Secret Lives: Sweet Dreams are Made of This
A legal assistant delights in decorating baked goods
Izamar Velazquez’s Instagram page (@simply.sweet.iv) is filled with cute critters, prickly cacti and blooming florals…of the buttercream variety, and the goodies from her Simply Sweet home bakery paint a tantalizing, color-drenched picture.
Izamar’s first brush with the world of baking was as a cheerleader making simple treats for her assigned football player in high school. It wasn’t until she began experimenting with more intricately decorated fare during college that she discovered her calling.
“I was in school pursuing a major in criminal justice and working as a file clerk in a law office (growing up I always wanted to become an attorney) when I started getting more involved in my church and baking a lot for all of the events there,” Izamar recalls. “I was having so much fun that I decided to take a few culinary courses at Grossmont College to get my baking certificate. I made a bunch of baking friends there and heard about this woman named Maria. She taught a baking and decorating course at San Ysidro Adult School and was known for her tasty, amazingly decorated cakes.
“Ironically, my boyfriend’s mom had also taken classes from her years ago and raved about the experience. I ended up taking Maria’s classes for two years and I picked up all of the decorating skills so quickly that I essentially became her unofficial teaching assistant. That’s where I found my true passion—decorating. I’d love to have someone bake everything for me while I just did the decorations!”
However, after years of working in the legal field—she now works as a full-time legal assistant—her ambitions have changed. “I decided that the stress and hours that come with being an attorney just weren’t for me personality-wise. Now I get a small taste of the law while I’m still able to pursue my dream of one day opening my own baking storefront,” she explains.
Currently, Izamar’s weekends are spent de-stressing by baking all the custom dessert orders she gets from her friends, coworkers, fellow churchgoers, folks she’s met at the gym and people who find her on Instagram (plans for a website are underway).
“My favorite parts of the commissions I do are definitely the designs and decorations,” Izamar shares. “I love seeing the final product after everything I envisioned has come together.”
In fact, Izamar’s love of decorating extends past the realm of baking. She frequently goes the extra mile on the presentation of her desserts, from finding the perfect cupcake liners and toppers for any theme to doing entire sweet-treat tables for events where she not only makes all of the baked goods (she offers custom cakes, cupcakes, cake pops, cookies and mini fruit tarts) but also handles the look of the table’s backdrop and surface decor.
She gets plenty of practice designing desserts and tabletop looks at the many events her family throws. Check out her Insta feed to see the adorable Where the Wild Things Are-themed spread she did for her nephew’s first birthday or the chic rose-gold setup (complete with a balloon arch) she did for her sister-in-law’s recent baby shower.
“Buttercream…so you can have your cake and want to eat it too!”
Izamar constantly scrolls social media to find inspiring new techniques and designs to try, practice and perfect with some of her favorite tools—piping bags and lots of tip options to create different frosting shapes, Americolor food dyes and buttercream frosting.
“Back in the day it was all about using fondant for cake designs, but people don’t even really like it. Plus, fondant cakes are expensive because of all the time it takes to make them but they have no flavor. That’s why buttercream is my go-to. I love the flavor and texture and it can be used for the same precision designs as fondant. You can make shapes and freeze them as cake decor or paint it onto a cake using a spatula to make it look like brushstrokes,” Izamar says.
“Buttercream…so you can have your cake and want to eat it too!” she laughs. “I love naked cakes as well. They’re great because people often don’t like a lot of frosting anyway and then you get a lovely minimalist cake and gorgeous natural flowers on top. Or, maybe someone wants a frosting-covered cake and then I get to mix up the perfect, unique custom shade. Each cake is a blank canvas waiting for me to try something new.”
It’s #SecretLivesWeek at SDH/GL. We want to hear about your secret life! Do you have a side gig? A surprising talent? A superhero alter ego? We’re going to feature stories of some amazing secret lives—plus tips and tricks for managing all the extra to-do lists!—all week long. We want to see yours too; tag #SecretLivesWeek and we will add your pics to the mix!