It’s Friday. End of a long, working week for me. I came home, plonked my workbag, and sat in front of my computer, recalling last weekend that went far too quickly but it was needed for my soul and my sanity. I signed myself to attend the ever-popular Sydney Cake Crawl, organised by Australian Cake Decorating Network, and what great fun it was.
In case you’re wondering what a “cake crawl” is, it’s a social/business event where cake decorators from all walks of life set out on a day’s trip to several locations, watching noted decorators and dessert gurus demonstrate techniques and tips, visiting places with always a sweet treat included, topped with lots of cake shopping. Cake supplies, I mean. You may remember an earlier blog of mine, writing about my experience in New York’s cake crawl last year. I still get excited about that one, but this one was such a treat and much closer to home!
I flew to Sydney on Friday afternoon, readying myself for a great day on Saturday. We started in Hurlstone Park, where we met two great talents – Sachiko Windbiel of Mimicafe Union, and Jacki Fanto of Blissfully Sweet.
The sun was out, and our next stop was at La Renaissance in Waterloo, where I had a much needed mocha fix, and some pastries and little entremets to sweeten the palate. We also had the pleasure of watching the man himself, Jean Michel Raynaud explain to us the use of setting agents like pectin in his kitchen, where the magic happens.
We moved on to Shangri-La Hotel, for what I thought was the highlight of the trip, an afternoon tea with the beautiful and amazing Anna Polyviou. Well known for her appearances on Masterchef and many public events with her sweet treats, we were treated to an afternoon high tea with desserts made by her team. We also get to watch her team demonstrate to us how to make Anna’s Mess, which was one of the highlights of this year’s Masterchef show. From tempering chocolate to making the chocolate moulds, there was music and lots of laughter.
This was basically what an Anna’s Mess is.
Of course, Anna organised a challenge where three ladies went to the front, and made the biggest smash out of Anna’s Mess. It was until she said we need a guy, and I knew “oh crap, that’ll be me!” (joys of being a singular male cake decorator amongst forty six other ladies). If you watch the Youtube video, I projected all my anger and frustration and smashed my dessert. It was a messy affair, but I was ecstatic that I won the challenge, and a brand spanking new Kenwood Chef Sense! I don’t really win competitions or lucky draws, and to win a new mixer was humbling and triumphant at the same time. Thank you so much to Kenwood and Anna for the amazing prize. I’m being impartial, but I love Anna so much more now not only because she awarded the mixer to me, but also her charm and charisma really warms the heart. It was a fantastic afternoon.
Usually with cake crawls, you tend to get sugared out after a while. We had too much sugar after the high tea, and I would have liked an afternoon nap. We headed back to Hurlstone Park with some long awaited shopping and a demo with Jessica Pedemont and Tommy Prosser at Celebration Cooking. Tommy provided us with a savoury treat that was so delicious, using bacon that was cured for two weeks. You could tell that we were very much in need of some salt. My camera’s battery went flat after Shangri-La hotel, so I missed out on some photos, but it was an informative session with Jess who showed us show to make ganache as filling, and as truffles. She has so much to offer at her cooking school, Celebration Cooking. Her demonstration ends the cake crawl, and I’m so happy to have been part of it. I met some familiar faces, and made new friends as you do at such social events. Thank you to Liz and everyone that made all of this happen, and I cannot wait for the next one. Bring on London!