With most large events and social gatherings canceled or postponed, 2020 has been a difficult year for Cynthia Ebrom and Cynthia's Cakes of Edinburg. "I would say 90% of the weddings we had on the books this year have been postponed to next year," said Ebrom. "Catering to weddings is our specialty, but lately, because of Covid, most people aren't buying anything more than a 20-piece cake. We're used to doing these gigantic five and six-tier cakes, so it has impacted us tremendously." Ebrom has had to change her practices because of the pandemic.
She's not doing any in-person appointments for the time being, even though she has long felt that was the best way to ensure her clients get exactly what they want in a custom cake. Her in-house tasting events have also been temporarily suspended. "Times have changed, and you have to change with the times," Ebrom said. "Nowadays customers are asked to send correspondence via text messages that include images of something they like and we will provide options with input for the final design. That's how we're working it right now, because we're not letting anybody come into the shop, not yet." In lieu of in-house tasting events,
Cynthia's Cakes can prepare a batch of samples with an assortment of her different cake and icing flavors. It's a new way of doing business and Ebrom says it's been a hit with her customers. "It's a 12-pack, which has a great variety of the flavors we offer," Ebrom explained. "They can take it home, and sample the different flavors and frostings at their leisure, and they can share their thoughts with each other, and then they can call us back and say, 'Okay, I like this, that, and the other,' and that's how it goes. It works great. Everybody loves it." Custom cakes have always been the cornerstone of Cynthia's Cakes' popularity, but now she's offering a selection of smaller "Grab and Go" cakes due to the pandemic. "A lot of people just wanted to eat some cake," said Ebrom. "We do small cakes like 6-inch and 8-inch rounds.
With grab and go, we decorate it the way our artists want to do it that day. It has really helped us get through this pandemic, especially those first months." Ebrom became fascinated with artistic cake design as a little girl when she attended a wedding reception with her parents. She became enthralled with the intricate art work of the swirls, flowers, and other design details. In 1983, Cynthia, who was a single mom at the time, began decorating cakes as a way to make extra money. "I didn't have anything," Ebrom recalled. "So I would tell people, 'Hey, buy me a pan and I'll bake you a cake,' and that's how I collected a lot of my supplies like pans, and tips, and things of that nature. Looking back, it was probably the worst way to start a business, but something just clicked in me and I loved it. I got lost in the art of cake decorating." Adapting to her customers' wishes is one of the things that has made Cynthia's Cakes a perennial Readers' Choice for the last 10 the years. For example, when people began asking her to incorporate fresh flowers on their cake designs,
Cynthia attended the prestigious Shelton-White School of Floral Design in Memphis to study floral design. "I was petrified at first to do fresh flowers to tell you the truth," said Ebrom. "I didn't know what I was doing, or even if a certain flower was poisonous or any of that stuff. When I came back from the school I was very confident about using fresh flowers." Ebrom urges the public to visit her website (www.cynthiascakesllc.com) and to follow her on Facebook and Instagram to see photos of her work. She also reminds potential customers that it's best to order a custom cake at least six to eight months in advance.
Meantime, she expressed gratitude to everyone who voted for Cynthia's Cakes as their Readers' Choice. "It means so much every year we've won, it's like I can't believe it," said Ebrom. "There are so many good decorators out there, that it's hard to put into words how it feels to be chosen every year like that. It's not easy to decorate cakes, but we try our best to have some type of perfection involved with it, and for people to like it every