Interviews #7: Torta - Couture Cakes
I am a self-taught, certifiable crazy cake lady!
I am obsessed with cakes and spend probably 90% of my day either making cake, dreaming about cake, looking at cake or drawing cake (the other 10% of the time I’m sleeping!).
I am a born and raised Scot and currently live in Perthshire in Scotland with my amazing husband and two crazy kittens. I work as an IT Support Technician (snooze) by day and a cake decorator on the side, but hopefully in the next 12 months cakes will finally be my ‘real’ job.
How did you first get started with cake decorating?
I first started out making cupcakes in 2009 after the whole cupcake craze took off and I remember back then vowing that I wasn’t interested in making celebration or wedding cakes and that, cupcakes were sufficient for me. I started uploading my photo’s to Flickr and happened across some of the most breath taking cakes I’d ever seen by a wonderful woman by the name of Jeanne who owns ‘The Well Dressed Cake’. Jeanne’s cakes taught me that whatever I could imagine, I could bring to life on a cake and I was able to be far more creative with cakes than I could ever be with cupcakes. This sparked my love for cakes and I have never looked back since.
When did you decide to decorate cakes?
I have a love of anything artistic or creative and having a very uncreative job meant I was really looking for something to fill that void. After making cupcakes for a while I made my mum a birthday cake – it was my very first fondant covered cake and while I can look back now and be mortified by it, I absolutely loved it at the time. That was where my addiction started and the rest, as they say, is history!
What are some of the things you do differently now than when you first started decorating?
Probably everything!! Every cake is a new opportunity to learn something new or change how you do things. I don’t think I ever do the same thing twice.
What has been your greatest challenge?
My biggest challenge has probably been fondant. I have always been drawn more to the sharp edged cakes that are very prominent in Australia. From the very beginning of my cake career, I have been obsessed with the ‘build quality’ of my cakes and have spent a great many hours and a probably a great many £’s trying to perfect my technique. Fondant can be very difficult to work with and until you get into your own groove, it can be extremely frustrating, but once you finally do find your groove, it is very rewarding – I find nothing more satisfying than a perfectly covered fondant cake awaiting its decoration. If you can get your cakes to look great without decoration then you’ve already won half the battle.
What is the most rewarding part of cake decorating?
My greatest reward is probably different than most. I obviously love when I make my customers ecstatic and ultimately that’s what I strive for, but the thing I love most is when I get a ‘well done’ from one of my cake idols. There is nothing more rewarding than when you get recognition from the people who inspire you the most – it really makes my day when someone like Jacqueline Butler takes the time to comment on something I’ve done!
What are your favourite cake decorating tools?
My favourite cake tools are probably my rolling pin, which is made of solid birch and weighs a ton and my electric pasta machine, which I use constantly and couldn’t be without. Those are my two most used tools but I also love my bench scraper :)
Which one of your cakes is your favourite?
It’s difficult to pick a favourite because I always see improvements with every cake, but if I was forced to pick, it would probably be a fight between my little purple bow cake and my lemon and lime chevron wedding cake.
Could you give some tips to people who have just started decorating cakes or would love to start?
There is a lot of advice I could give to someone starting out because there are loads of things I did which I look back at now and cringe! Firstly, practice is paramount – you can only go so far with ‘information’, it’s not until you start putting that information into practice that you will actually start to learn. Also don’t expect to be good straight away – this can be very frustrating especially for someone like me who is OCD about cakes and just wants everything to perfect all of the time (which is extremely unrealistic) – you have to go through a stage of being very mediocre which can be disheartening but that stage is very important – use the opportunity to learn as much as you can and strive to see improvement with every cake. Most importantly, NEVER quit when things get hard – I have twice almost given up for good because of horrendous cake experiences – sometimes you just have to chalk it up to experience, learn from it and move on.
How did you find CakesDecor.com and what is it that keeps you coming back?
My awesome friend Lesley of the Royal Bakery was the first person to introduce me to CakesDecor. I keep coming back because the forum is friendly and well laid out – I enjoy visiting the site and being inspired by all the fantastic cakes that are posted.
What’s been the biggest surprise in all of this for you?
The biggest surprise for me is probably the level of recognition I have received. When I first started cake decorating I never thought anyone would really be interested in me as a cake decorator let alone be featured in magazines and on blogs. Secondly, I have surprised myself, I really never believed I would be making the cakes that I do now and to be honest I never planned any of this, it all just kind of happened, but I’m so glad it did!Thirdly and lastly, I never expected to have met some of the amazing people that I have, I have a great circle of ‘besties’ that have helped me through every cake and every dilemma – I don’t think I would be the cake decorator I am today if it wasn’t for those gals (and guy)………you guys know who you are ;) x
- Part 6: Tracey Louise Harvey from Little Cherry Cake Company
- Part 7: Torta - Couture Cakes
- Part 8: Pamela from Pam's Cake Creations