Category Archives: Blog

Something about ‘”R U OK” day’

After scrolling through various social media platforms today, reading the scattering of comments, tweets and posts in relation to "R U OK" day, I thought it was a good idea to do some reflection on this particularly vulnerable topic.

I don't claim to have perfected the art of enlightenment, self-fulfillment or have unwavering self-worth, I do however have an insight that I feel most don't after digesting the comments of today. At various points the words had me interested, concerned, saddened, elated, disgusted and often devastated.

A wise friend of mine said to me this morning "my beef isn't with R U OK day as such but more so with people who are assholes to people 364 days a year who suddenly care about mental health". He wasn't only referring to the average Australian but also to the countless media personnel, bloggers, performers, artists, models, weather-women, sportspeople - all using this incredibly vulnerable notion as an opportunity to promote themselves, their businesses, product or image as oppose to deeply caring about the people who this "day" is truly dedicated to. rope-1468951__180

I don't know, perhaps I'm hyper sensitive about it all given my own personal suffering. All I know is it just doesn't sit right with me and my friends comment basically summed it all up to perfection. However whilst there is enormous validity to his comment, there is also a great opportunity to learn, here are the things I've learnt on this topic that hold me in good stead..most of my days ;)
- I've learnt that we'd all be enormously shocked if we new the struggles of many of our fellow humans.
- I've learnt that nor you or I have the right to ever tell anyone, including ourselves, how they "should" be feeling. I grant myself the permission to everyday feel how I feel with zero judgement.
- I've learnt that those who wait for a specific "day" to check in with their loved ones are the ones who will live with the most regret. It sounds overly cliche' but make yourself an available and reliable source for your loved ones to open up to.I hear so often people say to each other "..I didn't feel comfortable opening up, I felt like I'd be judged".
- I've learnt that unfortunately there's no changing the majority of the worlds inhabitants and because of this I consciously only surround myself with people who lift me up, who inspire me to be better, and who make me happy. There was a time I'd would've rebated this with "but how can I avoid all the bitter and nasty people in the world, honestly its impossible". I believed that for a long time, but hand on heart as I sit here today, I couldn't think of anything less true. The second I feel my mood shift or my instincts latch on to negative energy when I spend time with an individual, I consciously intend on spending as little if not zero time with them again. It sounds simple, but really its about respecting yourself enough to know you deserve better than to sit with the poison a lot of people are selling.
- I've learnt that I have so much more to learn. I still battle with my own demons which threaten to whip me off track when I feel vulnerable, but I know there's no rule which dictates how many times I can get back up and on track again.

kindness-1197351__180Ultimately I'm pleased that mental health is starting to gain more and more awareness, but lets not lose sight of what days like today genuinely encourages. It costs nothing to be a good person, a kind person, a non-judgmental person, but it could be costing a hell of a lot to be the opposite.

I'll leave you with a quote by the Dalai Lama ||| "Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them"

Something about ‘The perfect School Holiday activity for the kids’

Is is just me or does it feel like these days kids are spending more time on "holidays" than actually at "school"?  I don't have kids, but what I do have is an immense adoration for my own space, something which I can only imagine is non existent when the kids are at home.boy-1298788_960_720 
 
Don't panic though, because I have the perfect home activity for you to throw at the kids when they're home and getting all up in your face. This activity not only requires little supervision but it actually is something the kids will love doing. 
 
It will require a little bit of preparation on your behalf however. 
 
Most kids are in awe of pretty cakes and creations, especially those with their favourite characters and colours. This is where the preparation happens on your part: toys-1138469_960_720
 
1- Print out Silhoutte shapes of your kids' favourite characters, e.g. I recently printed and cut out one of Peppa Pig for my niece. 
 
 
2 - Roll out a piece of White Fondant, any size you desire, but make sure its not too thick. Place the silhouette cut out on the fondant and trace around with a knife to get the same shape out of the fondant.
 
3 - Place the shapes on a flat surface in a dark place to dry hard. Be sure to keep the colour picture of the characters that you printed out. And that's basically it! 
 

