Sunday, 11 January 2015

My relationship with Novelty cakes

Being frank, If you asked me if I loved Novelty cakes, you'd likely get a definite "No!"  
Novelty cakes and I have a funny relationship. I love to hate them. 
You see, I get such satisfaction from making a jaw dropping Wedding Cake, the thought of a brightly coloured Novekty cake really doesn't excite me. Or so I thought. 

My lack of enthusiasm for Novelty grew as I began to realise that most consumers put less value on this style of cake. It's just a Cake right?? It's GOT to be simpler than a traditional wedding cake doesn't it??
Well, no. 
It's true, a wedding cake is complex. It requires skill and finesse to finish it to a level worthy of its positioned glory. 
A Wedding Cake is the central focal point of the reception. It's the ceremonious symbol guests rush to ogle over when they enter the reception. The Wedding cake is the surprise factor. Will it be a big opulent structure coved with hand crafted sugar flowers, or will the guests be delighted by the surprise of a unique cake that represents the quirkiness of the couple. Or maybe something In-between . Whatever the design a Wedding cake is held in high regard. 

Novelty cakes, sadly, don't have that same rap. They're fun. Sometimes they're cute. They're not as hard to make- are they????
I use to fear the very thought of mixing up 19 different colours to create a novelty. I don't like waste, and when mixing up this many colours there's always some waste. Even with years of experience colour matching and blending, knowing how much you'll need to cover a tier, still means that there's leftover.  While some colours can be saved for later, most are fiddly little bits that are not worth keeping, yet if you put all of the "bits" together in a ball, you'd have something between and orange and a grapefruit size piece left over. Pffft! That's a couple hundred grams of icing. Yes , but if you're making a few each week it adds up. 
There isn't that kind of waste with white or ivory cakes. 
Clients who couldn't see the time, effort and value in a Novelty are another reason I began to loathe this style. 
I was so disheartened by this that I dreaded anyone who inquired about a novelty cake with me. I'd send a quote, or offer one over the phone- to be met with akward silence. Or cries of "WHAT?!?!?" "IT'S JUST A CAKE!"  
But soon enough clients started to see the "Cool" in Novelty, they began to see that a 3D cake that was a replica of an object would not only serve as a delicious dessert at their gathering- it too would provide entertainment! It could Wow the guests as well as satisfying their sweet tooth!
I loved hearing how my clients guests reacted. "They couldn't believe it was a cake!!" "I didn't want to cut it", were common feedback I received. 
With all this joy and excitement I started to like Novelty cakes (insert very surprised face). And while the majority of inquiries were still alarmed at what a novelty cake costs- there were clients who appreciated their worth and ordered some truly awesome cakes. 
My appreciation of Novelty cakes was probably summed up with this cake I did in 2012

I thought it was way cool! It's head even turned!! 
It was more than just a cake. It was a feature decoration at a party. "That's a cake?!?!" "Wow!"   My job was complete. 

In 2014 I did some pretty fun cakes. I didn't realise how many until I spent time (hours) looking back through last years pictures. 
I also realised that maybe I liked Novelty design. Maybe it was pretty cool?  Perhaps I did get job satisfaction from making them :)

So I thought I'd share my favourites from last year.

This push car cake was a 1/2 scale model. 

Then there was Lola Pickles. 
Ordered as a surprise for the birthday girl- this 3D novelty cake was a cartoon replica of the family cat. 

The one that possibly impressed grown men the most was the Lego Man Transformer cake. 

 He was so big that I couldn't photograph him easily in my tent. 

He was entirely cake- with the exception of the wheels- which were Rice Krispie Treat. 
He was allot of fun. 

Then there was a replica of a young gentlemans Longboard. Complete with a mini Mr on the edge. 

Then there was the Pinball machine cake. 
This was actually for my dad. 
He turned 60 last September. I actually waned to buy him a real pinball machine, but that wasn't possible, so I gave him the next best thing- an edible one :)

My dad had a 60's themed 60th. I wanted to make a personalised cake, rather than just replicating an actual machine. 
He gets called "Magoo" by some friends due to his glasses. 
So "Disco Magoo" was the Pinball theme. 
Psychedelic swirled icing, and "scores" reflecting significant years and dates. 

It was another giant cake. Thanks to my husband Steve for drilling and screwing the supports in place. 

There were many more in 2014, but I will leave them for another day. 
Just a small collection of some satisfying novelties I did last year. 

