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Review: 10 Simple Wafer Paper Ideas – an online cake course from Lindy Smith

Evening all! I do hope you are all well and not too bogged down in all things cake and sugarcraft!

It has certainly reached that time of year when our schedules seem to go a bit mad – certainly in the UK, at least – as we limp ever onward towards the biggest weekend of our cake calendars: Cake International 2018.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Cake International team have promised us that this year’s show will be the biggest and best ever and, based on some of the whispers I have heard, I really don’t think they are exaggerating!

You may have noticed my use of the word ‘limp’ above and be wondering whatever could I mean?! Well, based on the record number of entries for this year’s prestigious Cake International competitions (almost 2000, I believe), I can assure you that there will be a whole host of busy cakers frantically working hard to finish their showstopping entries (as well as the amazing exhibits and displays that we all so enjoy) alongside their regular weekly orders. They really do work like Trojans to ensure that we have tables upon tables of beautiful cakes to gaze upon and enjoy and I applaud them all for it – whether an enthusiastic first-timer or a seasoned pro. Competing and/or appearing at the show really is a crazy experience and it certainly is a slog in the run up – but once all of the pieces have arrived safely, it is absolutely the best weekend of the year and I know we wouldn’t change it for the world!

I must confess though that I will not be competing this year – well not on my own anyway. Instead, I have been channelling all of 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.

But fear not, you will also be able to catch me throughout the weekend completing a live demo or two (more info on those to follow) and also 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. I was thrilled to be able to contribute to what I hope will be the first of Etty’s many publications in the role of editor and I can’t wait for you all to check it out at the show – it really is a thing of beauty!

But anyway, this evening I thought I would take a break from the craziness of my Cake International prep to tell you about something new that I have been exploring recently…

 

Renowned throughout the world for her incredible cake designs, thoughtful writing and accessible and approachable teaching style, Lindy Smith 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.

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, during an incredible 25 years in the industry, and, while she continues to run a very successful business, Lindy’s Cakes Ltd, based in Buckinghamshire, UK, she has now expanded her interests to include an online shop, which specialises in sugarcraft products handpicked by Lindy, a jam-packed teaching schedule throughout the year and, of course, regular articles and editorials about all things sugar.

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 and, 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.

Check out the trailer:

If you haven’t had the wonderful experience of meeting Lindy face-to-face yet, then you might not have realised just how captivating and charming she really is, but you can rest assured that her passion for all things sugarcraft, her talent for teaching and her desire to inspire and help others develop their talents are abundantly evident in her enthralling, easy-to-follow classes. You are invited to let Lindy be your guide to the astonishingly creative world of cake decorating with wafer paper.

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 Dragions and Daffodils earlier this year, I have been rather keen to experiment more with wafer paper and so when Lindy asked if I would like to have a little preview of her new course, I almost bit her hand off in my enthusiasm! I am constantly in awe of the incredible things that I see people doing with this up and coming medium and I have been desperate to know more!

Lindy’s course is conveniently split into handy bitesize classes (similar to Craftsy) entitled Punch it…Cut it…Steam it…, meaning that you can pick and choose the order that you watch them in and they are clearly labelled with the type of class and the skills being used. Each section is also headed up with its own introductory video, within which Lindy will tell you the tools you will need for each project and suggest how you might use each project to enhance your own cakes.

With classes on punching out decorative trims, bands and all over patterns; punching out pre-shaped and hand-formed flowers; hand cut decorations; die cut decorations; and more besides, we really are spoilt for choice and I think Lindy’s course would make a fabulous starting point for anyone looking to start exploring the wonderful world of wafer paper.

Personally, I loved the sheer variety of ways in which Lindy showed how we can incorporate wafer paper into our cake projects – I’ve only ever really encountered wafer paper flowers before – and I also liked how she very clearly demonstrates each of the techniques before showing how you might choose to use the fruits of your labours on a variety of different styles of cake – both traditional and more contemporary.

It really has got me itching to get started on some of the projects and being such a wafer paper noob, this obviously meant that I had to to go shopping – what a hardship! 😉 I already have some punches on the way to help me get started with a couple of Lindy’s projects, so you’ll have to keep a close eye out for my follow up post where I will hopefully share the results of some fabulous wafer paper experimentation.

In the meantime, if you would like to check out Lindy’s 10 Simple Wafer Paper Ideas for yourself, you can head to this link where you can buy the entire course for the absolute bargain price of just £28.80! Once enrolled, you will have 24-hour, lifetime access to your classes, you will be able to ask questions at any point during the class, you can leave your own comments and share your creations with your fellow students. Oh, and if you opt to purchase the premium version for only a coupe of pounds more, you‘ll also receive personalised feedback on your creations from Lindy herself! That’s almost as good as having her in the room with you!

So what are you waiting for? Head to the link to enrol today and learn how to have fun with wafer paper!

