Something Sweet – Issue 10

Would you believe we are already at Issue 10! I feel like we need to mark the occasion in some way! It’s practically a birthday…!

If only we knew somebody who makes cakes…? Oh well!

 

What’s new on the blog this week?

I went back to school this week, after a very cake-filled fortnight and, inevitably, had the traditional returning-to-work blues. After a little bit of sounding off, I decided to channel my melancholy into something a little more productive and appealed to the more experienced cakers to share their best advice for anyone that might be daydreaming about making a living from cake. Naturally you didn’t disappoint, sharing some fabulous advice and I particularly liked Rhianydd’s top five tips for the new caker:

  1. Promote the skills you have – not those you wish you had (test those ones out on family until you are ready to add them to your “can do” list).
  2. Set your prices to match your worth straight away – not to the “Oh, I don’t think I am good enough to charge full price yet”. Basically, actually charge your worth and get any practice in BEFORE that website goes live.
  3. Keep learning every day. Even if you are too busy with each week’s cake orders, make time to enter competitions or attend a class – and build them into your expenses.
  4. Schedule at least one day off EVERY week – and stick to it.
  5. For every £1 you earn, put 20p in the bank. That way you will have savings and holiday pay and sick pay, even though you are self-employed.

Thanks, Rhianydd!

And if you have anything you would like to add, pop it in the comments below!

 

In last week’s Something Sweet, I teased that a truly remarkable book was coming very soon – but on Thursday, I was thrilled to announce that it was now available for purchase with a very heartfelt and complimentary review.

Compiled by Corinna Maguire of Lovin’ from the Oven, The Celtic Cakers Tutorial Book brought together a team of Ireland’s top cake designers to produce an array of step-by-tutorials to help cake artists of all skill levels create some fantastic cakes. It offers readers the chance to learn techniques such as hand-modelling, creating stunning sugar flowers, crafting wired figures, carving and structuring cakes, working with gelatin and much more besides.

Alongside the tutorials, The Celtic Cakers also take us on a journey around their stunning home nation, introducing themselves, their cake stories and their local regions, through some beautiful photography.

I said it last week and I’ll repeat it now: This book is breathtaking and I’m so convinced that you’ll love it that, to celebrate the book’s official launch and in honour of Something Sweet’s tenth (week) birthday, I’ve bought an extra copy to give away to one of my lucky subscribers.

Yes, you heard that right! I’m giving away a copy of The Celtic Cakers right here!

To be in with a chance of getting your hands on this fabulous book, you just need to ensure you have subscribed to Mr Baker’s Blog before the competition closes on 29th April 2018 – which is when the book officially launches at the Irish Sugarcraft Show.

To subscribe, simply scroll to the subscribe button in the sidebar on the right (or at the bottom of the page if on mobile) and pop in your email address – you’ll be sent an email which you’ll need to confirm. Not only will this enter you into my Celtic Cakers giveaway, but you’ll never have to worry about missing a Mr Baker’s Blog post again!

Regretfully, after having to shell out almost £80 to ship my last giveaway prize to the states (Yes, really!), I am going to have to limit this one to UK-only entries, I’m afraid. But don’t panic, further-afield subscribers can still grab your copy direct from Amazon.

Congratulations again to Corinna and the Celtic Cakers team on an absolute masterpiece and good luck for your launch next weekend!

 

Have you heard…?

I’ve seen an awful lot of posts lately from cakers seemingly suffering from a bit of malaise and – dare I even say it – burn out. There almost seems to be a bit of an undercurrent in some of the cake community groups of people really not feeling the love of late.

I feel very privileged that I get to devote so much of my time to sharing and celebrating the creativity that is the cornerstone of this industry, but, spending as much time as I do scouring cake pages and community groups each week, it does make me sad that sometimes people seem to lose sight of the passion and vision that initially drove them to pursue a career in sugar.

It got me wondering if there are any common triggers that those feeling this way would blame for their feelings? I regularly see talk of struggles with pricing; infrequency of orders or, conversely, too many orders to manage; pricing and, alongside that, competition from other local cakers or even the dreaded ‘grey area’ cakers; the amount of time spent on cakes; and a lot more besides. Would they be a sufficient catalyst for such a mood shift or is there more to it than that?

Now, I am only too aware that as a moonlighting caker, I am lucky enough to be able to mainly enjoy only the positive side of the cake world and, as such, would never dare to try and offer advice to those finding themselves in such a rut, but I also find it very hard to just sit back and say nothing. Consequently, I was wondering if anyone else out there had found themselves in a similar situation in the past, but managed to come out the other side – and if so, how did you do it?

I’d love hear everyone’s thoughts on this. Am I reading too much into the comments and conversations I see or is there really something to it? Do get in touch and share your thoughts – whether you are feeling a little bit ‘meh’ about cake lately or if you have some great tips and advice that you think would help. Let’s have a collective think about how we can bring a bit more positivity into cake and help those who might be feeling a bit down in the doldrums regain their enthusiasm?

