Posted on November 14, 2017 There have been 0 comments
Fantasy Cakes - from sketch to cake
We are so excited that Angela Romeo's brand new baking book, Fantasy Cakes, is out this week! If you like baking we think you're going to love the fun, colourful and pretty spectacular designs for every occasion!
We wanted to know more about how Angela makes these amazing cakes, from the first initial sketch to the delicious finished product and her tips for how to make them yourself. So, over to you Angela...
1. When/how did you get into baking these fantastic cakes?
I’ve got to say my mum always baked great cakes and I was never very far away when she was! I would be simply hanging onto her apron (literally!), helping fold in flour, weighing ingredients or helping with the most important of all jobs ‘licking the bowl!’ Me and my brother always had fab homemade birthday cakes as kids. From mini football pitches, to 3 little ducklings, to a baby in a crib (!), to Hansel and Gretal-style houses, there was never a shortage of fanciful cakes in our house. I can’t forget to credit my dad as I only recently found out, whilst developing the recipes for this book, that it was my mum who did the baking of those cakes and my dad who did the decorating! My mum will freely admit he’s the more creative-arty one so that does makes perfect sense!
In my working career I’ve also had some great baking briefs particularly at Seven publishing whilst working as the Senior Food Editor for Creative Services for Sainsbury’s. From designing and developing cakes for social media video such as an Easter cake with the ultimate ‘Wow!’ factor to a Halloween pumpkin-shaped cake. When a brief like that came in I would immediately pick up my pen and start scribbling designs with crazy-style enthusiasm!
As a food team we went on to write the Sainsbury’s Cake cookbook which I loved designing and making a proportion of the cakes for from a Dragon cake to a Fairy Tale Castle cake to a Chocolate box cake. It enhanced my love for making imaginative, creative cakes using readily available products and that were also achievable.
2. Where do you get your inspiration from for your designs?
I get inspiration from everywhere, from friends or families favourite hobbies and passions to certain trends that keep popping up, for example ‘flamingos’ - I subconsciously start thinking how would I make a flamingo cake? (as you do!) I normally start to think of it in the literal sense - an actual flamingo-shaped cake, then the practical side of my brain steps in and says, ‘Whoa! Those skinny legs holding up a cake? That’s a bake-off style nightmare! I’d need the hubby to construct an iron leg-shaped stand for me!!’ So it may sit at the back of my mind for a while - then I could be using a leaf nozzle for another project and suddenly think - ‘OOOooh what if I used two tones of pink buttercream in this piping bag? That would make a great surreal nod to flamingo feathers especially if you piped them round the bottom of a cake! Oh! And that ‘water’ on that swimming pool cake I saw on Pintrest the other day that would make a great flamingo pond!’
3. How many times do you have to practice the cakes before they are perfect?!
I nearly always make a sketch of how I imagine the finished piece to look. For most cakes, I would practice the various techniques that are included in the design until I’ve mastered them. I don’t know if it’s because I studied fine art but I approach it a bit like an art project - researching and developing the different elements and then bringing it all together as a one-off. Obviously if you’re writing a recipe for it you may need to make the whole finished piece a few times to ensure the details are correct, which of-course also gives you a great opportunity make little improvements. But I also think it’s also very important with cake decorating to know when to stop.
4. What is your favourite kind of cake to make/do you have a favourite in the book?
As you’ll see from the book I love 3 layer cakes - I love a tall cake not only because it gives great impact but also because it gives you another surface as well as the top to work on. The deep sides are great for setting-a-scene or theme or for showing-off drips and drizzles. They also provide ample space for adding piped textures and of course it’s extra space and a great excuse to add more sprinkles(!)
5. Do you have any tips for all the bakers out there
1) Always read a recipe through from beginning to end before starting so you don’t have any surprises along the way.
2) For fan ovens always remember to reduce the temperature by 20ºC or refer to the manufacturers instructions.
3) Use an oven thermometer to check the temperature of your oven. Some ovens can run hotter or cooler than the dial/ digits reflect.
4) Remember that most ovens will have hotspots and cooler areas. The most even temperature is in the centre of the oven. The top, bottom and rear corners can be a little unpredictable.
5) Always ensure you use a kitchen timer – it’s easy to get distracted.
6) A tip close to my heart is when you start tinkering with a cake at the very end of decorating it, trying to get that very last bit absolutely perfect. It probably is perfect to everybody else. I would advise to ‘step away from the cake’ (if that phrase enters your head then do exactly that!).
7) Always allow yourself plenty of time, there’s nothing worse than baking and decorating in a hurry or a bout of ‘midnight-baking’ is never a good place to be!
8) As generally most cakes need to cool completely before decorating, I would always try to bake the cakes the day before decorating. And if a design allows it (such a drip cake that doesn’t have anything pressed into a buttercream base) you could also, once the cakes have cooled, layer the cake and buttercream the sides so it’s well prepped for the next stage. This will also make it airtight so the cake will happily sit on the side in a cake box (providing you use a buttercream that doesn’t contain milk), until you are ready to complete it with your drips, drizzles and toppings!
You can buy Angela's book Fantasy Cakes here!