Cake Club is a group a bakers and cake decorating artists and it was founded to help and bring together the cake community from beginners to masters. I had a wonderful evening on the Cake Club Facebook Page on Monday evening. I was featured as one of the Cake Club Bakers Dozen. This is a regular feature where a baker or cake artist spends a few hours on the Cake Club facebook page answering questions from their thousands of followers. If you have not liked the Cake Club page yet then you are missing out on a wealth of knowledge regarding baking and cake decorating. Below are all the questions and answers from the session.
Kyla Howard - Hi Amanda, loved the Marie Antoniette cake, amazing detail! What did you make her face out of? Amazed that it stayed so perfect under all that weight! x.
Amanda – Hi Kyla, I used a dummy head & shoulder (the type you would use for displaying wigs). It had a vertical metal pole through the centre which was welded to a metal plate at the base. I then made a wired frame for the hair which I fixed to the centre pole and anchored it in the polystyrene head xx
Laura – Hi Amanda, Laura here I just wondered whether you’ve baked for any celebs (love a bit of celeb gossip!!) x
Amanda – Hi Laura, I did make a cake for Lauren Goodger from TOWIE and also got an invitation to her party but was just too busy to go!x
Charmaine - Hi Amanda, Charmaine here-my burning question is….how do you transport such huge cakes, is it done in pieces or as one? Marie looked like such a huge challenge to get from Essex to London!
Amanda – Hi Charmaine, I generally transport cakes assembled because the time at venues it often limited. I make sure that cakes have a really good support structure where required and drive carefully (often to the annoyance of other drivers!) The MA piece is so heavy and has a heavy wired internal support that it would be very difficult to tip over xx (I would never do it like the image below!!!)
Suze - Hey Amanda – Suze here, I remember seeing you on The great cake bake show a few years ago! One of the reasons I was so inspired to get into caking! I see that you use marzipan underneath your icing, what do you do if the clients doesn’t like it? x
Amanda – Hi Suze, I don’t often get a situation where people don’t want it. I tell them I cover all cakes unless they have an allergy or genuinely hate it. If this is the case I would suggest another option such as a butter cream covering x
Tiffany Watkins - Hi Amanda. I have been told to cover sponge cakes with two layers of icing if the client doesn’t like marzipan, to get a professional smooth look. Have you ever done this and if not does marzipan taste good with a vanilla sponge? Thank you.
Amanda – Hi Tiffany, this is an option but my feeling is that it is not possible to get a really smooth covering without marzipan. Sugarpaste (icing) is not as firm as marzipan so it does not absorb the lumps and bumps of the cake. I dont have problems with lots of clients disliking it but if they have a nut allergy or genuinely hate it I would discuss a butter cream covering for example x
Dolly - Help me Amanda its Dolly!!!!! I need smooth icing and perfect stacking???? No leaning and no lumps!!! Any tips? On smooth fondant ? Or perfectly stacked tiered cakes? X do u ganache? Xxx
Amanda - Hi Dolly, I have a how to post on my blog about filling and covering cakes to get a smooth finish. One of the main things os to roll out a nice big piece of marzipan/sugarpaste. this way you should minimise the folds around the side of your cake. If you don’t roll out enough it is like putting a small cloth on a big table – you will get loads of folds in the fabric. I don’t use ganache generally. x
Hollie Joyce – Hello, I am very new to the cake world business wise (although I have been decorating as a hobby for 10 years). I am very conscious about the design aspect of making cakes- where do you get inspiration from? Do you start with a blank canvas to always create something different? TIA x
Amanda – Hi Hollie, I have a graphic design background so that really helps when it comes to designing cakes. Some of my clients come along with very definite ideas and some come along with a vague idea or just the colour scheme and I come up with a design from scratch. I prefer it when I have to come up with a design from scratch xx
Francesca Pitcher – Hi Amanda, I hear you will soon be running some classes – what will you be teaching and where? Thank you. Francesca.
