Sectie Singh started her small home-based bakery in Barrackpore back in 2015 after deciding to bake her husband a cake upon his return home from working abroad.
“One day when he was coming home, I got up and said let me try and bake a cake as a surprise and I did and we enjoyed it. Everybody else enjoyed it so I continued baking just as a hobby.”
Before starting Sugar Art Cake Studio, Singh was an auditor then human resource/payroll lead assistant at different companies.
“I got married and my husband got contracted to do expat work and it was for a couple years, so I decided to stay home because he will be on rotation and if I work we wouldn’t have time together.”
Singh laughed as she recalled her mother telling her that she never thought she’d see her baking in the kitchen much less like being there. At the time, the now named Sugar Art Cake Studio went by Cake-A-Licious Designs TT and her first order was from one of her neighbours. She said they had ordered a Mother’s Day cake that carried a basic design decorated with chocolate drip with tiny alcohol bottles, regular frosting with sprinkles and a photo printed onto the cake.
Singh said, “I want to portray something different now because I want to be doing more of these modern-styled cakes and more wedding cakes.”
She said in order to accomplish this, she had to go back to school and learn all about cake decorating and pastries which is she now fully immersing herself in.
“I did courses. There was this teacher from Dubai, she came to Trinidad on a short vacation and she had advertised a one-on-one with a few students. That just opened a whole lot more than what I actually knew I was capable of doing in this field.”
Singh also enrolled in courses with the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Colorado along with other classes both locally and internationally-based. Though she did all of her training online due to covid19, she never let it deter her from growing as a baker, cake artist and pastry chef. With all of her training, Singh now carries the title of professional cake artist/pastry chef.
“I also found a new passion in which I like doing desserts, I like being creative. French and Italian desserts are where I just found a really good passion for. This wasn’t there before and so far, I’ve been getting good feedback from my clients. I introduced them last year for Valentine’s Day. I have really good feedback and the customers, they come back.”
Singh imports most of her ingredients as she isn’t able to find them locally nor use local ingredients which, she said, do not give the same results to what she learned while becoming certified. Checks done by Business Day showed that a three-pound pack of imported flour can cost $134 while a 50-pound sack can go for over $500 on Amazon while the cake mixers that were bought locally and can go for between $1,000 to $4,000.
Though her pastries and other small desserts may come at a standard price, her cakes would cost depending on what the client wanted. When Business Day visited her home bakery, we were greeted with a three-tier fully decorated cake that looked as if it was ready to be showcased at a wedding. The cake had a rustic look with minor detailing, gold accents and flowers made solely from sugar.
Singh said, “All cakes were baked Tuesday evening because I have to bake early and let it set. The flowers were made on Monday and that took me about five hours, nonstop. I started frosting it on Wednesday morning at around nine and then I put it in to chill. So I left that until around five in the evening.”
She said she took two hours to cover the entire cake with frosting, but was expecting it to take longer given the size. But since she wanted a rustic look for the cake, she left spaces on the cake with an extremely thin layer of icing so the cake was still somewhat visible. Some of her techniques to decorate the cake include leaving the fondant out before taking a rolling pin to it as it creates a crinkled effect and using two different shades of green to a specific stencil on random areas of the cake.
The cake was no ordinary one as the tiers had different flavours and fillings; one tier was a chocolate cake with a mocha chocolate ganache filling covered in fondant, the middle was an almond sponge cake filled with a strawberry compote and covered in buttercream while the top tier was also chocolate filled with the strawberry compote, but covered in buttercream.
Currently, Singh’s business comprises of just her with the exception of a delivery driver, but she plans to expand and open a bistro.
She added, “I would also love to expand and offer online classes based on the sugar flowers, cake decorating and desserts.”
Aside from expanding her business, she plans to open a foundation dedicated to underprivileged children and offer them birthday cakes as she believes that they should have these experiences just like every one else.
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