What’s new on the blog this week?
I’m afraid it hasn’t been the most exciting week over at Mr Baker’s Blog this week, as, like many of you, I have been knee-deep in GDPR compliance prep alongside a healthy dose of home-baking for the hundred million birthdays this month of course.
So instead of highlights of my week, I thought I’d share a couple of the simple cakes I have been working on recently.
This one for was my friend’s birthday, which fell on World Baking Day and slap-bang in the middle of Coeliac Awareness Week. With a combo like that, it seemed somewhat fortuitous that my cake was a zingy orange-infused gluten-free carrot cake, topped with a batch of homemade orange and white chocolate macaron (which my oven still refuses to bake evenly). It’s definitely the best batch I have managed to throw together since we’ve lived here though.
After it’s overwhelming success for my own birthday back in January, one of my assistant’s birthdays seemed like the perfect opportunity to revisit Jane’s Patisserie’s fantastic Lemon and Blueberry Cake – albeit in a simplified form. If you’re looking for a tasty cake for a family celebration or simply to have with a cup of tea in the garden, this recipe is just the ticket. Find it here.
Have you heard – the latest developments in the Rolkem Saga…
It seems to be a running theme of late that this section is to address the latest developments in the continuing saga of trying to get to the bottom of just what is going on with Rolkem.
This week saw Fabricake Sugarcraft Ltd and Cake Stuff Ltd team up to release a joint statement (it’s pretty long, so get comfortable):
“Over the past few weeks, information has come to light concerning various Rolkem products. Working with Rolkem, Food Standards Scotland (FSS) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA), both Fabricake and Cake Stuff have been trying to keep our customers fully informed with the latest developments.
“It is not our intention to go through over every step of these events yet again as fuller information is available on our websites and Facebook pages. Both companies have email records that substantiate everything stated there and in this statement. Please understand that we cannot enter into more discussion in response to this post – it is quite simply a statement of our joint position.
“Laboratory testing of certain samples of Rolkem products indicated the presence of copper and other ingredients not listed as ingredients on the labels. This affected Gold Super and Special Rose Gold.
“We made Rolkem aware of these finding and they investigated what they regarded was a labelling issue. Rolkem then claimed that their supplier Anglo Gold Ashanti (the gold mining company that supplies Rolkem with gold) had supplied a batch where the purity of gold was lower than required by Rolkem. Rolkem use 24K gold, which is why it is classed as edible (E175) in the EU, but Anglo Gold Ashanti supplied a lower karat (a lower purity) of gold. Lower karats of gold normally contain silver and brass, as well as the gold. The lower karat gold supplied therefore contained powdered brass, which is an alloy comprising copper and zinc, hence the discovery of copper by the laboratory tests.
“Rolkem stated that they could identify the batch affected and that they were able to account for over 70% of this batch by the end of February. Rolkem claim that they issued a recall by email to importers and customers in the UK, Canada and Australia at the end of February. Fabricake received notification of an investigation by Rolkem, but not of a recall. With assurances from Rolkem that all batches had been accounted for and removed from orders being processed, Fabricake removed affected products from sale immediately. Fabricake made it clear to Rolkem that it was the brand’s responsibility to make any stockists aware of this situation and they couldn’t be selective with revealing this information to retailers. Cake Stuff did not receive any such emails from Rolkem.
“Fabricake and Cake Stuff communicated with each other, withdrew any potentially affected stock from sale and updated customers based on the information supplied by Rolkem at that time. Cake Stuff were able to identify one delivery from Rolkem that could have included stock from the affected batch, so advised customers to return any Gold Super and (Special) Rose Gold Super ordered between January and early March 2018. At no time did FSS or the FSA suggest a product recall to Cake Stuff.
“Fabricake received different warnings from the FSA and issued a mandatory recall of the two colours that were potentially affected to ensure customer safety. Rolkem have since amended their position and the FSA are advising that “all batches, all sizes and all dates should be recalled”. Rolkem have presented the recall by Fabricake as being voluntary and as only affecting one batch between certain dates. Fabricake have always maintained the recall was at the insistence of the FSA, so the advice presented by Fabricake and Cake Stuff seemed to be at odds with each other. This was by no means intentional and it has become clear that Rolkem knowingly provided incorrect information to each party, using the subsequent confusion to their own advantage as they attempted to limit the damage.
