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Review: The Rapid Rose from Immaculate Confections

Natalie Porter is the founder of Immaculate Confections and the talented designer responsible for many of the most beautiful wedding cakes that light up our newsfeeds.

Her journey into the world of all-things-sugar began back in 2012, when Natalie created her first wedding cake – her own.

When she and husband Chris were planning their wedding, they decided they wanted something very personal and a little bit different for their cake. They weren’t able to find what they wanted from their local cake decorators, so, much to the horror of their families and friends, Natalie decided to take on the challenge of making their wedding cake herself.

Luckily, Natalie’s edible recreation of Lord of the Rings’ Minas Tirith was incredible and she realised that she clearly had a real talent for sugar art.

Roll forward six years and Natalie’s eye-catching designs are now regularly featured in magazines and blogs, she has won a multitude of gold awards at an international level and she is now teaching sugarcraft to other designers and artists.

However, her award-winning cakes are not the only thing that Immaculate Confections is known for, because in 2016, Natalie introduced her first time-saving product to the market: the Rapid Rose – the Five-Petal Rose Support Pad. Natalie explains that her Rapid Rose allows users to create beautiful non-wired roses from flower paste in just a few simple steps.

As a very reluctant sugar florist, the idea of being able to save time (and effort) on my usual one-petal-at-a-time method of crafting sugar roses sounds like a real winner to me and, after one of my subscribers reached out and asked me if I could demonstrate the Rapid Rose, I decided to get in touch with Natalie and ask if I could have a play.

Included in Natalie’s Ultimate Rapid Rose Bundle are the Five-Petal Rose Support Pad, a set of Five-Petal Rose cutters in 90mm, 80mm, 70mm and 60mm, a set of Extra Large Five-Petal Rose cutters in 100mm & 120mm, a Water Brush Pen and a sample pack of prepared 20mm and 25mm Poly-Buds for use with the rose cutters.

With such an array of goodies included in the pack, one could become a little bit intimidated by all the bits and pieces, but fortunately, every purchase of the Rapid Rose comes with a free digital tutorial, packed with step-by-step pictures and detailed instructions to help users make impressive and perfect sugar roses. This is where I decided to start, before I even unpacked the kit.

The tutorial was incredibly detailed and full of lots of helpful pictures, which made the process of using the kit for the first time very easy.

Natalie’s guide recommends that we use flower paste to craft her roses, but with the variety of amazing products that have been coming to the market over the last year or so, I thought I would try using my Rapid Rose kit with a selection of different products, namely Renshaw’s Petal Paste, Renshaw’s Flower & Modelling Paste and Renshaw’s Modelling Paste.

For my first attempt, I decided to use the Renshaw Petal Paste – simply because I hadn’t got around to trying it yet. Available exclusively in white, I decided to colour it, and all of my other pastes before I used them, with Sugarflair’s Blush Pink. It took quite a while to fully blend the colour with the paste and I have a feeling that I may have overworked it in the process. My petals quickly became very dry, in spite of storing them using Vanilla Valley’s Petal Shield. When I went on to construct my first rose using the coloured Petal Paste, you may notice that some of the edges cracked and frayed a little.

For my next attempts, I was careful not to overwork the other pastes and I was keen to see which one would produce the best results.

When it came to crafting my roses using the Rapid Rose, the process was incredibly simple. Natalie’s photo-tutorial really makes each step clear and I actually found that regardless of the paste I used, I was able to create some very pleasing roses – that, if I am honest, were just as good as the ones that I usually spend days painstakingly crafting.

I arranged my flowers on a dummy so that I could keep track of which paste made each rose, but then I needed the dummy for something else in a hurry and they got moved. Now, I couldn’t even tell you which rose was made from which paste! I think it just goes to show how versatile the Rapid Rose kit is that I was able to create some pleasing roses using ALL of the pastes that I tried.

When it came to presenting some finished roses for this post, I had originally planned to dust and finish them, before presenting them in a complete arrangement on a dummy tiered cake, but then I got to thinking… My reader wanted to know what the Rapid Rose was like to use, not to see another post featuring a beautiful cake stuffed with beautifully perfect blooms.

Plus, Natalie already has that covered with beauties like this one…!

Instead, I decided to share a snap of a set of roses at various stages of the construction process so that you can see the sort of results I was able to achieve during my first play with the Rapid Rose.

Here are some roses with one layer of petals, some with two and some with three. To create even fuller blooms, one can continue adding another one or even two more layers.

Can you tell which ones are made from Renshaw’s Petal Paste, Flower & Modelling Paste or Modelling Paste? I bet you can’t!

Obviously, there are incredible sugar florists out there who are able to create stunningly realistic sugar flowers and, if that is what you want to be able to achieve, sadly there are no shortcuts to perfection. However, if you want to create a lot of good quality roses quickly, then the Rapid Rose is the perfect tool for you. As I’ve already said, if these were to be finished off fully, then they would easily stand up next to the usual roses I usually take days to create and yet these took me just over an hour. Yes, really!

