A Day with Faye

Photography by Van Goh Cakes

Gold… and flowers. Welcome to Faye Cahill Cake Design studio!

I’ve been in Sydney for a week to be part of the Australian Cake Decorating Network Luna Park art gallery project at the Cake, Bake & Sweets show. Being a home-based cake business owner, it is often refreshing to be meeting faces of other decorators who are interstate and pursuing their passion from their home kitchens. Getting to know people through Facebook and forums feels like pen pals – you know who they are, you see profile photos of them, but it’s not the actual human connection that we sometimes forget or do not get to establish in this day and age. These decorators whom I’ve come to know and love as dear friends or “cake family” inject life into what I love doing, and that makes me want to strive for better cake designs. Last year, the Cake, Bake & Sweets show was the highlight of my trip to Sydney. It was the first time a show of such magnitude was held in Australia, and I was excited to be a part of it. This year, I was fortunate enough to visit Faye Cahill’s cake studio in Marrickville. In case you’re wondering who’s Faye Cahill, Faye is one of the top cake decorators in Sydney, who produces the most exquisite wedding cakes that are not only the envy her brides, but many other budding decorators like myself from all around the world. Her work have appeared in wedding magazines, and her craft has such warmth and a distinct style, you could tell if it is a Faye Cahill cake.

Photography by Van Goh Cakes

With these as window displays, how could you not stop in your tracks to look at these cakes?

On the long awaited day (and the last day of my trip in Sydney), I was having the jitters as I hopped on the bus that will take me to Faye’s studio. As I made my way down Addison Rd, I was nervous as I stepped into the studio to catch a glimpse of what it is like to be in the Faye Cahill Cake Design studio. What was two short years of ogling and seeing Faye’s studio in photos on Facebook and Mr Google became surreal – I was finally standing in Faye Cahill’s cake studio.

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

Photography by Van Goh Cakes

Aren’t the figurines the cutest?

I felt very welcomed at the studio as I got acquainted with Faye’s team that produces the amazing cakes – Maree, Michelle, and Rebecca. There was so much to take in that I don’t think it’s ever enough – Maree making sugar flowers, Michelle mixing colours to paint on flower petals, Rebecca working at the computer (how I’d love to have someone do all my admin work!), and Faye adding the lace embellishments on to a cake. You could not help yourself but embrace the positive energy of being in a studio setting as opposed to working from home. Alone. It was a refreshing experience watching how everyone works together in a studio making cakes, when it is usually me, myself and I doing everything that they’re doing. I watched Faye as she explains to me how a lace pattern on the bride’s dress ends up being a sketch onto tracing paper. She carefully maps out where the lace pattern will go on the cake, and what she does next is simply amazing – watching how she cuts pieces of fondant which mimics design motifs from a lace with an embossed lace pattern, making beaded designs out of moulds, and lastly the part which I love watching, is getting the colours just right as she mixes copper with gold to achieve the perfect colour on the cake. Faye had me colour some filler flowers for the cake which I couldn’t be more obliged to do, and again watched her work her magic with achieving the right colour for her filler flowers. Casual conversations were thrown in here and there, and it made my time at the studio very light and enjoyable.

Photography by Van Goh Cakes

This eight-tier cake is really something!

Just as my visit was reaching an end, Faye had visitors, and not just any visitors. Sharon Wee, Miso from Miso Bakes, Margie Carter and Weennee Tan who from Sugar popped by before I left.

Am I starstruck yet?

One should feel starstruck, but you are subconsciously reminded that they are regular people who do regular things, you know, like hanging out with the incredible Faye Cahill. 🙂

I left Faye’s studio in a hurry to the airport to board my plane back to Melbourne. Thank you Faye and co for letting me have a sneak peek into their daily activities. It was a short visit, but really, it lasted a lifetime and it could have gone forever. It has got me thinking of the possibilities of a studio of my own in the future, and this has planted a seed in my head. Faye’s hospitality has truly touched me, and I can’t wait to get back there to hopefully create something truly amazing! 🙂

Photography by Rebecca

L-R: Weennee Tan; Me; Faye Cahill; Margie Carter; Sharon Wee; Miso

Cake Competitions – Part 1

Competitions are hard.

But most of all, there’s so much work and preparation that goes into any competition. Any. Well, except for the spelling bee competition that I entered when I was ten which I didn’t know how to prepare for other than reading the dictionary which I felt was rather aimless – I didn’t go through in the end.

