Hey cake chums and a happy Friday to you all!
I do hope you are having a good week – particularly those of you who are juggling having the kids home for the holidays whilst trying to get your cake orders out of the door!
Things are still ridiculously busy at Mr Baker’s Blog HQ too, with another collaboration deadline this weekend, my first ever trip out of Europe looming ever closer next week and the biggest event of the year, as far as we’re all concerned – my sister’s wedding day tomorrow!
As well as fulfilling the role of her ‘maid’ of honour, naturally I am also making the wedding cake. Luckily, everything is on track with that and today is all about the fun bit – the decorations! While I’m working on that though, it seemed like the perfect day to share a very special project with you…
Dubai-based cake designer and tutor, Reema Siraj of Reema Siraj Studio got in touch last month to tell me all about a very special challenge she undertook for the Cake Talks event in Muscat, Oman.
Originally conceived five years ago, Cake Talks started with just 15 women coming together at one of their houses to share some delicious home baked cakes and a hot cup of tea. Their ideology was simple: ‘The little I have, I share with you; the little you have, you share with me. Together we all have a full share of everything!’
However, fuelled by her passion for baking, event creator Rubeena Ibrahim assembled a team of three equally dynamic women Reena Mathias, Cassie Menezes and Shakila Faisal and, five years later, the Cake Talks family has evolved to include 250 talented bakers in Muscat alone, with their online community reaching 18,000 across the world.
Their annual event has also evolved to become a bigger platform for cake enthusiasts and hobby bakers to reach out and share their edible art, for aspiring cake designers as well as professionals, to discuss their ideas, share pictures, interact, assist, upgrade their design and technical skills. It also provides the perfect opportunity for hobby bakers to take part in an exhibition for the first time. With the added incentive of various competition categories, this year’s event saw 12 professional level cakes entered, 25 non-professional cakes, eight cupcake arrangements and 25 uniquely flavoured cakes, which had to be tasted and evaluated, one by one, based on neatness, precision, technique, design, creativity, overall appearance and originality.
The competitions were judged by chef Thomas Oomen, chef Asanka Dharmaratna and chef Achyuthanan Das from the Omans Chef Guild (OCG), Poornima Subramanyam and Reema, of course.
As well as serving as a competition judge, Reema was also asked to contribute a beautiful showpiece to the event and she was immediately clear on what she would create.
She explains, “My fondness for mediums such as lace, pearls and edible fabrics is what drew me to the idea of constructing a life-size wedding dress cake.
“Heavy embellishments were fundamentally the focus of this cake, so I needed inspiration from a dress that already encapsulated this.
“I looked to the exemplary designs of Ziad Nakad, a sensational wedding gown designer from Beirut, who specialises in eccentric fabrics and unconventional beading styles! To inspire my piece, I explored his 2017 and 2018 bridal collections, before developing my design.
“Bringing the sketch to life was my next step. I started by preparing a mood board using all of the elements and textures which I could possibly use in this project. This helped me a lot when deciding what would suit the design best.”
With all of the details in her dress to be entirely handmade, Reema began by crafting the embellishments one by one, starting with delicate wafer paper flowers, centred with varying sizes of edible pearls. This truly was a long process as over 2,400 individually hand-crafted flowers were needed to bring her design to life.
Lace was another main feature of Reema’s creation, with over 3000 individual lace flowers covering almost 90% of the entire dress. It was definitely an area that required a great deal of attention to detail, with each flower that formed part of the lace design having to be individually hand cut and positioned on the dress to ensure the design was flowing and faultless.
And this was all before she even started constructing the life-size dress!
Luckily for us all, Reema has documented the process of creating her stunning gown in this video, so rather than listen to me try and describe it, you can see it for yourself!
The entire project, which was generously sponsored by Satin Ice, took Reema over three weeks and 180 hours to complete, although that doesn’t include all of the planning and preparation time before she started! It was certainly a labour of love and the results are certainly breathtaking.
Thank you so much for getting in touch to tell us all about your incredible showpiece, Reema. I have loved seeing the process you went through to craft your exhibit and the result was mind-blowingly incredible! All those tiny details really came together to create a wonderfully realistic and beautiful dress.
I definitely can’t wait to see more from this talented lady!