Hey hey, cake chums! How are we all getting on this week? Like I said a few days ago, it has reached the time of year when our schedules go a bit mad – certainly in the UK – as the biggest weekend of our cake calendar draws ever closer.
Based on the record number of entries for this year’s prestigious Cake International competitions (over 1900, I believe), it is safe to assume that many of you are frantically working hard to finish your showstopping entries, exhibits and displays in time.
Although I will not be entering this year, I have been channelling my efforts into an elaborate centrepiece for one of this year’s collaboration tables, which is being organised by my dear friend, caking superstar, Vicky Teather of Yellow Bee Cake Co. and will also be popping up a couple of times over the weekend to complete a live demo or two (more info on those to follow) and taking part in a fantastic live build to celebrate the launch of darling Etty van Urk AKA the Cake Dutchess‘ first book: The Cake Dutchess Modelling Guide – Animals.
As I said last week, I was thrilled to be able to contribute to what I hope will be the first of Etty’s many publications as her editor and I can’t wait for you all to check it out at the show – it really is a thing of beauty!
But enough of looking ahead for now, let’s see what we’ve all been up to this week.
What’s new on the blog this week?
This week, I felt very privileged to be able to have a little look at the latest project from Lindy Smith of Lindy’s Cakes.
Renowned throughout the world for her incredible cake designs, thoughtful writing and accessible and approachable teaching style, Lindy is the extremely talented British cake designer, sugarcrafter and author responsible for many of the books that make up the essential reading list for anyone looking to get started in cake design – including The Contemporary Cake Decorating Bible, which was one of the first cake decorating books that I was given when my sugar adventures began.
Her attention-to-detail and eye-for-colour have enabled Lindy to go from a humble home baker to a globally-sought-after demonstrator and teacher, and it is Lindy’s international travels that have enabled her to see first-hand how sugarcraft and cake decorating is constantly evolving around the globe. Inspired by this, she is now bringing the fruits of her latest ventures to life through a new online learning experience: 10 Simple Wafer Paper Ideas.
Having experimented with wafer paper a couple of times at home and then attending a rather wonderful Wafer Paper Peony Class with the lovely Rhianydd Webb of Dragons and Daffodils earlier this year, I have been rather keen to experiment more with wafer paper, so when Lindy asked if I would like to have a little preview of her new course, I was super keen!
I loved the sheer variety of ways that Lindy showed how we can incorporate wafer paper into our own bakes and it really has got me itching to get started on some of the projects. If you would like to check out Lindy’s 10 Simple Wafer Paper Ideas for yourself, you can read more about it over at the full post – find it here.
I also shared my latest tutorial this week, which was created for the team over at Renshaw. They had asked for a beginner-level alternative take on the more traditional spooky bake that was cute and family-friendly.
Although a massive step outside my comfort zone, with no airbrushing, no dusting, no serious modelling and no structure, it was pretty fun to do something different and I do hope that lots of people will add their own take on Trixie Treat to their own Halloween celebration.
If you would like to take a look my latest tutorial for Renshaw, you can head to the tutorials tab above or click this link.
Have you heard…?
Although published back in 2017, a Huffington Post article has been doing the rounds again this week, which tries to explain the psychology of why so many of us are completely in love with baking for our family and friends.
In the article, entitled Psychologists Explain The Benefits Of Baking For Other People, Julie R. Thomson explains that it’s not just about giving them something sweet.
She cites a number of academics, including associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University, Donna Pincus, who explained that, “Baking has the benefit of allowing people creative expression. There’s a lot of literature for connection between creative expression and overall well-being. Whether it’s painting or it’s making music [or baking], there is a stress relief that people get from having some kind of an outlet and a way to express themselves.”
As we all know, stress has been linked to a whole host of mental and physical problems, and finding ways to cope with that stress is important for leading a healthy life.
Many baking bloggers, such as Britt Box of She Who Bakes and Liz Fox of BuBakes, have written about the positive benefits of baking on mental health and celebrity baker, John Whaite has publicly said that baking has been a help for him when dealing with manic depression.
The article went on to describe the altruistic traditions that paved the way for commercial baking, explaining that, at the very heart of baking for others is the act of giving. While the process of baking can contribute to an overall sense of well-being, sharing it with others heightens that feeling.
“Baking for others can increase a feeling of well-being, contribute to stress relief and make you feel like you’ve done something good for the world, which perhaps increases your meaning in life and connection with other people,” Pincus told HuffPost.
