05 September 2011

When it Rains, It pours

With every day, Brisbane becomes more and more like Melbourne - six seasons in one day. But it's not just the weather, all the cake seasons are becoming more and more mixed up as well.
  It used to be that you would have specific months where there would be an onslaught of birthday cakes and of course your wedding weekends... the weeks and weeks of never-ending matrimonies. Maybe it's just me and as I get older I start to generalise the specifics and it's more a 'feeling' than an actual occurence.
  Who knows?
As I look over my up coming orders, I realise that each week is a mix of occasions:
Traditional birthday cakes of cream, nuts and chocolate have now gone out the door...This particular cake was a gluten/nut/dairy free cake for my client to take to her daughters' playgroup centre.



 
  And for the Foodies Network lovers who will purchase anything that is shown on their latest program -
  It doesn't matter that in Brisbane the humidity will play havoc with your cake. Toffee will melt, sugar will disintegrate and chocolate soft. Food is food and we have to keep up with the trends.


Then the fancy all out iced cakes make a show. Whether it's a masquerade ball with people dressing up in their finest gear,


or a cheeky play at your loved ones' favourite things.

 That is a cow poking it's head out of the rose bush! And at the back of the cake there was a swinging tail.
  Childrens' novelty cakes for the ultimate little gamer

 
to the 'wicked' little theatre lover in all of us.



 For the young boy wanting to get out


and the music lover.


And then there's the lover's all 'round:
the purple themed nuptials



some roses of red:




to the purist:



Of course the best designs are the ones where the client lets me do what I want.
This last cake was a special delivery all the way down to Sydney. A close friend of mine was getting married and any excuse to get away - even if it was for more work. I'm sure Ede's and Rachaels' lovely day was an exquisite memory for all of the attendees.
  With a beautiful view of Sydney Harbour from the "Sergeants Mess" at Chowder Bay - the music in the background supplied by a passing P&O Cruise ship playing YMCA. Lol

  The couple said their vows and we were ushered inside to a superb menu for gastronomy lovers everywhere. Service was not to be out-done by the food. Generous pourings of wine to make sure no-one's glass was ever empty and laughter all around. We all caught up and when the groom got up to say his speech there wasn't many a dry eye left in the crowd.


  Being of Asian descent - my friends translated their names to English and used this as the theme for the union: "Plum Country". The invitation was a folded square of plum/eggplant and black colour with pointilist plum images on the front.
  What an inspiration! My only criteria was that they wanted individual cakes per guest...
  I created small cubes of chocolate cake with chinese plum wine and a layer of plum jam. Each cube was then iced either in white or a matching colour from the invitation. Then small plum tree blossoms were appliqued to the sides and finished with a piped border. All the cakes were boxed in clear acetate and then finished with another bowed ribbon.


  The stand was purchased especially with black perspex tiers to accent the cakes. On top of the mignon's was a larger version cutting cake to be shared with family at their convenience. A spray of plum blossoms decorating the top.
  I was extremely happy with the finished product and Ede and Rachael were too. I'm glad they made me a part of this moment in their lives and will never forget it.

22 August 2011

Corporate Contingent

Every now and again, there is a gathering of executives in offices who decide they should celebrate a special occasion with cake.
  This is their story...

The first cake I ever laid hands on: I worked at a wonderful Patisserie called Mezzapica in Leichhardt, Sydney where I realised I had a passion for cake decorating. My mother almost died from fright. She knew I loved eating but actually feeding other people? Who would have thought?
I was working in the kitchen of the restaurant when the pastry chefs who worked in the Bakery let it be know that an order had been taken for Arnotts to celebrate their 130th Anniversary. They had, up until this time, re-created images on cake with a process called KopyKake art. Using a projector, they would throw the image onto the surface of the cake and pipe a chocolate outline which would then be filled with colour from either an airbrush or with coloured piping jelly.
Never, had they encountered a difficult image such as the Arnotts' logo. I, however, knew I could draw/paint it but could I do this on a cake? I asked them what they used for colour and I was shown the edible airbrush colours. I thought I would give it a shot.