Thank you Lindy for letting me have a sneaky peek at your new course – I really enjoyed watching my way through all of the projects and I can’t wait to get punching, cutting and steaming!

x

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Review: Half-Sphere Multi Mould and Edible Transfers by The Old Piping Bag

The school holidays are finally here and do you know what that means? I can finally pay some attention to the mammoth, cakey ‘to-do list’ that I have been ignoring for the past few weeks. I actually have a dedicated shelf in my cake room that is purely for projects that I want to get to ‘at some point’ and, if I’m honest, lately it has been looking rather full.

I know some people think that blogging is all getting sent free stuff, but actually, for every product that you get sent for review, you need to come up with a creation to go with it and that’s before you even start putting pen to paper. It’s a lot of work.

And actually, many of the products or tools that I share with you are things that I have bought myself – either because I think that you would all be interested in seeing them in action or because I think they will be useful within my own cake artistry – and today, I finally got the chance to play with a product that fits into both of those categories.

The new Half Sphere Multi-Mould and Edible Transfers are some of the latest innovations to come out of the workshop of Rachel Wyatt-Brown of The-Old Piping Bag: Handmade Silicone Moulds for Cake & Craft and she told me they allow sugarcrafters to create realistic eyes, eyeballs and sports balls.

The combination of her isomalt mould and the pre-cut transfers ensure that even a complete isomalt-noob like me can achieve the sort of realistic eyes that used to be the exclusive purview of only the finest cake artists and sugar sculptors.

Now, if I’m honest, one of the main reasons that this project has been left languishing on my shelf (besides time) is because I have never used isomalt before and I’ve always been a little bit scared of it. Isomalt is an ‘inverted sugar’, which means that it is sweet like sugar, but it has a slower rate of crystallisation. This makes it ideal for modelling and moulding, because it doesn’t break down as quickly as regular sugar sculpting.

The other reason I had shelved this project for a while was due to the fact that Squires Kitchen Ready-Tempered Isomalt seemed to be out of stock absolutely everywhere. While there are other brands available, I had only heard good things about the Squires isomalt, so I was keen to use this during my first experience with the medium. However, it seemed that the rest of the world had had a similar idea and I couldn’t find it anywhere.

Luckily, my lovely friend Vicky Teather of Yellow Bee Cake Co had a little bit left over from a previous project and she was generous enough to post it to me.

You also need a fair bit of kit to work with isomalt, it seems. Number one on your purchase list needs to be some silicone containers. Melted sugar is sticky – and hot! I bought a pack of silicone cupcake cases from Amazon and they seemed to do the trick perfectly.

If you want to achieve a perfect finish to your isomalt art, you will also need a blowtorch – I have this one by Andrew James – and some PME Clear Edible Glaze Spray. This will stop the sugar absorbing moisture from the air and breaking down over time.

Finally, I would advise that you wear some heat-proof gloves while you are working with your isomalt. Perhaps stupidly, I just used my usual food-safe vinyl gloves today, which of course do not offer any protection from the heat. However, I was able to whip mine off quick enough to ensure that I didn’t get badly burnt by the molten sugar when I inevitably shoved my finger into the discarded pot of leftover mix.

While I was using Rachel’s moulds for the first time, the thing I struggled with the most was patience. You need to let each step of the process cool before moving on to the next and I didn’t really do this. I won’t show you a picture of how my first attempts came out, but luckily I had just enough isomalt crystals left for one final go.

This time, I allowed myself to be distracted between each step so that I could allow sufficient cooling time and the results were much better, as you can see here.

Next up, I want to see how I can incorporate these realistic looking eyes into a chocolate sculpture like the one I made during my time with Carla Puig earlier this year.

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed the similarities between Rachel’s new product and another, devised by Lizzo Marek with Simi Cakes, that also became available this year. It seems that both of them had them in development at the same time and, although she is aware that people may think she copied Lizzo, whose eye moulds and transfers came to market first, Rachel explained that she had already invested far too much time and money into her product to be able to discontinue her work on them.

I don’t know about you, but I think there is plenty of space on the market for both of them – particularly as one is US-based and one is here – and I was certainly thrilled with the results I was able to achieve on my initial play with Rachel’s kit.

So much so, that now it seems to be back in stock everywhere, I have ordered a load more isomalt so that I can carry on with my explorations – before tackling my chocolate bust of course!

If you fancy having a go at creating realistic isomalt eyes, then you can pick up Rachel’s Half Sphere Multi Mould and Edible Transfers via her website here.

To get your hands on some of the elusive Squires Kitchen Ready-Tempered Isomalt, you can head to my other online home, Fabricake Sugarcraft Ltd. And don’t forget to take advantage of my exclusive discount code MRBAKER10 while you’re there, to save 10% on all of your essential cake decorating needs.

