#cakershour, All Content, Blog

What’s New on Mr Baker’s Cakes: The Blog?

Hey cake chums!

I thought I’d just drop by and quickly fill you in on what has been happening at Mr Baker’s Cakes HQ since my last update, this time last week. Like most of you, I am still isolating at home (other than going into school to provide childcare for the children of essential key workers), but I have been managing to keep myself pretty busy with a whole host of cake and baking-themed projects.

I know that many of you will have seen bits and pieces on social media, but if your timelines are anywhere near as busy as mine are at the moment, it can be easy to miss things. So to make things a bit easier, I thought I would just round everything up into one conveniently digestible blog post for you. Let’s get stuck in…

 

Renshaw Facebook Live

Renshaw Facebook Live - Mr Baker's Cakes

On Friday last week, I was invited to takeover Renshaw’s Facebook page to complete a live cake decorating challenge. To celebrate the release of the recently relaunched Renshaw Icing Multipacks and inspired by my live Christmas Cake Decorate-along back in December, Renshaw challenged me to decorate a cake in a theme chosen by one of their subscribers.

With only about an hour’s notice of the chosen theme, I’d like to think that I managed to pull something reasonably respectable together, but I’ll let you be the ultimate judge of that.

Renshaw Facebook Live - Mr Baker's Cakes' Bunny Cake

As always with Mr Baker’s Cakes live videos, it was a little bit fraught and a little bit rushed, but definitely a lot of fun. If you missed it, you can watch it back over on the Renshaw Facebook page now – find it at this link.

 

Mr Baker’s Cake School – Episode 2: Scones

Friday also saw the release of episode 2 of my brand-new YouTube series, Mr Baker’s Cake School and we were tackling scones.

Episode 2 of Mr Baker’s Cake School - thumbnail

While they might be everyone’s favourite element of the quintessential afternoon tea, scones can be tricky little customers to get just right, but thanks to a couple of top tips in this week’s video, you should find that all your future scones come out as perfectly as can be…

Mr Baker's Cakes - Finished Scones

I have already received some wonderful feedback from those of you who have baked along with last week’s episode, so thank you so much for getting in touch. And be sure to keep the photos of your bakes coming – you never know, you might just see them pop up in a future video…

And if you haven’t watched epsidoe 2 of Mr Baker’s Cake School yet, you can watch it here.

 

Kenwood Care Package

#KenwoodCarePackage - feaured

In lieu of a new issue of Something Sweet magazine on Sunday, I published a blog post letting you know all about how Kenwood are encouraging those of us who are baking at home to bring a smile to the most vulnerable members of our local communities.

As well as publishing a whole host of fun and easy recipes for you to bake at home and running regular Facebook Live sessions over on their page, in support of their charity of the year for 2020, Kenwood have pledged to donate £1 to Mind for every photo of your bakes that you share on social media with the hashtag, #KenwoodCarePackage.

If you would like to know more about the Kenwood Care Package campaign, you can find the full blog at this link.

 

What’s next?

As I teased in last week’s blog post, I am still hard at work on a selection of tutorials, including a really fun wedding cake project that I have called the Family Affair Doodle Cake. I’ll leave you to see if you can work out what this might mean…

Of course, this Friday will also see another brand-new episode of Mr Baker’s Cake School and, in honour of Good Friday, we’re baking Hot Cross… somethings. Well actually, it’s up to you! I am running a poll over on my YouTube community tab right now and you need to choose whether you would like to tackle traditional Hot Cross Buns, or something a little bit less technical, in the form of Hot Cross Muffins – all the flavours of a Hot Cross Bun, with quite a bit less of the effort.

To cast your vote, head to this link now! And be quick, the vote closes this time tomorrow!

 

Twitter #cakershour

Finally, you may have seen in last week’s #cakershour preview that I was debating suspending our weekly get togethers until after the lockdown is lifted and our businesses can resume trading. I put the suggestion to the group during last week’s session and the response was unanimously to keep them going as a weekly social for now. So that is exactly what we will be doing… 🙂

#cakershour with Mr Baker's Cakes

Saying that, I must confess that I am not able to attend tomorrow, as I am otherwise occupied. However, I am delighted to announce that the lovely Thirzah Slater of Cakey Goodness will be stepping in as your guest host for this week’s session (Thank you, Thirzah!).