Arnotts rang after the event congratulating the staff on a job well done - exceeding expectations. Personally, I was stoked - and a monster was born!
Each weekend after working in the kitchen or in spare time, I would throw myself into the ordered cakes with images....the Spice Girls were the bane of my existence...but that's another blog.

Anyway, over the following years I completed the following cakes:
When MP3 players were only new!

 The new company of rental vans making their way through Brizzy - great branding!

One of my best clients...


 This one brought tears to my eyes and I loved appliqueing the logo


More work than it looks! Especially hand-painting all those logo's.


If you guys get the chance to drop into Alberto's down at West End - it's a must! Great, friendly service and fantastic food and coffee to die for. And Alberto is an entertaining hoot!


I thought this cake for Press Club looked fantastic - I don't think the camera does it justice.


Urban Circus is another fantastic client of mine - great bunch of guys and girls who have had more than a few of my cake creations over the last couple of years.


Another return client of mine whose hubby was opening his own dental practice in Mount Gravatt.



And last but definitely not least - the exhibition cake which tells the life story of the artist Emily Fong. From her Asian heritage with red and gold at the base, inspired painting from her Boondall Wetlands, Sirromet Winery, sketches from her travels abroad and the wall which inspired her invitations to her masterful exhibition. Emily sits on top of the world with her canvas for her next great showcase.

That's all folks for now but I'll be back soon with more from the world of the cake girl
xx

21 August 2011

Queen For a Day

It's not very often that I can say I took a day off to work...Huh? That's right. I was asked back at the beginning of the year if I would be interested in doing a small video clip for Queen. No - not Queen the rock band or Queens of the Stone Age.
  Queen is a Brisbane family owned company who have supplied home cake decorators for years. You know, when you're making a cake at home and you pop into the supermarket to pick up supplies? Well, most of the time you end up buying something from Queen - they have those great food colours, essences and flavours. They also have Royal icing and icing tubes for decorating. As these are new to their business they like to help their customers out by having a video they can click onto on the internet to show them how it's done.
  Well, I have to say - I had a ball. Livewire productions filmed the clip and they were great. I arrived early and had my make-up and hair done and some short instruction as to how to talk and move on camera - it's harder than it looks! Nigella eat your heart out! They were easy to talk to and I felt comfortable at all times - even hours later they still managed to make me laugh when I was tired.
I've even had customers asking me if it was really me! So if you're at home and have a minute to throw together a cake for a special occasion - check it out!
http://www.queen.com.au/products/list.php?categoryid=4 and you won't be dissapointed.
 


06 August 2011

Everyone Wants to be a MasterChef!

Yes - you heard me correctly! With all the foodies out there wanting to try their hand at cake decorating and some of my clients requesting to be taught, I too have now fallen into the trap of teaching.
Why? I hear you ask. Well, it's simple - the cake decorating industry has always been governed by little old ladies working from home with lots of time on their hands. I realise this sounds like a generalisation and you can probably pick one or two family members who are not old and who would love to show off their cake talents. However, it's only recently that the younger generation are wanting to put in the hard yards.
  Everyone thinks they can just pick up a recipe, bake off a cake and voila! instant success. It does come easy to some but others have to work hard at it. And anyone who has tried to make a cake will know that the time and expertise required is a lot more than your average baker.
  Don't get me wrong - I love the fact that they have tried...sometimes it's the act of attempting something that makes you realise why there are people who do this for a living. Everyday becomes an instruction into a new way of creating.
  So here comes 'the cake girl'- into the fray I go! I will only be teaching at the most 2 students at a time. This will make it personal and I can devote my attention to the person more so than a class of 5 or more.
  Classes will involve students in beginners' tutorials through to making your own wedding cake for advanced pupils. Party cake decorating also available.
  Anyone who is interested need just go to my website and I can email them a copy of my PDF pamphlet with more details or see Cake Decorating Classes Pamphlet -
  Alternatively, if there is another aspect of cake decorating you would like to learn eg. biscuit decorating, gingerbread houses then just let me know! We can discuss what you already know how to do so we can add to your extensive foray into the art of baking and decorating!