“One of the responsibilities of being a good stockist is to support the manufacturer. This can leave the stockist vulnerable to criticism and attack by competitor retailers, competitor brands and on social media. Trust is essential in such circumstances as the stockist is totally reliant on the information being supplied by the manufacturer. It has become clear to both Fabricake and Cake Stuff that Rolkem fell far short of the standards expected from an international brand in such serious circumstances.
“Rolkem provided contradictory information, failed to reply to countless emails, told stockists different versions of events and even their official statement was amended after publication. Andries Kemp (CEO of Rolkem) flew from South Africa to the UK to meet with the FSA but, at the last minute, the FSA withdrew the invitation for Fabricake to be present at that meeting. The meeting took place on 17th May 2018 at 14:30. The FSA have advised that during meeting Rolkem were informed that the product recall applied to all batches, all dates and all sizes. During the meeting Rolkem promised to work with their importers and stockists to resolve this situation but, to date, we have had no information or support from Rolkem to support this feedback.
“Rolkem’s official statement remains in place and there have been no amendments or updates regarding the FSA’s instructions. It very much appears that Rolkem were willing to say whatever was necessary to appease the FSA but, to date at least, have not followed through on those assurances.
“Cake Stuff asked Rolkem to answer 6 simple questions – these are listed below. Some of these questions were originally posed by Cake Stuff customers and forwarded to Rolkem a year ago. Rolkem replied on 23rd May and their answers are highlighted in red below. The answers remain somewhat vague and contradictory but one important fact to come out of them is that Rolkem are having all their products analysed and tested by the UKAS accredited laboratory Salamon & Seaber.
“Further, Rolkem have agreed to publish the results of these tests on the Rolkem website so that stockists and customers can have easy access to this important information. We understand that representatives from Rolkem are flying back to the UK in June to meet with Salamon & Seaber, a UK based labelling specialist and the FSA. Fabricake and Cake Stuff both look forward to Rolkem doing everything they have promised within that agreed timescale so that we can further update customers.
“As retailers, Fabricake and Cake Stuff have a responsibility to our own customers and could be prosecuted by our own local authorities (Southend Borough and South Lanarkshire Councils) should we sell products that have been identified as illegal or potentially hazardous to public health. These same local authorities do not, however, have the jurisdiction to take action against the manufacturer based in South Africa. Isn’t that convenient? After multiple instances of feedback to the FSA, they continue to tell us to simply direct our enquiries to Rolkem, which we feel is a completely inadequate response from a UK government agency.
“When manufacturers provide Certificates of Conformity and results of lab testing, when they are a very well-known international brand, when their brand name is seen in every cake decorating magazine, at every major exhibition and used by many of the world’s top cake artists, it is reasonable for retailers to trust in that brand and in that manufacturer. Throughout this difficult period, Fabricake and Cake Stuff have trusted the information supplied by Rolkem implicitly and have asked our customers to trust it too. We apologise to our customers that this trust has been broken by Rolkem.
“As the situation has developed and as we have been able to investigate further, it now seems clear that Rolkem have been economical with the truth, the official story has changed several times and the trust of UK stockists has been abused.
“It is with great disappointment that Fabricake and Cake Stuff have reached the point where making a joint statement seemed the only course of action open to us. We share the same responsibility to provide our customers with only the best products and service. We have decided to clear stocks of all remaining Rolkem at 50% off our normal selling prices until such times as Rolkem can provide the analysis results and new certificates at some point in June. Our customers are experienced enough cake decorators to decide for themselves how these products are to be used in the meantime.
“No brand that treats its customers with contempt can expect their continued support or loyalty. Rolkem are therefore ‘on notice’ to keep to the promises they have now made: to have all 450 products tested by Salamon & Seaber, for those test results to be available to customers via the Rolkem website, for all Rolkem products now being exported to the UK to have correct labelling and correct ingredients, for everything to have Certificates of Conformity and to be FSA and FSS approved.
“If Rolkem keep to their word then everyone may be able to move on from this unfortunate situation. If Rolkem are unable or unwilling to do everything they have promised, then our customers will judge them on that, all credibility will be lost and Fabricake and Cake Stuff will end our association with the Rolkem brand.
