Anna Hightower, owner and operator of Anna Cakes, found her love of cake designing quite by accident. Agreeing to take a cake decorating course with a friend, Anna never dreamed of one day owning her own business. But, after just one class, she was hooked.
Growing up the daughter of a musician and an art dealer/interior designer, Anna had always been rooted in the arts. She spent the greater part of her late teens/early 20’s, immersed in art, poetry, singing, and songwriting, with the ultimate goal of recording with a major label. Little did she know, her pursuit of music would lead her to Orlando, and ultimately to Anna Cakes.
Following the dream, Anna, her husband Marlon, and their daughter Marlee relocated from Indianapolis, to Orlando, in 2004, to write and record with close friend, Kyle Cook (Matchbox Twenty). But music wasn’t enough. The artist in her, was in need of an additional outlet.
Cake design, which was to merely be a hobby, quickly grew into a full-blown passion. Armed with only a few classes, and the sound of her husband’s words ringing in her ears, “Business is 90% confidence, Anna,” she called her sister and said, “Cancel your cake lady. I’m making your wedding cake.” The fall-themed, 4-tiered cake received rave reviews, and Anna Cakes was born.
Why are Anna Cakes and Heaven Event Venue the perfect combo?
Heaven is hands-down one of my favorite venues in Orlando! It has such a cool vibe and so much versatility! You can transform the space in a million different ways. I pride myself in staying on-trend and also being adaptable when it comes to cake design, so this is something we have in common! I have delivered many wedding cakes to Heaven over the years. The room is always breathtaking, when we walk in. Anna Cakes strives to create that same reaction, when our clients lay eyes on their cake for the first time!
What are some trends you are seeing in wedding cakes for 2017?
The semi-naked cake is still going strong. It all started with the naked cake (no icing) but this trend has evolved to include a sister version, dubbed the “semi-naked”, because it includes a schmear or “crumb coat” of icing. It sounds hideous, but it is actually gorgeous when paired with fresh flowers. Very rustic and “pinterest-y”. haha
Another cake trend is bling bling bling! Brooches, rhinestone ribbons, sparkly monograms — it’s all the rage! Add pin spot lighting to the cake and it is sparkling for days! This is also typically an inexpensive option, since these decor items are non-edible — but it looks like a million bucks!
A really cool technique I’ve been getting requests for lately, is fondant marbling. Whether it is just one accent tier, or the entire cake, it really becomes a conversation piece. This look replicates actual marble, by kneading various colors together. It is fairly easy to achieve the design, but the outcome is really impressive. It almost has the appearance of being hand-painted.
And lastly, the 3D groom’s cake is really gaining traction. Replicating the groom’s car or dog or something near and dear to their heart, is a great way to surprise and honor them. These cakes can only be achieved by certain bakeries, so be sure to do your homework when ordering a 3D cake. They are not cheap, but they pack major punch, when done well. People will be talking about it for years, after the wedding!
What is one tip that you would give a bride planning a tasting in Central Florida?
My advice is to ask your venue and other vendors for referrals, and research them online first. Narrow it down to your absolute favorite bakery. Check their availability on your date, and schedule a tasting with them, just to be certain their cakes taste as good as they look. If you like the flavors, book them right then and there! Life is short and wedding planning is stressful. haha It feels good to check cake off the list. As for the actual tasting, I always suggest to bring cake pictures that have caught your eye, as well as dress pics, color swatches, floral proposal, invites/save-the-dates, and anything else that could inspire the design. Oh, and come hungry! I generally give people a ridiculous amount of cake, and let them take home the leftovers!
Fill in the blank: From a Cake Artist’s perspective – A Heavenly Event is when:
a couple’s vision becomes an even more amazing reality than what they had ever hoped or planned. This happens when you choose the right vendors and let them work their magic!
As Heaven is a blank slate, what are some stunning pastry opportunities?
It’s all about presentation. Lighting can really make an amazing cake look even more stunning. Height is something to consider also, since the high ceilings can allow for a larger cake display. Once we even suspended a cake from the rafters of Heaven on a piece of plexiglass. It appeared to be floating. SO GORGEOUS!!!
What inspires you to do what you love to do?
I have been making cakes for over 10 years, and I still get that “high” after each delivery. I stand back and take the final photo, and a rush of pride and excitement comes over me. So much goes into the cake, from cracking the first egg to placing the topper on the finished product. You take quite a journey with each cake, so seeing it go from sketch to life, is a real thrill. One of my favorites things about the whole process is the tasting and design session. I love meeting people and sketching their ideas. I have an art background, so people are often surprised at my sketches. They will say, “Oh wow! You’re an artist, too!” I think every great cake designer is an artist first.
If you could have one event there.. any theme.. what would it be?
Ever since my daughter was little, she has accompanied me on cake deliveries. She has seen many venues, but maintains that Heaven is her favorite. She just turned 17, so this is hopefully a long way from now, but I suppose her wedding would be my first choice! 🙂 Theme? I’ll leave that to her. At Heaven, the sky is the limit!