I now get excited by the prospect of creating a fabulous 3D novelty. I love the challenge of getting the structure right, and making it entirely from cake! 
So if you've got something you'd like made out of cake - give me a shout!

Thanks for reading

Monday, 5 January 2015

What's a Wedding Cake Worth??

A new year brings so many things. New opportunities, adventures and new learning experiences. 
Many of you may have recently become engaged (Congratulations!!) - such an exciting time for both you and your fiancé, and for your family too.
Weddings are filled with joy and love and new beginnings- just like the New Year. 
I really enjoy meeting my clients, learning about them and their style. Hearing proposal stories, and of course how they met. 
Whilst this may seem like friendly chatter (or an over excited vendor who relishes speaking with other adults lol), to me it's very important to know my clients before designing a cake for them. 
The cake not only has to fit the feel of the reception, it needs to reflect the couple themselves. 
My job isn't all about creating stunning five tier white cakes (although I do have a rather large soft spot for thee) it's about creating a fit. 
A design fit, a flavour fit (Yes most important) , and a budget fit. 
Many clients are shy to reveal their cake budget. They shouldn't be. 
I'm sure many won't say for fear of either being overcharged or offending me if what they've accounted for is far less than a cakes worth. Neither of which could be further from reality. 
I get that this is (for most) the first time they've ordered a custom cake. I'm hear to show you why a great cake costs, and show you value for money. 
I understand that there's much misinformation about, poor articles informing couples that if you mention the word "wedding" the price will double. This is not true. Each cake is priced upon its size and detail. To be honest, the function you're using the cake for is purely to help with the design. It doesn't impact the price. You'll receive the same exceptionally finished custom made professional cake from me whether you're using it in an opulent reception, or for a backyard bbq. 
There's also the common belief that if you have "fake" tiers your cake will be loads cheaper. This is also a fallacy. The cost of custom cut foam (incl delivery) is similar to most regular style cakes. Icing foam is harder, (due to its lightweight) than a stable cake, and the external decorations take the same amount of time, effort and skill as a cake you can cut and enjoy. 
Sure if you're wanting a 20 inch cake base - this will be more economical that having actual cake, but most Bride and grooms to be are requesting 10" or smaller cakes to be replaced with foam.  You may save $5-$40 on your cake but you won't save $100's. 

It's my aim to work with my clients to give them the best value for money. 
I offer a one on one service. This means you deal with myself from design to delivery. 
I bake, ice, decorate and deliver All my cakes. 
I source all the ingredients, and use local free range eggs and seasonal fruits where possible. 
I pride myself on making cakes that taste better than they look, and whilst I can make you a "Chocolate Mud" or a "Red Velvet" cake, I'd much rather bake you a custom flavour that will stick in your guests minds long after they've eaten their slice. 
If you crave Salted Caramel, I can fill your tiers with Salted Caramel fudge cake with layers of dark chocolate ganache and Peanut butter buttercream.Or a Rosewater sand cake with pistachio and Byron Bay Honey cream??  After all- if you're serving the cake as a dessert it may as well be dessert worthy. 

Let's not forget how you're going to present the cake that you'll stand in front of your guests and ceremoniously cut. I offer a range of cake stands for hire. From hand crafted pedestal stands, to timber slices and gorgeous silver ornate stands and plateaus. If my selection doesn't include quite what you're looking for, custom made stands may be available. 

Sooooooo what will your cake cost?? It's not really a simple answer. 
Your ideal cake could be a textured butter iced cake that will be adorned with flowers from your florist, or it could be a meter high hand painted, Pearl finished cake with piping and stencil detail, with sugar blooms cascading down one side. 

There's so much variations it's impossible to give a single price. 
If you're looking to set a realistic budget then take this into consideration:
At a chain bakery where you're served a piece of commercially baked pre mix cake for between $6-$8 per slice. 
If you were to dine at a restaurant where the pastry chef had created a piece of art on a plate would see you paying $20-$28. 

I am a chef by trade. 
Your cake will be baked from scratch using quality ingredients. 
If the thought of paying $6-$20 per dessert portion is too much then maybe I'm not the decorator for you. 

This is my livelihood. 
I'm a fully registered and licensed Cake Decorator. 
Please don't assume I'll be content  working for less than a checkout operator to create your custom cake. 

I have the experience, knowledge, skills and passion to create something wonderful for you. 