“Other retailers have remained conspicuously silent throughout all of this, pretending to know nothing about the problem and grabbing the opportunity to sell those Rolkem products that Fabricake and Cake Stuff are temporarily not stocking. Fabricake and Cake Stuff have put customer safety and loyalty above profits and have worked tirelessly with Environmental Health, Food Standards Scotland and the Food Standards Agency to provide as much information as we possibly can. Although we realise our customers will be disappointed in the situation and in Rolkem especially, we can only hope that you will see that we have acted with integrity and transparency throughout. We wish to thank you for your continued support. Published by Fabricake Ltd & Cake Stuff Ltd – 25th May 2018”
The aforementioned six questions asked of Rolkem were also attached to the statement as an addendum, with Rolkem’s answers in italics:
FSS are unconvinced with the assurances that Rolkem will provide lab results for analyses of all products. Please can you confirm (a) which lab is being used and (b) that they are UKAS accredited?
a) We are in talks with Salamon & Seaber Consulting and analytical chemists to employ their services as to test all ROLKEM products for UKAS compliance as well as to provide us with the relevant documents (MSDS forms and COC’s)
b) Salamon & Seaber Consulting and analytical chemists has been UKAS accredited since 1993. Please feel free to visit their website at http://www.salamonandseaber.co.uk/accreditation.html#ukas for more information on their accreditation.
Will there be a way (via your website, for example) for stockists and customers to access these results? We feel this is now necessary if we are to reassure UK customers that Rolkem products are safe. Access to test results and certificates of conformity are essential.
Yes, we will be uploading all relevant documents pertaining to the tests carried out by Salamon & Seaber to our website (www.rolkem.co.za) in due time, as well as e-mail the documents to yourself and other stockists, additional to this we will also be shipping the hard copy documents to yourself and other stockists.
Super Gold shows only 2 ingredients: Gold E175 and Mica E555. Labelling regulations require ingredients to be listed in order of greatest first, therefore at least 50% must be gold. In a 50g pot, that means there is 25g (min) of gold and at today’s values that means a value of over $1,000 (US). This is based on 24k but even at a lower purity, it is obvious that something is far wrong with this scenario.
This is a labelling problem that we had. Later Super Gold Labels show the ingredients in the following order: E555, E172, E175. The base and main product is Mica, that is coated with Iron Oxide, and then the Gold Nano particles was fused to that, under a high temperature. Due to two reasons we are changing the recipe of the new Super Gold, to exclude the Nano Gold Particles. The first reason being that we cannot afford a mistake in Quality and manufacturing by receiving the incorrect (Non-24 Carat) Gold. Secondly, we are experiencing a lot of pressure from consumers globally to remove all heavy metals, (Nano Gold Particles and Nano Silver particles) from all our ingredients. This shall also resolve the issue to conform to world standards on edibility. We currently have a pending court case between RKSA and Anglo Gold Ashanti, that supplied RKSA with the lower quality gold containing brass. Because of this case being sub-judice we can currently not obtain Nano-Gold particles, as we could only receive a license from the department of mining to obtain na Gold Particles from them. We shall not launch the New Super Gold until we are 100% satisfied with the quality and have received sign off from the FSA.
If the Rolkem of version events is true and one batch was contaminated, then everyone should expect the new batch to arrive and be labelled as before. However, we’re now learning that the new replacement product will have different ingredients and won’t even contain any gold (Mica and Iron Oxide). You will understand why almost everyone is jumping to the conclusion that the original ingredients listing was simply untrue all along. Why did you decide to change the ingredients?
As stated in my previous answer to your question pertaining to the purity of the gold and ingredient listing, being 100% honest we are struggling and this has hit us hard to say the least, we have been forced to change the ingredients because of the impure supply of gold from Anglo Ashanti thus the change in ingredients. We are trying our utmost to correct this and to provide our stockists with the best, as for labelling, we have employed a UK based labelling specialist to provide guidance on our labels to satisfy the UK consumer and stockist.
There is an industry rumour (we were told by another food colouring manufacturer) that Rolkem manufacture for Roxy & Rich. Is this true?