Amanda – Hi Francesca I have some dates set up with The Cupcake Oven in Chelmsford and also Carina’s Cupcakes. I am also talking to some other cake schools including Pretty Witty Cakes. I will be teaching a cake variation on the Marie Antoinette piece. I am also going to start teaching from home doing things like my teapot cake xx
Carolina Lemmens – Hello, my name is Carolina and I’m from the Netherlands. I wanted to know how you started with cakes. How did you know that you liked it? And did you learn everything yourself or did you follow a proper education? Cakes had my interest for 4 years now, If you see my kitchen…I could start a bakery, but in 4 years I just baked 2 cakes…Unfortunately I don’t have any one for support. But since I’ve seen your cakes I think that I really need to start!!! Greetings Carolina
Amanda – Hi Carolina, I made a birthday cake for my mum around 20 years ago and she loved it so it went form there. I did a 6 month course in sugarcraft and cake decorating in 2002 to cover the basics and did cakes for friends getting married which was perfect practice as I charged a nominal figure to cover supplies which lessened the pressure x
Julie Rudd – Hi what are your feelings on ganache on coating your cakes? Some cakers are having problems with their local eho due to the ganache being made with cream and want tests on how safe it is. Also eho are not allowing cakers to use ganache
Amanda – Hi Julie, I generally would not use ganache but would make a very rich choc butter cream with good quality dark melted choc x
Sarah Jones - Your cakes cover endless design areas/ideas. Do you have a favourite style of cake.
I get asked for lots of stuff, but would much rather be able to produce purely contemporary designs.
Amanda – Hi Sarah I love cakes which have a sculptural aspect and anything quirky or unusual is my favourite thing to do. competitions are especially exciting because I can choose what I want to make x
Lesley-Ann Hughes – Hi Amanda just wondering if you ever share your recipes as I would love a good one for a white cake / Madeira cake any suggestions!!!
Amanda – Hi Lesley-Ann I am happy to share but to be honest I tend to use recipes I find online – this is a nice one
Edda Joyce Fabila Sumatra – Hi Amanda! Any advice to all homebakers who are trying to start a homebased business? Thanks
Amanda – Hi Edda, the main thing I would say is try to keep your cost down. Work from home, make use of social media to promote yourself, make the most of opportunties in your local area or nationally to promote yourself – I did the Marie Antoinette piece which attracted loads of interest and cost only time x
Pat McCeldry – Hi Amanda, I’d love to know how you built your customer base? Did y pay to advertise etc?
Amanda – Hi Pat, actually in the early days we avoided spending money wherever possible. I contacted many wedding/event planners to get my name out there and get orders. I also went to local papers and did some cakes for a local charity x
Yvonne Donald – Hi Amanda, I am thinking of using my 20 plus years of running hospitality businesses for other people into running my own coffee/Cupkakery, any advice regarding funding, operating out of a shop etc……, thanks x
Amanda – Hi Yvonne, I currently work from home and may look to premises as I am expanding my business. The thing to bear in mind with any premises is the extra cost of rent, rates, electricity etc. I would advise anyone to start out at home if poss and then move towards your own shop. I am afraid I cannot give much advise on a shop except that a business plan for a bank loan would be a good way to go xx
Amanda Robinson – Who is your biggest inspiration? and what advice could you give to me ive been doing this 3 months now? Love your cakes.
Amanda – Hi Amanda, thanks. I love Colette Peters because of her unique style and her imagination for quirky designs. Karen Portaleo is my heroine. Her skill is jaw dropping. The main thing I would say is practice, practice, practice and in the early days, if you are making cakes for friends then know your limitations and be honest with yourself and them about what you can achieve x
Anna Johns – Hi Amanda, what tips do you have when entering cake competitions? Thanks Anna x
Amanda – Hi Anna, give yourself plenty of time to get your entry done. Make sure you read the criteria for the class you are entering. It would be awful if you spent months making something only to find that it doesnt meet the criteria. Most of all choose something you will genuinely enjoying making as it could take you a long time x
Kimberley Turner – How much business would you expect if you do wedding fairs and which ones in your opinions are the best to go to?
Amanda – I have not done many wedding fairs although did one on Sunday actually. It was busy and hopefully I will get some orders from it. They are a bit hit & miss but you just have to choose one and go for it. We also went to a few beforehand to get a feel for them x
Kimberley Turner – What do you use as your crumb coat?
Amanda – Hi Kimberly, I don’t use a crumb coat as such. I use very firm butter cream for the cake filling and thin it a little with whole milk to cover the cake ready for the marzipan