By Shelly Khushal
“I won’t be everything to everyone. I have to stay true to who I am. I will go out of my comfort zone, but I won’t experiment with someone’s celebration – it has to be stellar. At a wedding, people remember two things: the dress and the cake. I am responsible for one of those two.” ~ Aurora baker and Great Canadian Baking Show, Season 5 contestant Steven Levitt, 2021.
National Cake Day is November 26 and, yes, it’s actually a thing.
Cake is a symbol of celebration.
In Western tradition, cakes are enjoyed at birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, baby reveals, holiday parties, retirements and more. Whether it’s a traditional flour cake, a vegan cake, a cookie cake, an ice cream cake or a smash cake, the creative possibilities are endless.
And behind every great cake is a great baker. I sat down with Aurora-based baker Steven Levitt, Season 5 contestant on the Great Canadian Baking Show, currently airing on Sunday nights on CBC, about his passion for baking and where it comes from. Here are some highlights:
Shelly Khushal: What inspired your love of baking?
Steven Levitt: In 2012, when I was 46, I was 5’5 and 265 pounds. I decided to make a lifestyle change. I started working out, eating better, doing yoga and I dropped 110 pounds. My favourite food is chocolate chip cookies. I decided if I am going to have one, it better the best one I have ever had. I tried and tested many recipes until I figured out the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. Then, I thought if I can do this, what else can I do? So, I experimented with other desserts. It evolved from cookies to cakes to French pastry. It snowballed from there.
SK: What does making a custom cake mean to you?
SL: Every cake I make is custom. I always work with the customer to get as much information as possible – from them to favourite flavours to favourite colours – and I try to incorporate all elements from their wish list to make the perfect cake. My cakes are never the same twice. Making custom cakes is my outlet for expressing myself creatively.
SK: What are the most popular flavours requested?
SL: Chocolate, Chocolate Caramel, Chocolate S’more’s, Lemon Raspberry
SK: Are cake orders today heavily influenced by TV baking shows, cake challenges etc.?
SL: I don’t believe so. People will sometimes send me photos of cakes they find on line and ask me to recreate. But they know what I am about. I will give them the cake they like, but at the same time be true to who I am. People who come to me know what I am about and what I am willing to do. They get the chance to build with me.
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to celebrate November 26 with a slice of cake, just know that if you don’t, someone else surely will – it is an internationally recognized day after all!
Did you know?
The ancient Egyptians are thought to have created the first cake.
The first cakes made were flat.
In their oldest forms, cakes were actually modifications of bread.
Shelly Khushal is a resident of York Region. This busy mother of two is an active member of the York Region community, attending events and highlighting fun happenings in and around York Region.