ROLKEM does manufacture for other UK based colour distributors. I am not at liberty to reveal whom we manufacture for, but it is definitely not Roxy & Rich, nor Rainbow Colours.
FSS test results showed unidentified ingredients in Stellar Green Lumo Gel. They also note that they know of no permitted additive that would result in this level of fluorescence. Please confirm full ingredients of this product, confirm what specifically causes the fluorescence and provide a certificate of conformity.
All of the ROLKEM products will be tested by Salamon & Seaber. Once we receive feedback from the laboratory we will provide you with the full ingredient listing and COC documentation pertaining to “Steller Green Lumo Gel”. The luminescence is obtained by adding Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), through an intricate chemical process.
I couldn’t live without…
Speaking of Jane’s Patisserie (way back up there, before all the Rolkem stuff), I’m delighted to welcome Jane to Mr Baker’s Blog with her first contribution. I love Jane and I love her baking (we need to collaborate, woman!) and this week, the full time baking blogger and vlogger shares the one piece of baking kit that she simply could not live without…
Personally, I couldn’t live without my KitchenAid stand mixer. When I first got it, I was dubious about whether I’d actually use it, but now I use it every single day – with basically every single bake I make! It’s SUCH good quality.
I’ve had mine for over four years now and it’s still going strong. It hasn’t had any issues or problems at all – even with the amount I use it. It’s basically my baby, I love it so much!
Between all the different attachments and bowls, you can just add all of the ingredients and let it do its thing. And it works for EVERYTHING! Cakes, brownies, cheesecakes, breads, etc… It makes life a lot easier and I don’t get tired from having to mix it all by hand!
I have had a few mixers in my time, but none have come close to the Kitchenaid on quality. Yes, you can get mixers for under £50, but I’ve found them noisy and usually unable to cope with the amount I use mine. If you bake a lot – if baking is something you’re passionate about – then you should really invest in a Kitchenaid mixer!
And even if you don’t bake so much, they do mini ones! And giant ones! And ALL the colours! I already want another one…!
Thanks Jane. I love my stand mixer too (I probably shouldn’t mention at this point that I have a Kenwood, right?) and simply wouldn’t be without it. I do love the Kitchenaid range though and would love one of my own if anyone is thinking Christmas present ideas….? No? Too early?
The hottest ticket in town!
Shared by my Twitter chum, Suzy Pelta, earlier this week, The Thame Food Festival CIC is a not-for-profit run by a small group of local people. Over the years the festival has attracted fantastic support from scores of celebrity and local chefs who have come to the festival to demonstrate for free because they love what they do and they are happy to be part of a celebration of local British produce.
Originally introduced to the town in 2008 to promote and celebrate the wealth of wonderful food producers, food retailers, chefs, food and drink experts, restaurants and cafes in the local area, the festival is an ideal opportunity to discover and explore all of these and more.
This year’s festival falls on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th September and returns to the Thame Showground, in Thame, Oxfordshire. Sponsoring the Demonstration Stage this year, Magimix will be demonstrating their range of stylish and functional high-quality ‘kitchen helpers’ over both days and visitors should also keep an eye out for competitions throughout the two-day festival, with opportunities to win fantastic prizes from the Magimix range.
Alongside the Magimix Experience visitors can will also be able to visit the Magimix Demonstration Stage – full to the brim with Star bakers, including: Martha Collison, the youngest ever baker on The Great British Bake Off; 2016 MasterChef Champion, Jane Devonshire; Raymond Blanc OBE; Star of Bake Off: the Professionals and Raymond Blanc’s Head Pastry Chef at the award winning Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Benoit Blin; GBBO Champion, Candice Brown and her Dancing on Ice partner, Matt Evers; and GBBO favourites Val Stones, Steven Carter-Bailey, Jane Beedle, Howard Middleton and Miranda Gore Browne.
Lorraine Cake Club winner and Metro food writer, Suzy will be hosting the Magimix Demonstration Stage on day two of the festival and, although she has forgotten to invite me along (what’s that about Suzy?!), it looks like it will be a top day out!
To find out more information and to book your tickets for this year’s Thame Food Festival, visit their website.
I wanna make that!