Whipping up baked goods with the intention of giving them is a form of altruism ― it’s a sacrifice you make for someone else ― and the benefits of this selfless act have been heavily studied and written about. I wonder if this is why so many commercial bakers find it hard to price their talents as highly as they deserve – because it goes against the personal altruism that initially led them to start baking?
I was wondering if the article would go to explore the potential ramifications of the baking-INDUCED stress that often accompanies professional baking and Julie Ohana, a licensed clinical social worker and culinary art therapist was brought in to discuss just that. She explained that if baking is an activity that stresses you out, then you might not reap the same psychological rewards. When baking becomes stressful and obligatory, the benefits can be lost.
As someone who has fought their own battles with mental health over the years, I thought the article made some very interesting reading and possibly a good starting point for a larger discussion around professional baking and mental health and well-being.
If you would like to read more, you can find the article here.
This week I am mostly loving…
So, Cake Masters Magazine have announced the eight finalists that will be battling it out for the Best Product Award at this year’s Cake Masters Magazine Awards and I am loving that there are so many new and innovative products amongst the line-up.
The full line-up includes the Cake Sketching Templates from Avalon Cakes, Simpress™ Cake Panel Makers by Marvelous Molds, the new range of Lustre Dusts from Faye Cahill Cake Design, the Sweet Stamp from Amy Cakes, the stunning new Blue Diamond Tool set by Cerart, the Sugar Flowers Mould by Karen Davies Sugarcraft, the broad range of Natural Flavoured Icing Sugars from Sugar and Crumbs with Nifty Nozzles and the Half Sphere Multi Mould & Pre-cut Edible Transfers by The-Old Piping Bag: Handmade Silicone Moulds for Cake & Craft (which you may recall was the subject of a previous Mr Baker’s Blog review).
Although I was disappointed not to see my own nomination amongst the final eight (I went for the Sharp Edge Smoother by Carol Smith of Cakes by Carol – which I wrote about back in July), I am lucky enough to have used many of the products within the final eight and can attest to the fact that they all deserve their place in the finals. I am already excited to see who will come out on top!
I’d also be interested to see which one you would choose as your best product of 2018, so be sure to let me know in the comments!
In the meantime, I’d like to wish all of the finalists the very best of luck – I’ll look forward to congratulating you all on the night!
This week I am also mostly loving…
I promise that I will stop going on about this soon, but not just yet, because it’s finally here!
If you are heading to Cake International, make sure you come and visit stand F14 where I will be joining Etty and a top team of artists, including Zoe Hopkinson of Zoe’s Fancy Cakes, Kelly William of Kelly William – Cake Artist, Corinna Maguire of Lovin’ from the Oven, Janette MacPherson of Janette MacPherson Cake Craft and Kylie Mangles of Letterpress Bakery, as well as a whole host of Etty’s official international Cake Dutchess Instructors to complete a live build to celebrate the launch of the book.
While I’m here, I’d also like to give a quick shout out to Ice Wise Premium Sugarpaste who will be generously sponsoring our live build – we’re really looking forward to cutting and serving some delicious cake on the Sunday afternoon, so be sure to swing by and grab a slice!
Cake Show Showcase:
If you aren’t friends with the gorgeous Rosie Mazumder of Cake Masters Magazine, then you probably won’t have seen her shout-out this week over on Facebook…
The resulting comments gave us all an eye-popping preview of just how many amazing things will be going on across the Cake International weekend and, while I would love to tell you about them all, it isn’t my post to share – so instead, you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for the announcements over at the Cake Masters Magazine Instagram, where Rosie has promised to post a selection of previews to her Stories feed.
I am honestly beginning to worry about how I will manage to see everything over the weekend!
The hottest ticket in town!
Yeah, sorry guys, but it has reached that time of year when I can’t even begin to think of life after Cake International…
Normal service will resume soon – promise!
In the meantime, don’t forget to check out last week’s issue, in which I assembled a whole host of some of the biggest names in cake to share their top tops on how to survive the Cake International competitions unscathed and take the most enjoyment from the experience – including an exclusive look at Corinna Maguire’s essential guide to transporting your cakes.
I wanna make that!
We’re still talking all things Halloween this week, with another free tutorial from Mr Baker’s Blog favourite and Cupcake Artist of the Year finalist, Sarah Bray of Daisy Cakes.
As well as posting a huge variety of Halloween-themed miniatures, for which she is becoming increasingly known, over on her own Facebook page, Sarah also took some time out of her busy schedule to create an adorable cupcake tutorial for the team over at Saracino.
Sarah’s Kawaii Halloween Cupcake Toppers are completely adorable and we are assured that they are entirely beginner-friendly too.
