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TAKING THE CAKE An Oklahoma decorator creates stand-out cakes F By Laura Araujo


lour, sugar, eggs, milk and butter are fi ve ordinary ingredients, found in most Okla- homa kitchens. However, in the hands of a master they can be used to craft an ex-


traordinary cake. One such cake-maker, Lori Cossou, a Northeast


Oklahoma Electric Cooperative member, grew up in small-town Kansas. The youngest of three sis- ters, she watched as Margaret, fi ve years her se- nior, dabbled in cake decorating for a season. At age 10, Cossou picked up the remnants of a hobby forgotten and began to use them to cre- ate cakes, cupcakes and cookies. Family mem- bers’ and friends’ birthdays became the practice grounds for her growing passion. “My mom never liked to bake, but my sister had the decorating tools and I started play- ing with them,” Cossou says. In days prior to Internet tutorials,


Cossou taught herself the intricate art of cake decorating, mastering the funda- mentals like piping icing and hand molding sugar fl owers. In 1996, she married Rob Cossou. As she became a mom of three young children, she traded in her career to stay home; she started an in-home daycare to help with the family’s fi - nances. At the same time, she refi ned her cake decorating skills whenever one of her kids, nieces or neph- ews celebrated a birthday. “After I got married, my sister and I both had our fi rst child at the same time. I was deter- mined I would make their birthday cakes,” she says. “I started mak- ing cakes for people and I decided I liked it better than the daycare.”


Winning cake inspired by a Pakistani designer’s colorful dress. Photo courtesy of Scott Johnson of Hawks Photography


30 Cossou closed the daycare and started a bakery out of


her garage with a used convection oven and four piping bags. The bakery started small, but her efforts were re- warded as the business grew to attract a wider client base. The fall of 1997 marked the beginning of Cossou’s competitive career as she entered a cake into the Grand National Wedding Cake Competition in Tulsa, Okla. The annual contest, founded and directed by internationally renowned cake decorator, Kerry Vincent, is the big- gest and most prestigious cake show in the U.S. It regularly attracts participants and press from around the globe.


“I had never been to a cake show before. I walked


in and after seeing the other cakes, I was embar- rassed to bring in my cake,” Cossou says. “Fortunately, my mom was with me and she con- vinced me to go.” “I remember the fi rst competition cake she did. If I shared a photo of it, she’d want to kill me,” Vincent says with a laugh. Though Cossou’s cake didn’t place, she was inspired by what she saw and learned at the show. Two years later, she returned to the wedding cake competition and placed as second runner-up, showing impressive progress in a short amount of time. As she competed, her bakery continued


to grow. In 1998, the family moved from Kansas to Welch, Okla., and she estab- lished a storefront in the border town of Oswego, Kan. Today, Lori’s Creative Cakes & Cookies has a loyal custom- er base, and regularly draws clients from Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas to purchase her beautiful cakes and famous sugar cookies. In 2002, Cossou was awareded her fi rst grand prize placement in the wedding cake competition.


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