May 6, 2013

Amirah Kassem is blowing up the baking world, and for good reason. Her custom cake company, Flour Shop, has been sought after for its eccentric flavors and ability to create treats in the shape of anything imaginable by the human brain. The girl does it all—cakes taking on the form of buckets of popcorn, couture dresses, and bottles of Patron. Despite her intricate experiments and seemingly years of expertise, Amirah’s line of work wasn’t always in the kitchen. Her past six years were spent working in the fashion industry until she recently quit her job to focus on her craft—a bold move that taste buds everywhere are grateful for. The story took off from there and Flour Shop was born. We sat down with the cake master herself to talk about secret ingredients, dream clients, and Lil’ Wayne in cake form.

When did you first become interested in baking? 
It probably began the first time I tried a cookie! When I was a kid I wanted an easy-bake oven, but my mom wasn’t into it. She told me that if I was going to start baking, it would be for real, and that’s how it all began. I always fantasized of having my own bakery, but I left that idea in the back of my head while I was working my way up in the fashion industry. When people started asking me where I had bought the treats I would give out, I realized this fun little dream could become a real business. I thought about it, packed up my heels, and bought an apron. But I can’t leave too much of my past behind, I think baking in heels is fun too!

You seem to be a pretty busy lady with the amount of treats you’ve been posting on your website lately. How many are you making on an average day?
I try to limit myself to either two cakes or one event per day, but it’s really hard for me to say no to amazing requests, so there are a lot of eighteen hour days for now. I love it, but let’s just say if Oompah Loompahs really existed I would hire them all.

Which cake has been the most fun for you to make?
The popcorn cake! Although the burger and fries was pretty amazing! All the food cakes are fun to make. Flour Shop isn’t just cakes, though, I work with everything, so I must say that the rainbow pizza I made for Henry Hargreaves was my favorite treat on the savory side.

There are two parts to your craft –the creative design end and the process of making delicious treats. Which is your favorite part? Is one more challenging than the other?
It’s really fun to design the cakes and experiment with new recipes, but my favorite part is working with the clients. I love seeing their reactions when they see their ideas come to edible life. I must say it’s pretty cool to be a part of everyone’s celebration!

Is there any particular treat you’ve been dreaming of making lately? A fantasy cake?
I have an ongoing list of cakes I wish that people would order, since I no longer have time to make cakes just for fun like I used to. One thing I’m dying to try is to make a cake out of a full head-to-toe outfit.

You get pretty creative not only in your design but also in your ideas. Where do you get your baking inspiration?
Barbie! She has over 70 careers and gets everything made out of plastic, so if she can do that, I can have anything made out of food! Now I see cakes in everything, it’s like my own little Candyland.

What has been your most prized cake so far? Is there one you hold as your highest achievement? 
I wouldn’t say it’s my highest achievement, but my most prized is the rainbow cake. It has shown a life of its own. I didn’t invent the rainbow cake, but I make a pretty darn good one. Celebrations should have elements of surprise to keep the excitement going, and the rainbow layers inside of a normal-looking cake is definitely surprising. I remember the first time I made it, no one knew it was rainbow inside, and when I cut it at the dinner table, everyone screamed and started taking pictures. It’s that unexpected moment that makes the party even more fun; I have the same love for my candy-stuffed piñata and polka dot cakes.

Do you have a favorite ingredient? Or a secret ingredient? 
Gold and glitter, sparkles and sprinkles! My favorite secret ingredient is lime. I love limes, and lime frosting is the best. People don’t think of it, and I encourage most people to try it and order it.

If you could make a cake of any person, who would you choose? What would you include in the cake?
Lil’ Wayne! He has more detail on his face than most people have on their entire bodies. I would give him the sickest chocolate grill with his signature Styrofoam cup topped with my Jolly Rancher lollipop.

You’ve been making treats for everyone from us to Vogue. Who’s your dream client? What would you want to make for them?
Without a doubt, DISNEY! I am obsessed with Walt’s ideas and anything and everything Disney. I don’t even know where to begin. I could recreate their entire theme park in cake form, I know the Disneyland map better than the New York City subway! I’ve also always wanted to replace the invisible cookies in Minnie Mouse’s house with my own—maybe I’ll sneak some in this year.

Photos by Henry Hargreaves.

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