Monthly Archives: October 2010

My favourite cakes

It’s been a busy week this week. I’ve had a 40th birthday cake and a 2nd birthday cake is coming up. I’m also reviewing my website as I’ve had it for nearly a year now and I’d like to give it a bit of a revamp. Sadly I couldn’t attend the Great British Brownie Bake-Off on Saturday, which was a great way to start National Chocolate Week.

There seem to be so many different weeks these days –  a week for everything! Chocolate and cupcakes spring to mind. I’m not going to write about that this week though, instead I’m writing about one of my favourite cakes and the inspiration behind it, carrying on (loosely) from last week’s blog. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to pick out a few cakes which mean something to me, for one reason or another.

The cake I’ve chosen this week, is the first wedding cake that I made, in September 2008. The bride and groom, Sarah and Dave, are good friends of mine and I wanted to give them a fantastic cake. Emails went back and forth concerning the design (Sarah & Dave live in Dublin; I live in London!). I remember cupcakes being mentioned at one point and as they terrified me, I suggested something quite different!

The theme of their wedding (and the destination of their honeymoon) was Las Vegas, so I went on to Google to do some research. When I hear ‘Las Vegas’, I think of the ‘Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas sign’, the Chapel of Love and gambling and I wanted to incorporate these images onto the cake. As Sarah and Dave are Irish, I used dark green icing to cover the cake, which also happens to be the colour of baize! I made some gambling chips in the colours of the rugby team that they support and a number of die and cards. Although not deliberate, I used 21 mini cards on the cake!

I made a chapel out of pastillage and modelled the bride and groom as the Queen and King of Hearts in London and everything else was made in Dublin. This was the first time I used pastillage and I was a little scared, especially as it had to fly to Dublin and there wouldn’t be enough time to make any more. Fortunately, nothing broke en-route and that was one panic attack averted! I probably didn’t leave myself enough time (it was an adventurous cake for someone so inexperienced – not that I admitted that at the time!) as I had about 30 hours to make and decorate a 2-tier cake and a cutting cake! I slept very badly (which was due to nerves) and barely ate for two days (I’m very bad at remembering to eat when I’m engrossed in sugarcraft) and after the cake had been delivered and set up, I was both mentally and physically exhausted. Hearing the reaction when I arrived back at the reception made the whole experience worth it.

I haven’t made any cakes in Ireland since, but it was a real watershed moment for me. Good friends had trusted me to make their wedding cake and I managed it in less than two days, in a foreign kitchen in a foreign country! Whilst I have improved in the intervening two years, I still look back at this cake with pride and this is (and probably always will be) one of my favourite cakes.

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Inspiration

I’ve been a bit poorly of late, so apologies for not writing much (anything!). I’m back to normal now and raring to go for the rest of the year.

I thought this week I might look at inspiration and how I get ideas for the cakes I come up with.

One of the first things I started when I began to take cake decorating seriously, was my ‘inspiration’ folder. It’s an A4 folder and has dozens of plastic wallets. Every time I read a magazine, or have something put through my door, I look it at carefully and wonder if I can make a cake from what I see.

The folder has sections like ‘floral’, ‘countries’, ‘costumes’, ‘patterns’, ‘wedding cakes’ and I could go on. Basically I look out for something I can adapt. I love the patterns of the Graham & Green lampshades above. The silver and turquoise pattern could be adapted for any cake in any colour. You could continue the pattern yourself and make it really intricate. The bird could be turned into brush embroidery, although it could also be painted. You could also change the colours a little and make a really striking design.

I don’t like to copy other people’s work, be it cakes or patterns, but you can certainly draw inspiration from anywhere. I recently took a beautiful book about Gustav Klimt out from my local library. His work is stunning and I would love to do a cake in the theme of Klimt. Sometimes, customers know exactly what they want when they order a cake, but for those occasions that they don’t, it’s a great idea to let your mind wander and if you have an ‘inspiration’ or ‘ideas’ folder, you’ll have so many ideas, you might not know where to start!