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Review: The Sharp Edge Smoother by Cakes by Carol

I always follow new product releases with great interest, but none have piqued my interest quite so much recently as the one that I was playing with last week.

The Sharp Edge Smoother by Carol Smith of Cakes by Carol is a food safe acrylic cake smoother, designed to help you achieve sharp edges and smooth vertical sides on your cakes.

Like most of you, I always strive to achieve a perfect sharp edge on my more traditionally-shaped cakes and have sworn by my acetate smoothers for years now. However, I do have a tendency to be rather heavy-handed with them and I have lost count of the number of times that I have given myself the dreaded bulge around the top rim of my cakes!

As a result, Carol’s smoother had been something that I had been umming and ahing over purchasing for quite some time, so when she got in touch to ask me if I would like to have a play with her exciting new tool, I was eager to have a go.

I guess my initial hesitation was based on the fact that I have previously bought ‘short cut’ gadgets and been disappointed with them. I have discussed this in a previous post, saying something along the lines of, “if my three (now four) years of cake artistry have taught me anything, it’s that for the most part, a lot of practice and mastery of the essential cake decorating techniques cannot be replaced by a gadget.”

That was before I tried Carol’s Sharp Edge Smoother.

Honestly, I was expecting it to be another faddy tool, like – well, I suppose it would be a bit controversial to name specifics, but I’m sure you can all think of one – but these often throw up their own complications and usually require mastery of a whole new set of skills. This wasn’t the case with Carol’s Sharp Edge Smoother and I was so very pleasantly surprised.

I decided to crack open my Sharp Edge Smoother while I was working on the cake for last week’s Love Reading Festival. I was absolutely against the clock on this one and, when I got home from work at 6.30pm the night before it was due, it still looked like this:

Yeah, panic stations. I hadn’t even made ANY of the decorations, so I really didn’t have any time to waste on trying to create a perfect sharp edge with my usual acetate smoothers.

Every purchase of the Sharp Edge Smoother comes with the Sharp Edge Smoother demonstration video and a Square Cake pdf tutorial. As my cakes were round (let’s not run before we can walk!), I started by watching the video to learn how to use my new tools. You’ll notice that I say tools plural – to use the smoother, you also need acrylic plates that are 6” bigger than the cake itself.

Battling the heat, I covered my cake with a 50/50 blend of my favourite sugarpaste, white Renshaw Extra and Renshaw’s Ready to Roll Icing in Poppy Red. I was planning on painting and airbrushing my top tier to achieve a deep red colour, but I wanted to start from a reddish base. Of course, Renshaw Ready to Roll Icing can be tricky to work with, particularly in the heat, so I was really putting the Sharp Edge Smoother through its paces right from the off.

If you take a look at the cake as it looked before I started using the smoother and compare it to the finished cake, you will see that, in spite of using a rather tricky sugarpaste, I have managed to achieve a super sharp edge and some perfectly straight sides – and it only took a couple of minutes. Yes, MINUTES! I would usually spend AGES trying to achieve this sort of finish – and this my FIRST go!

Ignore the shoddy painting – it was also my first go at mesh stencilling and I didn‘t read the instructions first…!

If I can be completely frank and honest with you right now, I genuinely love this tool. In fact, I love it so much that I think I might have to do my first ever Facebook Live demonstration, just to show you how quick and easy it is to use. If you’d be up for watching that, then let me know in the comments below – it’ll help psych me up for the challenge!

Check out this incredible before and after! *swoons*

I’ve also persuaded Carol to offer all of my readers, who would like to try the Sharp Edge Smoother for themselves, an awesome 10% off their purchase.

As I mentioned above, to use the Sharp Edge Smoother by Cakes by Carol, you will also need acrylic plates and these should ideally be 6” larger the cake itself, otherwise your precious smoother will get scratched. Now, I know some of you will have these already, so you can pick up your smoother right here for 10% off, using the discount code: MRBAKER18.

However, if, like me, you are new to acrylic plates and need to grab some of those along with your smoother, then Carol also offers a Smoother Bundle – which contains the smoother itself and a whole set of acrylic plates in 12″, 16″ and 20″. You can find the bundle here, again taking advantage of a 10% discount, using the code: MRBAKER18.

The code will be valid until the 9th August 2018 – so get in there quick!

If you’d like to see the Sharp Edge Smoother in action before you decide, keep an eye on my Facebook Page – I’ll be announcing the date and time of my Facebook Live demonstration soon!

Carol Smith is the award-winning cake artist behind Cakes by Carol, based in Peterborough. If you’d like to learn more about Carol and her fantastic tool, you can visit her website or why not like her page on Facebook?

On a personal note, I’d like to congratulate Carol on achieving the impossible and designing a tool that has made a fairly tricky cake skill super simple. It really is fabulous Carol and you should be so proud of yourself.

Thank you for inviting me to have a play with it and I can’t wait to use it again on my next cake!