Getting My Cake On with Kaysie Lackey

When I started cake decorating as a hobby, I was so immersed in it that I wanted to learn from as many resources that I could find – books, magazines, online tutorials, you name it, I had it. It was when I went on to Cake Masters that I was introduced to Kaysie Lackey. Her tutorial on the Klimt cake really got my head spinning. Everything in that tutorial, I absorbed as much as I can. She referenced artists, took their techniques and styles into an edible medium and achieved spectacular results. She had a great eye on colour and had a very carefree attitude. That was two years ago, when I knew I must attend a course with her!

Kaysie Lackey Ruching Gold Leaf Cake

The finished product! Beautiful, isn’t it?

When she was coming to Australia this year, I was excited. She was going to be teaching a series of classes at Special Treats by Carolyn, which were Nigel the Owl, Blown Away Betty, and Benedict the Bull. PS: I love Carolyn when she gets such amazing teachers! Big ❤ to her!

International cake artists like Kaysie don’t come very often, and I knew I had to attend a class, which I chose Benedict the Bull. She first appeared at the Cake, Bake and Sweets Show in Sydney last month, and I jumped on a ruching and gold leaf workshop instantly when I learned of them. Fondant is such an amazing thing – give it some modelling chocolate, and it stretches like a dream. Stab into it with some modelling shapers, and you get this beautiful fabric-like texture. Add some coloured dusts, and you create dimension of the textures that you made. And a deep cerise heart, and some gold leaf – bam! Fashion-inspired cake! But poor cake suffered in Sydney’s dreadful humidity, and it went out in the bin when I checked out. RIP cake 😦

When August came, I waited in anticipation for the weekend to come where I get to spend two whole days with Kaysie. Kaysie’s classes have been known to include very unique armature. She has a Craftsy class, called Sculpting Magic, which takes you through creating safe and sturdy armature for novelty cakes, and going for a class in person will better familiarise me with armature and the endless possibilities.

Kaysie Lackey Pavlova

Kaysie Lackey with her pavlova!

Kaysie is an excellent person – apart from sharing her life experiences, she talks about what she learned from teaching in other countries. Her suggestions are well-rounded and objective, and very willing to listen to other people’s knowledge. She studied the whole anatomy of the bull and explains what needs to be done to our cakes to achieve them. She looks at each student’s piece and shows you what needs to be done and encourages you to be confident every step of the way. Did I mention she loves show tunes and musicals? Her eclectic taste in music reverberates the room over the two days on her iTunes as we move along from construction of the armature to making the bull’s tail. Or cow’s tail, as some decided to add udders as part of the gender reassignment process.

The one thing that I’ve been nervous about is modelling chocolate. I’ve had some success making it, and then I struggled to get it to the right consistency. But Kaysie showed us how to make it her way, and using it during the two days reminds me of how beautiful it is to work for sculpting and modelling, so much so that when I touched fondant, it felt weird. Its pliability and ability to blend are big advantages, whilst its heat labile property may not be so appealing to people who have hot hands like me. Kaysie then shows us in marrying both fondant and modelling chocolate together, you get a product that showcases the best of both medium! I’m in love!

Kaysie also shows us throughout the two days on how to use the Innovative Sugarworks sugar shapers – they are amazing! Sadly, my hands struggle to go into certain corners, and Kaysie uses different tips effortlessly to achieve the texture that she wants from the bull’s nostrils right to the buttcrack (haha!). The shapers are an extension of the finger tips and it creates more effects on sugar work than what my fingers can physically do, and so I cannot wait to slowly familiarise myself with the different shapes of tips and making full use of them.

Kaysie Lackey Innovative Sugarworks

Kaysie explaining how to use the sugar shapers

Somehow, we managed to spend way more time than expected with Kaysie. We spend an extra hour on Saturday, and a whopping four an a half hours after 5pm on Sunday. Oops. As hungry and tired as I am, I think I managed to get as much as I can out from my time spend with Kaysie and everyone else, and it was a great success.

Kaysie Lackey Benedict the Bull

We’re finally done!

Vincent Goh Kaysie Lackey Benedict the Bull

Moo!!!!

As much as we spent such long hours during the weekend, I didn’t finish my cake. We got to the part where I painted my bull’s spots. Kaysie gave me some direction on finishing the colours, which I did a week after. The result?

Van Goh Cakes Kaysie Lackey Benedict the Bull

Moo!

Yes, this bovine beauty. My recollection of this cake was when we were creating expressions with the eyes, I wanted excitement in his eyes. He turned out looking anxious and in desperate need of a Xanax. Thank goodness for Kaysie who came to save my poor bull. I love Benny, but he will be cut up for some good cuts of “meat” as he is hogging a lot of space in the house. He is a reflection of the fantastic memories I had with Kaysie, and that big learning curve that I had from the weekend.

Thank you Kaysie for your efforts in bringing your knowledge and wisdom Down Under, and I know we will get to see you very soon!