Station Preparation - Make sure each child has: 

- A small chopping board, plastic knife, bowl of cornflour, cup of water, paint brush, small rolling pin and shape cutters. 
-  About 50g or so of Fondant wrapped in gladwrap in the colours that appear on the relevant character. For example, for Peppa Pig I gave my niece, pale pink, darker pink, black and white icing.  
**Fondant Icing is now readily available in a variety of colours from Coles or Woolworths.
- The Fondant silhouette of their character that you pre-prepared   
- The printed out paper colour picture of their character. pig-304317_960_720
 
Then fun then begins!!! The kids then have the freedom to basically create an Icing Silhouette of their favourite characters which they can actually keep. Leave them be and let their creativity be expressed how they choose.art-1293454_960_720
 
The factors that stand this activity a part from others is that:
- It's not easy enough that the kids will be bored or rush through it. This activity will actually be a challenge for your kids, they'll have to take their time and think about the shapes and sizes they're cutting.  
- Knowing it's something they can keep will inspire them
- It will actually take them a decent amount of time
- If they don't finish or get tired the day they start the project, its something they can continue the next day. 
 
 
Win, Win, Win. You're welcome! 😉

Something about ‘My Top 5 Cake-Creating Music Playlists’

Music, as for so many people, is a massive part of my world. I have found my taste varies when it comes to getting me in the Cake Creating zone. 
 
Sharing this with you, is basically baring my soul, so be kind ok..believe it or not the Bieber train is fun to be on when you're up at 2am with the Owls, caking away. 
 
So here we go... 
 
Playlist 1 -  Baking the cakes. The the cracking of eggs, the sifting, the mixing and the pouring.
** Lots of Stevie Nicks & The 1975  -  Cruisy and smooth tones, mellow beats and sing-along lyrics - yes I am that person - are perfect for this process. 
 
Playlist 2 - Ganaching the cakes. The melting, the pouring and the smoothing. notes-311995_960_720
**Concrete Blond's album 'Blood Letting' - Lead singer Johnette Napolitano's vocal style is so addictive. A pleasure to listen to and always puts a smile on my face, even when I've spilt half the ganache over the stove.   
 
Playlist 3 -  Icing the cakes with Hard Icing (Fondant).
The sometimes arduous kneading & rolling of big quantities of hard Icing calls for some flexing of the guns and the best way to get in this mode is of course with some heart pumpin' workout music. 

**Getting the nod here is - 'My Hero' by the Foo Fighters or 'They don't care about us' - by the King in Michael Jackson. 

 
Playlist 4 - Sugar Flower making. The rolling, the cutting, the veining, the smoothing, the placing and the maneuvering. I love flower making, but it sometimes can become a very repetitive process, and so the only person getting me through is my friend Justin Bieber. Unapologetically on the Bieber train. 
** 'Sorry' by the Biebs gets a few - ok fine, way more than a "few" - replays.  
 
Playlist 5 - Hand Painting. One of my favourite jobs, to which music-278795_960_720I find nothing more inspiring and soothing than listening to traditional Opera and Cello pieces. It is the ultimate inspiration and actually draws my creative juices out of me and onto the cake. 
** Without doubt the genius of Luciano Pavarotti makes this playlist multiple times. 
The Cello in my opinion is one of the most glorious sounds known to man kind. I know society says a Classical piece is no where near as "cool" as a 1D tune, but if you have even one minute of spare time right now, listen to Bach's - The Prelude. Close your eyes and surrender to the sound. I challenge you not to feel moved. Impossibe! 
 

...............................................................

So there you have it, the songs I listen to when creating each stage of your masterpieces. Any surprises? 

Something about ‘Avoiding Wedding Cake disasters’

If a statistic existed that tracked the percentage of brides whom actually enjoy the lead up to the Wedding, I could almost guarantee the number would be incredibly dire looking. The thing is though, the lead up to the Wedding, just as the actual day itself, should be an enjoyable process, or at the very least not overwhelmingly stressful. bridal-636018_960_720
 
I enjoy creating a close rapport with my brides. I enjoy getting to know each bride and most importantly reassuring them that the Wedding Cake process with me is going to be seamless and one less element of their Wedding Planning to stress about. 
 