  

Failure Notification

What with this fantastic weather we have been having of late - and yes, most of you think it's too cold but for cakes..............puuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrfect! It's been a fabulous and busy couple of months and I've only just had the chance to sit back on a Saturday afternoon whilst waiting on clients to pop in.
  The sun is shining and warming through the venetian slats in my office. I could almost have an afternoon siesta but no time like the present to organise myself and at least let everyone know that yes, beneath all the cakes, orders and icing - i am still alive and not a complete failure to the human population who manage to write their blogs weekly or god-forbid even daily.
  Where to start? May as well throw myself into the deep end and just keep going.
  This lovely creation on the left was an addition to a family and having made his older sister's first birthday cake, Mum thought it only fitting Jack's was made in a similar style but for a boy instead.
  I was extremely happy with the outcome of the teddy bears and thought they added character to a simple design.
  The stripes on the board were an addition from Jack's pin-strip outfit for the special day.



  Above was Mum & Dad's Anniversary cake...no - not mine but a customers'. The lady requested a campervan as they love to take off and have some 'alone' time now that the kids are old enough. Puppy can't miss out so he was made to be included too. Good to see the romance is still alive.

This cake has been extremely popular of late with cocktail style weddings. The guests can help themselves and there's something for everyone - from chocolate dipped strawberries and custard filled profiteroles through to jam bulls' eye biscuits and vanilla butter cream patty cakes. MMMMMmmmmmm.


Sometimes a gesture of a wedding cake is enough to tantalise the taste buds. Below, was a small wedding cake for a couple who had already married overseas and their parents were holding a small celebration in honour of the union.





With most animal novelty cakes, happy and fun is usually the way to go. However this is not always the case. A happy crocodile still looks mean and although you should never smile at one, I just can't seem to help myself.  This was originally a "Cake Star" design which the client emailed me and I reproduced it to the best of my extent.
My next door neighbour's little girl has a complete fascination with ducks. In the late afternoon, you can hear her calling out to them for feeding time. I thought this an apt design as she even has one called "Elvis". Being a huge Elvis fan - I almost included his coif but then thought he may look too masculine. So Rayban's eat your heart out!

Elegant and sophisticated - sometimes a small touch of bling is enough to sparkle up a cake.   The best thing is the topper is a keepsake for the birthday girl.

Who isn't a fan of the Fender base guitar when they look awesome in red?  Mind you, the bigger the cake needs to be - the bigger the board - and that's the biggest board I can get commercially.  Maybe I'll need to start cutting up my own Masonite? But where does it end? The boxes will then need to be made bigger and the customers will need to show up in small trucks - just to take their cakes home!! Lol.
Classically traditional bible cakes have been made since I started into this industry. But at least they can have a  modern twist with brighter colours.






I thought this cake was a bit of a catch-22 when I was first given the order. For a kid who loves to eat his fruit, this cake had a lot of sugar! Maybe a way around it would have been to use real fruit with faces appliqued onto the front?
The concept was novel though and it was fun to try to recreate the fruits with their texture to imitate real life.



 I love hearing the back stories on some of these cakes. You have everything from clients who call and want traditional standard cake designs to parents in another State who want to remind their children that they are still special.
Grant was one lucky guy who's mum rang from Melbourne to organise his chocoholic surprise at his work! I delivered during a meeting no less so now the whole company knows it was his birthday!

 Hawaiian luau. Apart from the palm trees which were so hard to find at the last minute - this cake has all sugar items. The small intricate Hawaiian dancers were all made of sugar and placed into position around the cake to create a full effect.

 For some special children, parents go all out. Daddy proudly did right by his daughter with this fantastic work of art. With a 70's hippy theme there was one very happy little girl! The marble effect on the kombi van with the "Peace & Love" signs and extras made this cake a visual stunner from all sides.
 Tiger Island - Dreamworld. It's been ages since I've been there and I used to be a complete adrenalin ride junkie. Even down to the Wonderland pass when I lived in Sydney during late high school days. When i delivered this cake it was great to have a behind the scene's look at the park after closing.
  The couple had chosen Tiger Island and I was sooo jealous. I love cat's of any size and could just imagine having them with me on my special day.
 had a ball.
 
