Flair and creativity have always been key tools in a pastry chef's bag of tricks.
But a new generation is taking those skills to the next level — turning desserts into works of art.
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Case in point is Katie Martin.
She can manipulate batter and icing to make edible architectural wonders — including cakes that look like the skyline of Manhattan and a piano that has you reaching to tickle the ivories.
She has assembled cupcakes with crowns fit for a princess and others that would be perfect for an African safari.
And to think she didn't plan on becoming a pastry chef.
Martin, who grew up in Chambersburg, Pa., and attended St. Maria Goretti High School, said she went off to college to study business.
But a cake decorating class opened her eyes and heart to a different career path.
"After taking the class, I knew without a doubt that's what I wanted to do with my future," she said.
Martin finished college with an associate's degree in business and went on to culinary school at L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Md.
She then worked at several bakeries in the Washington, D.C., area.
But her business degree eventually came in handy.
In January of this year, Martin and business partner Kathleen Murray opened the doors of Cake Walk Specialty Cakes and Pastries, located at South Pointe Shopping Center in Hagerstown.
In less than a year, Martin said the shop has developed a loyal following.
"The community has been so welcoming and supportive," she said. "Patrons have helped tremendously by spreading the word that a new bakery in town has opened."
For those who haven't had a chance to sample the shop's desserts, Cake Walk will be among the participants at this year's Taste of the Town, an annual fundraiser for REACH of Washington County.
The event will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, at the Athletic, Recreation Community Center at Hagerstown Community College and also will include a silent and live auction.
Jodie Ostoich, REACH's executive director, said the fundraiser is expected to raise between $30,000 and $35,000, which will be used for REACH's cold weather shelter, case management services, day resource center and crisis assistance.
Martin said she's pleased that Cake Walk will be a part of Taste of the Town.