From my experience, it's important to search for and ultimately book in with experienced and honest suppliers, those who make you feel like you don't have to continue to follow up on that particular piece of the puzzle. The following story may convince you just that little bit more of this. 
 
It was about 11am when I received a call from a Wedding/Event Planner from a venue I have a close working rapport with. Immediately I could sense the panic from the person on the other line, "Fiona, how quick can you get here? It's a disaster!". I dropped everything and made my way to the venue, unaware of what to expect. When I stepped into the kitchen, I was met with about 6 of the most devastated, panicked faces I'd ever seen. And when my eyes met with what was supposed to be the Wedding Cake, I thought to myself, help-66611_960_720"that is irreparable". 
 
The bride & groom had taken up an offer from their family friend who wanted to make their Wedding Cake for the day. With no previous experience making a tiered cake, but many years of baking under her belt, the family friend thought she had everything under control. I  can appreciate the bride & groom wanting to take up the offer given it was their Wedding gift from this family friend, however the look on the brides face as she stood there pleading with me for help, said to me, she regretted the decision badly. Here she was on the day before her Wedding, staring down the possibility of having no Wedding Cake to cut at all. 
 
The 3 tier cake was upside down for starters, the family friend had not only skewered and constructed the cake incorrectly, but upon delivery had not packed it and placed it in the car safely. Consequently the tiers had sunk into each other and on delivery had completely toppled over. I could not retrieve anything from the mess, the sugar flowers were all crushed and the cake itself was basically mush. I felt truly terrible and although I was snowed under with my own Wedding Cake orders for that weekend, I agreed to help. 
 
Ultimately it was a happy ending, I had to work through the night but I was able to whip something up using foam tiers and cakes and flowers I had leftover. Despite this, it was an incredibly stressful situation for the bride, groom, the venue and even myself in the end. There is no doubt that all intentions were genuine and good, however when there is pressure coming from so many directions when organising a Wedding, I recommend simply not taking risks - especially when there are so many amazing suppliers out there willing to help.
 
Fiona Rose x

Something about ‘My fear of failure’

As I sit here trying to write this article, I'm oddly struggling to articulate on point the extent of this fear I hold. I want so badly to  keep this vulnerability hidden, but then I think again, and I realise this is the hold it has on me. Forcing me to hide away in the darkness, quiet and obedient. By challenging this fear, I am taking back the power it has over me. 
 
I was never taught the art of believing in myself, of having an undeniable faith in what my future held despite any doubts, and so it became up to me to find it within myself. It has been the most grueling, battle-like challenge I believe I will ever have to face. 
Of course there will be plenty of obstacles in my life but none as intense as working on self-belief and self-compassion, when I was taught to believe the complete opposite for 20 years. I fell so often that I thought it was a useless war, I was simply not destined to be one of those people who believes in themselves, I started to think you've either got it, or you don't. Of course this is rubbish, we all are worthy.
 
A little while ago I decided to take a step towards achieving my dreams. The fear had paralysed me from doing so for so long. Every time I considered flying, the fear of failure told me I simply could not, that I was destined for a life with my feet on the ground. I was grounded for too long, but one day a strength in me prevailed and I decided to launch Something about Cake. I am now well and truly flying. 

Some days I'm not so strong, in fact there are moments I am fully grounded by the fear, but I'll tell you how I get through these storms. I embrace it, I don't shut it down, I don't wish it away, I take a second to listen to the fear, acknowledge its existence and then am compassionate with myself because of course I am blooming scared, its a huge risk to work for yourself and establish a successful business. I realise the fear has a place, the fear keeps me level headed, and the best part, it makes the success even more unbelievably pleasurable. I've learnt the second you try to deny the fear of space, to shut it down, it grows into a huge burden, and in most cases stops us pursuing our dreams.   
 
One of the quotes that I re-read in the moments I am starting to doubt myself is by J.K.Rowling, who said, "it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default"  
 
My reaction to this quote is  always the same -  I much prefer to fail at attempting the growth of  one of my dreams than to simply fail by default because I was too scared to even try. 
 
