All Content, Blog, Review

Review: Squires Kitchen Edible Wafer Paper by Natasha Collins

A few weeks back, you may recall that I visited the Squire’s Kitchen Exhibition for the first time and, while I was there, allowed Rhianydd Webb of Dragon’s and Daffodils Cakes to take me on a very resolve-testing walk around the show’s marketplace – resolve-testing because I had promised myself that I wouldn’t buy anything. Luckily, I was able to stick to my guns – well at the show at least – but alas that didn’t stop me hitting the web when I got home…

One of the products that had really piqued my interest at the show was the new Cake Smoothies, from Sherry Hostler with Squires Kitchen and I must confess that these may have already have found their way into my cake tool box (You can pick them up here if you are interested and why not take advantage of my exclusive 10% discount at the same time – just enter code MRBAKER10 at checkout).

But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about today. No, today I want to discuss the other new product from Squires that had got me thinking. The new Squires Kitchen Edible Wafer Papers by Natasha Collins were designed by the British cake artist and cake-painting specialist behind Nevie Pie Cakes – ‘the home of the painted cake’. She teamed up with Squires Kitchen to produce a whole range of beautiful ‘painted’ designs on strong, flexible and ultra-fine wafer paper, making it suitable for all kinds of uses in baking and sugarcraft.

When I first mentioned them in my blog from the Squires Kitchen Exhibition, I explained that if you are not confident in your cake painting abilities or are looking for an easier alternative, the wafer paper designs by Natasha Collins would be perfect to add pretty painted effects in seconds.

This got me thinking and I wondered if it would be possible for a cake decorating novice to use the papers to create a show-stopping cake without the time and effort that professionals usually put in, and thus, my Painted Giftbox Tutorial was born.

In addition to ‘the cheat’s solution to a painted finish’ as one of my friends has dubbed it, I also used a purchased floral spray  to create this cake. Although a couple of the other techniques are not quite so noob-friendly, the tutorial will hopefully make it nice and easy to blend the slightly more-challenging techniques with some simple shortcuts to create a cake with real wow factor.

To find out how to create the full cake, you can find the tutorial via the menu at the top of the page, but today I want to talk about the part of the tutorial that concerns the wafer paper itself.

When it came to applying the wafer paper to a cake, I will admit that I initially struggled. There are no instructions on the packet and, having only used wafer paper a few times in the past, I wasn’t sure how best to attach it. Luckily, I had enough knowledge to know that water would not be my friend, so steaming the cake like one does to apply edible lace was not an option.

I decided to try using piping gel instead and heated a small amount up in the microwave for 45 seconds (stirring every 15) to reduce its viscosity. Around this time, I realised that I still haven’t yet replaced my large paintbrushes for cakes and instead applied the piping gel to the sides of the cake using a flexible smoother. This actually worked really well as it gave me a really smooth finish without any excess gel that could cause pockets when I applied the paper.

I measured the cake and, using a metal ruler and a scalpel, trimmed the top of the paper to just below the height of the cake.

Applying the paper to the cake was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be and I managed to do this fairly simply. Unfortunately, I did end up with some bubbling, but that could be because my cake wasn’t as perfectly flat as I had thought, so it’s worth spending some time with your smoothers and a spirit level to ensure this is as perfect as you can get it.

I also discovered, when applying the second piece of paper, that the patterns don’t join at the edges, like with wallpaper. I had been expecting this though and I figured that this would probably be the case with a real gift box too.

Because the bottom of the cake was the part that would be most visible when it was finished, I concentrated on getting that part looking the neatest and then used the giftbox lid and ‘stitched strips’ to cover the other edges of the paper. I had to spend some time with my smoothers to allow the sugarpaste to absorb and mask the lumps and bumps caused by the edge of the wafer paper, but I was mainly happy with the overall effect.

All in all, I pretty pleased with the finish that I was able to produce with the Squire Kitchen wafer papers. I don’t think anyone would immediately realise that the cake isn’t actually painted and, when used as part of an overall design, I think it looks incredibly effective – it also has a very subtle, sweet flavour that would complement all of your favourite recipes. The experienced cake artist could easily smarten up my beginner-level design, using some petal dust colours to add more depth to the sugarpaste embellishments and really pull out the other colours in the design, and, if the Squires Kitchen papers were used as part of a larger piece, such as a multi-tiered wedding cake, I could imagine the effect would be incredibly dramatic.

That said, applying the paper isn’t something that can be rushed and I would advise anyone wanting to have a go to ensure that they practice a few times before using it on a client cake. I’m now planning on using the rest of my paper to create a geometric design inspired by something I saw in a book recently – more on that later though.

The wafer paper comes in packets of two sheets, with different patterns on each, and the set I used for my tutorial was from the Big Blooms collection. Because there is only one of each sheet in a packet, I needed two packets for my cake. Thank you to Natalie in the Squires Kitchen press office for sending me plenty of packets to experiment with though!

Natasha and Squires Kitchen have come up with a whole range of fabulous patterns and finishes, including more child-friendly designs such as the Kawaii Hearts and the Dinosaurs collections and a whole selection of Christmas-themed papers too.

