“Most people in baking are always like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve been baking since I was a little kid!’ I was not one of those people. I had no intentions in baking.”
Julia’s tall frame, long blonde hair, and cheeks that could cut diamonds makes it hard to believe that she’s a baker. You’d expect her to be in the front lines of the service industry but she finds her comfort in pastry and cake decorating.
In high school Doubleday excelled in drawing, which led to attending school at the University of Texas for studio art, focusing mainly on painting and photography. Her intentions were to curate an art gallery at the time. Her plans took a turn in her Junior year when she found a flier in the art building. Polka Dots, a local bakeshop in West Campus, was looking to hire artists for the summer. Conveniently located two blocks from her house, she walked to work every day, quickly learning the ins and outs cake decorating. As summer ended, she enjoyed the extra money in her pocket and continued to work there through the year. After graduating from UT in 2010, her parents suggested pastry school, realizing her immense talent. Julia then moved to Chicago to attend The French Pastry School, to hone her skills in pastry and baking. The program was an accelerated program, for five months, with the focus on cake decorating. “It’s fun doing the baking part but I’m definitely the artistic side of it,” Julia muses.
I first met Julia working at Four Seasons in 2012, when she was hired in the bake shop and given the dreaded overnight shift, from six at night until two in the morning. We bonded quickly, mainly because I love sweets and always hid around the corner in the bake shop, chatting with the girls while munching on any confections they’d throw my way. If anyone was looking for me, they could find me there or hiding in the pastry walkin, cooling off from the Texas heat. I was quickly fascinated by her talent, especially in decorating cakes. Every year, the pastry department puts together a themed gingerbread village for the holidays and I was blown away by her skills and the ease in which she brought to the table. Soon after, I found myself in the bake shop, watching her progression from a baker into a cake decorator. Once she worked her way up in the department, she was handed all the wedding cake orders, which is where she thrived. In the midst of working and learning at Four Seasons, she started her own business, Pretty Sweet, in order to have more creativity and say in her process.
During this time, she also competed on Duff Till Dawn on the Food Network in 2015, with her former Polka Dots coworker, Natalie Sideserf. Sideserf, a former art student, is at the helm of Sideserf Cake Studios, which focuses on realistic cakes. (Her Willie Nelson and Lebron James cakes are out of this world!) Together, the two learned plenty from the competition, especially how to handle the pressures of putting a cake together in seven hours, in front of the shine of lights and cameras.
Doubleday left Four Seasons in October 2015 to take on the task of cake decorator/manager at Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery. She now has more free reign in regards to her creativity and cake decorating. Her talent is on display at the darling shop that’s nestled in the adorable Hyde Park neighborhood.
Her journey from art student to cake decorator has been quite a transition but she wouldn’t have it any other way. Julia expands on her passion saying, “Every art student is like, ‘How do I make money with my art?’ I’m not the kind of person that’s going to sit in a studio and paint something and hope that somebody buys it for what I want for it. I like with cakes, that you have somebody coming to you, and you design something together. What I do is basically making a custom piece of art for each person”.
When we worked together at Four Seasons, I used to sneak in and help as much as I could in the shop or play around with chocolate writing. Recently, I revisited my days in pastry with her. She’s patient, kind, and very knowledgeable in her craft, especially dealing with someone like me, who’s pretty rusty in the pastry/cake decorating department, after all these years!