Interview with cake decorator, Sandra.
How and when did you become interested in cake decorating?
I became interested as a teenager. Just as a hobby at night I did a Tafe course.
And what attracted you to it?
I just liked doing our family Christmas cakes and things like that.
What are you working on now?
My sisters 75th birthday cake.
Can you describe it?
It’s a round cake with orchids, roses and small verbenas on it.
So you mould all the flowers out of icing or do you use real or silk flowers?
I mould all the flowers out of icing.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I look at other cake decorating books, all different designs and bits and pieces of designs. Usually I bring a design out of bits and pieces of other cakes until I’ve put it together. Another important part of the inspiration especially in wedding cakes is the colours and flowers that the bridal party is using, or the theme of the wedding or party. For example one I did had an autumn theme so that dictated the colours I used.
Do you have a favourite cake that you have decorated?
Not just one but I suppose a horse and carriage I did for a wedding cake.
What was the most difficult piece you have created? Why?
Probably the horse and carriage cake because it had not much cake in it and lots of icing. It had to be made like a cinderella's carriage.
What else do you like to do aside from decorating cakes? Any other crafts or hobbies?
Crocheting, sewing, lacework and art or painting.
Do you find that a lot of those are related in some way to cake decorating? Do you ever get to use them together or get ideas from them?
I suppose with lacework, you can use similar things in icing.
What would be your favourite part of cake decorating?
Putting it together at the end.
How did you go about learning how to do cake decorating?
I did learn the basics at tafe but I picked up a lot of the ideas from books over the years. I have been doing it for 40 years now.
Was there anything that you had a particular trouble with when you started?
Making lace and doing it in a hurry. If you have a certain amount of time to complete a cake. I learnt that on my first wedding cake. Lace work is so tedious.
Any advice for someone that might be interested in starting cake decorating?
Go into it and enjoy it all because it is fun.
What kind of workspace do you have?
Just a normal kitchen and dining table.
So when you are about to start working you drag it all out and set it up?
Do you plan to make this a business or rather have you had a business of it or do you like it as a hobby?
I enjoy it as a hobby but I have done a lot of cakes, 15 – 20 years ago I did a lot of wedding cakes for people.
So did you find when you were doing it like a business that you didn’t enjoy it as much?
I enjoyed it.
Do you think if it became a business you would stop loving it?
I would still enjoy it.
Have there been any technological advances that have greatly changed the way you do things?
Yes, the sale of fondants and everything, moulding pastes and colours have advanced so much that it makes the job a lot easier than it used to be.
So some of the things you used to have to make from scratch you can now buy ready made?
What are some of the tools that you would use making a typical cake?
The icing tubes are the main thing. Moulding flowers yourself you use a lot of finger work but there are a lot of cutters for things. There never used to be a supply of cutters for all sorts of flowers.
How long does it take to make a cake, say a two-tier wedding cake?
My gosh that’s a big question. Each flower make take a half hour to make so if you had thirty flowers there is what 15 hours of flower making alone. And baking of the cake, covering it with icing would be another 10 hours there alone. Any decorations on the cake another 3 or 4 hours.
So it’s safe to say at least 30 hours?
Yeah at least.
Where do you buy supplies? A local store or do you order them?
A local store sometimes has supplies but the Brisbane cake decorating shop is the biggest supplier that I have relied on.
So you have to drive to Brisbane (over an hour away) to get them? Or do you get them while you are there for other reasons?
Sometimes drove to Brisbane but sometimes got them when I was in the city.
What are the photographs we have here?
My middle daughters wedding cake. It has roses and a crystal unicorn which she bought for it.
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