Hello Cake/Pastry enthusiasts !!
I wanted to start my blog with a little blurb about myself so you know where my interest comes from, how it all started and why I chose to blog and share my baking experience with you “online“!
“A party without a cake is just a meeting”- Julia Child
As a born and raised Sri Lankan, I grew up in a household that baked lots and lots… My mother who is trained in pastries took immense pride in making most of our desserts and birthday cakes. This exposure triggered my interest in Baking.
At age 17, my focus was primarily in Life Sciences- to find an independent and successful career path in the field. I did my Bachelors (Genetics) in Bangalore, India. In 2007 I moved to Kingston, London to pursue a Master’s course in Biomedical Science after which I worked as a full time Research Technician at University College London (UCL), Cancer Research Institute.
2010 was wedding bells ! With all the glitz and glam ….Meeting my new family and after weeks of celebration, I relocated to California. Here too I found a promising career in Life Sciences, at Stanford School of Medicine.
It is in the Nature of a Scientist to experiment !
During my free time I started experimenting baking. I began trying new recipes and played with ingredients creating my own personal touch. My (non-iced) cakes got raving comments from friends and family which has encouraged me to be creative and new each time !
Then came the children ! This was when my interest into Cake Art took off. I am one of those mommies that loves to make personalized cakes for my kids with quality ingredients. My son’s first birthday was coming up. A full time career in science and having conceived my daughter , I couldn’t find the time and energy to make his cake. I looked up a reputable bakery at Menlo Park, CA that sold quality custom cakes and it came with a $$$$ prize tag (for a three tier cake, 100 servings) that incorporated my creative design. I told myself, the next birthday celebration regardless of the situation I will be making my own personalized cake !
I took up a basic cake decorating course that covered the foundation needed. Then on I found time to practice and perfect my decorating skills whilst developing my own creative techniques.
Here are a couple of highlights in my caking career this far…
My Daughter’s Vintage Lace Princess themed birthday–I took a career break after having my daughter. Like every parent it has been a delight to see my precious one grow. To celebrate these milestones I started making cupcakes that matched with her outfits every month!
The Big One was coming up and I wanted to celebrate my little princess’s birthday in the most unique way.. After months of planning and a week of no sleep, her “Royal Vintage Lace Princess” themed first birthday party was a huge hit !!
I made her FOUR cakes- A smash cake…
….a 5 tiered center piece cake and two more identical cakes (with different flavors) for the dessert table .
I didn’t stop there!! I also made cupcakes, cake pops, jar cakes, cookies, puddings and many other “themed” treats for the dessert table. Table skirts, cupcake/cake stands and all other table decorations were handmade and self decorated with hobby store craft supplies- all of which I am hoping to share with you in detail over the coming days- yes I promise you it is going to be exciting !
My first cake show experience– It felt incredibly humbling winning my first ever cake show! After weeks of planning and executing, couple of my cakes won prices (second in the fondant tiered category and first in the non-fondant single tier category).
Overall it’s been an exciting learning experience and hobby that I enjoy doing. You may wonder “how the short term success?”. I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance at the neighborhood park which somehow lead to cakes and my passion in cake art. Looking at my work she told me she never could make such beautiful cakes in such a short period of time. I shared with her my 5 principles that lead me to where I am today, and now here it is for you!
My 5 “P” THEORY to Perfecting cake decorating
This is solely my perspective, coming from a novice!
(1)PASSION– This is the first key ingredient to pursuing (not just cake but) any art form. Do NOT do it just because someone you know does it. Do it because you LOVE doing it. Do it because it makes your inner soul happy !! My passion in cake designing is based on it being my outlet to creativity.
(2)PRACTICE practice practice !!! I can’t stress enough on how important it is to keep practicing to perfect your decorating skills. Nothing comes easy. The beautiful cakes you see all over the internet were not first tries… it comes from not just knowledge but also with tons of experience. You could try volunteering at a local bakery to learn and enhance your skills and/or keep practicing and get creative with developing your own techniques that you are comfortable working with. Soon after the birth of my daughter I dedicated her nap time (3 hours during the day and 2 hours in the night) to read, practice and improvise which helped better my skills.
(3)PATIENCE-Another key quality is to have patience and not be too hard on yourself. Do not give up just because it did not go well the first time. I experienced many personal failures during my initial learning days which has only helped better my skills. Especially while working on sugar flowers, find time during the day when you are the calmest. Do not rush into creating intricate , delicate designs as it will show in your work.
(4)PERSEVERANCE-Believe in yourself and strive to work to your fullest capability. I had many reasons not to pursue cake art.. The time it consumed, the challenges every mother faces with two young kids, having to take care of your (already routine) chores, dealing with strong opinionated people that did not see my vision (oh yea!). I did not let “situations” get the worst of me. The result- I feel empowered !
(5)PLAN – Good planning helps you attain your goal with less stress. Schedule ahead of time! If you have a cake order coming up next week , then plan in advance such that it allows you to still take care of your other chores and personal needs. For instance for a cake with a fondant topper- the topper which is made of sugar paste/fondant can be made well in advance. This allows you to enjoy your work as well as fix any problems well in advance.
With the above 5 comes PERFECTION , our ultimate goal 🙂
GOALS OF MY WEBSITE and WHY BLOG?
Many of you wrote to me asking if I teach, conduct private/group lessons. This website is for you !!
My head in science and heart in desserts
After a fun couple of years in Cake Art I am heading back full-time into Science. The limited time I will be having in the future I would like to do what I love doing-productively explore creative techniques whilst educating anyone that is interested in learning from me.
I will be focusing on the following :
- Guided Recipes– covering authentic as well as innovative recipes on desserts such as cakes (and cupcakes, cake pops, jar cakes) , non-cake desserts such as cookies, pastries, puddings and other party treats with prime focus on creating themed treats. My personal recipes on fondant, gum paste, royal icing and buttercream icings.
- Picture guided tutorials– easy to follow picture guided techniques on fondant, sugar paste/gum paste, royal icing, cake/cupcake decoration, innovative and already existing strategies on decoration. I will be including tips, tricks and fixes that work for me.
- Classes & events– An added opportunity to attend in-person workshops and also connect with me via Skype and google hangout sessions where I will be more than happy to answer your baking and decorating related questions.
- …..and for that personal touch- for being the foodie and traveler that I am, I will be blogging away bringing you desserts from around the world!
By doing this online I am hoping to reach out to a wider audience, giving many an opportunity to learn at leisure, learn for free and learn from home !
I am working around the clock on creating content ! I am hoping it will benefit anyone that not only wants to make a treat for their family, but also help anyone that’s passionate about learning this art, as hobby or for career development.