I’m sure all of the regulars will all be in attendance too, so if you haven’t been able to join us until now, please do not worry… they will make you more than welcome – and hopefully I will be able to swing by for some of the chat at least…

Whilst we will be using #cakershour as a weekly social event, we will not be having a weekly business-focused theme, but we will still use some key questions just to focus our conversations and keep things moving. You can check out a sneaky preview of this week’s questions below…

Easter Week with Thirzah Slater:

Q1 What have you been baking or caking this week?

Q2 Are you planning any special cakes or bakes for the Easter weekend?

Q3 Are there any Easter bakes that you would love to have a go at and would like a recipe or tutorial recommendation?

Q4 What is your favourite Easter treat to either bake, eat or both and why?

Q5 Do you fancy another baking challenge?

I do hope you will be able to join us for #cakershour – we meet every Wednesday from 9pm-10pm over on Twitter – just search the hashtag #cakershour to get involved…

 

But anyway, there you have it… you are all caught up! As always, please do keep in touch and keep sharing the results of your baking adventures with me. You can connect with me on Facebook here, Twitter here and on Instagram here. And if you fancy becoming a part of the cake chums community, why not join the Cake Chums – with Mr Baker’s Cakes Facebook group at this link.

I do hope you are all keeping safe and well out there and, until next time… happy caking!

xx

All Content, Blog

Guess who’s back… tell a friend!

Gosh, where I do I even try to begin…?

Can you believe it has been nearly SIX WEEKS since I was last here writing?! If I am honest, it feels like even longer…

If you watched my Facebook Live from around that time (can anyone even remember back that far?!), you will have seen that between Cake International prep and a couple of collaborations that were coming due, I was seriously up against it in terms of deadlines. I made the reluctant decision to pause the online content while I focussed on those projects and, in hindsight, I think it was the right decision. There is literally no way I would have got everything done if I was still writing and shooting content alongside my ‘irl’ workload.

That being said, I am a little bit cross with myself that I didn’t make more of an effort to document some of the creative processes that led to my Cake International pieces OR my collaboration contributions – I’m sure they would have made great YouTube viewing. *facepalm*

Oh well, lesson learned for next time…

Woah, there! I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, talking about what I was doing for Cake International – some of you may not even have seen the fruits of my labours yet!

But actually, before we get into that, I thought I’d also share my contribution to one of the aforementioned collaborations, as one has already gone live.

Sugar Spooks, masterminded by Avalon Yarnes of Avalon Cakes School of Sugar Art is now in its seventh year, and it is seen by many as one of the pioneering online collaborations, paving the way for all that followed. I have honestly looked forward to its release every single year since I entered the world of cake art and design, and I was completely blown away to be invited to join the ranks of legendary artists that make up the Sugar Spooks team this year!

For 2019, the theme of the collection was the Sugar Spooks Haunted Mansion and immediately I was inspired to create a creepy ventriloquist’s dummy, taking my lead from various urban myths and short stories that I have read in the past.

I named him Sinister Sid and, alongside the sugarcraft element, participants in Sugar Spooks also create a back story for their pieces, so this was mine:

“On first inspection, nestling in his little corner of the room, Sid looks like a harmless sideshow oddity – perhaps the souvenir of a neglected hobby or maybe quickly forgotten gift? It’s only on closer inspection that one starts to notice some rather unsettling peculiarities… those rather disconcerting eyes, the rather menacing expression and what is that dripping noise…?

“No, Sid isn’t your typical toy – the Hon. Sidney Edward Watts used to be the respected owner of this grand abode – well, until he fell afoul of one of the many menacing ghouls that walk its halls that is.

“No one quite knows what he did to warrant an eternity of punishment – and Sid certainly isn’t letting on – but he hasn’t taken his punishment lying – or even sitting – down.

“You see, when night falls, and a cloak of darkness descends over his beloved home, Sid stalks its halls, seeking out victims and taking his bloody revenge on any who dare to trespass within its walls.”

