Monday, 31 December 2012

A Gingerbread Christmas Card

Back in October I was contacted by the lovely Ricardo, a photographer and creative.
His email was a little unusual.....he wanted to have a private class with me where we would create a special gingerbread house together.
I was to bake the facade of a house to his exact specification, then together we would decorate it.
The measurements had to be very precise!!

I love making gingerbread, the mixture is different from normal vanilla cookie dough, it also tastes delicious when warm and uncooked!

I also baked a few little accessories for the house which Ricardo could decorate.
The whole idea of this house was that it would represent the facade of his clients house. Ricardo was then going to photograph the family and the dog,.....and have them all looking out of the windows :)
This was to be the family Christmas card, what a novel idea!

With a little help from me Ricardo soon got used to using all the sugar craft equipment. And he was very precise too.

Everything had to be very exact, right down to the amount of sprinkles in the snow.

We had lots of lovely sweeties to choose from to embellish the house with. The drawing under the smarties was done by Ricardo, it provided the template to work to....and he was doing a grand job.

And all the little decorations were decorated very simply in a stylised manner.

Finally the house was finished, just the way Ricardo wanted it. All the little bits and bobs were packed up carefully to be taken home. Then all the pictures of the family were to be set into the windows to create the finished family Christmas card. 

And this was the final result! What an interesting project :)

Saturday, 10 November 2012

A Shoe Cake With A Difference

So......several months ago I met a lovely couple called Nadia and Ben.
Nadia is obsessed with shoes.
It had been decided with the agreement of her other half, that the cake would be shoe inspired.
With the majority of that inspiration coming from the designer Salvatore Ferragamo.
When Salvatore Ferragamo died in 1960 he had realised the great dream of his life: to create and produce the most beautiful shoes in the world. His family was left the task of carrying on and fulfilling the plan that Salvatore had nurtured in his final years: transforming Ferragamo into a great fashion house.
Nadia had chosen some specially designed 'Ferragamo Shoe' stationary to illustrate her love of all things 'shoe'.......
And had asked me to put it on a cake!
The stationary was either illustrated on a black background or a white background, as seen in the picture below with the table menus. The little loveheart book was for wedding guests to write messages in. Cute :)
The wonderful thing was I was given free licence to be creative which is what I love.
The main icons on the stationary were shoes (of course) little daisies and beautiful colourful swallowtail butterflies. I had already decided to incorporate black into the cake in the form of some rich black velvet ribbon to trim the base of each tier.
And the cake was a rich dark chocolate cake with an orange twist. YUMMY!
So I started by making some little daisies using some lovely silicone moulds I found online.
These were to give a nice slightly 3D stylised effect to the sides, although I also wanted to top the cake with some much larger daisies which I made with a plunger cutter.
I found some little sugar balls that I dusted yellow and glued to the middles with a bit of glitter and sparkle. I like to dry my daisies in a bit of tin foil as a former to give a slightly more irregular shape.:)
Then of course I had to make some shoes!! The main element of the cake afterall. I had such fun making and painting these. Although I made up some of my own designs, I popped in a leopard print shoe for Nadia as requested......and copied some of the designs from the postcard too. The yellow spotty shoe was my favourite. I added texture to the shoes using a craft knife and a cocktail stick for a leathery effect.
The painting required lots of mixing in order to keep the colours bright and rich but not too gaudy. A bit of gold dust added some extra richness.
I was really in my element with this cake and spent the whole day adding little details and textures to the 'sugar shoes'.
Not only did the shoes need to look exotic....but there were fancy butterflies to make too.
And before you think I'm an alcoholic cakeaholic..the gin was for painting on the
food colour! 
So after all the little bits and bobs were made it was time to assemble. The fun part!
The daisies were popped to the top of the cake.......
The butterflies and shoes were arranged around the sides.....
And this was the final result!
You could call it a marmite it or hate it.
It would not generally be viewed as a  typical 'Wedding' cake, but it is unique, individual and totally original and bespoke to the Bride.
And I absolutely LOVED creating it! :)
I hope you love it too. Rachelxx

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Cake and Bake Show 2012

Well the sun was out and the sky was blue for the long awaited first day of the Cake and Bake show 2012. And the queue was massive! it went all the way around the corner and almost as far as the Warwick Road entrance.
I had arrived at the show the day before to prep a few bits and bobs. I happened to come across a rather large chair and couldn't help but leap into it.....anyway, back to the more serious things I should be doing.....I had a cake to set up in the Wedding cake showroom and a teatime display to create on the Great Cake Places stand.
Great Cake Places is a fantastic guide to Londons 100  best and finest cakeries and Rachelle's is in the book! So we decided to do a little cake display on the stand to help draw the punters in to buy the book.
The lovely Daniella from Classic Crockery brought along some gorgeous teatime china to enhance the table display. And Rachelle's made some delicious cakes :)
Here is a cheeky peek at the gorgeous Peggy Porschen stand. Despite being one of my competitors I think her cakes and work are fantastic.
On my travels pre-show I also happened to run into Mr Paul Hollywood. I think he was preparing himself for the thousands of women that were about to throw themselves at him. Luckily I got to throw myself at him first.
Back to the job I should be concentrating on....I was also at the show to talk and demonstrate my skills as a cake maker and designer. Here I am teaching and doing a demo in the Wedding Cake Showroom.
This particular demo was all about how to apply a side design to your cake. I have to admit I have never done a demo in front of a live audience before but I thoroughly enjoyed it!
The other side of the demo area were 10 Wedding cakes on display from 10 different cake designers. Mine is the black and white one to the centre. As the area was pretty much swamped the whole time I didn't really get a great photo, but I will be re-photographing my cake soon. It was based around a designer Wedding gown by Caroline Herrara.
The Pretty Witty Cakes team were also at the show, from left to right, Me (Rachel) , Harriet, Amy, Suzi and Paul the baker. For those of you that don't know, I'm a guest tutor at Pretty Witty Cakes. I currently teach Big Cakes, Cookies, Minicakes and a Vintage three tier cake class.
Another vital part of the Rachelle's team is my lovely assistant Hannah, here she is catching up with two of the contestants of The Great British Bake Off. There were so many lovely cakey bakey people at the show and so nice to meet so many of them.
Finally in-between all the socialising I did actually have a job to do and that was my classroom demos. Over the weekend I taught both minicakes and cookie decorating to the masses.
Here I am in the classroom pre cookie demo!
For anyone interested in learning more, I teach on a regular basis at Pretty Witty Cakes and I also teach privately from the Rachelle's South London studio. For more pictures of my work please go to or click on Classes.
I hope to see you at the Cake and Bake Show 2013!
Rachel x