 

I couldn’t live without…

When it comes to working in miniature, it seems there isn’t anything that Sarah Bray of Daisy Cakes cannot do. This week, she shares the one(ish) piece of kit that she can’t be without…

The one tool – or rather set-of-tools that I absolutely couldn’t live without would have to be the sets of teeny tiny circle cutters from Fine Cut Sugarcraft Products.

Those who know me will know I have a bit of an obsession with making small – and I mean stupidly small – sugar food. What I love about these sets is that there are 10 different sized cutters so there is always the perfect one for a tiny plate, bowl or even a miniature slice of tomato!

Before I discovered these wonderful cutters, I was using plunger cutters, piping tips and nozzles and anything else that I could find, but these are so much easier.

Fine Cut Sugarcraft Products was founded in 1988, by David Wregg when he realised his skill as a precision engineer and tool maker would be perfect for the high-quality demands of the cake market.

Unlike with some cheaper versions, there are no seams on these cutters, which means the shapes are perfect and you can buy them in sets of 5 or the whole set of 10. I have several sets of them now and my mild obsession doesn’t stop at circles – I also have the ovals and squares too (which I should add are perfect for those dreaded minecraft cupcakes!)

I should also say that David’s flower cutters are also brilliant and he has a huge range available online. I’m a big fan – can you tell?

Thanks, Sarah! I came across David’s fantastic cutters at this year’s Squires Kitchen Exhibition and I have to say, they do look rather fantastic! I may have to indulge – purely for research purposes, you understand! 😉

 

The hottest ticket in town!

Returning for its second year, Australia’s largest international cake, cookie and sweet show, the International Cake Show Australia (ICSA) hosted by Australian Cake Artists & Decorators Association (ACADA) runs from Friday 18th – Sunday 20th May 2018.

With their awesome tagline, Watch & Learn – Create Make & Take – Shop & Taste, attendees are invited to join the party being held at Brisbane Showgrounds Exhibition Building. Thousands of cake, cookie, foodie and sweet lovers will be coming together to celebrate, learn and taste all things sweet and decadent – the organiser’s promise that there has never been a better learning experience!

One of the highlights will surely be the exciting two-day international cake-off challenge – which will pit #TEAMAUSTRALIA (made up of Margaret Carter, Verusca Walker and Paul Delaney) against #TEAMINTERNATIONAL (with Paul Bradford representing the UK, Timbo Sullivan from the US and Dot Klerk from South Africa) – I can’t wait to see what the two teams come up with!

Visitors will also have the chance to learn from some of the world’s most talented sugar artists on one of the three live demonstration stages – there are actually an amazing 54 free demonstrations across the three days of the event.

Children will also be captivated by the huge Alice in Wonderland exhibit made entirely from cake and sugar and they can even become part of the scene.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a cake show without some fantastic competitions and the Ultimate Australian Cake Decorating Competition is the area where all boundaries are stretched and cake and cookies will be transformed into magical edible art forms.  Guests can expect sculptured cars, people, buildings, sugar-craft, flowers and everything unimaginable, all made from cake!

I don’t know about you, but I have been following the build-up to the show closely and I am also really excited to see the results of one of the huge collaboration exhibits at the show. The Giant Wedding Cake is being made by Faye Cahill with an incredible collaboration team consisting of many of Australia’s highest-profile cake designers. Visitors to the show will have the opportunity to climb the stairs up to the top and take their picture with a myriad of props available.

ICSA sounds like it will be a real fun-filled family event and I am rather gutted I won’t be there to see it for myself. I can’t wait to follow the events of the weekend across my social media channels and, of course, I’ll do my best to capture the highlights of the show for you in the following week’s issue of Something Sweet. If you are attending the show and would like to contribute to the issue, do get in touch!

 

I wanna make that!

I don’t often post paid-for tutorials, but when Michelle Pattinson told me about this one by Janette MacPherson of Janette MacPherson Cake Craft, I wanted to find out more.

Created for the Paul Bradford Sugarcraft School in a very contemporary Chibi-style, Janette’s Mad Scientist cake bears a striking resemblance to a certain German-born theoretical physicist and would be the perfect birthday surprise for the science geek in your life.

The tutorial is full of fantastic tricks and techniques, including creating incredible facial features, covering awkward shapes, crafting edible clothing, building a secure structure and much, much more.

The best part? The Paul Bradford Sugarcraft School currently has a Spring Sale on, meaning you can buy this full tutorial for just £6.95 instead of its usual price of £14.95!

You can find it here.

 

I also wanna make that!

Double bubble this week – it’s issue 10 after all!

I really love bananas. An odd admission you might think, but do you know who also loves bananas? Natalie and Dave Sideserf of Sideserf Cake Studio – stars of Food Network’s Texas Cake House. This week, they posted a rather unusual, but rather awesome tutorial on their YouTube channel: The Realistic Banana Cake!

I bet you can’t guess which one of these bananas isn’t what it initially seems!

In the video, Natalie and Dave demonstrate how to make their realistic banana cake and it’s a really fun watch! Be sure to check it out if you fancy a chuckle today!

