She’s Icing the Competition

By Seth Daniel

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Agawam Street’s Kara Corbelle used to be the one who did all the baking for her large family during holidays and family dinners.

Her sisters and brothers all had a job or a specialty.

Her mother was the cook in the family.

And Corbelle’s job was always baking.

She never thought her passing interest in making cakes would lead her to a world-class culinary education as a pastry chef or drive her to open her own small business in her hometown.

But it did, and now Corbelle, 23, is one of the newest sensations locally for custom cake design – operating her business Baked Custom Cake Design’ from her parent’s modified home kitchen.

This summer will mark her first year as a small business owner, and she said she has definitely found her niche in life.

“It’s amazing how much it’s grown in just one year,” said Corbelle. “I always did the cheesecakes and things for the family during the holidays. I never thought anything would come of it and that you could make money at it. Now, though, here I am – a graduate of culinary school and an owner of my own cake business.”

Ironically, Corbelle got her professional start in the cake business during high school, getting a job by chance in the bakery at the new Stop & Shop at Suffolk Downs.

“I didn’t want to be a cashier and I wanted to do hands-on work,” she said. “They put me in the bakery and from then on out, I taught myself how to do all the cakes at Stop & Shop.”

After graduating from Revere High School in 2005, though, her life took a sharp turn away from the sweeter things in life.

She enrolled at Suffolk University and began the college life.

It quickly became evident that she wasn’t cut out for traditional college studies. After spending a year out of school, she redirected herself back to the cake world – enrolling at the prestigious Johnson & Wales Culinary School in Providence.

“The year off really helped me decide what I wanted to do exactly,” she said. “There was no wasting money or time. I really have to thank my parents for letting me do that.”

She got her associates degree in two years and graduated from the P4 Bachelor Pastry Program in four years – learning to produce cakes that looked more like sculptural masterpieces.

“After college I decided I could do this business out of my house,” she said. “I really wanted to work for myself. No matter who you work for, no matter how great they are, you have to do things their way. It’s not good for someone really creative to be held back. So, I launched my business last July.”

Using her parents’ (Don and Debi Corbelle) kitchen, which they fully reconstructed to help her out, Corbelle has been baking up a storm and making quite a mark around the area.

She’s done three-dimensional basketball cakes for the Revere High School Girl’s basketball team. She’s done cakes that looked like a high-heeled shoe for a bachelorette party, and she’s done just about everything else.

“I really, really like carving cakes – making them into things,” she said. “I like doing cakes that are several layers and two- or three-dimensional. I do everything by hand and I don’t do cutouts. I like a challenge. I’m still new, but I’m doing a lot of work and you can only get better.”

Corbelle also does other baked goods as well, including cupcakes, cookies, pastries and cheesecakes.

“I love any type of cheesecake, but my specialties are red velvet cheesecake and banana cream cheesecake,” she said.

However, her story wouldn’t be complete without tying in her large family to the tale.

Her older sister, Kelli, does event planning and communications, while her other older sister, Kacie, has her own business as a makeup artist.

“They’ve been a real inspiration to me as I’ve started out,” she said. “Kacie and I both have our own businesses and we both agree you don’t get ahead in life unless you work for yourself.”

Meanwhile, her younger brother, Donnie, and her boyfriend, Josh D’Urbano, have filled in for her in a number of roles.

She said D’Urbano fills one of the most important roles – making sure the cake stays steady during delivery.

“Every time I have a cake to deliver, he’s there holding it on his lap,” she said. “Sometimes he’s held cakes for 45 minutes while I drive.”

Corbelle said that right now she’s gearing up for the busy cake season, including weddings, birthdays, graduations, first communions and other events.

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