I’ve done my fair share of cake competitions this year, but wanted to bring you into my amateur-ish take on this world of decorating cakes for competitions.

My decision to enter the Royal Melbourne Show was influenced by Hannah from Storytale Cakes. It never crossed my mind to enter the show, as I was still unaware of the cake competitions available in Victoria. Within a split moment I said, OK, I’ll do it! Mind you, I had entered the Art of Cake challenge which was happening during the Cake, Bake & Sweets show in Melbourne in October, so to have put my hand up for this competition meant more work from me.

I chose to enter the Birthday Cake or Celebration Cake category, which is a different take from my point of view. Competition cakes for me has always been wedding cakes or novelty cakes, and picking this category was a fresh take. I started having a boy’s birthday cake in my head, but as the weeks went by, I changed my mind and decided to create a birthday girl’s birthday cake. I’ve made several boys’ cakes, and a girl’s cake would be something to expand my portfolio.

I don’t sketch any of my cakes – I’m a terrible sketcher, and that is surprising given my avid interest in drawing as a child. I guess so many years in between were dedicated to studies that I just lost touch. The one thing that stuck with me when designing this cake was a maypole (the pole with lots of ribbons and people go around with it with the ribbons in their hands – yeah I had no idea that was what it was called!). It kept popping in my head for a long time, and I knew the design had to have a maypole in it.

The cake was going to be a two-tier cake, and I knew I wanted to try a new skill with it. During the brainstorming session, I have been watching Faye Cahill’s tutorial on Paul Bradford’s Sugarcraft School. She gave an in-depth tutorial on how she creates her signature cakes, which involved piping, silver leaf, appliques, and luster. what I loved most about the tutorial was that I had creative control as to how I can colour lustre, but most of all, you don’t need to keep hundreds of lustre colour when really you could make them all yourself! Because the lustre can have almost a silky sheen to it, I wanted a colour which was feminine, young, and playful. So I chose a yellow lemon tone to it. DSC_0565The maypole was going to be the feature on the top-tier, and so I wanted the tier to look as though the maypole is perched high and proud along plains of grass, and I will achieve that with a bit of watercolour. I added pieces of teardrop-shape white fondant to look like rolled clouds in the sky, and that gives it a bit of dimension. This project was where I wanted to have elements in both 2D and 3D to play with the eye a little, tacky as it may sound, but I know my eye gets drawn to such things.

 

DSC_0570The ribbons on the maypole was achieved using thin strips of coloured fondant, and I didn’t know how best to place them. So I thought, give it the illusion of the ribbons floating in the air . That required a lot of manoeuvring the strips so that it stays in place and doesn’t flop. People may start to think that it will need CMC so that it firms up fast enough, I’ll say if I’m impatient and I can do without it, so can anyone else. I may have gone overboard, but I think the effect just looks colourful. People’s eyes tend to go for something a little more colourful, doesn’t it? 🙂

Now I had to tie the two tiers together because at the moment they don’t look like they flow from one cake to another. Hence I decided to have little pink blossoms that flow from the top-tier to the bottom, in a ombre fashion. Genius, I thought. I started to pump these little babies out like there was no end to it, as they say, if you think you’ve pumped enough, you need to pump out more. And thankfully I did, and it looked like a cohesive cake piece.DSC_0569

Did I forget to mention that I had piping on this cake? Yes I forgot to mention that Faye’s tutorial heavily influenced this piece, and so I took a leap of faith and grabbed myself a piping bag with royal icing, and piped out a monogram that surprisingly did not take very long to do. After the monogram was done, boy did I feel triumphant! It may not sound like it is a big deal, but I am sure a lot of cake decorators may agree piping with royal icing, even buttercream, may be arduous and messy and stressful!

Here’s the finished piece!

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The complete competition piece

 

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Front

 

 

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This baby’s got back!

Delivering this cake to the competition venue was a stressful event for me – I lost my way and had absolutely no clue where to go. Finally after 40 minutes of driving aimlessly, I told myself I must place in this competition after my horrendous drive!

And guess what?

I did place! Second! This project is still very dear to me as it is my first win after many competitions, and I get a red ribbon too! (Blue ribbon is for 1st place winners, but blue isn’t really my colour anyway 🙂 )

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I’ll be keeping this piece for a while, but not too long as I have more plans ahead for amazing new projects!