 

The Collaboration Station

Speaking of bananas, the banana-loving, goggle-wearing henchmen originally made famous by the Despicable Me movie and its sequels have surely become the breakaway hit of the franchise and it doesn’t look like Minion fever will be going away any time soon either.

My second ever decorated cake (nearly four years ago now!) was an enormous Captain America-themed Minion, which I made for my nephew’s second birthday, and, as a result, Minion cakes have held a special place in my heart ever since.

Minion Mayhem is a collaboration brought to us by Sugar Souls, a team of amazing sugar artists who all share a love for anything Minion-themed and they all took inspiration from the little yellow characters to produce a unique take on another genre.

As always, I present a selection of just some of the wonderful characters…

Do be sure to visit the collaboration’s Facebook page to check out the rest of the collection.

 

Several Cake Designers from France and Switzerland have come together to highlight a world-renowned French artist, Jules Verne at Sugar Paris & EXPOGATO this weekend.

Each member of the team chose one of Verne’s novels from which to draw their inspiration and then created a unique work to represent the book.

Having been teased on social media over the last few days, the collected works were finally unveiled at Paris’ premier sugar show, Sugar Paris & EXPOGATO on Friday.

The globe even spins!

It truly is a stunning collection, by some incredibly talented artists and I must thank Joane Chopard of Mademoiselle fait des gateaux for providing the translations and information I needed to be able to share it with you all.

Find the whole collection over on Facebook.

 

Spotlight on the boys…

I love sharing what the cake boys within the industry are up to in my weekly spotlight feature, but I am very aware that I only follow a finite number of cake pages manned (see what I did there) by gentlemen. So, instead of me sharing another of my favourites this week, I want to hear from you!

Who is your favourite male caker and why? Which Facebook pages should I be following? Whose Instagram do you make sure you check out regularly?

Let me know which pages I should be following, so I can reach more of the talented menfolk out there on planet cake!

 

Meanwhile on Twitter…

Most of you should know by now that, although I am officially cake-obsessed, I am also a complete baking nerd as well and in the years that I have been combining my passions for both cake art and the tasty stuff inside, I have noticed an interesting pattern. Whereas my Facebook feed tends to be absolutely full of cake, Twitter seems to be much more the playground of the baking folk.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know that many of my caking chums are on Twitter, but I wouldn’t say that they are as prolific in their tweeting as the bakers.

It’s for that reason that this section does tend to be more baking-focussed and this week is no different I’m afraid, but it IS for a jolly worthy cause.

Over on Twitter, for the last few months now, we’ve been following the efforts of a bunch of familiar faces as they prepare themselves for something rather astonishing. Today, thirteen of our favourite British Bake of alumni will be swapping their aprons for running kit as they take to the streets of London to take part in the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon. In support of the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, World Vision and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, the GBBO Baker’s Dozen will be pushing themselves to the limit as they do their bit for charity.

The thirteen inspirational bakers are: Selasi Gbormittah, Jane Beedle, Tom Gilliford and Michael Georgiou of Series 7; Ian Cumming, Mat Riley and Alvin Magallanes of Series 6; Richard Burr, Chetna Makan, Kate Henry and Enwezoer Nzegwu of Series 5; and Frances Quinn and Beca Lyne-Pirkis of Series 4.

If you are watching the marathon, whether live or on TV today, do keep an eye out for our baking favourites and be sure to give them a cheer if you see them.

And if you would like to contribute to their fundraising efforts, I have linked each of their fundraising pages to their names above (not an easy task, I can assure you!).

Good luck #teamGBBO!

 

Cake of the Week!

You know how sometimes you see a cake and you just think… ‘Wow!’? Well, that’s exactly how I felt when this stunning little number, by Fanie Feickert-Sell of Fanie’s Tastes and Tales popped up in my timeline this week.

Although the design is so incredibly simple, the result really is so powerful and effective and it really caught my attention – to the point that I have been back to look at it a few times this week.

When I started to think about this week’s Cake of the Week, I realised it quite simply couldn’t be anything else, so congratulations Fanie on a fabulous creation and a much-deserved Cake of the Week!

 

Honourable mention…

Have you ever wondered what goes into making a showstopping cake display or installation? Perhaps you’ve seen them at a cake show or food festival and just asked yourself, ‘How?’

Well now is your chance to find out as Corinna Maguire of Lovin’ from the Oven (She IS a busy lady lately!) and Tanya Ross of Novel-T Cakes will be coming together next month to create a magnificent display piece over the course of two days.

As part of the Oranmore Arts Festival weekend, these two crazily-talented artists will be taking over the Glassroom of the Brazco Coffee Academy on May 12th & 13th, while they create this amazing design – and you can go and watch while enjoying some delicious coffee.

Don’t worry if you can’t make it along in person though, Corinna assures me that she will be going Live! on Facebook throughout the build, so we can all join in with the fun!

Head to Corinna and Tanya’s Facebook pages to find out more…

 

And finally…

Don’t forget to enter my Celtic Cakers giveaway by completing the subscription process before the 29th April (which is next Sunday!). I’ll be announcing the winner in next week’s issue of Something Sweet, so be sure to check back in a week!

And good luck!