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Mr Baker’s Blog on Tour: Day Eight

Apologies for the delay in posting this one, you guys – after my long day at Renshaw Academy, I pretty much passed out in exhaustion and then yesterday, I had a LONG day of driving, so didn’t even have time to stop and think, much less publish content.

However, I am finally home and once again able to form coherent thoughts, so let’s pick up where we left off, with day eight of Mr Baker’s Blog on Tour.

As you guys all surely know by now, I am a huge fan of Renshaw’s amazing range of products, having used them ever since I first started caking. In fact, I’m such a fanboy that I’ve written about how much I love their various different pastes both here and over at Fabricake before. However, I had never been able to make it along to their UK base of operations to see where the magic happens – well until Thursday that is!

Yes, when the team heard that I was going to be exploring the north as part of my nationwide tour, they got in touch to invite me along to their gorgeous teaching space, the Renshaw Academy – host to some truly incredible tutors, including Jacqui Kelly, Zoe Hopkinson, Molly Robbins, Emma Jayne and more. And even better, current reigning Cake Artist of the Year, Emma would be teaching a brand-new class while I was there, so you know I had to get involved in that!

Coming from a background in fine art as a portrait artist, Emma founded Emma Jayne Cake Design in 2012, having decided to take her artistic skills in a new direction. She started out designing celebration cakes, before moving into Bespoke Wedding Cakes and soon found out where her passion lay.

Emma now travels the world, teaching her incredible classes, while somehow managing to create incredible larger-than-life showpieces for events all around the globe, scooping up an incredible array of international awards along the way – including the 2017 Cake Artist of the Year award from Cake Masters Magazine.

Her Rainbow Zebra Boot Cake was originally devised as a tutorial for Cake Masters Magazine, in association with Renshaw, for the June 2018 issue (purchase a back issue here).

Emma’s mission was to highlight all of the amazing products available within the Rainbow Dust range – including the Rainbow Dust Progel gel colours, the Rainbow Dust Colourflo airbrush colours, the Rainbow Dust Paint Metallics and the Rainbow Dust Plain and Simple dusts.

Taking her inspiration from zebra prints, Rainbow Dust’s incredibly broad colour palette and her favourite DM boots, Emma dreamed up an incredible riot of colour and, while one could obviously recreate it using the tutorial in the magazine, nothing beats learning from the original artist! Especially when it means you get to play with some of your favourite products too!

Like many one-day classes, Emma’s Rainbow Zebra Boot class works in RKT, but Emma was careful to explain how the same results could be achieved with cake, also including detailed cake-carving instructions in the class pack.

I won’t go into the intimate details of the class here, because… well, between the Cake Masters tutorial and Emma’s classes, there are plenty of opportunities out there for you to learn how to make Emma’s Rainbow Zebra Boot Cake yourself, but I will say that it was great to have a chance to create something again! Sometimes, it can feel like I spend so much time writing about cake these days that I don’t always have time to make them, so an arty day with one of my favourite cake artists was a real treat!

I will also say that in addition to being an all-round lovely person, which we all already knew, Emma is also an incredibly patient teacher. Many of the group commented on the fact that they didn’t feel at all rushed during the day, in spite of the colossal amount of skills that Emma was passing on. It really was a genuine pleasure to spend the day with her – not to mention, all of the other lovely ladies at the class with us. I always love getting to meet loads of new lovely cake enthusiasts!

And I have to say, Renshaw Academy is AWESOME! Their aim was to create a world class centre of excellence for cake decorating and to become the most inspirational cake decorating academy in the world – do you know… I think they might just have nailed it!

The main classroom is a huge, light, bright and airy space, where you are completely surrounded by inspiration, as dotted around the space are a huge array of incredible creations by previous Academy tutors.

Marc Suárez of Le Doux Collage‘s piece from Snow White: The Grimm Obsession found its permanent home here…

And not only is it a fantastic environment for learning – although, as a purpose-built teaching space, it is set up perfectly: from the brilliant workstations, with fold out ends for extra space, permanent cameras meaning you can always see what the tutor is doing clearly and in perfect detail, and the numerous facilities for hand washing, etc – they also look after you so incredibly well.

We were all provided with a fully-stocked kit full of everything we needed to create our fabulous boots, but (bear in mind how high maintenance I can be) every time I wondered aloud if they had something extra – an acupuncture needle (yes, I finally tried acupuncture needles and I’m totally converted. Apologies to all the people I’ve fobbed off in the past – I already have some on order), some dipping solution or anything else you can think of – it would just appear, as if by magic.

And the lunch! And the afternoon tea! And the regularly delivered choice of hot and cold beverages! We were positively spoiled!

I actually asked the Academy team if I could move in permanently, but I think they thought I was joking. Although, when I was still in there at 9:30pm – long after the class had finished – still reluctant to leave, they might have realised that I wasn’t.

Thank you so much to Emma for a really fun class and to the Renshaw team for having me. It was a brilliant day and I had a great time! I will definitely be back for more!

The results of my labours…

Renshaw Academy have an incredibly broad range of classes available. From Stacey Anderson’s Buttercream Sharp Edges and the in-house Covering a Cake and Flower Decorating Demonstration, right through to Jacqui Kelly’s Steampunk Chocolate Dragon and Emma’s Puss in Kinky Boots, there really is something for everyone, regardless of where they are in their caking journey.

