Thursday, 24 June 2010

Wedding cake work experience

After making a couple of wedding cakes last year, one of my objectives for 2010 was to try and get some work experience at an established cake decorator. I started to contact a couple of places at the end of 2009 (actually, they were the 2 companies whose designs I had used for each of my wedding cakes) and in February of this year, I was very happy and surprised to receive an email from one of the companies asking if I would be interested to do some work experience with them. After a brief trial and interview, I was offered 2 weeks full time (sadly, unpaid) which began straight after our holliers in the Basque Country. 

I won't name the company but I was very fortunate to land my work experience there as it is one of the top names in this very niche industry and has also provided wedding and celebration cakes for numerous celebs including Madonna, Paul McCartney and Pierce Brosnan (some clues!!). The studio is situated in Central London and this is where all the decorating work takes place. Luckily, they were very busy the week I started with numerous orders so it was the perfect environment to see and learn as much as possible. 
Surprisingly, the routine followed in the studio was very similar to what I had followed when making my own wedding cakes - Monday begins with going through all the week's orders and covering all cake boards, cover cakes with marzipan and sugarpaste on Tuesday which leaves the rest of the week to decorate. It was great to be able to see everything being done on a larger scale and also being given some tips along the way for shortcuts, fixes, etc...... As well as helping with wedding cakes, I was also involved with making some individual cakes (bound for some of the fanciest retailers in town - you don't want to know how much these babies cost!!), fairy cakes with cute decorations for a client launching a new product, as well as a couple of corporate and birthday cakes. The founder of the company was also in and out of the kitchen working on recipes for a photoshoot of a new book so all very hectic! On my 2nd week, I was also lucky enough to shadow a couple of cake deliveries (I was jinxed on both  - wrong address for the 1st one and stuck in traffic for the other, char!)

The fortnight flew by and the company very kindly invited me to a handpiping masterclass which was held on the Saturday after I had finished at the Langham Hotel. This was a great experience in itself because the founder was personally taking the class and gave a very interesting presentation at the beginning of the day about how she and the company have evolved over the last 10 years (btw, she has just been awarded an MBE by the Queen which is mucho impressive!!). 

I had a great time over the last 2 weeks, working with some really nice people in the company and gaining a real insight into the world of wedding cakes. There is a lot of time spent rolling and icing which is making me think twice about whether it is something I would like to do full question mark and several more coming down the line, I feel over the couple of weeks :(   
Quick peek into the studio - smaller than you would expect and also a bit of sun trap!

Different wedding cakes for aspiring brides to peruse (they are dummies, of course!)

A bespoke design for a client - the middle tiers are dummies, the bride is provided with 2 tiers of "cutting" cake

A pirates and princesses cake for a joint kiddies birthday

Some "nature" fairy cakes

Individual handbag and high heels cakes

My attempt (left) at hand piping - the cake on the right formed a set of 80 individuals for a wedding

Confetti wedding cake - am a big fan of this design - simple but lots of fun!

My attempt (small cake) at candy stripe piping - still need some more practice!!

One of the cake deliveries which I made of a white chocolate helter skelter adorned with chocolate dipped strawberries and red fruit

My piping attempts from the masterclass 

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