If you’ve ever tried to make a cake at home, then chances are you’ve heard of Zoe Hopkinson of Zoe’s Fancy Cakes. Even if you don’t know her by name, you will have seen her work – you literally can’t google a cake decoration tutorial without something by Zoe coming up. This past weekend, I had the chance to spend two days learning from the legend herself and had a fantastic time. Read on to find out more…
When I first started caking back in 2014, Zoe’s YouTube channel (which is chock full of FREE modelling tutorials by the way) was a complete life saver and I quickly fell in love with her signature-style people cake toppers.
Roll forward three years and when I heard that Hayley and Michael Wisken had finally managed to tempt Zoe down the M1 to their home at Fabricake in Southend, I leapt at the chance to learn from the lady herself, signing up for both her Basic Faces and Figure-Making Class AND her Bride and Groom Class.
After an unbearably long wait, the day finally arrived when I woke up (at a truly ungodly hour), loaded up my car with more clothes than would ever have been needed for one night away, collected my best cake chum Nicola and headed off to the home of my favourite cake supplies retailer, in wet and windy Southend-on-Sea.
As soon as we arrived, Hayley and Michael made us feel incredibly welcome in their shiny new classroom and in addition to being thrilled to see Zoe again of course, it was fabulous to finally get to meet the lovely (and absolutely bonkers) Kerry Brown of Mrs Brown’s Barrel Cakes (Megastar of Come Dine with Me, dontcha know?!). A fellow Zoe obsessive, the imitable Mrs Brown ensured our party was lively and really got things off to a fun start.
Day one’s class, Zoe’s Basic Faces and Figure-Making teaches two figures, one seated and one standing and, along the way, offers countless opportunities for customising them, including facial expressions, arm positions, accessories, gender, hairstyles and more. We also got the chance to make an additional more complex adult face, which taught us further skills, such as hand-painting and facial shaping.
Despite the obviously unavoidable time constraints, Zoe managed to keep the class ticking along without making attendees feel rushed or left behind at all. As someone who likes to take their time over their work, I was concerned that this this would be an issue for me when attending a class, but not so with Mrs Fancy Cake.
Everyone managed to produce some stunning work and, at the end of day one, I was thrilled with the little darlings I had made. I can already see a million different ways I could incorporate these charming figures into future cake projects.
Day two was rather a more serious affair – I was pretty tired after the previous day’s early start and I certainly missed my new bestie Kerry livening things up. Luckily, I had another room full of lovely ladies to keep me company and today we were tackling Zoe’s famous bride and groom toppers. I’ll be honest – I LOVE Zoe’s bride and groom toppers and would probably have been happy just to pay to watch her create them herself, but to learn from her and have a go myself was like a dream come true.
Skills that I had never previously been able to master; like securely structuring toppers; stopping them from being dumpy; creating beautiful hair; and more, just emerged from my fingertips under Zoe’s tutelage. It really was an incredible learning experience.
Again, the time constraints of the day meant there were one or two things I had to make do with on my pieces, but I feel absolutely confident that I will be able to master some really stunning figures with a couple more goes – and I’m itching to get started! Perhaps once Cake International is out of the way though – I really must crack on with my competition pieces!
Zoe teaches in many locations, both nationally and internationally. Rather excitingly, she will also be opening her own shop front in the very near future, in her home of Leeds, with its own dedicated classroom! She is a patient, experienced and approachable tutor and I can highly recommend her classes. They really are accessible to both the novice and experienced cake decorator. To find out where Zoe will be demoing next or to book a class, visit her website.
In addition, as well as hosting a wealth of talents at her store, Fabricake, winner of Cake Masters Magazine’s Royal Icing Award at last year’s Cake Oscars, Hayley Wisken also teaches regular classes and you can find out more about these and their other upcoming guest tutors at their website.