I loved how Sid came together and he is certainly pretty darn creepy, but I was even more blown away when I saw the rest of the collection – be sure to swing by the Sugar Spooks website and check them out for yourself. You can find it here.

After Spooks was out of the way, it was time to knuckle down and get seriously cracking on my contributions to 2019’s Cake International – the largest cake show in the world.

This year, I had agreed to create a contribution for the Sugar Witches display and one for the Stephen King feature. I was also entering the prestigious competitions as part of the Sugar Chronicles team (see more about us here) and had somehow volunteered to craft the centrepiece for the Help Harry Help Others charity Santa’s Grotto – a life-sized edible Santa cake that could be SAT ON! *screaming emoji*

When we were originally planning the Santa’s Grotto, I made a rather tongue-in-cheek comment that, ‘One can’t create a grotto entirely from cake without having a Santa that you can sit on.’ The mastermind behind the feature, Hayley O’Beirnes of Gadget Cakes agreed and quite rightly put me on the spot, suggesting that I make one – and honestly guys, a little part of me never thought our pitch would be approved, so I agreed. Then it WAS approved and I suddenly found myself in a position where I had to bring this to life somehow. Cue panic!

Luckily, I was able to draw on support from a number of different parts of my life, including my father, who is a very experienced engineer to help me with the structure (which I had sketched out on the back of an envelope); my dear friend Nicola, who works out of a large commercial unit and was kind enough to lend me a little corner to work in; and some wonderful brands, including Renshaw and Fractal Colors, who both kindly contributed some of the materials that I would need.

Rather than repeat it all here, I have documented the process of creating my life-sized edible Santa cake in a short video, which I will link below. It didn’t go without its dramas and don’t even get me started on the nightmare I had trying to get him to the show, but it all came together in the end (Thanks Rhu, Sharon and Keith) and I think he was a popular addition to this year’s event.

One of the challenges I also had to deal with in the weeks leading up to Cake International 2019 was some fairly inclement weather. My home sits not too far from the shores of a lake and, when it is particularly wet, the humidity here is dire. About a week before the show was due to begin, we were hit by almost biblical monsoon-like rain and both my competition entry and my contribution to the Stephen King display did not survive the ordeal. I found myself in the position of having to start both of them again from scratch, which is not what you want when you also have a life-sized Father Christmas cake to finish.

Unfortunately, I did run out of time in the end and I was unable to bring my Stephen King exhibit to the table. However, the rest of The King of Horror display was absolutely incredible and I don’t think it was noticeable that my tiny contribution was missing. Thanks to the team for being so understanding though and congratulations – you really did create something special. Do you make sure you go and check out The King of Horror feature online here.

Another highlight of the show had to be the stunning Sugar Witches display, tucked away down by the competition area, featuring a whole host of witchy-inspired creations, including no less than FIVE life-sized witches by Kate Bartlett, Graziella Augier, Anna Taylor Dillon, Nicola Gerrans, Lesley Marshall and Julie Rogerson (plus another supersized piece by Kelly McWilliam and an incredible spinning cauldron by Steph Parker).

My piece for the display ended up being a rather rushed affair – I made a tiny hessian voodoo doll – but the same couldn’t be said about the rest of the contributions.

 

It was an incredible display and every time I walked past, it was absolutely rammed with visitors. It was clearly a very popular addition to Cake International 2019. Congratulations to the whole team.

Another personal highlight of the weekend was being invited to demonstrate on the Ranshaw stand for the first time.

Having used Renshaw products since I first started my cake journey over five years ago, you would be fairly safe to assume that I am a big fan of the brand. They have also been very good to me over the years, supporting many of my charitable endeavours – not to mention contributing to numerous giveaways for you guys too, of course.

During my demonstration, we were using the gorgeous coloured Renshaw extra sugarpastes and some of my favourite moulds from Karen Davies Sugarcraft to create a simple snowman cake with a super realistic woolly hat topper. I even roped in the lovely Zoe Hopkinson of Zoe’s Fancy Cakes to cut out the gazillion daisies needed to create the pom-pom.

