By Sophia McDonald Bennett | Published December 2015

Artists work with all kinds of mediums—paint, stone, fiber, even their bodies.

Flory Vargas expresses herself with sugar. The owner of Lollipop Cake Design has been crafting museum-worthy cakes from scratch in her home kitchen for three years. Whether she’s shaping flowers from gum paste, cutting lace from fondant, or painting with frosting, she puts every ounce of heart and skill into her creations.

“I try to do as much as possible to make the customer happy,” she says.

It all started when she went looking for a birthday cake for her daughter, Natalia. Everything she found was too expensive, so she decided to make a cake herself. She had plenty of good recipes from her mother-in-law, as well as artistic skills honed during her time as an early childhood educator in Guatemala.

All her friends raved about the resulting cake. When they found out Vargas made it herself, they asked her to make cakes for their families as well. Lollipop Cake Design was born.

Vargas makes cakes for birthday parties, weddings, baby showers, christenings, and other special occasions. Before she starts each design, she sits down with her customers and gets to know them better. Some of them bring a picture showing exactly what they want, and others give her carte blanche to do what she wants. In those cases, she’ll draw inspiration from a favorite picture from the child’s book, a photograph of the bride’s wedding dress, pictures of the crib set, or a copy of a party invitation. She and the customer sketch a design together, or email ideas back and forth.

Once the design is set, Vargas bakes each cake in her home kitchen using fresh, high quality ingredients. Among her most popular flavors are banana, chocolate raspberry, and pistachio. She frosts each cake with buttercream, cream cheese icing, or ganache before adding gum paste or fondant adornments. Many wedding cakes are topped with fresh flowers.

Over the years she has done cakes featuring children’s favorite cartoon characters and Western themes. She’s hand-crafted teddy bears, tiny shoes, and Lego blocks from fondant. One woman requested a cake shaped like her favorite purse and shoes for her birthday; the resulting sweets were so realistic that the woman’s husband thought he was looking at the actual items when he saw a picture.

“My husband and I always say we wish we had a video camera to capture people’s happy expressions,” she says. A high number of repeat customers speaks to her success as an artist and a businesswoman.

Vargas has taken several cake decorating classes, but says she has learned just as much through practice, trial and error, and researching trends online. “When I was in school I had to go to the library to get ideas,” she says. “Now, with the internet and Pinterest, I can get lots of ideas.” Once a month she makes a cake to try out new techniques, then donates it to the Relief Nursery for a client raffle.

Vargas loves her creative outlet. “Working with sugar and creating these cake is tiring, but it’s also rewarding,” she says. “My husband always tells me I look relaxed and happy even if I’ve been up until 3 a.m. working on a cake.”

She also appreciates the chance to contribute to the household income while dedicating most of her time to her family. “When I got pregnant I thought I would be able to leave my daughter in daycare,” she says. “But when I had her, I said ‘No way.’”

Five-year-old Natalia is definitely a big fan of her mother’s profession. “She says her mommy is the best cake baker,” Vargas says with a smile.

Contact Flory Vargas with Lollipop Cake Design at 786/367-9245 or at facebook.com/LollipopCakeDesign.