Medieval Dragons have always been a huge part of me. When this gorgeous couple came and told me of their idea to incorporate them into their wedding cake, I was stoked at trying my hand at making them. It was the first time I have ever used edible casting gel and it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, at all.
Making the first two took a bit of time but then it was smooth sailing. The concept of the border was taken from one of their favourite illustrated books. Using a Celtic style border painted gold and the green ivy to represent growth and union.
On my Facebook page they posted a photo of the finished cake. One of their close friends and gusts at the wedding uses "World of Warcraft"  style figurines and personalises them. She created the Bride & Groom with their own Dragon as a small token on top of the cake. What a lovely idea and you can't top that for a memory of a lifetime.

 For most women, dancing stops when you get older - for some it just keeps on going! What with the Dance flick craze that mostly everyone seems to be following today - who wants to be a star/dancer/model etc...it's harder to escape than ever before.
  Parody shows take the mickey out of the dance movies and yet we can't keep falling back onto old classics. Some which are currently being remade (like "Footloose") should be left as reminders that cheesy is great once - not twice!
 "My Little Pony". Never a big toy for me personally but cute never-the-less.  They appear so easy to make yet the shape is hard to re-create in icing. You live and learn, I guess.
  The final cake design was pretty and likable for a little girl.
 Yum - who else eats Nutella by the spoonful straight out of the jar????
  One of my worst habits that my Mother is still disappointed about. My niece's and nephews seem to take after me though as they do it too.
  So who better to reproduce the jar they love soo much than me? I loved making this cake and the birthday girl is also having her wedding cake made by me.
  How sweet!
 
That's the end for today my deviant fiends. Hope you like the onslaught of photos and stories and I will(fingers crossed - hope to die) try to not fail in posting again tomorrow.
That way we can all catch up on some well earned rest!
Sleep well.



28 May 2011

It's a Piece of Cake!

  No seriously, I mean it - making cakes just seems to come naturally to me. Mum says I have more patience with my cake detailing than I have had in my whole life! I think it just comes from loving what you do. I can sit and make cakes, watch other people making cakes and search the internet for cake inspirations to the 'enth degree. I eat, sleep and dream cakes...how sad is my life?

  The following was an inspiration from the Japan earthquake/tsunami disaster. My sister and her family live in Tokyo and talking to her on the phone during the whole event had me constantly worrying and feeling for the Japanese people. Their culture is one of peace and haapiness. Everything they do is done to perfection...even their faulty crockery is made specifically to be faulty! I loved my brief stay in Japan last year and if I had the chance I would fly back in a second.








  I get to the point where sometimes it feels like everything I do is cake and my friends complain they never see me or I don't socialise enough. Funny thing is, that when I do it's usually because of cake! A friend orders a cake and I'm there... at the party...why? because of the cake.
  Funny enough - I swear I do think of my friends and catch up on reading what they're up to in their lives (admittedly it's usually on Facebook) and interject with funny/witty comments when I can - funny and witty to me that is. I live vicariously through their holidays and happy moments and wish them all the best in their lives and hope that we can find the time to sit down and have a laugh. But ultimately I'm back to my cakes.
  Another pastry chef told me the other day that my talent was wasted on cakes. I have to say I disagree. I love the fact that my cakes are made and destroyed. They are loved by my clients and hopefully I play a small but significant part in their memories of happy times with friends and family. Then in the years to come if I did my job right, they will be sitting at a table looking over photographs or reminiscing and remembering the time when they had that amazing cake...'you remember the one with the great sculpture' or 'never had another that tasted so moist and beautiful'. That's what makes cake decorating a fantastic job.








  Watching what people are doing in cake decorating around the world lends great inspiration to future cake designs. The "Great Cake-Off" showed on Foxtel recently made me think of making cakes that move/rotate, light up and explode. It's such a pity that in Australia we have laws to prevent us from using fireworks and explosives. But hey, there are many other ways to achieve similar results. Start small and move to the bigger and better eventually!
  Sorry the below clip is side on- I have yet to discover particular aspects of my camera or how to turn the clip once made...I will get there though!
 
video