Eden Hall Upper Elementary student has budding career as cake decorator
When it came time for Ashley Benson, 23, to choose a cake decorator to create the wedding cake of her dreams, the choice was obvious — an 11-year-old fifth-grader from Gibsonia.
“My mother-in-law lives next door to Hailey Rihn,” said Benson, a resident of Valencia. “I'd seen the cakes she has done, and I was just amazed.”
Hailey Rihn is a student at Eden Hall Upper Elementary School in the Pine-Richland School District who loves swimming and chatting with friends on her iPad tablet.
She literally stumbled upon her talent for decorating cakes when she was 9.
“She fell and broke her wrist,” explained her mother, Aimee Rihn, 39.
To help Hailey rehabilitate, Aimee Rihn enrolled her daughter in a cake-decorating class. “I thought the repetitive squeezing of an icing bag would help strengthen her wrist.”
It did. And Hailey's wrist healed just fine.
But the real icing on the cake was, well, the icing on the cake.
Angela Angiolieri, an International Culinary Academy graduate, taught the class.
“I noticed right away that Hailey's skill level was far above the other students,” said the 45-year-old Ross Township resident. “She never ceases to amaze me with her original designs.”
When Hailey created a dozen Angry Birds cupcakes for her 5-year-old cousin's birthday party, she replicated the comical characters in vibrant butter cream icing.
She used sprinkles for feathers, crumbled cookies for the tails and hand-sculpted taffy confectionery for the beaks.
“Her cousin loved them so much that he stashed them in the refrigerator for three weeks so nobody would eat them,” Aimee Rihn said.
For Hailey's grandfather's 65th birthday, she concocted a pasta-lover's cake by piping “spaghetti” strands that looped, overlapped and intertwined. For the meatballs, she rolled Rice Krispies Treats into orbs and dipped them in chocolate.
And that wedding cake?
“She was able to take our dream and make it a reality with handmade flowers, simple decorations and just pure perfection,” said Benson, who requested an elegant but understated “Funfetti”-style cake.
What does Hailey like most about cake decorating?
“The taste testing,” exclaimed the petite 66-pounder.
And her favorite cake to decorate?
“Anything that's two-tiered because there's more to decorate.”
While Hailey has become skilled in decorating cakes, she never has actually baked one. She is allergic to raw eggs.
“She comes up with the ideas, and we sit down and figure out how we're going to do it,” her mother said.
“Then I bake, and she decorates.”
To date, Hailey has designed more than 65 cakes for birthdays, baptisms and graduations. Requests come from family, friends, neighbors and teachers.
“Just this past summer, she had to decorate cakes for two graduation parties on the same day,” Aimee said. “She did a full sheet cake, two half-sheet cakes and five dozen cupcakes.”
A portion of the receipts pays for her supplies, and she is allowed to keep a small percentage for herself.
“We told her she has to donate the rest to a children's charity of her choice,” her mother said.
Hailey's dream is to someday run her own bakery ... and to take a cake-decorating class from Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken, N.J. — ground zero for TLC's reality-TV series “Cake Boss.”
Hailey met the show's star, Buddy Valastro, last summer when he made a promotional appearance in Market Square downtown.
“I showed him a photo album of my cakes,” Hailey said. “He thumbed through every page, autographed it and told me my cakes are ‘Buddy-Approved.'”
Laurie Rees is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Photo gallery: Peace festival in North Park
- Scottish Heritage Day at McCandless church
- Hartwood Acres 5K to help Indiana Township girl battle rare disorder
- Shaler Area phys-ed teachers accept ice bucket challenge
- Some Shaler residents opposed to proposed cell tower
- Hampton author recruits Pine-Richland students to illustrate book
- North Park event to raise money to help battle diseases
- Photo Gallery: Ross Township Community Day
- Recycling efforts earn McCandless, Ohio Twp. recognition
- Aquinas Academy recognized for excellence
- North Hills board OKs advertisements for district’s website