Having been stung by other ‘quick’ or ‘easy’ rose Makers before (think colourful cabbages) part of me was initially skeptical about how these would come out, but I think it’s safe to say that I am converted.

If you think that the Rapid Rose from Immaculate Confections is the answer to your sugar-themed prayers and you would like to find out more, then you can visit Natalie’s website right here.

And while you’re there, you may wish to check out Immaculate Confection’s Perfect Peony as well.

I love peonies – they are absolutely my favourite my favourite flower – and I was so excited to see that Natalie had added them to her line up. I’m definitely going to have a play with the Perfect Peony next. I’m already seeing a projects to combine some fully finished Rapid Roses and Perfect Peonies together to create a beautiful floral cake. Not my usual style, as you know, but that’s how inspired Natalie has got me…

If you haven’t already subscribed to Mr Baker’s Blog, make sure you do before you go – you won’t want to miss out on my first attempt at peonies!

But until then, I must say a massive thank you to Natalie for letting me share her fabulous Ultimate Rapid Rose Bundle with you all. I hope you have enjoyed finding out a bit more about it…

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Review: The Wafer Paper Peony Class with Rhianydd Webb

At the weekend, I had the very real pleasure of being invited to attend a class with my good friend and Mr Baker’s Blog favourite, Rhianydd Webb of Dragons & Daffodils Cakes by Rhianydd Webb. Active within the cake world for over 20 years, Rhianydd is a veritable font of knowledge when it comes to cake decoration and design and, as you can imagine, I leapt at the chance to be able to learn from her.

Based in Pontypridd, in South Wales, Rhianydd has managed to find a wonderful local venue in which she hosts many of her taught classes and it was to the Pantygraigwen Community Centre that I headed bright and early on Saturday morning (after a rather early start).

Growing more and more in popularity recently, wafer paper flowers were the order of the day – in particular, a wafer paper peony, with blossoms and twisted willow twigs.

I arrived nearly an hour early (what can I say, I’m super keen!), which gave me plenty of time to catch up with Rhianydd before my classmates arrived, and I was struck by what a well-oiled machine Rhianydd’s set up was. As someone who clearly teaches a lot, she really has got things down to a fine art. I also thought it was a nice touch that she had a selection of the tools we would be using within the class available to purchase at the end. That isn’t always the case when taking a class away from a storefront, so it was nice to have that option open to us.

Once the rest of lovely ladies had arrived (yes, as usual I was the token male), it was time to get started and, having spoken to Rhianydd about the history of sugarcraft a lot over the last few months, it came as no surprise that, in addition to loads of extra tips along the way, like how to make your own wafer glue using spare wafer paper (although you can also buy it from Saracino if you would prefer – that’s what we were using in the class) and a really clear explanation of the difference between carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) and gum tragacanth, one of the things that really sets Rhianydd’s classes apart is her incredible knowledge of the history of sugarcraft. All her teaching points were accompanied by shout outs and references to the incredible sugarcrafters who came before us.

Rhianydd started by talking us through the kit we would be using and pointed out that if anyone was silly enough to cut themselves with the craft knives or scissors, they would have to wear a brightly coloured ‘plaster of shame’ (I wonder if you can guess where this is going?).

We learned a variety of different ways that one can colour wafer paper, including using an airbrush, with powder colours and more besides. The wafer paper we were using had been airbrushed for us in advance using Rainbow Dust’s ‘Rose’ colour, while the calyces were airbrushed with a combination of ‘Spring Green’ and ‘Holly Green’. Rhianydd also explained that to store heavily coloured wafer paper, we needed to separate the sheets with a layer of plastic.

Having worked with wafer paper before, I hadn’t realised how much I still didn’t know about using the material. One of the biggest things I learned straightaway was that one needs to condition wafer paper before one works with it. Rhianydd shared a variety of different methods for doing this, explaining which ones work best in different weather conditions and, of course, which legendary sugar artists developed each of the techniques before showing us her own method.

She also introduced the incredible number of individual pieces that go into making a single open peony. If I had had to cut them all out with scissors, I would probably have cried a little bit however Rhianydd had kindly used her snazzy Silhouette Cameo 3 to pre-cut them all for us.

Once we began making our own pieces, it wasn’t actually as hard as I had expected. The repetitive nature of some of the elements meant that we all had plenty of chances practice them and by the last of our wired central pieces, we were all assembling them like pros.

My neat freak-ness was the subject of much mirth…

Of course, there is usually that one person that seems to go out of their way to make as many mistakes as possible (sorry about me!), but I like to think that I was merely providing Rhianydd with plenty of teachable moments… Right, Rhi? I’m not sure whether the highlight of my ineptitude with all-things-dainty was when I managed to use floral tape to cheese-wire straight through one of my wired central elements or when I managed to cut myself, becoming the sole recipient of a ‘plaster of shame’.