If you would like to visit the home of my favourite brand and take a class with of the incredible Renshaw Academy tutors, you can visit their website to check out the fantastic array of classes currently on offer. Find it here.

All Content, Blog, Mr Baker's Blog on Tour

Mr Baker’s Blog on Tour: Day Seven

It’s been a rather quiet day today cake wise, but not entirely lacking excitement, as this morning, I swung by Etty van Urk – AKA the Cake Dutchess’ house to check out the latest preview of her upcoming book, the Cake Dutchess Modelling Guide.

I have to say guys, it looks so good and I really can’t wait to see it come to the market. It is going to be the perfect book for anyone who wants to improve their modelling – and brilliant for first-time cakers in particular! If you have any friends or family members who are wanting to start making their own cakes – perhaps for their own children – then you might want to pop one in their stocking this Christmas! If you want to be one of the first to get your hands on a copy, you can pre-order them right here.

After that, it was time to head back on the road for the next leg of my journey – from Glasgow to Liverpool.

Of course, now I’ve collected a fair few pieces for my collaboration, every time I get to a new location I have to unload them all into my hotel room.

This time, they have literally given me the furthest room from the car park and I swear it took me about 45 minutes to unpack everything into my room. I have to say though, all of the contributions are looking so fantastic. I really can’t wait for you to see them all.

As for the reason that I have now headed to Liverpool? Well, tomorrow, I have been invited along to visit the Renshaw Academy.

As most of you probably know, I’m a bit of a Renshaw fanboy – having used their products almost exclusively since I started making cakes and I have wanted to visit their dedicated teaching facility for so long now. I’m really excited to head over and check it out.

While I’m there, I’ll also be lucky enough to take part in a class with the one and only Emma Jayne of Emma Jayne Cake Design. Like many of you, I am a huge fan of the 2017 Cake Artist of the Year and I am regularly left in awe of her astounding creations. I can’t wait to have the opportunity to learn from her.

I always feel a little reluctant to post an image of the piece we’ll be making, as it’ll highlight just how different mine looks tomorrow – lol. But like I’ve said time and time again, we don’t take classes to reproduce the original artist’s perfect finished piece – we take them to learn skills that we can use and apply to our own projects in the future. So, remember that if mine turns out terribly, ok?

Tonight, I’ve decided to give myself some much-needed R&R time, after the hectic few days that I have just had – and the mammoth drive today. I’ve stocked up with some tasty goodies and will be hunkering down in my hotel room with a movie or two.

But do make sure you come back tomorrow though, to find out all about my exciting day at the Academy.


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Mr Baker’s Blog on Tour: Day Six

Hello from sunny(ish) Glasgow!

As you can probably gather from my new location, today has been a big day of travelling, but before I headed north of the border, it was time for a quick jaunt back to Manchester for a very special job.

QA is the UK’s leading IT training provider, with over 1500 IT and project management courses including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, PRINCE2 and many more. They have over 20 QA learning centres and other sites spread across the UK, but it was to their Manchester centre that I was heading today.

Inspired by the return of The Great British Bake Off tonight, team members at QA were taking part in their own showstopper bake off: The Great Manchester Bake Off in aid of Centrepoint.

The UK’s leading charity for homeless young people, Centrepoint supports 10,000 young people every year, helping 16-25-year-olds find a safe place to live, giving them a health assessment and planning support for their individual mental and physical health needs – ultimately starting them on a path to more independence and a job.

Since merging with the Young People’s Support Foundation (YPSF) in 2017, Centrepoint Manchester have been helping vulnerable young Mancunians have a better chance to overcome the challenges they face.

With Centrepoint as their nominated charity for 2018, the QA team are only too aware of the homelessness problem in Central Manchester and, as a result, they have been working hard all year to raise as much money as possible for the charity.

I was delighted to be able to help them out for the day and, on arrival at their very funky offices, I was immediately blown away by the enthusiastic way the entrants had taken to the challenge of their Bake Off Event – there were no simple tray bakes in this competition!

With my co-judge, Head of Sales at QA, Adam Jones (the Paul Hollywood to my Mary Berry?), we worked our way through the (mostly!) tasty selection on offer, judging each bake on its presentation, consistency, flavour and overall creativity.

And then, while we deliberated, it was time to sell off the bakes to raise lots of lovely money for Centrepoint!

However, on to the all-important results!

In third place, with certainly the tastiest bake on the table, was Jas with her zesty Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd Buttercream.

However, when it came to choosing a winner, it came down to a tie-break situation. Luckily Adam agreed that we could have two winners, so congratulations to Hannah and Sarah, who both scored incredibly highly on presentation and creativity.

The team were keen to hear some constructive feedback too, so I did my best to pass on my top tips to the perfect bake. I’ll have to come back next year now, to see if they have helped…

Thank you to Adam and the team for such a warm welcome and I hope you managed to raise lots of dosh!

Once we were done there, it was time to hit the road and head up to Scotland, where I will be meeting up with the lovely Etty – AKA Cake Dutchess. We’ll be heading out for dinner shortly, but I thought it might be a novelty to actually post a blog while you’re still awake for once!

Of course, the other big news tonight is, as I’ve already mentioned, the return of The Great British Bake Off! I have made Etty aware of the importance of this being a part of our evening, so fingers crossed we can catch it!

Catch you later! x