Alice? Alice? (You can finish the phrase in your head!)

Hi everyone,

My name is Vincent, or more endearingly, Keng Seng (dare you to pronounce it properly 🙂 ). And I’m a self-professed class tart. That name was given to me last year as I breezed in and out of cake classes as I made that a 2014 new year’s resolution to enrich my skills in cake decorating. Some of you might think, why? Well, we keep learning until the day we die, so why not? It was money well spent, in my opinion.

But I knew there was a class not to be missed, especially when the class is by Handi Mulyana, from Handi’s Cakes. He was coming to Melbourne this year to spend time to show us how to make his Alice in Wonderland cake, and how could I refuse?

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The class last weekend was such a wonderful and calming experience. Cake decorating for me is my zen, and I knew I was in my element as I learned from the master himself in those two days. After day one, you have so many learning outcomes that can be achieved from this class. It wasn’t just learning how to make such a jaw dropping, topsy turvy cake, but it involves basic cake decorating skills –  the wrap method, how to achieve sharp edges, how to have a stable internal structure for carrying cakes, how to cover a sphere, the list goes on. It felt like a good refresher course – most of the skills that I have acquired so far were online tutorials, but it felt good to have someone show you once again and to troubleshoot (which I did of course, make errors with my cake – Handi did say I will have to cover the cake again if it were him, ack!)

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Absolom and the card soldiers! Love how vibrant Absolom actually looked, especially with his um, shisha?

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Alice falling into the cake!

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The mad hatter and his supersized gloves

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All the lovely sweet treats!

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The clock that gave me grief the whole time during class – it wouldn’t stay put despite numerous attempts to keep it in place. It was in an awkward spot where the clock could not rest properly, which probably contributed to it. I came home and redid the clock and gave it a gold finish too. Looks much better!

We had such a blast on the first day, everyone at the class were focused and concentrating hard that we finished half an hour earlier than scheduled. We had so much on the second day however to complete that we went over by an hour and a half! I was exhausted after the second day, but to have learned so much in that two days was rewarding. Initially, I was nervous and a little shy to ask questions, but come day two, I just wanted to finish and so I kept asking stupid questions. I look back at the class and enjoyed every single moment of it. Big thanks goes to Sarah from The Cake Stop who has not only housed us all and was extremely patient and hospitable, but have gone above and beyond in making our class enjoyable. Oh and her mochas are awesome too!

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The Cheshire cat grin. I feared it would have been difficult, but turned out to be much easier than I would’ve imagined

Thank you so much Handi for a great class as always, and I know I’d love to have another class with you again! I’d highly suggest any of his classes to anyone at any skill level too, you will not be disappointed!

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The obligatory photo with Handi, licking the lollipop 🙂

What Australia Means To Me

Happy 2015!

I hope everyone had great Christmas and New Year celebrations, and heading into the new year with lots of great plans for the year!

I wanna share with you my excitement – my first sugar artist/cake decorators’ collaboration ever!!!

I couldn’t be more happier with the opportunity to work with some fantastic veteran cake decorators in the business from Australian Cake Decorating Network to showcase our creations for Australia Day today! Our theme for this showcase was “What Australia means to me”, and we could not wait to share our different interpretations of our own Aussie experiences in sugar art.

I’ve been in Melbourne for ten years now, and I asked myself what was the common theme in my so-called developmental years of my life living on my own in a foreign land and becoming myself. And it was always food… then there was wine… and then coffee. Before I came to Melbourne, I did not touch a glass of wine or coffee as I didn’t know how to appreciate them. But in recent years, I’ve come to learn how to taste it and appreciate it, and now I have a better understanding for it I seem to enjoy it a little more now. And so my mind was set on having these elements part of my cake design.

I wanted a challenge, and I came up with an idea of a bottle of wine pouring into a cup of coffee (I would never know what coffee and wine tastes like, it may be an acquired taste but who knows?). The cup of coffee will sit above a chef’s hat, and I’ll have something next to the chef’s hat. Easy!

How wrong I was!

When cake designs don’t fit the mould of standard cakes or stacked cakes, the challenge comes in creating a strong and stable structure inside the cake so everything pretty much stays the way it is! I usually get nervous because it means having to work out what kind of tools are required that I will have to go to Bunnings to buy them. I get intimidated in Bunnings – something about hardware and power tools just doesn’t sit well with me. And so I looked up as many novelty/gravity defying tutorials to understand and construct a structure that I find best suits this piece, and headed to Bunnings.

On to the details of the cake.