If you have been ‘in cake’ for any length of time, then you will probably remember Lizzo Marek of Sugar Geek Show’s Lumberjack Cake tutorial, which had its fifteen minutes of viral fame three years ago. Well, it’s back; it’s better than ever; and what’s more, it’s now FREE!
I’ll let Lizzo explain the rest:
“Three years ago, I made a lumberjack cake tutorial on a whim to see if I could make the inside look like buffalo plaid. I remember I had somewhere to be, so I quickly did a test cut with my phone filming (vertically ugh) and posted the results to the web. The cake went bonkers – much to my surprise! I had no idea I had accidentally made a viral cake. If I had known this cake was going to go viral, I definitely would have taken the time to finish my board. *cringes*”
“After much discussion with my husband, we have decided to not only release the original lumberjack tutorial to be a free video, we have also made a NEW updated version with a different style of bark texture that I think is a lot more realistic, a simpler way of making the edible axe using my modelling chocolate recipe and even a simpler way of making the wood rings on top using buttercream instead of fondant. You can use the old bark texture if you like or the new one depending on how much you enjoy working with fire.”
If you would like to have a go at Lizzo’s Lumberjack Cake for yourself, you can find both the new updated version and the original tutorial over at the Sugar Geek Show website.
The Collaboration Station
We have been absolutely spoiled this week with a whole selection of beautiful collaborations, starting with My Bulgaria – the Bulgarian Cake Collaboration: a collection of Bulgarian sugar artists spread all around the world who have come together to honour their Bulgarian cultural heritage.
You NEED to check out the impressive pieces that make up this stunning collaboration. They are absolute showstoppers!
You can find the rest of the collection over at the team’s Facebook Page.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a comedy science fiction series created by Douglas Adams, originally as a radio show broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978. It was later adapted into many formats, including a series of books (a trilogy in five parts), a tv series in 1981 and most recently a movie in 2005.
The series follows the adventures of Arthur Dent and his buddy Ford Prefect (who rescued Arthur during the destruction of Earth at the hands of the Vogons) and fans celebrate their love of the series each year on Towel Day – the day when we should all know where our towel is.
Towel Day falls on 25th May and on this year’s 40th anniversary of the original radio broadcast, a team of artists from the Cake Collective created edible art versions of some of their favourite characters and iconic images from the show.
You can find all of the galactic pieces over on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/solongandthanksforallthecake/
And last, but by no means least, this week also saw the publication of a simply breath-taking collection hosted by dragéekíss™.
SWEETEASY: A Gatsby Inspired Collaboration is a collection by 62 artists from around the world, celebrating the release of the dragéekíss™ pearl applicator. I was actually originally part of this amazing collaboration, but unfortunately had to pull out (*sobs*), but I can honestly say that the rest of the team have produced something truly memorable.
The collection includes a variety of different sugar disciplines included sculpted cakes, tiered cakes, cookies, decorative exhibits and much more besides.
Congratulations to the dragéekíss™ team and to all of the incredible artists who took part in this fabulous collaboration.
And don’t forget to swing by the dragéekíss™ Facebook Page to check out the rest of the beautiful collection.
Spotlight on the boys…
If you haven’t yet met the talented individual behind Happy Occasions Cakes, then you have been missing out.
Paul Williams is a complete all-rounder when it comes to his cake creations – he can do pretty, he can do novelty, he can do sculpted and he can even defy gravity.
A regular contributor to collaborations too (including this week’s So Long and Thanks For All the Cake), I always look out for Paul’s pieces, as his meticulous eye for detail will ensure his pieces are always well worth the wait.
I first met Paul when he teamed up with my friends, Rhianydd and Cara, for last year’s Cake International Cake Off – from which their team, The Welshcakes, emerged victorious btw – and can attest to the fact that in addition to all this, he is a lovely bloke as well.
You should absolutely take the time today to swing by his Facebook page and send him some love…
Cake of the Week!
I loved the Greatest Showman. I saw it at the cinema three times and I have had the soundtrack playing in my car non-stop since I first heard it back in January. I’ve seen lots of bakers try and capture the magic and sparkle of the movie in cake form, but I have to say, none have done it as much justice as this adorable cake by Melanie Williamson of The Custom Cakery.
