Baker Spotlight: Meet Arlena McCoy
Behind the Sugar: Blog Edition
Today we are excited to share our interview with the talented Arlena McCoy of Mrs. McCoy’s Cakes & Pies, LLC. in Columbus, Ohio who donated a cake for 2 year old Paxton who is undergoing treatment for Cystic Fibrosis.
What we as Cake Artist do is nothing short of amazing. We take edible objects like frosting and fondant and turn them into incredible dream cakes! Some of us feel that God instilled in us a remarkable talent to make people smile using our hands as artistic tools. “I’m doing what God wants me to do,” is a familiar statement often heard in the cake industry, and it also just so happens to be what our December Baker Spotlight Arlena McCoy with Mrs. McCoy’s Cakes & Pies, LLC. believes wholeheartedly.
For those associated with Icing Smiles we bake a difference in the lives of children who are facing critical illnesses, recovering from surgery after surgery, or celebrating remission. Our network of Sugar Angels spans across the country and we rely heavily on word of mouth to recruit more talented bakers. Arlena said she learned about Icing Smiles through one of our existing Sugar Angels and sweetest supporters, Lisa Randolph-Gant in July 2015. Now, you all know Lisa right? She’s the witty baker who’s Queen Elsa cake made international headlines which eventually landed her a new show on Food Network alongside the amazingly talented “cake fixer” Karen Portaleo. Even after Lisa’s trial led to triumph, she still manages to support Icing Smiles and even inspires other cake enthusiast like Arlena along the way!
Great thing she did because we contacted Arlena in August to create a dream cake for 2 year old Paxton! Paxton was born 7 weeks early and diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. He spent the first 5 months of his life in the NICU and pulmonary care at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Paxton does have daily treatments that take about 90 minutes to complete and will have to do them his entire life; however, he is still a happy and fun-loving little boy living his life to the fullest! Arlena joined our organization with hopes of helping us deliver more smiles to kids just like him.
So, the challenge was simple… design a Justice League Superhero cake to WOW his family! Arlena said, “I’ve been designing specialty cakes since October 2010. As I was watching [TLC’s] Cake Boss, I received a phone call asking me to make a cake for a baby shower. I agreed to make the cake; however, I began to wonder if I could design a 3D ‘specialty cake’ like Cake Boss, so, I made my 1st attempt by designing a 3D diaper bag cake. I’ve been stuck ever since!”
As a self-taught Cake Artist with no specialty training, eventhough the concept was simple, the design on the other hand was proving to be no easy task. Arlena had previously made a 3D bust cake of Spiderman and Batman, but never Superman (Paxton’s favorite character). “I wanted his cake to be something that no one has had. I wanted it to be his Superhero. I wanted to see Paxton’s face light up, as well as his parents,” Arlena said.
On a quest to make Superman as life-like as possible, Arlena sculpted Superman’s face and neck with tinted ivory modeling chocolate. After the foundation appeared, she was then able to construct his nose, eyes, ears, and other facial features along with his famous hair pattern. As Superman’s face was left to dry, Arlena baked 6 round cakes ranging from sizes 8” – 10” and 2 half ball pan cakes. Paxton loved the vanilla cake flavor with french vanilla almond buttercream. Superman’s body was then carved and covered in blue fondant. A hand painted “S” adorned his chiseled chest and red fondant was added to his back to replicate his cape.
Arlena said when dropping off Paxton’s cake she felt extremely nervous to see his reaction. After a quick knap he was ready to party! Arlena said, “When [his mother] sent me the picture of Paxton beside the cake… I was in Awe! He was so tiny beside Superman. He was so adorable! It was a pleasure meeting Paxton, his parents, his grandfather, and their dog. They are a very polite, loving, and nurturing family. To see the way Kaylee was with Paxton and vice-versa was priceless! I loved working with this family! Paxton will always be in my prayers. He is the real Superhero!”
Thank you for bringing a BIG smile to Paxton’s face Arlena! We are so excited to have you as a Sugar Angel and look forward to seeing more “smiles” from you in the future!