I'm here to work with you to put together a design that symbolizes your Union. 
I'm here to create Your Dream Cake. 

So - What is a Wedding Cake Worth?

It's worthy of the job of a professional whose skills, expertise and network of colleagues means you'll have your expectations exceeded by the quality and service provided. 

So if you're after a spectacular cake for 2015 contact me to arrange a consultation. 
Happy 2015
SJ xx

Don't forget to like me on Facebook 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

The Luckiest Cowboy

I'm more than aware how lucky I am. How truly blessed my family is, and how fortunate we are. 
I have been priveledged to be apart of a family who encouraged and celebrated my successes, and who are always there to support me. 
Although my clients often ask me about my family, and it's not often I publicly share. 
I have written and deleted this blog many times. I've felt a bit conflicted about sharing. I've feared how it may be read, so I'm trying my best in this two dimensional platform to write it as best I can. 
For as long as I can remember I've been aware of good fortune. Whilst growing up in a working class family, my parents always gave and shared without question. This upbringing has made me conscious of giving back and helping whenever I can. 

This December  my Big boy turned 3!
I am trying to instill the same caring values in him as was taught to me. It was like a lightbulb was switched on in his mind a few months ago- where he realised people recieved "things" for their birthdays. 
So came forth the requests of anything he saw "maybe I can get this for my birthday???" became the phrase  of the moment. The highlight of this time for me was when we were driving to Kindy and he saw a plumbers truck loaded with pipes. "Look at that big truck mummy!! Maybe I can get some pipes for my birthday???" Short of bursting out laughing, this melted my heart, because it kind of said to me that maybe he would appreciate the smaller things. 
As he grasped what parties were about now- this year I wanted a simpler style party for him (yes I can hear the chorus of hysterical laughter from those who know me personally). I'm not one for commercial themed parties. I wanted something that engaged their imaginations. 
A Western Party it was to be. I had it in my mind I wanted to create a fun party without expense. We had a bbq, icecreams, a stable with watermelon, carrots and apples, and grass dip (aka Spinach hommus and Guacamole)

I made bags of "Chaff" from oven baking shredded tortillas, to create healthy crisps for the kids. 

Trail mix with popcorn added through, and I found giant marshmallows at Costco and made "campfire pops" by dipping them in chocolate- then assorted toppings. 

I love a bargain, so I  bought a number balloon off eBay for $1.90 then had it filled for $5. I reused bunting I'd made years ago (much to my husbands delight and surprise).
I upcycled old pallets to create wooden crates, and bought some hay that we later used as garden mulch for decorations. 

Yes the fiddly bits took allot of time, but what cost me in my time looked effective and kept costs down. 
I had made a hobby horse for each family to take home instead of a lolly bag. I'll be honest- I worked on these for months in whatever moment of spare time I had. I used leftover fabric pieces, stuffings of (washed) old pillows, plus old bits of braid and buttons from my grandmothers collection. The biggest expense of these was the $3 stick. 

I had in my mind that I was going to make a hobby horse cake, but about a week out from his birthday, Finley asked "can you make a little me on a cake?"  
From there my creative brain went a little overboard. Of course I could make a figurine - but how about a 3D cartoon Cowboy Kid instead?? I didn't tell Mr almost Three my plan. I wanted it to be a surprise. I wanted to see if I could impress the only person that mattered on his special day. 
So I had a go. Yes I have years of cake making and designing experience behind me, but I still lack confidence in many elembets, and I've still allot to learn. 

At one point I called my mum into my cake room to give me a bit of help, as I was doing the eyes, and scarily the cake looked like "Child of Chucky" lol. 
I channeled the artistic talents of my fellow cake peeps, and I think in the end he turned out awesome!  
I managed to keep him out of sight until the party day, then once all set up I bought the birthday boy down and showed him. 
GOBSMACKED!! He was so chuffed he kept looking at the cake- then smiling to himself. Mission accomplished 😊
This was the only opinion that mattered. 
Would he have been just as delighted with a round sponge from woollies with a number 3 candle on it- Absolutely..... But given I have this talent, I'd  treasure using it to create family happiness than simply use it for paying clients alone. 

So here he is Cowboy Finley!

And with the happy recipient. 

The party goers couldn't get enough of him either. 

And finally one of us all together. 

So there's a little insight to me and my family and a stack of great memories we've just made. 

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to ask any questions in the comment section below. 
SJ x