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Flight of Fancy

With a new shop and couples clamoring for her cakes, Elysia Root is on the rise.

For brides willing to think outside the box, a sweets table with multiple cakes of varying sizes in one theme is the trend du jour.

There’s no telling what might materialize as Elysia Root’s (elysiarootcakes.com) muse for her next over-the-top cake, which could more accurately be described as edible art. For the birdcage cakes pictured here, she was inspired by a table runner.

“We were putting together the shoot,” says Root, “and Kelly [Connolly, owner of Nimble Well] had a gray runner with mustard-colored birds on it, and I thought: Let’s focus on the birds.” The idea evolved, and Root came up with the cool idea of putting the cakes under metal cloches. “It makes for an artful visual,” she says. While Root makes it all sound so simple, her cakes are anything but. Every one is custom-designed with the client in mind.

Often, for wedding cakes, Root is inspired by fashion. “I look at the different designer looks in gowns, like the ruffled look, the tufting or quilting, and translate the fabric techniques to my cakes,” she explains. The result is always perfectly executed, elegant and something to talk about.

What makes Root’s story all the more compelling is that just three years ago, she was in a corporate job in business operations, when she took a cake-decorating class with girlfriends. “And I got hooked,” she says. “I always loved baking, but just started doing cakes as a hobby three years ago. I never knew I had a talent for cakes.” Root started making novelty cakes for friends and family while she kept her day job for the next year. She enrolled in The French Pastry School in Chicago—not to mention studied under star bakers Ron Ben-Israel, Marina Sousa, Rick Reichart and others—graduated in April 2011 and opened her business three months later. At first, she made her cakes out of Kitchen Chicago. Now, she’s got her own kitchen with a tasting room in the Kinzie Industrial Corridor.

“The cakes are definitely getting bigger,” Root laughs. For a six-tier multiflavor cake she recently created, Root had to get onto a ladder to put on the last two tiers. And, for this year’s Brides, Bubbles & Bliss event at Bridgeport Art Center, Root’s husband built a hanging cake stand that could hold up to 200 pounds. “I really wanted to do something spectacular with my display,” she says. Mission accomplished.