To check out the whole range and to buy, you can find them at Squires Kitchen Shop or you can take advantage of my exclusive 10% discount at Fabricake Sugarcraft Ltd by entering code MRBAKER10 at checkout.

And if anyone else has already had a play with the new Squires Kitchen Edible Wafer Paper by Natasha Collins, do let me know what you thought!

And until next time, happy caking! x

All Content, Blog

Squires Kitchen Exhibition 2018

Since discovering this little hobby of mine, cake artistry has given me the opportunity to travel all over the country, attending events, taking classes and meeting up with incredibly talented people wherever I go. In the last year alone, I’ve been to London, Birmingham, Manchester, Southend-on-Sea, I’m off to Leeds this week and I’m in the process of planning a trip up to the wilds of Scotland. But rather shockingly, even though it is practically on my doorstep, I had never made it up the A3 to Farnham and the Squires Kitchen Exhibition! Obviously, that had to change and so I got in touch with Natalie at Squires Kitchen and invited myself along to last weekend’s 2018 event.

IMG_0807

Set in the heart of Farnham, the Squires Kitchen Exhibition is held the Maltings, a former tannery that that also has a long brewery history, until it was partially donated – at a very reduced rate – to the town by then owners, Courage Breweries.  Today, the Maltings provides space for many different activities, including artists’ studios, galleries, the Riverside Café and Cellar Bar; the Barley Room, the Dance Studio and Nursery.

The Exhibition is spread out over the whole space and the rabbit warren-like layout of the show really adds to the charm of the event as a whole. On my initial wander, I kept stumbling into rooms that I hadn’t even realised were there and discovering even more wonderful things to see and experience – although, helpfully there are very clear maps dotted all around, so you don’t have to rely on unexpected discoveries!

IMG_0862

After a very friendly welcome from the Squires team, I quickly headed to the competition galleries – they tend to be a popular draw and I wanted to be able to take the time to take them all in before the rooms got too crowded.

IMG_0930

The categories at this year’s show were:

Class 1: Bowl of Flowers – A sugar flower arrangement containing at least three different varieties of flowers displayed in a bowl or vase of the competitor’s choice. The flowers could be botanically accurate or fantasy flowers.

IMG_0866

Class 2: Carved Novelty Cake – A chance for competitors to show off their cake shaping skills and produce a carved cake covered in any suitable edible medium. Cakes had to be carved and shaped entirely by the competitor with no moulded tins allowed!

IMG_0814.jpg

Class 3: Showstopper Wedding Cake – An opportunity to be inspired by modern trends or more traditional techniques, competitors were tasked to create a stylish wedding cake with the wow factor.

IMG_0904.jpg

Class 4: Miniature Wedding Cake – An incredible category that challenges competitors to work on a small scale to produce a wedding cake with a minimum of two tiers that will fit within a 6” cube.

IMG_0860

Class 5: Painted Celebration Cake – Competitors got creative within this freestyle class. They were allowed to use edible paints, pastes, dusts or another edible medium to create a painted design that would wow the judges.

IMG_0877

Class 6: Pastillage Cup and Saucer – Creative cup and saucers crafted from pastillage, decorated with any edible medium and displayed however competitors wish.

IMG_0869

Class 7: Whatever the Weather Children’s Cupcakes – A chance for the youngsters to get involved and make and decorate a minimum of three weather-themed cupcakes with prizes for two age categories: 7–10 years and 11–14 years.

IMG_0895

The judges certainly had their work cut out with a huge variety of entries and I didn’t envy them their job one bit. I know many of them were still on site long after the show had finished for the day, so they definitely gave it the attention it deserved. Congratulations to everyone who entered and, of course, the deserving winners.

In addition to the stunning competitions, the show also featured a huge variety of incredibly talented professional cakers, bakers and artists sharing their amazing skills and techniques through free demonstrations throughout the weekend.

IMG_0942

During my visit on the Saturday, there were opportunities to learn from a whole host of legends, including (but not limited to): animated figures with expert modeller Carlos Lischetti; wafer paper flowers, with Petya Shmarova; cake sculpting with Jacqui Kelly; chocolate faces with Laura Dodimead [pictured]; master chocolatier-worthy chocolate skills from former Bake Off Crème de la Crème winner, Mark Tilling; a floral masterclass with Alan Dunn; unique cake toppers from Extreme Cake Maker, Christine Jensen of Peboryon; perfect peonies from creator of the Perfect Peony Cutter, Natalie Porter; and cake painting skills from best-selling author of The Painted Cake, Natasha Collins. I wish I could have made it to all of the amazing demonstrations, because I loved the ones I did manage to sneak into.

IMG_0964

Another unmissable event was the live Royal Wedding Cake Collaboration – a joint effort to create the ultimate fantasy wedding cake for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Featuring the work of Alan Dunn, Petya Shmarova, Design Sucré, Simply Alpa, Emily Hankins Cake, Sylvia’s Kitchen, Scrum Diddly, Immaculate Confections, Wedding Cakes by Design, Apple Tree Cake Design, Tees Bakery, Hayley Elizabeth Cake Design, Willoughby’s Handmade Cakes and Chelsea Buns Creative Cakes, it was honestly a sight to behold. Beautiful work team!