Don't get me wrong the prospect of  failure is  terrifying, every cake and creation I do, I kid you not, I fear will fail, not work out, look crap, fall over, something! But what if this fear prevented me from even taking the cakes on? I would never have created over 200 special occasion cakes, I would never have seen the tears of joy or the sparkle in the eyes of my customers as they see their creation. The thought of being without these moments in my life makes me feel dull and unfulfilled, and the fear of feeling like this pushes me to go on every day.
 
Embrace your fears.
 
Fiona Rose x

Something about ‘Making my Cakes 100% from scratch”

Gone are the days when it used to be an unspoken, unquestionable fact that all sweets and delicacies were made using real butter, chocolate & flour. In a society obsessed with mass consumption and quantifiable products, the true essence of baking has slowly and sadly vanished. I could easily too join the flock and start making my cakes using a mixture that comes from a bag, but I will not, that is not the legacy I want to leave.

With respect, there is absolutely no comparison between a cake made from scratch versus a cake from a bag. That's not to say that a premixed cake is "bad", its just a fresh cake is authentically better.

cake-828259_960_720

I am a huge advocate of healthy living. Its taken a while, but I have finally established a good balance between nutritional eating and regular treating. I stumble occasionally, because, well who can resist good old cake cut offs?! Ultimately though, I've got a solid idea about incorporating small treats into my diet. When I do treat myself, because it is on a rare basis, and in small quantities, I want to make sure I am putting as little preservatives into my body as possible. A cake made from scratch, using butter, eggs, sugar, real chocolate, cocoa powder etc whilst a little high in calories, is free from nasty additives and preservatives. Most premixes have additives and subsidisers in order to create an affordable and workable product, this is a reality. It is because of this that if I'm not willing to eat a premix cake, I am not willing to sell it either.christmas-fruit-cake-1004064_960_720

It's incredibly important to me that my cakes not only look fabulous, but also taste amazing and most importantly are flavoursome and moist. When you bring a crumb or piece of my cake to your lips I want the aroma to fill your nose with instant gratification and when it hits your taste buds, I want you to be able to identify without a doubt the flavour - be it Choc Hazelnut, White Choc Lemon etc, and once it does I want you to be able to say one of two things, "Wow" or "Give me more".

In a society saturated with dietitians and personal trainers alike arguing with each other about which food groups to extinguish from your diets, we have truly begun to lose the essence of what it means to actually enjoy a treat. My job is to create masterpieces that have the ability to bring an abundance of joy to the consumer, part of that is my wish for each of you to actually be able to savour the moment you get to enjoy a beautiful, fresh piece of cake without any guilt or self-deprecation what so ever.coffee-1283819_960_720

I believe wholeheartedly that we all need to incorporate a treat into our weekly diets. I've been to those places of deprecation when trying to lose weight, cutting out food groups, cutting out snacks, cutting out treats and basically cutting out my happiness in the process. Its no doubt most of us are in a constant battle with food and forever monitoring what goes in our mouths, that's life cake-279524_960_720.

Though if I give you once piece of advice that from experience has helped me maintain a healthy relationship with food, it is, make peace with the fact that you deserve to enjoy your treats. Eat healthy most days, workout most days, but reassure yourself that you are deserving of treats. By no means am I advocating binge eating or unhealthy eating, at the end of the day, its all about a balance, but I know personally once I gave myself the permission to actually enjoy a treat and not just go through the motions of eating it and then stressing about it, my relationship with food completely changed.

Ultimately if your one treat of the week is a piece of my cake, rest assured my gift to you is that you will not be disappointed!

Something about ‘My Inspiration’

 
I would always watch on with curious eyes and grand adoration. The way my darling Nonna's (grandmothers) delicate fingers would intricately roll and twist and dip and coat and mix and move. Her hands worked with utter grace and efficiency. From traditional Italian biscuits to cakes and sponges and donuts, I grew up by her side adoring her, one biscuit at a time.
 
nMy Nonna's gift, had  been passed on, not only to my Mum, but also gratefully, to me. As I grew in height and confidence I would nestle under my Nonna or Mum's wings every opportunity I got. And I would not budge, I wanted to soak in as much as I could, I wanted to get right in the action. This didn't always go down so well. There were countless occasions where my Mum would get cross with me for being in the way or stuffing a recipe up, she'd yank the wooden spoon from my hands and send me on my way. Ultimately though she knew all I wanted was to be with her baking away, and more times than not she let me help, passing on all her secrets.  
 
