1. Tell us a little about yourself, family, where do you live and what did you do for a living before making cakes if anything?
I was born in Plymouth, Devon and being in a military family meant we moved around a lot as kids, but we eventually landed back in Poole, Dorset on the south coast of the UK. I am the eldest of six and have always loved having a big family, I now have four of my own 3 girls and a boy and tons of nieces and nephews. Right from a young age I loved baking and got in the kitchen when I could it was my favorite class at school to! I worked in some restaurants/pubs from the age of 15 starting as a kitchen porter, waitress and working my way up to cook, then being able to run a pub kitchen myself on shifts. That’s what inspired me to do it properly so I applied for a specialized chef’s course and spent a year in London training it was hard work but I loved it and decided patisserie was my favorite thing to do. I took a break to have my kidlets which is when I discovered my cake obsession, but have since rejoined the hospitality sector and now work at the RNLI College in Poole every day is a challenge but I love it! It has also given me the opportunity to do my leadership NVQ, I don’t get to do as many cakes as I used to but I had gotten to the point where I was finding it quite stressful to make them. I am very selective in what I do now which I think has helped me improve.
2. How or why did you get started in cake decorating… was it by accident or did you always have a passion for it?
I always enjoyed making cakes but had only done basic one’s and had never put much thought into decorating them, as long as it had buttercream on who care’s! It was all about how quick you could stuff it in your mouth…until I had babies, cue “mummy can I have a cake as tall as me, no taller and it needs to have on it every character from every movie I have ever seen and also my teddy as well”…”and be watermelon flavoured”. So I improved myself through wanting to make better birthday cakes for them, I have not done classes I am m4ore of a get in the kitchen and wing it person.
3. Is there one tool you cannot live without and one you don’t have yet but really want?
My paintbrushes!, I use them on every single cake I do, I probably have 50 odd and when I am doing a painted cake use pretty much all of them because who has the time to get up and go to the sink when you are in the zone. One I would really like is an uber good airbrush.
4. How did you find cakes decor and what makes it a place you want to keep sharing on?
Stretching my memory a bit! I think I found it through Facebook 348 cakes so far, I have found so many of my fabulous cakey friends through the site, and I love seeing everyone’s cakes and progress.
5. What part of making cakes do you like most and least?
I hate the carving/stacking/cream coating bit and covering with fondant I like it to just be done so I can start the fun part, when I am painting I enjoy taking progress pics I love how it slowly comes together bit by it.
6. What is your favorite cake you have done to date?
I have to pick one! So hard but I always love my quirkier pieces, Sugar skulls is up there as well as my Little red design. Also any cake I made that didn’t fall apart or get rings of doom is my favorite.
7. Tell us one thing about yourself that many of us might not know already.
I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie, recently did a sea survival course and was the first nutter to do the big jumps, I love theme parks and scary rides! I am also on the other hand very claustrophobic to the point I hate being inland I have to be on the coast! Random I know.
8. Do you have a bucket list and if so what might one or two of those be and it does not have to be cake related?
Would love to parachute jump out of a plane, see Machu Picchu. Marry…. ahem I mean meet Johhny Depp and have a meaningful conversation about films and stuff.
9. Do you have a favorite flavor of cake that you make?
Coffeeeeeeeeee and chocolate need I say more!
10. What would you say has been your biggest cake challenge to date and if you could have a do-over of it would you want to and what about it would you change?
The RNLI boat I did for my fundraising collaboration,that was hard! Sculpting is not my area and I just went for it if I could redo it now it would be much different, I could have definitely thought through the internal structure better.
11. Is their one technique or sugar skill that you have not tried yet but really would like to learn?
I would like to learn more about Royal icing and piping skills, I am in awe of the incredible amount of skill and precision that goes into it.
12. Do you sketch your cakes or just wing it?
I wing it most of the time. Purely because I cannot sketch!
13. For anyone just starting out what would be one piece of advice you would give them?
Don’t give up ever! Get some dummy cakes and practice as much as you can! Just have fun, and don’t compare yourself to other people. When I did my first class a few of my students said they were just scared to put a paint brush on to a cake but once they did it they found it therapeutic and fun, I am not a trained artist or good at drawing but somehow I can put edible colours on a cake and make it look ok, I was determined and I keep at it to try and keep improving myself. We have all stood in front of cakes and, yelled, second/third/fourth guessed a design, paced, thrown stuff in the bin, started from scratch again and again, drank litres of wine…I mean coke. Just keep going.
14. What’s the best lesson you have learned while making cakes so far?
Never underestimate the seemingly easiest of designs! They are the ones that usually crop up the most problems and take the most time. And spend time perfecting your crumb coat.
15. And one crazy one just for fun…If you could be any superhero who would you be and why? You can even make one up if you want.
Someone who can stop time, I never have enough of that!
Thank you Elizabeth and Sharon for the interview!!
- Part 49: Jessica MV
- Part 50: Elizabeth Lander of Time for Tiffin
- Part 51: Nathasja Flapper of Flappergasted Cakes