If you would like to check it out and have a go at it yourself, you can head to the Saracino website right here.
The Collaboration Station
I haven’t seen any pop up this week, but, as always, if I have missed a collaboration that you have been part of this week, do let me know and I will be happy to edit it in to this week’s issue. 🙂
Spotlight on the boys…
Over the last few years, Daniel Diéguez has become well-known for his incredible Chocolate Magic installations at cake shows across the world and it seems that his latest, which will be created across the Cake International weekend, will be his biggest and best yet.
This week, he revealed the incredible line-up of guest artists who will be joining him to bring his vision to life and it is a veritable ‘who’s who’ of the world’s greatest sugar talents.
This will definitely be one to watch at this year’s show, so be sure to set aside some time to watch these masters at work. I, for one, am SO excited to see what they come up with…
Cake of the Week!
I’ll be honest guys, not a lot of cakes being posted this week – can it be that we are all hard at work on competition entries, exhibits and display pieces for Cake International?
Just as I was beginning to despair that I would not be able to find a cake for this week’s Cake of the Week, up popped this absolute beauty by Leni Brattan of Cakes by Leni.
Created for a wedding yesterday, Leni’s cake features a gorgeous combination of gold drips, flawlessly finished white sugarpaste, loose ruffles, hand-crafted sugar flowers and a beautifully intricate personalised cake topper.
I am completely in love with the combination and think they came together to create a stunning wedding cake and a more-than-worthy Cake of the Week! Head to Leni’s Facebook page to see more of her beautiful work.
Congratulations, Leni! I’m sure the happy couple loved it!
WOW CAKES #1!
Now, you all know that Paddington Bear holds a very soft spot in my heart, particularly after the journey we went on together last year.
As a result, whenever another caker tackles Padds (as I affectionately call him), I am there!
This week, in honour of her daughter’s 30th birthday, it was my Clairella Cakes-sister, Sharon Perrins of Cakes by Sharon who tackled the iconic bear and I loved her fluffy take on him.
Alongside a cake-filled suitcase, Sharon sculpted her Paddington from modelling chocolate, before using corn silk to recreate his furry texture. I love how realistic he looks – you could almost pick him up for a cwtch and I bet he will make a wonderful keepsake of a special day.
If you would like to know a little bit more about working with corn silk, then you will be pleased to know that I have reached out to Sharon and asked her to write a guest post all about working this developing medium for us all – look out for it later in the year.
WOW CAKES #2!
You all know that I am a massive fan of Emma Stewart of Truly Scrumptious Cakes by Design’s flawless work, when she told me that she had been asked to create a Halloween version of her stunning dark-lustred bridal wreath cake, originally created for the Sugar Geek Show Wedding Cake Trends 2018: The Collaboration, for a new Avalon Cake School of Sugar Art tutorial, I was incredibly excited to see the result.
As she described what she wanted to achieve with the piece and talked me through how she planned to marry up an elegant design with traditional Halloween elements, that excitement continued to grow, but nothing could have prepared me for just how incredibly the final cake turned out.
Quite often, Halloween themed wedding cakes can end up very novelty – or, dare I say it, even tacky – but that is certainly not the case here.
If you would like to see more of the Morticia by Emma Stewart and have a go at making it yourself, you will need to head to head to the home of Avalon Cakes School of Sugar Art and sign up for a monthly membership. Head to this link to do just that…
I am always on the look out for your contributions for Something Sweet, but you may not realise that I also welcome guest posts on the blog too, with previous examples including Helen Wilkinson’s guest blog from the International Cake Show Australia, Cupcake Artist of the year finalist Sarah Bray’s adorable Summer Picnic Cupcake Tutorial and Vicki du Plessis’ coverage of The Brain Tumour Charity’s first ever Big Bandana Bake. If you would like me to publish a tutorial, recipe or a guest blog about an event, experience or even just a topic you are passionate about, make sure you get in touch…
I’d also like to hear about what your corner of the cake world is talking about; to share which tools or products you are loving this week; to tell me about any exciting events or classes you have coming up; to share any recipes or tutorials you have discovered this week and are dying to try; and about anything else that has grabbed your attention on Planet Cake.
And of course, don’t forget to nominate your suggestions for the Cake of the Week. Maybe it’s one you have seen or even one of your own!
You can submit your contributions by messaging my Facebook page, by posting in the dedicated Mr Baker’s Blog from Mr Baker’s Cakes Facebook group or by emailing me directly.
I look forward to hearing from you!