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Let them eat cake: Alumna makes it fun

Nov. 4, 2010

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Courtesy Photo
Baylor alumna Laura Summersett is the owner of cake decorating business Custom Cakes by Laura.

By Carmen Galvan
Staff Writer

A Baylor alumna has gone from Easy-Bake ovens to commercial kitchens as owner of Custom Cakes by Laura, a cake decorating business she began two and a half years ago in Waco.

"I was always in trouble for playing with my food as a kid," said Laura Summersett, Baylor class of '92 and owner of Custom Cakes. "And I remember having my little Easy Bake oven and baking cakes for my dad when I was probably 8 or 9 years old, and I loved it. In high school it was baking cupcakes to take to school and youth group, and my years at Baylor I was baking to de-stress. In 1996 I took my first cake decorating class and I just loved it, so in 2001 I finished my master cake decorator certification."

Summersett began cake decorating as a business hobby in 2002, but it wasn't until two and a half years ago that she made her hobby into a full-time business venture after working as a dentist office manager for several years. Summersett bakes and decorates a variety of special occasion cakes ranging from birthdays to baby showers, but she specializes in wedding cakes. Summersett said that she created more than 60 wedding cakes last year but would like to increase the numbers.

"Wedding cakes are my specialty; that is my number one favorite thing to do," Summersett said. "I think I decorated around 60 or 65 wedding cakes last year, but I would love to be doing two or three a weekend."

Alice Ann Ball worked with Summersett to help design her daughter-in-law's wedding cake, and said she enjoyed the experience.

"She was very accommodating and informative and very helpful," Ball said. "We weren't sure what we would like, and so we tried to relate what we could to Laura. She helped guide us along and we had a good experience."

Along with the comfortable relationship she had with Summersett, Ball also enjoyed the cake itself.

"Her cakes were very delicious, too," Ball said.

"Sometimes you have cakes that look beautiful and taste like wax or are dry. Not only did the cakes look beautiful, but tasted wonderful. Sometimes I feel that a different caterer could have come up with a cake just as pretty and delicious, but she was so easy to work with. She reminded me of a person that I've known."

Leah Cowart, who was also one of Summersett's wedding clients, said she was recommended to Summersett by her church and said her cake turned out great.

"I knew her from our church and she brought samples of her cake [to our meeting]," Summersett said. "My husband wanted a Baylor design for his cake, so we basically told her what we wanted and she said OK, and it turned out great."

Although cake decorating is her speciality, Summersett doesn't limit herself to just cakes. She also makes specialty truffles and logo cookies for corporate gifts or special events. She sold more than 250 boxes of Oreo truffles as corporate gifts last year.

Summersett currently bakes and decorates from Antioch Community Church's commercial kitchen as she does not yet have a storefront. As her business continues expanding, however, Summersett hopes to settle into her own shop in about a year.

"Not having a walk-in storefront, it's harder to do one small customer, one small order," Summersett said. "So to be able to do larger items like the wedding cakes or the business gifts, or the quantity orders are better. At this stage in my business I look forward to having a walk in shop where customers can buy cakes from the window."