Sandy Sheppard makes what we all want to try — cakes that taste as good as they look.
For more than a decade, Lorton's master cake decorator has baked thousands of cakes from her home studio. And the best cake she's ever tasted is...
"Mine. I'm sorry, and I've tried cakes all around the world, but I love my cakes," Sandy told Patch. "I think they're awesome. My husband's favorite is chocolate, but I tend to lean toward my key lime. It'll knock your socks off."
You may have seen Sheppard last October when she appeared in the Food Network's Challenge: Extreme Alien Cakes (her cake fell in the final moments). "It was awesome, intense. It took two weeks for my ankles to get over it," she said. "It was an eight hour competition, and the most nerve wracking part of it was two hours in when they took our watches, cellphones and got rid of all the clocks."
As one of six children, Sheppard quickly learned to pacify her brothers and impress her sisters with her baking abilities.
"I get my baking from my mother. She used to make us any kind of cake we wanted when we were kids," said Sheppard, who sold her first cake in 1982. "For me, a cake must be moist. Design-wise, it's up to the client. My forte? I can copy anything I see and I work well under pressure."
Sheppard baked her first wedding cake in 1983. "I definitely recommend to anyone who makes wedding cakes to go to a reception when you can, because the feedback is so important."
Sheppard's husband, Ed, is an Army veteran. During the 1970s, the couple lived at multiple posts before settling in Northern Virginia in 1980. Sandy paid her baking dues with a two-year stint at Mr. Donut and eight years as a cake designer at Brenner's Bakery in Alexandria.
Sheppard opened "Confectioner's Art" in 1999, and her studio is full of ribbons and trophies acquired from multiple baking wars with other cake experts.
"My cakes cost $5 per serving, which is very cheap," she said. "I come from a poor background. Business has been slow this past year. I'm hoping it's just the recession, but I understand what it is to not be able to buy expensive cakes. I know it's not great business sense, but I'm in business still and I have a huge clientele."
You can meet Sandy Sheppard at the National Capital Area Cake Show on Saturday, March 25, at the Northern Virginia Community College Annandale campus.