A notoriously hard worker, I found myself embroiled on a path that was unrewarding and monotonous. After excelling in VCE I was forced into taking the University/Academic path, made to believe it was the only way that I could ever "be worthy". This mentality haunted me for years, and so I endured 2 years of a University degree. I  was utterly miserable, though one random day I made the courageous decision that I was strong enough to follow my dreams.
 
I knew what made my heart tick, and so, one afternoon I hopped on a tram down to William Angliss Tafe in the Melbourne CBD and enrolled myself in a Pastry Apprenticeship Course. Within a week I had secured a place of employment to complete my apprenticeship and was accepted into the course. f3 years later I graduated with honours, awarded a special achievement certificate and won Dux of my year. My Nonna watched on as I accepted my awards and I couldn't take my eyes off her, it was a chillingly special and proud moment.
 
To this day, I look for the glimmer in her eye when I show her one of my creations, and when I catch it, my heart sparkles a little, and everything just makes sense.
 
 
~ In loving dedication to Rosa, my Inspiration...
 
 
 
Happy baking, creating and eating.

Fiona x

Something about ‘My Greatest Cake Successes & Biggest Mishaps’

I refuse to label anything in my life as a "failure" because truly where we are deemed to have "failed", we really only have been gifted a lesson to learn. How hard is that notion to swallow and accept?! When we find ourselves in the midst of despair and believe we have screwed up exponentially, most of our instincts are programmed to connect what has happened with negativity. It takes much work on oneself to be able to reach the point where despite the pain of a situation, you have the ability to take a step back and find the lesson. I am committed wholeheartedly to this journey in my personal life but also my professional.

By nature I am the ultimate perfectionist. I'd get a B+ in school and I would have epic meltdowns, I accidentally mix a white sock in with the blacks load and I'm ticked off, I'm exhausted after a long days work but I'll still scrub the stove to within an inch of sparkling. These are just a few examples of the ways in which I am extremely hard on myself for not achieving perfection..I'm working on these mundane things though because really, I know you'll find this hard to believe but..the white sock did in fact survive..and so will I.

Of course part of being successful at my craft is having that element of perfection as a prominent part of my personality. Sometimes it becomes a curse, particularly at 3 in the morning when I've entirely stripped and re-iced a cake because of a tiny indentation I just couldn't stand. Most of the time however, it gives me the strength to sit for hours intricately piping, the bravery to take on challenging designs and ultimately the ability to create masterpieces that my customers adore.

I have an unique connection with every Cake I do, however its no doubt the bond is stronger with a few in particular, purely based on my doubt of if I could actually reach the point of presentation.

One in particular that truly tested my limits and was an extraordinary challenge was the 'Tour de France' cake. The cake itself was no trouble, it was the customers actual competition bike which they wanted replicated out of sugar that was the challenge. It was the intricate construction of the bike parts, the chains, the wires, the metal that all are meant to intertwine seamlessly that was absolutely torturous to perfect. I had about 4 attempts to which the profanities were dripping out of my mouth thick and fast, I was becoming increasingly frustrated and it was the only instance I've ever thought to myself "I don't think I can actually do this - I think I'm going to have to call the client and let her know". When the reality hit that consequently by giving up it also meant disappointing a long-standing, supportive customer, I instantly switched into survival mode. I picked myself up, threw all 4 attempts in the bin, poured myself a glass a wine and started again.

Placing the finished, shiny Sugar Bike on that cake was as proud of myself as I've been IMG_1408throughout my journey to date. It wasn't the biggest or tallest cake I've ever had to do, but it was the one that forced me beyond my usual comfort zone. It tested my resolve, my bravery and determination.

With all successes however, it is inevitable that spontaneous road blocks occur. I am no exception to this rule. I did experience a moment when I was adamant I had failed, and it probably took me a month to get over it and realise, it too was an opportunity to grow.

