your favorite cake that you made for them?

Has to be  (ironically enough) a Spider-man Minion. Spider-Minion! I can show it to you if you want, it was way cute!

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You speak about your children as inspiration; Did you bake as a child?

I always baked a ton when I was a kid. I used to dig through my mom’s cook books and play with cookie recipes A LOT. I actually still love baking cookies but now, it’s something special that I save for Christmas. I used to decorate cakes a lot too when I was a kid. I had actually forgotten about it until last year when my mom found old pictures of some cakes. I guess it was always something that I did without really thinking about it. It just came naturally to me so I never really gave it much thought, it’s just what I did. So I guess that’s why I so easily fell in love with it all once I really dove into it. I never realized there was this whole world of cake decorating before.

When were you able to ditch the recipe books and use your own mind to create?

As an adult I guess. I wasn’t brave enough for that when I was younger. I learned more about what different ingredients do and how changing certain things can completely affect your final product. Once I had more knowledge on the science of it is when I became confident in experimenting.

Does working for a small business cramp that creativity? I’m sure customers come in with very specific requests.

It varies. Some people come in with a very specific design in mind and are pretty dead set on their cake. At that point, I just do my best to make it my own without changing the design. It can be tricky but I want it to show that it’s a cake that I created, even if it’s not my design. Fortunately, that scenario isn’t common. Most people come in putting their trust in me to create something really awesome. That’s when I get to let my brain play and have a lot of fun with it.

Between your family and your job, I’m sure it’s hard to find some free time. Do you have any other hobbies outside of decorating and baking?

I like repurposing furniture but I haven’t in a while. After we sold our house I didn’t have enough room. My favorite project were these two horribly ugly chairs that I found at a garage sale. It’s all pretty simple; reupholster the seats, sand the wood, paint. I used this really bright blue paint and they turned out so pretty.

Here’s Abby’s playlist:

 

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