Fernanda Abarca is not only a surfacing artist at DreamWorks Animation, she’s also a talented cake designer and co-owner of Fernanda Abarca Cakes. I recently enjoyed her creations at the Pixar/Disney Hollywood premiere for Inside Out, where her cake and cupcake designs were mesmerizing treats. Fernanda created tantalizing 3D images of each “Inside Out” character: from Joy to Angry to Disgust to Sadness and Fear, it was an emotionally, gratifying night of eating!
Typically, how long does it take to execute a cake from start to finish? How long did it take to create the Inside Out cakes?
It completely depends on the cake. Some take longer than others. The more detail the more time they take. The Inside Out cakes were actually quite simple. My husband Issac (Co-Owner), put together the edible fondant images while I worked on the cake displays. They took us 2 days and about 24 hrs. Pretty simple in comparison to the other work we do, which normally takes at least 60 hrs of work.
Which Inside Out cake was your favorite? Which was the most difficult?
I love all my cakes, they are always super fun to make. For the premiere we made all 5 emotions. Sadness, and Disgust were my favorite, and definitely the most difficult. The others were fun too but I tend to fall in love with the ones that contain more detail.
Did you ever imagine being a cake designer?
No! I started working with cakes when my family started a catering company and I was in charge of making the desserts. I took that opportunity to learn more about sugar sculpting and have been hooked ever since.
Where did you learn to bake and decorate cakes?
I learned online and through a lot of practice. If didn’t know something I would google it. Not every answer was perfect but it got me started, and eventually I came up with techniques that work best for me.
Are there any similarities between your job at DreamWorks and your cake designing skills?
Absolutely. I’m a digital painter. I paint on 3D models and help create the characters you love to watch on the big screens. I use all my experience and 3D techniques and simply switch mediums to sugar.
Is there one particular character and/or landscape you’ve dreamed of creating?
I really want to do a hyper realistic portrait sculpture cake of a live action character. I’m not sure of who yet. But I’m looking around. It will be fun to do something a bit different than what my fans/clients are used to seeing.
Have you had any baking/embarrassing behind the scenes moments?
Always! Something always goes wrong. ALWAYS.
I have learned my lesson. I now make extra figures or set of anything that I know has the potential to break, fall etc.. That way I can replace it last minute.
For example, just before the Inside Out event we had two disasters happen as we were loading the van. First a box of cupcakes tipped over and fell as we were loading the van, then one of the staff grabbed “Disgust” and accidentally created a huge dent on the side of the cake, again right before we left. Thank God for the extra cupcakes and supplies!
A few weeks before that we had to deliver a 3 ft Mickey cake to a private corporate party for Disney. The delivery location was up a HUGE hill. My husband delivered the cake with no assistance, and said Mickey was dancing all around in the back of the delivery van, not to mention his hike up the hill with a 50lbs cake! A cake decorators WORST nightmare. He arrived safely and in one piece thank God, but the anxiety is unforgettable.
Tips for moms on how to involve their kids in baking/in the kitchen?
Kids LOVE to help. I know it often can get overwhelming when tired Moms just want to get it done. But I have found that giving them small jobs will actually help you. Things like counting chocolate chips, or cracking the eggs, cutting the butter, sifting the flour, lining the cupcake pans etc. It’s fun for them, helpful for you, and also a great learning opportunity. Baking is a fantastic way to teach fractions! I was terrible with fractions as a kid. I remember being so confused. “What ¼ is less than ½?” How is that possible??.. haha. But baking makes fractions super easy to understand. It’s all very visual, fun and yummy! Give kids the opportunity to get involved. In our house we make family breakfast every Sunday before church. The kiddos love their jobs and they love preparing the crepes or pancakes!
Can the average person make the cake toppers you created for the inside out cupcakes? Do you offer tutorials?
Not really. Simply because those toppers are made printed on sugar paper. You would need a printer that is completely dedicated to edible ink and edible paper to make them. There is however many ways you can use fondant to achieve a similar type of topper without having a printer. You could use brushes with edible colors or edible pens to draw on a dry fondant circle!
We currently offer very fun and super popular tutorials in our Facebook shop located here:
Our company is working on tons more tutorials that will be released to the public through out the end of this year.
Did you see Inside Out? Who is your favorite emotion and why? and what emotion do you feel when you are creating??
We had the privilege of watching inside out at The El Capitan Theater. It was a wonderful night full of emotions! The live dance performance was fantastic, and the movie was incredible. My favorite emotion was Joy. Because she had a great arc in her story. She learned a very valuable lesson. I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone. But it’s one we can all relate to.
I go through all 5 emotions when I create. But I always end, and start with Joy. There is Joy when I start, and am inspired, then there is anger when I can’t get something to look right, then there is sadness when I lack sleep, then I am disgusted and annoyed at all the tiny cloth fibers that suddenly appear on my fondant and chocolate, then I have fear I won’t finish in time, and when I finally do, I am full of Joy at the results!
Do you make (expected) all of your families cakes on holidays?
I make my children’s cakes. The rest of my family live on the other side of the country so I have yet to make them a cake. Lately, however I have inspired my children to make each others cake. So my daughter will work with me on my son’s cake, and my son will work on my daughters. They love it!
What was your most memorable cake as a kid?
My parents always did something for our birthdays. Even if it was a small celebration we always had cake on our birthday. My Mom is a chef and she made us delicious treats, and birthday cakes. They were never themed. I just remember them tasting incredible.
Visit http://www.fernandaabarcacakes.com/to see her portfolio! And follow her at https://www.facebook.com/FernandaAbarcaCakes.
Inside Out is playing in theaters now! You can watch Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust come on a live on the big screen! You can purchase your tickets now on www.fandango.com!