For those of you who are not aware, humid weather is like the devil coming to visit for Cake Decorators. As soon as the humidity hits the air waves, it causes a condensation to form on Hard Iced Cakes once removed from the fridge. The difference in temperatures is part the problem, though the humidity is what causes the cakes to essentially sweat. I've had some cakes look as if I've hosed them down, this is a frustratingly unpreventable problem and if there are any scientists out there, please create a formula for a Hard Icing that does not condensate. In my early days, before I was fully aware of the temperament of Hard Icing when combined with humidity, I had an order for an Engagement cake, iced in white icing with all black detail. The night before I intricately piped a beautiful black Florentine piping across the whole cake. After a few hours' work I popped the cake carefully into the fridge, confident that it looked great and was virtually ready for delivery the next night.

The morning of, I woke early, what a blessing that turned out to be, and took the cake immediately out of the fridge, this is custom to let the cake come down to room temperature ready to be eaten. I left it on my bench whilst I went to the supermarket, the gym, and ran a few errands, probably a  good 4 hours. What I came back to was an absolute disaster. Being a hideously humid day, the cake had sweated so much that all, and I mean all the black piping had run down the cake, leaving behind, well, I  guess it could be best described as a black mess. What was my beautifully crisp, sharp, perfect white Iced cake was barely a glimmer of its former self. As you can imagine I went into shock mode, barely moving an inch for a good minute, I wanted to get back in bed with the intent to restart the day all over again. It was an either sink or swim situation...the fighter in me decided to swim.

board-939244_960_720[1]I immediately decided it was absolutely no use trying to salvage the black mess that was in front of me. I decided to start from scratch using foam blocks. I was in total flight mode, it was incredible, I did about 10 hours of work in 4 hours from pure adrenaline. I knew what I needed to do and it simply was not an option in my mind to leave my customers' cake table empty on their special day. Whilst it all worked out in the end, I learnt a hell of a lot from that situation, not only that humidity and black piping  should never meet if possible, but more importantly about myself. I had the ability to really hone in on my determination, and use my fear as a driver not a road block. It was a very telling experience for me and has given me the confidence to believe in myself and know that whatever mistakes I make (and there will be plenty) I will just handle it.

 I'll leave you with one of my favourite and appropriate quotes;

                      “Let go of the attachment, keep the lesson” ~L.J. Vanier

Happy baking, creating and eating.
Fiona x

Something about ‘The Creaming Method’

For those unaware of the vocabularly, the 'Creaming Method' refers to the initial stage of making most cakes, cookies, muffins etc, where the butter and sugar are mixed to a specific consistency before the addition of other ingredients.

There are copious amounts of opinions and beliefs when it comes to using the Beater or the Whisk for the Creaming stage of baking. I too, am going to share my two cents, why not right? I'm a firm believer that if you have found a way, a method that provides near perfect results, then you should roll with it. The "conventional" way is not necessarily the best way. As such, I firmly believe, after having thoroughly tested both tools, that the Beater is your friend for Creaming. I wont complicate things; a Whisk is used to aerate a mixture, a Beater is used to mix a mixture. In this case, we don't want to so much as fluff up the mixture as we do mix the ingredients together to create a smooth and light result.

Do not even attempt to use other kitchen gadgets such as a hand held mixer or food processor - they wont get the job done to a high quality level, and at 'Something about Cake', 'Quality' is our favourite word.

Moving on to the ingredients themselves, specifically the butter (fat) as is the star of this particular show. It is absolutely imperative, and a tip I cannot stress enough, that the butter be at room temperature. This means it should not even have the slightest chill from the fridge nor should it be at the point of liquid melting. I swear guys, this tip is as simple as it sounds but it the most important point in finishing with a perfectly creamed batter. Lots of recipes say to cut the butter up in cubes, I'm never this fussy, a few rough chunks to ensure an easier distribution is perfectly fine.

The next tip I have is regarding the speed of your mixer. There is a perfect medium when it comes to the speed you should beat at, basically its not too fast and not too slow. If you laughed at that, thinking well that doesn't help much - all I can say is, you know your mixer better than I do, you'll need to find a speed that is not "slow" to the point the mixture doesn't begin to come together instantly and not too "fast" to the point you're stressing the ingredients out. For those of you whom have a KitchenAid, speed 4 is perfect.