We had a fantastic time working together and I loved getting to meet loads of you guys too. If you fancy having a go at creating your own woolly hat topper, you can find the full tutorial as part of my Festive Llama Cake tutorial via the tab above.

And then finally, of course, there was my competition entry, which as I’ve already mentioned was in the collaborations category, along with my Sugar Chronicles chums.

I had kind of fallen out of love with competing recently, having not entered since 2017. I didn’t feel that it was always good for my mental health to add on so much additional stress when I already get so much pleasure from creating pieces for features and exhibits at the show. However, I love working with the Sugar Chronicles team (you may have seen our previous Beatrix Potter and Narnia collections at the Cake & Bake Show), so when our illustrious leader Louise Wolfenden suggested a collaboration entry themed all around the wonderful World of Oz, I jumped at the chance to get back on the competition horse.

In spite of the earlier disaster with my piece collapsing due to the humidity, it seems that fate was actually conspiring with us for once, as my second attempt at the Cowardly Lion far exceeded the fast and his new position asleep in the poppy fields added an additional dimension to the display that the first version never would have done.

We were delighted to find out that we had been given a gold award for our collection after the judging concluded, but were completely blown away to find out that we had also scooped the much-coveted Best in Class rosette. As competition results go, you can’t ask for any more than that, so a massive thank you to the Cake International judges and to my teammates for a fantastic competition experience.

Whether it is enough to bring me out of my self-induced competition retirement remains to be seen though, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

So, there you go… That is what I have been up to over the last five or six weeks since we last spoke. Obviously, there is much much more Cake International news to share with you, but I thought I would save that for the first issue back of Something Sweet magazine, which will be out next Sunday, the 17th of November.

As always, if you have something that you would like to be featured in the next issue, be sure to get in touch using the usual channels.

Moving forward, I am also looking to add some regular contributors to my writing line up, so if you would be interested in becoming a regular member of the Something Sweet team, be sure to get in touch. I would love to hear from you.

In the meantime, I would also love to hear what you have been up to over the last few weeks. I have really missed speaking to all of you and I do hope that lots of you will be in touch over the next few days so that we can create a Something Sweet: Cake International Special that is truly… Something Sweet. See what I did there?

In the meantime, thanks for bearing with me over the last few weeks and happy caking to you all!

All Content, Blog

Four years and 15,000 likes later…

Would you believe that last week saw the fourth anniversary of the birth of Mr Baker’s Cakes? Yes, it has been four years since my friend asked me to attempt a Frozen cake for her daughter’s birthday and I came over all Cake Boss, Ace of Cakes and goodness knows who else besides…

That very first cake included my first foray into sculpting cake (the mountain), my first attempt at homemade modelling chocolate (the castle), my first attempt at piping (the least said about that the better), my first attempt at airbrushing (I really did buy ALL the gear for this one) and who knows what else (although clearly not modelling – check out those hideous knock off toppers)?!

I really did have to make a go of this new hobby of mine after the ridiculous amount of money I spent on that first cake, but fortunately it was not long after that that I discovered the amazing online cake communities that exist out there and the wonderful encouraging souls that you can find within them. They really spurred me on to have a go and try new things and before I knew it, I was creating cakes that I could only have dreamed of when I was just beginning.

And after the crazy whirlwind of cake shows, competitions, new friends, classes, dalliances with sugar floristry, modelling, sculpting, more than a few friend’s wedding cakes, some fabulous collaborations with individuals and brands, a ton of fabulous exposure in print and even on screen, thankfully, four years on, I still have just as much passion and excitement for all things sugar and sweet as I did back in those early days.

Even though things seem to be headed in a slightly different direction of late – less actual making of cakes and more writing about cakes – I still love getting to craft my sugar creations when I have the time and, rest assured, I am constantly fighting the urge to bake and create, so I can’t see me stopping any time soon.

It seems incredibly apt that this weekend also saw my Facebook page hit its next milestone in terms of followers (only fifteen bloom’ thousand!) and I am so grateful that you have all come along for the ride with me – and stuck with me through the various different avenues that I have explored. I can’t wait to see where this crazy sugar rollercoaster takes us all next.

Thank you so so much – my love and appreciation to you all… xx