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Love for cupcakes and decorating turns into career

Baker shares favorite ingredients, tips for novices and one of her favorite icing recipes

Melissa Clough is riding the current cupcake wave, but she’s doing it with a twist.

The Beavercreek baker is making news by introducing Gourmet Cupcake Bars at area events. The innovative concept allows guests to provide input about what kind of dessert they’d like her to create. The family business, dubbed “Frosted,” also involves Brad, Melissa’s husband.

“We wanted to do something different, and wanted to focus more on the event side,” explained Melissa Clough, who’s been baking since she was a child and also makes cakes.”We talked about opening up a storefront, but we decided to make it event-focused.”

“Frosted” is showing up at weddings, birthday parties and community fund raisers.

Here’s how it works: Guests are invited to visit the Cupcake Bar and can select a cake flavor, a frosting and toppings. Melissa Clough does the work for them while they watch, and in the end they’re handed a beautiful culinary creation.

“It’s not that it takes a rocket scientist to frost a cupcake, but it’s messy and it involves knowing how to use the right amount of pressure, how to manipulate the piping bag,” she said when explaining why guests aren’t encouraged to do-it-themselves. “They get to choose what they’d like, and we always have some of the combinations already put together so if they don’t want to take time to choose the pairings, they can select one of the pre-set combinations.”

Some examples: The Apple Pie, (cinnamon cake filled with apple filling and frosted in butter-cream with streusel topping), The Chocolate Chimp (chocolate cake filled with peanut butter cream and frosted with banana butter-cream and topped with walnuts and chocolate drizzle), The Raspberry Lemonade (white cake filled with raspberry and frosted with whipped lemon frosting and topped with white chocolate chips), and The Oh No It’s Ono (yellow cake filled with Bavarian cream and frosted with whipped orange ginger frosting and topped with macadamia nuts and honey drizzle).

We chatted with Clough about her love of baking and her small business.

Q: How did you become interested in baking?

A: When I was growing up, my mother decorated birthday cakes. I learned how to use a piping bag at age 10 and enjoyed making cakes for friends in high school. After graduating from Wright State University with a business degree, I decided to turn my hobby into a business.

Q: Where did you learn to decorate cakes?

A: I signed up for classes at Cake Craft in Beavercreek. I took basic decorating classes, fondant classes and baking for profit. They offer a great variety of classes as well any tools/supplies you will need to get started.

Q: What do you love most about your job?

A: We will make a couple’s wedding cake, then get a call back for an anniversary cake. Next come the baby showers, christenings and birthdays, Being a part of a family’s most important milestones and seeing the families grow year after year is amazing and a very rewarding part of the job.

Q: What’s your favorite ingredient?

A: I would have to say the high-ratio shortening. Using a high-ratio shortening with our frosting allows us to get our butter cream frosting nice and smooth. It is crucial for cakes that will be delivered in warmer weather and humid conditions.

Q: What is a tip that you would give a new baker?

A: Practice makes perfect. There are many great resources online for recipes and decorating tutorials; take advantage of those. And don’t be afraid to alter those recipes to find what works best for you.

Q: Why do you think cupcakes are so popular at the moment?

A: There are so many cupcake options, so much more variety. Instead of one cake flavor to feed 25, you can offer three or four different flavors.

Q: How much variety is there when it comes to your cupcakes?

A. We’ve got 30 different cake flavors. The number of guests determines how many cakes, frostings and fillings they’ll get. We come up with signature flavors — if it’s a fall event, we’ll incorporate fall flavors; we had a wedding where they got married in Hawaii and the groom was Irish so we made Irish and Hawaiian flavors for them. We have cupcakes in three sizes: mini, regular and jumbo.

Q: Can you tell us a little more about the business?

A: Frosted specializes in custom cakes, cupcakes and cake pops. I started my business in 2004 with a website and business. We went on to participate in wedding shows as well as print ads for all-occasions cakes.

Most recently, we added the Gourmet Cupcake Bar, an interactive dessert option for any event. Frosted staffs the cupcake bar at event locations and the client selects three to five signature flavors for their guests. The guests choose from a signature flavor or create their own combination and watch as the cupcakes are filled, frosted and topped right in front of them. Everyone loves cupcakes and having the chance to create their own flavors makes for a great addition to any event.

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