More than 20 years ago Shara Lunn came to Nashville to pursue her culinary school dreams and attend the Opryland Culinary Institute. The Texas-bred self-professed sweet tooth spent more than three years in the rigorous program, honing her baking skills before launching her very own personal cake business – Cakes by Shara.
As one of Nashville’s premiere custom cake decorators, Shara does everything from intricate, personalized wedding cakes for area brides to funky cupcakes for birthday parties, graduations and other holidays. Her menu of expertise includes custom cookies, loaf bread in various mouthwatering flavors such as white chocolate banana or mango banana spice (yum!). Just this past January, Cakes by Shara was awarded the prestigious Bride’s Choice Award on Weddingwire, recognized as one of the top 5% wedding professionals in the entire country. The possibilities, flavors and creativity are endless with Shara. To check out more of her cake designs, step-by-step instructions and specials visit her blog. And, to see all of Shara’s one-of-a-kind cake designs, visit her Flickr photo gallery page.
When did you first realize your love for baking and creating cakes?
As early as kindergarten I was enthralled with everything baking related. By age eight I had started baking on my own and by 13 I had made my first cheesecake!
I had been making cakes for a long time, but I wanted to officially concentrate on custom cakes and custom wedding cakes and designs. For a long time, I had known that I wanted to use my craft and make it my business so coming up with Cakes by Shara was an easy decision for me.
What’s your favorite part about owning your own business?
I love being able to schedule cakes – my work — around our family life. I have complete control over what I do each and every day.
Do you have a favorite kind of cake? Do you have a favorite cake you have created?
I love cake and obviously a lot of the cakes we’ve created! One of my favorites is our
apple cake with ducle de leche frosting. I also really like our simple vanilla buttercream flavored cake and strawberry amaretto cake. For a unique combination of sweet and spicy, I like chili and raspberries together – it tastes really good, I promise!
What is the most interesting cake request you have ever received?
Last year I was asked to do a groom’s cake featuring designs based on the television shows Lost and The Office – it ended up that the Lost design was crashing into the office and John Lock and Dwight were shaking hands on the top of the cake… That one hands down was the most interesting design request I’ve ever received.
What is the best and worst thing about working with brides?
I love working with brides on the most important day of their lives. We love to see them smile and sometimes tear up when they see the cake for the first time, and that is the best part.
The worst part? Sometimes, no matter how hard we try for $3.50 per slice for a full-size wedding cake, we cannot meet the bride’s budget work and it is not enough money to cover our costs. We use premium items such as butter, eggs, real flour and the best vanilla available. It is hard to tell a bride that has heard of all different prices of cakes that the cakes she’s seeing in the bridal magazines cost anywhere from $15.00 to $32.00 a slice on average. Here in Tennessee, $7.50 a slice is closer to the going rate. We always try to keep our pricing low without compromising on quality. Hopefully we can continue to serve more and more of Middle Tennessee’s brides with our beautiful cakes, but inevitably price becomes an issue for budget-savvy brides.
If you weren’t creating cakes, what would be your dream job?
I would sculpt. I would have to be creating art and keeping my hands busy!
What three words describe Nashville? What is your favorite part about Music City?
Culture, Music, Kind hearts. People get up and help each other when they are in need and that is an evident trait of Nashville that I love.
Have you ever met anyone famous?
I saw Keith Urban run out of our area restaurant Bread & Company once. I kind of felt sad for him because he was RUNNING to get away from people in the restaurant. Most of the time in Nashville the locals are kind and let famous people have time to themselves. My most starstruck moment was when one of my cakes was featured in country music star Jack Ingram’s “Lips of an Angel” music video.
How long does it take to bake and design one of your cakes. Take us through the process.
Some cakes like wedding cakes take weeks to complete all parts of the cake, including the little sugar flowers and designs. On average, it takes me about three hours to bake and about four hours per cake to finish icing, torting filling, covering with fondant, then finishing the outside with piping details. A sculpted cake in the shape of say, a car, can take up to six hours to decorate and that is after making all the details like mirrors, head lights bummers wheels and such. Sugar people, which often adorn our cakes, can take two to three hours each to detail them out. The time definitely adds up.
If you could offer “cake advice” to any young bride-to-be what would you say?
Look at your cake budget closely and make sure it is not the last thing you book as it is the focal piece of your reception. When you buy a $4.00/slice cake many times the design is going to be simple but elegant with ribbon around it or very simple dots. The magazine cakes often featured start at $15.00/slice on average so you need to budget for that or come look at our rental cakes or custom rental display cakes to save money and fit your budget (and tastebuds) appropriately.
What are you most passionate about?
God and Art.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Yes, the night I met my husband I looked across the table in the main kitchen and said to myself “Oh so that is what he looks like Lord.” I knew he was the one!
Email Shara to order your very own custom cake, cookie or cupcake at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 615-513-1500. Shara serves the entire Nashville and Middle Tennessee area and specializes in working with area brides.