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December 3, 2012

Pontiac bakery wins ‘Cupcake Wars’

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

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April Forbes of Waterford stands besides a poster celebrating her business, The Cakeria in Pontiac, and its victory in a recently aired episode of Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.”

Local business owners April and James Forbes took the cake in a recent Food Network TV showdown.

The Forbeses, who own The Cakeria in Pontiac, prevailed over three competing teams in an Elvis Presley-themed episode of “Cupcake Wars” that aired Nov. 18.

As the winners, the Forbeses won $10,000 and went to Memphis, Tenn., to set up their Elvis cupcake display at a party themed around Presley’s 1973 Aloha from Hawaii Concert.

April Forbes said the contest was actually taped in July, but she looks back on it as a proud moment.

“It was a validation for me, that I’m in the right field, that I’m doing what I’m supposed to do,” she said. “I think it was just a business accomplishment for my husband and I because we had gone through so much with my business.”

During the episode, the Forbeses worked as a team on three challenges. One round challenged bakers to make a cupcake themed around peanut butter and bananas — components of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s favorite sandwich snack.

After a second round of making three Elvis-decorated cupcakes, Forbes and her husband had to make and decorate 1,000 cupcakes, with the help of a small provided team. A panel of three judges critiqued the cupcakes during all three rounds.

April Forbes, 29, of Waterford, said she became a fan of the show upon auditioning for it last spring. She said she was used to working in a high-volume atmosphere, but she still had to work under pressure during “Cupcake Wars,” due to the time limits.

She said her culinary creations were complex, with multiple ingredients, fillings and sauces. For instance, her pumpkin pie cupcakes used fresh nutmeg and clove.

“I was proud of all of the cupcakes,” she said. “They’re not just cake with frosting on it.”

April Forbes said The Cakeria has been in business for about three years and has specialized in catered events and wedding cakes. The company opened its current storefront just recently, in November, she said.

While the bakeress said The Cakeria bought its storefront with previous savings, the business invested its “Cupcake Wars” prize money into getting a better oven and some upgraded packaging and equipment.

And the experience has also put The Cakeria on the map, according to her husband, James Forbes. “There’s definitely been an increase in business from national recognition,” he said. “We’ve been receiving calls form all over the country, wanting the product shipped to them. We do, anywhere in the continental U.S.”

James Forbes, 47, said he handles the business’ financials, but he said his past experience in the kitchen came in handy during “Cupcake Wars.”

“I baked for several years. I’ve been in the management,” he said. “In retail management, you cook a lot, so I have several years of cooking and baking experience. So I could hold my own very well.”

The Cakeria, 153 S. Telegraph Road, in the Rainbow Plaza in Pontiac can be reached at www.thecakeria.com or at (248) 778-8881. Learn more about Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” at www.foodnetwork.com/cupcake-wars.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.