I must mention the lovely bunch of people that I met on the course too – that Rhianydd affectionately refers to as ‘my ladies’. I was sat with the lovely Tracy, who was an absolute hoot, as well as Rhianydd’s sister, Beth, who had decided to take her first ever sugarcraft class. Of course, I had to find out why, after so long, she had decided to take the plunge and give sugarcraft a go and she had this to say:

“I don’t tend to bake cakes, as I’m lucky enough to have a sister who makes fantastic cakes – I tend to leave it to the professionals (and subtly hint whenever I haven’t had cake for a while). I saw Rhi’s Wafer Paper Peony class advertised and, because it was something quite different to the norm, I signed up.

“The thing I found trickiest was getting past my nerves at the beginning, when I was unsure if I would be able to do it. But the way Rhianydd taught the step-by-step methods helped to make it much more manageable. If I’m honest, I was blown away by her knowledge and teaching skills. I’ll definitely be back for more and have already been looking at which classes I’d like to do in the future.”

Halfway through the day, it was time to break for an eagerly anticipated lunch. As is usually the case, I had failed to take a second look at the class’ joining instructions, until the morning actually arrived, but when I did, I was delighted to see that lunch was provided. As a complete Last-Minute-Larry, I usually have to make a mad dash to a local shop whenever I’m out and about on my caking adventures, so knowing that this would be taken care of for me was a very welcome surprise. And what a slap-up lunch it was too – with lots of tasty vegetarian options for me to enjoy!

After lunch, we moved on to some of the other elements of the piece including the miniature blossoms and the twisted willow twigs. I have always wanted to have a go at creating decorative twigs, so I was really excited to learn how to make the willow. I couldn’t believe how simple they actually were! If only I had discovered this sooner! I’m going to be putting twigs on ALL my cakes from now on… 😉

All too soon though, it was time for final assembly and the class came to an end. Making my Wafer Paper Peony was a real learning experience for me and I loved every second of it – well except for when I cut myself maybe!

Rhianydd teaches a huge variety of regular classes, both locally at Pantygraigwen Community Centre and nationally at a variety of locations, including Liverpool’s The Renshaw Academy. Her repertoire is inexhaustible and her current schedule includes classes on wafer paper flowers, figure modelling, sharp edges, sculpted cakes and even more besides. To find out what she has coming up next, you can visit the Classes and Demonstrations section of Rhianydd’s website.

I highly recommend learning from Rhianydd Webb because, in all honesty, the experience was fabulous. There were people on our course at all stages of their Sugarcraft journey, from an experienced BSG instructor, right through to Rhianydd’s sister Beth experiencing her first ever brush with sugarcraft – yet every single person was able to produce a stunning wafer paper peony arrangement. If that isn’t a real testament to the quality of the teaching and learning experience, then I don’t know what is.

Thank you to Rhi for inviting back to the Motherland and for giving me a fabulous experience. I really did have a wonderful time and can’t wait to have another play with wafer paper soon.

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Review: The Celtic Cakers Tutorial Book

In the most recent issue of Something Sweet, I was most excited that I was finally getting to tell you about a truly remarkable book that was coming very soon – however that’s nothing compared to how excited I am to say that The Celtic Cakers is now available!!

Compiled by Corinna Maguire of Lovin’ from the Oven, The Celtic Cakers has brought together a team of some of Ireland’s top cake designers to produce a huge array of step-by-step pictorial guides to creating fantastic cakes of all skill levels.

Paired with the fabulous tutorials, The Celtic Cakers also take you on a journey around the stunning Emerald Isle itself, introducing themselves and their cake stories, alongside beautiful photographs of their local regions.

It offers readers the chance to learn techniques such as hand-modelling, creating stunning sugar flowers, crafting wired figures, carving cakes, structuring cakes, working with gelatin and much, much more.

From the adorable Big Brown Bear by Paul Redmond of Purple Feather Cake Design to the stunning cover cake, A Seaside Wedding by Corinna herself, there really is something in the book for everyone. But don’t just take my word for it! The cover quotes, from some of the cake world’s greats, speak volumes about how fabulous the book is:

I love this book! Such cute ideas with such detailed instruction from the basics to the advanced … enough to get the casual Cake admirer to jump in and test the waters. And some new ideas as well for those who have already dabbled a bit. A definite must!

Shawna McGreevy
Cakeheads – McGreevy Cakes

 

A fantastic collection of tutorials from a group of the best cake decorators! From simple
techniques to more challenging projects, a fantastic book.

Rosie Mazumder
Editor at Cake Masters Magazine

 

This book covers so many useful tips and techniques, a truly great resource for any decorator at any experience level.

Avalon Yarnes
Avalon Cakes School of Sugar Art

When I first received the advance copy of the book, I literally spent about two hours just reading it from cover to cover – I genuinely couldn’t put it down and I am not exaggerating when I tell you that it is quite simply breathtaking. Corinna and her team of talented cakers have managed to capture the beauty and well… almost the very essence of Ireland and combine it with some truly stunning tutorials from some of the greatest talents their little corner of paradise has to offer.

If you’re looking to try something new or to really challenge yourself, I would highly recommend you grab a copy from Amazon (you can find it here).

In fact, I’m so convinced you’ll love it, to celebrate the book’s official launch weekend on 28-29 April, I’ve bought an extra one 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.

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. 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!