I fell into baking and cake decorating purely by accident about 17 years ago when I had the challenge of making our son George a cake for his first birthday, and I am so glad I did. Ever since then it has been an obsession and most recently my cakey journey has lead me to write Cakeology, which I am hugely proud of.
To be honest, I’m not much of a cake or sweet eater… savoury food has ALWAYS been my passion, and I just love cooking huge meals for the family and throwing big dinner parties. I was throwing a large party for George about 17 years ago, and I knew I just had to have a go at making the cake myself. My aunty Carol had always been the one making our family cakes, but now it was my turn to have a crack at it. I loved doing it and actually made a very, very good design for him which wowed the guests. I was hooked on cake decorating instantly. At that time it was way before the huge trend we have now for baking and cake decorating. Also, now I sound REALLY old, there weren’t any YouTube videos etc., so I went on the hunt for many rather dated cake decorating books and began learning and practising. We had three children under 3, so I was busy making cakes for them and my other family and eventually, friends would ask me to make their cakes for their birthdays.
I was obsessed with cake decorating and gradually got more skilled as I practiced, and after a few years took the jump to start a small home business. I created lots of cakes for local customers and cafes and honed my skills over time, gradually developing my own style. I was lucky enough to get a job in a top London cake company where I learned the art of creating a perfect finish, and after a couple of years there I set up Fancy Nancy in my home town of Leigh-on-Sea. I was very lucky because at this time there were hardly any modern cake makers out there. My business was incredibly busy, I found my cakes being featured in top wedding magazines, and then I was spotted by the Harvey Nichols bakery buyer. I went on to produce tens of thousands of cakes for them and had a range of fresh cakes in the Knightsbridge store.
My passion for cake decorating grew stronger; I just knew I wanted to create a book to encourage people to give it a go and also do a book that wasn’t quite so old fashioned as many on the market seemed to be. I got a book deal and published a book which was very successful. Since then, cake decorating has become even bigger and even more amazing. With social media and all of the new tools and equipment available, cakes are even more outstanding and everyone wants to create a show-stopping cake themselves. When I first started my business people were terrified of making their own cakes, but now thanks to lots of TV shows etc., people at home are doing cake decorating on a much more regular basis and becoming pretty expert.
I wanted my next book, Cakeology, to be even more modern and eye-catching to appeal to not just hobby enthusiasts, but all families, young and old alike, to pick up and be inspired to take on the projects in the book. I have written Cakeology in a style that approaches the designs like a craft project, and I hope that this will encourage the reader to not only have a go at the cake designs inside, but be inspired to tweak, change and evolve the cakes to become their own and see many ideas about cakes in all aspects of day-to-day life.
I just LOVE my new book. I think it looks really cool and definitely not at all too feminine and twee which I am afraid it seems many cake decorating books look like. They can be very samey. I wanted Cakeology to stand out and be different. We shot this book in our home and I even got the children involved! Our eldest child George is an actor and has been presenting on a CBBC show doing baking, so I knew he would be a good addition to this book. I hope it will help the appeal to a younger audience. When I tour around doing shows and demonstrations I have noticed that there are many more much younger people into cake decorating, which is brilliant to see.
Also our daughter Lydia has a cool love heart cookie recipe in the book. She has been working with me for a few years now and is really talented at art and she’s not too bad at cake decorating. I love the book because it has more of an approachable feel. So many cake decorating books make it seem difficult and I think some readers are a bit scared to have a go when a cake looks super neat and almost too perfect. I really hope that this book will become an addition to many kitchens, perhaps appealing more to the general food market and will bridge the gap between cake decorating and home baking. I feel that cakes are a great addition to have and bring a celebration together, so perhaps it might very well be someone’s first ever cake decorating book, but also be a sought-after addition to avid cake makers already out there due to the unusual and contemporary designs. To top off the book, I’m very excited to have the foreword written by the great Buddy Valastro of Cake Boss. I’ve been working with him as the ambassador for Cake Boss in the UK as he is a very well-known figure in the cake decorating world, and in fact is a big star across the globe. He has a family approach to cake and baking too.
I hope everyone enjoys this book and I can’t wait to see people posting their pictures of the design on social media. I feel really lucky to have been able to create Cakeology with Hardie Grant and am over the moon that it is out now!
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