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Sincredible PastriesSincredible PastriesWith the charming flavor of an old fashioned ice cream shop, the new kitchen is scheduled for a grand opening open house on October 21st.  Pink is the dominant color, and walking into the building is like a trip down the rabbit hole into a delicious fantasy.  That makes it the perfect home for Sincredible Pastries, the brainchild of Executive Chef Marion Cardwell-Ferrer. 

"I am excited about this space," Ferrer says.  "I've always wanted to be involved in a community and to be rooted.  I'm excited to get to know the community and to be there for them for those kinds of things, and I'm looking into ways to do some charitable kinds of things with this kitchen.  I look at it and I see all the pink and I'm thinking it would be great to do something for kids with cancer, because both my mom and my dad had cancer so that's something that's close to my heart. "


The business has taken 16 years to put down those roots.  Begun in 1991, Sincredible Pastries moved from space to space.  Ferrer rented space in Hartford, NY to create custom pastries for Ithaca restaurants. For a while she was located in the Ithaca Women's Community Building, and for a time she worked out of a professional kitchen in her Ithaca home.  As the business moved around it also evolved until she decided to specialize.  "I re-thought my plan," she says.  "I decided I wanted just to do the really creative things so I stuck with wedding cakes which is where I am today.  It kind of brought me to this place now."

Ferrer has elevated baking into an art form in more ways than one.  Her cakes are creative and interesting to look at, and every bit as good to eat.  There is no way to describe them except to say that the first bite surprises you in a way that makes you eager for the next.  And the next...  Everything is baked from scratch with the best ingredients, then decorated and presented with taste and flair.

Ferrer says that she has always liked cooking, even when she was a child.  "My mom was really great and very patient with me when I was little, teaching me how to cook," she says.  "Somehow I've always liked baking.   I was one of the kids in the '60s that wanted an Easy Bake oven, and I burnt the light bulb out trying to keep up with everything I wanted to bake.  Ever since I was younger I have loved pastries just to look at them and make them."

She focussed on art in high school.  "Even when I was a child I liked to draw and paint," she says.  "My father was a painter and my Mom was very artsy and craftsy so I was brought up in a very artistic, theatrical household."

ImageShe seemed to be on track to go to art school.  "But somehow I got side tracked," she recalls.  "I did a little brochure in college and I made Christmas gifts.  Everybody ordered them, and I thought oh my gosh!  It was instant gratification and I knew they were giving them as gifts and it was fun.  I realized I wanted to go to pastry art school and I never really thought it would come back to an art form.  But it has for me.  Now what I'm really doing is painting and drawing and sculpting with food."

After earning her degree in Baking and Pastry Arts from Johnson and Wales University, the Dryden native set out to work in California for several hotels, restaurants, country clubs.  "I helped several friends open their restaurants which is grueling," she says.  "I got a little burned out.  I took a little side occupation for awhile, then went right back to it again because that's just something that's in your blood, you can't really shake it.  It's an art form in a way."

ImageEventually she decided that she wanted to work on a cruise ship, and got a job with American Hawaii Cruise Lines.  But she found that was grueling as well, and wanted the time to focus on the art of baking.  "I came home for a visit and I had several friends who were in the restaurant business," she says.  "They said, 'you should consider selling wholesale pastries because no one in the area really does that.'"

She started cold calling friends and friends of friends to see whether they would be interested in her baking for their restaurants, and found that they all were.  That gave her about a dozen clients to start with, enough to try starting her own business.  "I started doing some samples and dropping them off and they would order from me," Ferrer recalls.  "And I did signature items for each restaurant so no two restaurants had the same desserts and that worked out for awhile.  But again, it was a lot of work because of instead of making one or two or three different kinds of cakes and dispersing them among everybody, I was really knocking myself out working 60 hour weeks or more."

Ferrer meets with clients to get a sense of what they want.  Because each cake is customized she doesn't have a catalog that clients can pick from, so she asks them about their likes and dislikes, the theme they want, and gets a sense of what they are about.  She sketches ideas for clients when they meet.

"That's the part that's fun for me," she says.  "To wait for people to come up with a theme and the more information they can give me the farther I can go.  Sometimes people come to me with nothing and right at the end of the appointment the bride will say, "Oh and here is my invitation."  The light bulb goes on instantly, because I can see the text, I can see the colors, I can see so much more, and I just start pulling more and more information from them.  I'm kind of like a therapist," she laughs.

Marion Cardwell-Ferrer
Ferrer prepares an assortment of four mini-cakes for clients to taste, so they can choose what will be inside the cake.  Each is about two and a half inches square.  "Some will have caramel, maybe a tiramisu, and key-lime and coconut," she explains.  "They are really fun, and different flavors.  There's a lot going on in one bite.  Just the plain old butter cream cake for me isn't enough.  I think it's fun to throw other stuff in there to really pop and taste different."

Once a design is agreed upon, it can take as much as three months to complete it.  Ferrer says it can take 20 minutes to make one one-inch flower.  "The cake itself isn't done three months in advance," she explains.  "It's the decorative elements.  All the flowers and the leaves, and if there is something on top that's three dimensional, those need to dry and I have to hand paint them and I use several techniques to paint.  I use Libby's edible food grade paints, and they need to dry.  If there are hundreds of them, of course there's only one of me."

The actual cake is baked on a Thursday night, filled on Friday, and then assembled on Saturday if it's a Saturday wedding.  "That part is always three days no matter what," she says.  "The fillings, the frostings, the cake itself, and the coverings, and then you have to settle it with all the decorations you made."

Ferrer's cakes are nationally known, and have been featured in Bride's Magazine several times.  She has dabbled with the idea of offering mail order cakes, and now that she has a home base for her business, she expects to work more on that idea.

Over the rainbow...
Everything she bakes is a work of art.  Over a year ago Ferrer created a "Wizard of Oz" cake for the Cargill Relay For Life team.  "I just thought I wanted something different, something that somebody was going to walk by and say, 'Oh my God!'" Cargill 's Toni Adams said.  She chose Ferrer to fulfill that fantasy.  Ferrer made a yellow cake with Oreo moose and vanilla bean butter cream frosting, green, of course.  To make a luminescent Emerald City she used poured sugar, colored green.  It took 30 pounds of sugar, 25 pounds of butter, 15 pounds of flour, 18 dozen eggs, 8 ounces of vanilla, 4 jars of strawberry preserves, 3 packs of Oreos, 1/2 gallon of heavy cream, 2 pounds of confectioner's sugar, and 12 pounds of rolled fondant to complete the masterpiece.

The new kitchen will allow her to concentrate on the intricate sculpted cakes she enjoys most.  Located next to her Lansing home, she can balance work with being with her husband and young daughter.  The space is laid out as an eatery in the front, with the kitchen an open space at the back with a soda-fountain style counter and stools.  She is planning to hold baking classes there, as well as renting it out for parties.  "Since I'm in this space I'm doing larger parties or larger functions only," she says.  "I also hope to rent the space for special functions bridal showers, baby showers, children's parties, women's entrepreneurial functions."

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