What actually is happening when you beat the butter and sugar together is that the sugar granules are cutting tiny holes into the butter - this incorporates air and causes the butter to soften and increase in volume.

So how do you achieve the perfect Creamed Mixture?dough-1115628_960_720[1]
With the advent of the more powerful mixers around today, gone are the days of having to whip the butter and sugar mixture on high speed for several minutes to achieve high quality results. Speaking generally (of course it will depend on the quantities of butter and sugar you're working with) after you've been beating the mixture for 3-4 minutes you’ll notice the batter change drastically in colour and texture. At this point, you may need to use a spatula to scrape down the sides if any batter looks to be stuck, but if not, do not disturb the mixture. Give it another minute or so of mixing and you should be ready to switch the mixer off. A perfectly creamed mix will be moist and light in colour and texture. The sugar should be nearly fully dissolved so you barely feel any grit when you rub it between your fingers.
The way to identify if you've Under-creamed your mixture is if it has a wet sand or damp cornmeal feel.
If you've Over-creamed, your mix will have the feel of oil and sugar on your fingers, much like a facial scrub/exfoliate.

Happy baking, creating and eating.
Fiona x

"Hi, I'm wanting to book you in for a Hens Party Cake please. We are wanting you to make a 3D cake of the Male Anatomy and we're happy to pay whatever it takes. But we want it big. Out there. Detailed"... This request, word for word came through to me via email about 2 months ago. I actually blushed when I read it. The thought of going through the motions of actually moulding cake, to be eaten, into the shape of, well, "the male anatomy" was where I drew the line. I very politely declined the invitation.

The most frequently asked question that comes my way is "what are the craziest cake requests you’ve received or had to do". The answer to this question makes me giggle, I feel like I may have become immune to what is considered "weird" - I've heard it all. I am an incredibly open-minded person, designer and creator. The creative blood that runs through my veins allows me to embrace and encourage the bizarre, the unique and the bold. I adore when a client comes to me with a sparkle in their eye - I can just foresee what I'm in for, a challenge no doubt, but ultimately the opportunity to create beyond the norm.

In saying that, I want to share with you the top 3 requests that even made my eyes and ears tense up:

3- "The Tarantula” – Need I say more? Whilst not so much strange, but certainly creepy, I did have a man wanting to order a cake for his wife’s 30th Birthday in the shape of a giant Tarantula Spider. Why? Well, to quote him “she loses her mind over spiders”. Like most people I have a grand phobia of spiders and couldn’t fathom, even for the sake of the job having to stare at a giant Cake Spider sitting in my fridge.

2 – “The Anatomy” – It’s certainly entertaining receiving emails with these requests. The detail is never lacking, the demands are always confusing, and sometimes, if I'm particularly lucky, I even get an attached image asking "can you emulate?"

1- "Cat Litter" - This request was personally the most bizarre. This particular lady wanted me to make a cake in the shape of a Cat giving birth to kittens. Instantly my mind starting summersaulting with ideas, as is custom for my creative brain. A gorgeous vision came to mind of the Mummy cat laying down with 5 or so little kittens nestled against her - post birth.

How wrong could I have been! When I divulged my idea to the customer, she responded with "No dear, I don't want post birth, I want during birth". In other words, she wanted me to carve the Mummy cat in the midst of giving birth to a kitten - "half in, half out". Not only that, she wanted the detail absolutely on point, blood soaked towels, birthing liquids, the lot! I was momentarily speechless, to which she proudly declared "You'll have no problem getting all the details right because I will send you a video of my cat giving birth to her litter last week, I filmed it all!” It was all getting very weird, I mean there is an extraordinarily telling reason I studied Cake & Design and not Medicine & Midwifery.

I am the biggest advocate of celebrating the perceived abnormalities in humans. I will forever continue to embrace the "weird" in this wide, wonderful, challenging world and hopefully continue to get the opportunity to represent it in my Cakes.

Happy baking, creating and eating.

Fiona x

DSC03590