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I’m somewhat a foodie, and as much as I love just having two-minute noodles, it’s interesting to know of upcoming restaurants and fantasise of the restaurants that are on my bucket list. My chef’s hat is representative of that – fine dining is vogue these days, with food styling and #foodporn going off in social media. It is also a tribute to all the great Aussie chefs – what great culinary talent we have in this beautiful country, showcased by television shows such as Masterchef. I could go on, but we have Jacques Reymond, Shannon Bennett, Luke Nguyen, Christine Mansfield, Maggie Beer, Kylie Kwong, Peter Gilmore… et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I really can go on. Lastly, the chef’s hat is symbolic of the logo that is on The Good Food Guide that many foodies refer to to find out the ratings on the go-to restaurants not only in Melbourne, but in other states too.

DSC_0348A little cup of coffee ended up in this piece because I think it is a personal habit of mine that I order when I go to a good cafe for breakfast or brunch. I’ve been hooked to coffee in the last two years or so. My favourite is mocha (in case you have a trivia competition about me), and not everyone makes a great mocha. My housemate Lynn made a remark about “brunching” – it was something that I observed many people do these days as a main meal on a weekend morning and myself, and having a cup of coffee seems to just make it all better. I can share one of my New Year resolutions, and that is to sign myself up for a barista course this year. After all, it is something that I intend to pick up to fulfil my dreams of having a cafe, isn’t it?

I had to chuckle 🙂

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The wine bottle is very Australian in my opinion – it is something that I notice from my days in university, people bringing a bottle to a restaurant or ordering with their meals. I never fancied it, and to date I probably don’t really drink that much. Something about pairing the right notes of a wine with the food that you eat is such an art, I think my taste buds have not acquired that talent yet. But I do enjoy a good little sip of a good bottle, and it would be blasphemy to not include wine into my piece.

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The last element on my showcase is the cheese platter. This idea was thrown to me to create the cheese platter like a map of Australia. Boom! Why didn’t I think of it?! I had a great time creating it, and having brie cheeses and green olives with some crackers is like an indulgence after a good meal.

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I hope you liked my piece, and do look out for the other pieces on the Australian Cake Decorating Network page to look at some more awesome creations from the other decorators!

x Vincent

The Japanese BFG

Remember my Chanel bag cake for my friend last year? This year, I had to make something better, and I had no idea what she wanted. What better way to know than to ask her myself. Her response? “I want a Totoro Cake” and she provided a few photos of a mini figurine she had.

Who is Totoro?

My head goes into drive as to how I would make it. I only know the existence of this animated character but have never watched the movie. I think he’s like a BFG from the Roald Dahl book, just fluffier, and it is an animal. After looking at some images, character cakes like Totoro don’t scare me as much as it did a year ago, simply because I know it does not require a complicated internal structure.

I, have never, ever, watched this movie before. I knew of its existence, but it never grabbed me. Not until now! He does look like a more adorable BFG I think 🙂

In order to create his shape, I would make him as I did with my Minion months ago – a double barrel cake, and then carve to create this almost oval shape. And the rest will be to create detail on his face and body, and I think I’m he’ll look perfect.

I usually search on Google for any cake project if it was made into a cake, and I did the same for this Totoro project. There were a few that I found to be my source of inspiration, but the one that grabbed me the most was the one from Mike McCarey from Mike’s Amazing Cakes which I referred to often because Google did not have a lot of photos of Totoro in the movie which was rather inconvenient (if you looked up Totoro on Google, there is a lot of images that are not from the film, and I struggled to make sure there is some resemblance to the character in the film.

Looks like the animated character I think! Cake by Mike McCarey of Mike’s Amazing Cakes

My friend requested that the cake needs to be packed with flavour as well, and so I went with my white chocolate and banana mud cake which I wrote about in a previous blog post. Without going into much detail, I’ll post some photos for you to look at and you can see the progress of this edible Totoro goodness!

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The cake was stacked to double-barrel height – I used the white chocolate banana mud cake with peanut butter ganache as in the previous post 🙂

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All ganached and ready to be dressed in grey fondant

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Cake scraps!

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Cake carving time – I needed this photo to know what I’m doing with this cake, plus I had my housemate cast her eyes over to see if I got the right shape

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Fondant is on! And I’ve textured the cake board with some scrunched up foil.

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Totoro’ leaf hat – I placed it on a sheet of aluminium foil that has been scrunched and not laying flat on the bench. This gives the leaf some movement

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I added some colour to the leaf with some petal dust – This gives it some texture and doesn’t look so flat

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Making the umbrella – to be honest, I should have measured each point of the umbrella correctly to make it look uniform. But I can assure you the final effect looks great!

 

After a week’s worth of work, I finally got to present this to my friend at her birthday dinner.  She was in awe, and surprisingly some other guests at the restaurant caught a glimpse of the cake as it was brought out they had to sneak a few photos. Hehe!

PicMonkey totoro night

 

It’s an amazing process as a cake decorator that you know what you’re doing is leading towards a really awesome masterpiece. Character cakes are really fun to make, and the challenge is always to replicate how to really look. Did she recognise it? Indeed she did, and I hope you think it looks the same too!

 

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Totoro – I liken it to the anime version of the BFG, mild and caring 🙂