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Somewhere Over a Rainbow....

Back in January 2012 I was contacted by a lovely lady named Jessica. She was having her wedding at Aynhoe Park in Banbury near Oxford. I quickly googled the venue and was instantly stunned.

Not only did it look amazing on the outside, the inside literally made my jaw drop. Aynhoe Park is not a normal hotel, it is a privately owned spectacular 12 bedroomed house embodying British eccentricity at its best. It also happens to sit in 250 acres of beautiful Capability Browns gardens.

The house is owned by James Perkins, a veteran of the music industry and a collector of curious items from  his travels across the globe. The house is a living museum to his collections as well as the amazing art of Sophie Ryder. One of the first things looking at me as I drove to the rear of the house was a huge eye crafted from twisted wire.

This amazing sculpture framed the landscape, I just knew I was in for a treat as I entered the house......anyway, enough about the house for now, what about the cake!! Well what was to be an amazing interior certainly needed a statement cake. Jessica the Bride had seen a picture of a cake in America and wondered if I could make it for her big day. 

For those that know me well, I am always up for a challenge and when she told me about the cake I knew I wanted to recreate it and so the journey began. The cake was to be 6 tiers high, a mixture of chocolate mudcake (my favourite) and zesty lemon. The best part was it was to be decorated with every colour of the rainbow. There was going to be alot of colour mixing to do.

To grade the cake from one colour to the next it had to be piped in very small blobs of butter cream, with each colour slowly mixing into the next. So as well as the main colours I had to mix all the in between ones as well. And the whole cake was to be decorated on site due to the nature of the butter cream and the long drive to the venue. Phew.

I piped the base 14" tier at home in preparation, especially as I had a feeling that this job was going to make my hand hurt!!

I got to the venue for about 9am on the most gloriously sunny morning.  Jessica was so lucky as it had rained for several weeks prior.
The family of the Bride had hired the whole house for the weekend and as I arrived they were all having breakfast. So lovely and relaxed. This is another of Sophie Ryders quirky sculptures in the sunny gardens.

I can't even begin to tell you what crazy delights greeted me as I entered the house, I even had a sneeky peek in the gents toilets (highly recommended!) and was greeted with a row of stuffed ferrets coming out of the wall. Just hilarious :)

The cake was due to be assembled in the main entrance hall on a large glass table and that is the moment when I met Hercules, the new love of my life. I knew I was going to need some help and he provided me with moral support during the 5 hours of crazy dotty piping I was to endure.

Ahhh bless, he's touching my knee and nibbling my ear, ;) and no, he's not a dog he is a full sized whopper of a stuffed polar bear! That's not to mention the mini unicorn sat on the piano opposite me (a stuffed Shetland pony I think!)

He actually became a dab hand with a piping bag so it wasn't long before we had progressed to the oranges and yellows.

You really would be amazed at how many colours went into this cake, I had a bit of a play in the kitchen at home whilst I was mixing. I used to be an artist/designer before I became a cake maker, so turned my icing into a painters palette for inspiration.

Even the blades of my electric beaters looked pretty with the graded colours.

Whilst I was decorating away, all the family members kept popping by to say hello and see how far I'd got. The children were fascinated and even the florist arrived to dress the venue  and entrance hall with some beautiful garden flowers.

After about 4 hours I started to see the end and the last few dots. Then I met Rhodri the Groom. He had a special little something for the top of the cake. I have to admit I am a bit 'anti' cake toppers, but this one I loved. Two cute little dinosaurs with a love story to tell :) They suited this crazy cake perfectly.

Before I get to the end of this cakey story I have to show you the rooms where Jess and Rhodri were getting married. Just as crazy as the rest of the house. Having a giraffe in the room on your wedding day is not a usual occurrence. And half a giraffe walking through the wall, well that is something that certainly doesn't happen every day :)

Attached to the ceremony room was the room where the reception was to be held, each room joining together to form an amazing view all the way from one end of the house to the other.....with a crocodile to boot.

And now to the cake. I have to say I loved it. In fact I loved the whole adventure. And the funny thing was, no matter where I stood to take a photo, Hercules the superstar assistant just had to be in it!

Looks like he is about to take a big chunk out of it! Please scroll down for a few more pics.

Here are a few more of my little helpers.

Me and the new assistant. You're hired :)

I hope you all enjoyed reading the story as much as I enjoyed making the cake.
Congratulations to Jessica and Rhodri who wed on July 28th 2012 ;)

Rachel x