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Novel Confections: Author Gaby Triana's Cakes Are As Imaginative As Her Plots

 Novel Confections: Author Gaby Triana's Cakes Are As Imaginative As Her Plots

Ana Veciana-Suarez | The Miami Herald

Apr. 30-When Gaby Triana was 7 years old, she wanted an Easy-Bake Oven, the type that baked real cookies and cupcakes. Santa Claus didn’t deliver.

This disappointment may be the reason why, 30 years later, the Country Walk mother better known to teenagers and teachers for her young adult novels has a brisk moonlighting business creating elaborate and unusual cakes for showers, weddings, quinces and birthday parties.

“That oven became kind of a family joke,” Triana says, laughing, “because my brother ended up buying me one when I was 25.”

By then Triana truly knew her way around a standard oven, having sold a few cakes while in college. Though she doesn’t advertise, she now bakes about four cakes a weekend in her “super-old” Hotpoint oven, moist concoctions in flavors like vanilla rum, amaretto, chocolate bourbon, lemon and coconut. She doesn’t advertise and all her customers are referrals. At $4 per serving, the smallest cake she’ll bake feeds 20 people; the largest, 200.

Her trademark may be her fondant decorations. She has created cakes to look like a Blackberry, a pirate ship, a stack of books, a guayabera, a record player and a monster truck.

“I’ll do any cake a customer suggests, but I like for them to be different,” Triana says. “I think of my cakes as being more whimsical. I like bright colors and bold designs, less delicate than what you might get from other cake makers.”

So if you’re in the market for, say, a baby shower cake, expect Triana to ask probing questions about the colors you like and how you’re decorating the baby’s nursery. She is not a pink-is-for-girls, blue-is-for-boys kind of baker. For birthdays, she likes to deliver a product that says something about the honoree – a cake shaped like a bull dolphin for a fisherman, for example.

Her most unusual order? A Los Angeles publicity firm asked her to bake a cake with phone – a clue in an elaborate scavenger hunt conducted online to drum up interest for the Batman movie Dark Knight. She had to place the phone in a plastic bag, slip it in between cake layers and cover it with fondant.

“That was pretty bizarre,” she says with a laugh. “I don’t even know how they found me.”

Jany Borges has been using Triana’s cakes for years – vanilla rum for grown-up events, hazelnut for kids. The last cake she ordered, for her own baby shower, was “perfect. She really went all out. I gave her an invitation and wanted her to match it and she did it perfectly, same colors, ribbons, everything.”