IMG_0972

Of course, a cake show wouldn’t be a cake show without oodles of shopping opportunities and Squires didn’t disappoint on that front either – although, you may be surprised to know that I was very restrained.

IMG_8857
A cheeky selfie with darling Gwen at the dragéekiss stand

However, I was particularly intrigued by the new Cake Smoothie by Sherry Hostler and I may yet still have to invest in a set – just for research purposes you understand. The Cake Smoothies are a set of three round-edged, teardrop-shaped, silicone cake smoothers designed to allow you to smooth your sugarpaste into even the most awkward angles and shapes on your cakes. As predominantly a sculpted cake maker, I can already see the possibilities! My eye was also caught by the new Squires Kitchen Edible Wafer Paper by Natasha Collins. Designed by the British cake artist and cake-painting specialist, Natasha has teamed up with Squires Kitchen to produce a whole range of beautiful ‘painted’ designs on strong, flexible and ultra-fine wafer paper, making it suitable for all kinds of uses in baking and sugarcraft. If you’re not confident in your cake painting abilities or are looking for an easier alternative, the wafer paper designs by Natasha Collins will add pretty painted effects in seconds. I could see them being really cost- and time-saving too.

I was also lucky enough to be able to monopolise Rhianydd Webb of Dragons and Daffodils, who incidentally is now my new favourite shopping buddy as she introduced me to all of the stands that I absolutely shouldn’t miss while at the show. We started with Fine Cut Sugarcraft Products, based in Nottingham, who produce a seemingly endless range of high quality metal cutters in every shape and size that you can imagine, before heading to The Old Bakery, who, amongst other things, stock Sunrise Wires – superb quality floral wires imported from Japan. Rhianydd recommends them to all of her students as she is yet to find an alternative that are as high quality and reliable.

IMG_0987

She also introduced me to Sugar Artistry by Stephen Benison and his wonderfully unique cutters. Oh, and the Squires Kitchen Great Impressions Silicone Veiners – all of which I am now coveting, by the way!

After the heroic levels of willpower I had had to expend while perusing the marketplace, it was definitely time for a coffee at one of the many cafés dotted all around The Maltings and an opportunity to catch up on my cake world gossip with some of the many cakey chums that I had bumped into throughout the day.

IMG_8862

And that’s another wonderful thing about the Squires show actually: it’s so lovely and friendly. Which reminds me, I promised the lovely ladies of the British Sugarcraft Guild that I would mention their upcoming Cakes and Sugarcraft Exhibitions. So, if you are local to Ware in Hertfordshire, be sure to head along to the Region 7 show on 8th September 2018. It takes place at Wodson Park on Wadesmill Road and doors open at 10am. For more information, visit bsgregion7.co.uk. And if you’re particularly organised with your diary, the Region 8 show takes place at the Falmer Campus of Brighton University on 18th May 2019. More information can be found at bsgregion8se.org.

I also promised a shout out to Brooklands College, who were in attendance showing off some of their sugarcraft and bakery students’ amazing creations. They offer a variety of courses to suit bakers and cakers of all abilities at their Surrey-based campuses and invite anyone who would like to know more to attend a public exhibition of their students’ work on Tuesday 1st May 2018 – between 10am and 7:30pm.

IMG_0980

All in all, I had a thoroughly enjoyable day at my first ever Squire Kitchen Exhibition and was made to feel very welcome. I would heartily recommend it to cakers and baking fans alike. There are so many opportunities to meet, speak to and learn from your idols, chances to try out products that you might normally only get to see online, tons of wonderful things to see and do and easily enough to fill a whole day out – in fact, I practically had to be escorted from the premises at the end because I was still desperately trying to squeeze in a last few photographs of the amazing multi-tiered masterpieces in the Wedding Cake Showroom!

Wedding Cake finished

Thank you to everyone who contributed to making it a truly wonderful day – I will definitely be seeing you all again next year!

All Content, Blog

It’s time to get our Squires on…

So this weekend marks the return of the Squires Kitchen Exhibition to Farnham Maltings and I am excited! Although it’s only about an hour away from me – practically next door compared to some of the trips I take to indulge my cakey passions – I have never been! But that is all about to change, as today I will be heading along, with my blogger hat on, to find out what it is all about.

With a whole host of live demonstrations by star guests to inspirational designs in the Wedding Cake Showroom and Competition Hall, I am told there is much to see and do and I am particularly looking forward to checking out the fabulous creative talents of the entrants in the Squires Kitchen Annual Cake Decorating Competition.

I am also looking forward to perusing the wide array of stands in the Marketplace, where leading sugarcraft suppliers will be sharing their latest tools and materials, with special show offers – although, I hope I can show a bit more restraint that I would have done in the past. But, you know, if there’s something I really NEED…

It’s sure to be a really fun weekend, so if you fancy joining us, you can buy tickets here. Be sure to ping me a Facebook message if you are heading down and hopefully I will see some of you there! xx