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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.

x

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Mr Baker’s Blog on Tour: Day Five

Today it was the turn of my gorgeous friend and local Boltonian star, Kay Gajra of Kaykes to have me shadowing her (or basically following her around like a bad smell) as she delivered an incredible showpiece cake to the Bolton Food & Drink Festival, to celebrate James Martin’s tenth year of supporting the event.

Before we get into the events of the day, can we all just take a minute to appreciate the sheer amount of work that Kay has put into this cake?!

She explained that she wanted to make the cake as personal as possible, so lots of research was required to ensure that all those special details were spot on:

“When James first saw it, he was clearly a bit taken aback – possibly even a little overwhelmed and choked up – calling his mum and his sous chef to come and check it out!”

“He was even telling all the press about it during his interviews, saying I was ‘on another level’. I’m absolutely over the moon that he liked it – it clearly really meant something to him to have something that wasn’t just the norm.”

Kay had sent me a lil’ preview of the cake over the weekend and I have been in total awe ever since. However, the pictures couldn’t even begin to compare to seeing it in the flesh. It really was incredible! As Kay’s cakes always are!

Obviously, I had to stick around to catch one of James’ demonstrations too, during which he whipped up a Tomahawk Steak, with a lobster mac ‘n cheese, some delicious looking eggy mozzarella parcels, with a flavoursome tomato sauce and a Funnel Cake cake with a blueberry and gin compote.

And while he cooked, guests were treated to a slice of fresh strawberry cake – the recipe that James prepared during his first ever Bolton Food & Drink Festival demo, ten long years ago!

The other big event today, as far as us caking types were concerned, was the Official Bolton Food & Drink Festival Cake Competition. Whether a budding amateur or an experienced pro, entrants were invited to join in with the festival’s fabulous cake-making competition to design and make a show-stopping cake to represent the traditional festival theme – with a fun edge and a focus on entertainment!

 

The festival was looking for people with a love of baking who would like to be in with a chance of winning some wonderful prizes, including premium stand mixers, a hamper of goodies from the show’s headline sponsor Aldi and a complete airbrush system from Spectrum Flow.

The competition entries were judged by a panel of experts, including Kay Gajra, Greenhalgh’s bakery boss David Smart, Aldi Logistics Director Virgil Simpson, Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Linda Thomas and Molly Robbins of Molly’s Creative Cakes.

The standard of the entries was really high and the judges certainly had their work cut out.

Despite some disagreements within the judging panel – nothing better than some lively debate – they ultimately chose these incredible entries as their winners.

Under 16 Winner – Emily Newcombe, Adult Hobby Winner – Becky Wareing and Adult Professional Winner – Lisa Elliott.

Special congratulations must go to Becky Wareing for also scooping the Best in Show prize!

Once the competition was over and our winners had been crowned, it was unfortunately time for me to say goodbye to Bolton, as I headed off on the next stage of my road trip adventures. With all the riotous fun of the last few days, you could be forgiven for forgetting that the main reason for my tour is to collect some of the amazing contributions to my secret collaboration project.

With that in mind, the next stop on my journey was to Beverley, in East Yorkshire to visit Julie Rogerson of Julie’s Cake in a Box. Julie has created some incredible pieces for our project and I can’t wait for you to see them next month! Thank you for having me Julie and thank you for all your hard work – I love them!

Then it was back to one of my favourite places in Cakedom, Zoe’s Fancy Cakes in Leeds!

Home of Zoe Hopkinson and partner Richard, Zoe’s beautiful store is where I took park in my wonderful class with Carla Puig earlier this year and it was wonderful to be back again. Zoe was just finishing off the tail end of her fabulous Horse Model Making Class (literally, they were on the tails) when I arrived and I have to say a massive well done to all of the course participants – all of the models looked amazing!

Then we were off out to dinner, where I allowed Zoe to take my Nando’s virginity. Did you know, they have FOUR different types of veggie burger?! I actually really enjoyed my meal, so thanks for the recommendation, Zoe – and the fabulous company of course!

Tomorrow is an incredibly busy day, as I’ll be scooting back to Manchester to judge a Charity Bake Off and THEN I’m heading up to Glasgow!

If you want to find out why, be sure to hit the subscribe button to the right (or at the bottom of the page if on mobile) and don’t forget to hit confirm in the email I send you.

See you then!