Melanie’s cake was crafted as a centrepiece for her daughter Anna’s Greatest Showman-themed eighth birthday and I bet she loved every single one of those adorable models based on some of the most memorable characters from P. T. Barnum’s ‘greatest show’.
I keep thinking I have managed to pick a favourite and then I find myself changing my mind again. They are all just so fabulous. You can see some more shots of this cake and the rest of Melanie’s beautiful work over at her Facebook page, The Custom Cakery.
Congratulations, Melanie – a stunning Cake of the Week!
Father’s Day falls on Sunday 17th June and what better way is there to celebrate the original man in your life than with a fun and tasty cake?
Thankfully, Laura Dodimead of Life in Sugar has got us all covered this month with not one but two fantastic Father’s Day-themed tutorials.
Laura’s Fat Dad cake tutorial is featured in the June issue of Cake Decoration and Sugarcraft Magazine and features a fabulous doting father doing his daughter’s hair, while she practises her ballet moves. Laura’s tutorial will teach you how to sculpt his body from cake, before modelling the rest of the adorable scene from modelling chocolate.
Alternatively, if your daddy is a more sporty than arty, why not check out the latest issue of Cakes and Sugarcraft Magazine for Laura’s other tutorial, the Man of the Match cake. I love the airbrushing technique that Laura has used on the main cake and, as always, her models are adorable.
If you have a go at either of Laura’s fun tutorials, I’d love to see how you get on.
And another honourable mention…
As you all know, I am a huge fan of Carla Puig’s work and, although I would happily share every single work of art she produces, it wouldn’t really be a fair and balanced account of the week in cake now would it?
However, this week, I was particularly blown away by her awesome piece, Collette. With her trendy glasses, Apple Ear Pods and ultra-realistic silk scarf, Collette reminds me of a fashion-forward Instagram Influencer-type and the level of detail Carla has managed to capture within her latest chocolate sculpture is insanely amazing – just look at those lips!
Following my class with Carla earlier in the year, I am desperate to have another go at chocolate sculpting myself, so that is one of the aims of this week’s half term break from school. Who knows, maybe I’ll have another super-awesome chocolate sculpt of my own to share this time next week…
After the ugliness of some of the comments I saw being bandied around the ‘net last week, I loved Suzi Witt of Pretty Witty Cakes’ post that reminded us all of the importance of lifting up our peers and celebrating their creativity and successes:
“Half the internet saw the ugly side of the cake world last week so let’s do something to show the really good side.
If you are brave enough, pick another caker and tell them something they are really GOOD at or something you think they rock at. It can be their cake skills or just some thing about them. Make someone feel really good about themselves. Because that matters. A lot. Especially to working women who often struggle with confidence and anxiety issues
Can you think of at least ONE person (but heck – you may show me you have a whole list of nice things to say about cakers!?!)”
I confess that I started writing a comment on the post with a list of my ‘special people’ so many times, but fortunate as I am to know and count as friends a whole host of crazily amazing and talented people, I kept panicking that I would miss someone important and mortally offend them in the process. I am far too much of an overthinker for such things!
Instead, I thought I would add a dedicated section here to say a huge thank you to all of the wonderful people that have contributed to making my four-year journey in the world of cake the mainly positive experience that it has been. Although I know the negative types exist out there, I have been very fortunate that the majority of the people I have met along the way have been positive, supportive cheerleader-types who only have good things to say about their fellow cake artists and live for the chance to cheer them on, support them and celebrate their successes.
One of the biggest things that sucked me into this marvellous industry and kept me here – even when the workload of caking and blogging seems all too much alongside my ridiculously busy day job – are the people I have met and the friendships I have made. Lucky as we all are to be able to craft creations that bring joy to people, why would we not go out of our way to do the same in our daily lives too.
I am reminded of that wonderful quote from Roald Dahl’s The Twits:
“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
So, thank you Suzi for reminding us of the importance of supporting and celebrating our fellow cakers!
And finally, I have a challenge for you all. Take the time today to reach out to someone who has encouraged and supported you along on your journey and just tell them just how awesome they are. You’ll never know just how much that one positive comment could mean to somebody in need of a pick me up.
Let’s spread a little love this week… x