Who says elite runners must avoid sweets? NXN All-American Anna West from Lafayette High School in Missouri runs her own cake ball business. I talked to the Baylor commit before she traveled to the Kansas Relays this weekend to chase down a bid to the adidas Dream Mile. Watch the video above for her baking tutorial, and read below to learn about her start in the baking industry and some of her big goals for this track season. Scroll down for an easy-to-follow recipe to make cake balls of your own!
Jojo: How did you develop your passion for baking into a business venture?
Anna: So my passion for baking began in elementary school as I watched my dad cook huge meals every Sunday. My dad is a surgeon, but also has a huge passion for gourmet cooking, so I would constantly be eating exotic meats like rabbit, snake, and bobcat. His meals always needed desserts, and that's where I filled in.
I got into cake balls when my grandma got me a cake pop tray in eighth grade for Christmas. They turned out horribly, so I decided to make my own method. People really liked them, so I started getting orders and it developed into a business!
All of the cake balls I share on my instagram account (@awestcreations) are customer orders, but I don't put every order on there. I make a lot of basic cake balls with drizzle and simple colors for parties, which I won't Instagram, but I will post the more unique, pretty ones. Each cake ball is $1.25 with a minimum order of 20. They can get more expensive if the design is really intricate and hard to make.
What's special about cake balls?
Cake balls are the perfect dessert because they're bite-sized, delicious, and you don't feel very guilty after eating them. It's a good reward for a good run (or before a race for Dylan Quisenberry) and everyone loves them! I love when people ask me to make crazy flavors or crazy designs because it gives me a challenge. It's always fun to make a basic cake ball, but it's way more entertaining to try to make a fishbowl or pig face.
Where do you get your design ideas?
I get a lot of my ideas from my customers. If a girl is having a cowboy-themed party and needs cowboy cake balls, I have to get creative. For one party, I made cow-print cake balls that took over three hours to decorate! I also get sent a lot of pictures from Pinterest saying "you should make these" or "you could make these better!"
OK, back to the track... You're heading to the Kansas Relays for the adidas Dream Mile qualifier this weekend. Can you describe your training right now?
Training is going really well right now! I've only had two meets, but I'm really preparing for some big races at the end of the season and postseason. Here's an example of a typical training week (this one was actually last week):
Monday: mile warm-up, 7-8 mile run
Tuesday: 2-3 mile warm-up, 4x1000 at 3:11-3:13, 2-3 mile cool down
Wednesday: mile warm-up, 6-mile run
Thursday: 2-3 mile warm-up, 6x300 at 48-50, 2-3 mile cool down
Friday: mile warm-up, 3-mile easy run
Saturday: RACE! If not, 10-11-mile long run
Offseason, my mileage is 50-plus, but during track season, it dips down a little lower.
What was your toughest workout so far this season?
The toughest workout I did this season was probably the thousands that I described earlier. 1000m around a track is such a foreign distance to me and it's really hard to pace alone, but I know it's great prep for a fast 3200 later on.
What are your goals for your senior year?
My goals are to stay healthy and run fast! I hope to run in the 4:40s and 10:20 or below, which I think are very attainable goals given how my training has been going. I also want to compete postseason at a big meet like NBN.
How do your passions for baking and running intersect?
I love baking for my runner friends. Runners tend to eat healthy, but everyone is willing to splurge after a great race and have a cake ball. I love making people happy through food and hope people feel the same joy eating it as I do baking it! Running and baking are my two outlets for a stressful day, and without them, I would go insane.
Box of cake (+ingredients the cake calls for)
Can of frosting
1-2 bags Candy Melts or white chocolate
1. Bake a cake according to the instructions on the box. My cakes are usually done baking after about 18 minutes, but check with a toothpick to make sure.
2. Let cake cool for about one hour.
3. Take cake out of pan and crumble it in a large mixing bowl.
4. Add about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of canned frosting to mixing bowl. Mash icing with hands into crumbled cake until you get a Play-Doh consistency.
5. Roll the cake balls! Each cake ball should be about one inch in diameter. If you have a scale and want all of your cake balls to be the same size, I measure mine to be about one ounce each. Place cake balls on a wax/parchment paper lined pan.
6. Refrigerate for 10-20 minutes.
7. Microwave 1/2 bag of candy melts at 50 percent power (if your microwave has the setting) for three minutes. Stir and keep microwaving at one-minute increments until completely melted.
8. Add 2-3 tablespoons of edible wax if mixture is too thick.
9. Take cake balls out of refrigerator. Dip the ends of Popsicle (or lollipop) sticks into the melted chocolate & stick that same end into the top of each cake ball.
10. WAIT FOR CHOCOLATE ON THE STICK TO DRY BEFORE DIPPING!!!
11. Dip each cake ball in designated chocolate colors & place them back onto parchment lined pan.
12. Decorate however you want! If adding sprinkles, add to the cake ball when they're still wet. If drizzling, wait until they're completely dry.
See below for a few of our favorite images from Anna's official instagram, @AWestCreations. Follow her to see more and order from the budding baker and track star!