It was hot inside the huge kitchen tent, not only from the ovens and the California heat, but also from the bright TV production lights, the pressure to create an elaborately decorated cake in just a few hours, and the competition from three other teams of the country’s best cake decorators. Add to that the scrutiny of celebrity judge and host Giada De Laurentiis and you’ve got a recipe for anxiety.
But Erin Erler and Christine Barton of Cakes By Erin in Haverhill looked as though they barely broke a sweat as they crafted their incredible cake and were declared champions of the Food Network’s “Winner Cake All,” winning the show’s $10,000 prize and eternal bragging rights.
“I work well under stress,” Erler said. “I like challenging myself…but obviously it doesn’t hurt if you win.”
It was a full-circle moment for Erler, a self-taught baker and cake decorator who “learned by watching the Food Network at my kitchen counter.”
Her “Winner Cake All” appearance, which aired in February, marked Erler’s fifth time on a Food Network show and is just the latest in a long line of victories for the Beverly native and current Haverhill resident.
Since starting her business in 2010, Erler has become a cake maker to the stars, creating incredible edible art for celebrity celebrations like Luke Bryan’s 40thbirthday, Kenny Chesney’s live album release, the Red Sox’s World Series win, Adam Sandler’s film Grown Ups 2, and The Zac Brown Band’s Fenway Park concert.
Some artists work with clay or paint; Erler’s medium is cake. Although her cake business started out of her licensed home kitchen, the demand for her work was so great that she opened a storefront just a few months later.
Today, sculpted cakes are Erler’s passion and specialty. If clients can dream it, chances are Erler and her team can create it. They make cakes shaped like guitars, Harry Potter creatures, R2D2 from Star Wars, wine barrels, unicorns, Christmas bulbs, cowboy hats, and so much more.
Erler loves the fun, the camaraderie, and the challenge of competing on the Food Network, and will jump at the chance to do so whenever it’s given, she says. But don’t expect her to start opening multiple locations of Cakes By Erin. She takes pride in being a “small, personal shop” where everything is made with love and care, by hand.
“I want to be there,” she says. “I’m so invested in the art end of this. It’s what I love doing.”