The Icing on the Icing

Since it opened last October, Picture Perfect Cakes in Davie has produced "photo cakes" topped with wedding pictures in color or black-and-white; baby pictures; a shot of a curly-haired, '70s-looking guy grooving with an electric guitar; and a photo of a kid with a baseball bat. Cakes have been made depicting Pittsburgh Steelers football players, business cards, sheet music, and a Wheaties cereal box featuring Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino.

One cake even went to Tom Cruise's parents for their 25th wedding anniversary, according to shop owner Sally Keeler. "[She] looks just like him," she says, pointing out a photo of the actor's mom, which was used to make the cake.

Keeler buys cakes from a baker, then decorates them. The secret behind the photo-realistic decorations is computers. Keeler uses a flatbed scanner to download a photo into the computer, which sends the digitized image to the printer. A cake with plain frosting sits on a tray while the printer moves over the top; instead of ink, the printer shoots food color onto the icing, resulting in a spitting image of the original photo. The process takes about eight minutes, and then other decorations are added, such as squiggly borders and shells, made the old-fashioned way -- squeezed from a pastry tube. Cake prices range from $24 to $58.

And because they're created with computers, the images can be manipulated. One customer ordered a cake decorated with a Playboy magazine cover, for example, and had the skimpily clad model's face replaced with her own. The cake was for her husband.

Keeler, who previously ran a cake-baking business at home, says she discovered photo cakes while on vacation in Pittsburgh, loved the concept, and opened her own shop. Business has been great, she says. In order to keep it that way and to ward off competition, she won't reveal details about the special machine she uses -- except that it costs about $20,000.

Michael Lyons, a lawyer from Hollywood, doesn't care how Keeler does it. He's just concerned about the result. He had a cake decorated with a romantic photo of himself and his sweetheart as the centerpiece for their engagement party. Guests weren't even sure they should bite into the image. "It was so perfect," Lyons says. "I do a lot of computer work. This was better than my printer at home. I can't believe something edible would come out so great."

-- Patti Roth

Picture Perfect Cakes is located in the Lincoln Park Plaza, 6858 Stirling Rd., Davie. Hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 954-961-4242.

 
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