Newcastle, NSW, Australia
I’m a former industrial chemist, and after deciding on a career change while at home with my two young children, I’m now a qualified pastry chef. In 2009 I started taking some classes in cake decorating and other pastry-related cookery, and taught myself many more decorating techniques from books and internet resources. In 2010 I started a pastry apprenticeship, studying Retail Baking (Cake & Pastry) Certificate III at TAFE, which I completed with Distinction in 2012. I completed my apprenticeship in December 2013, and am now working as a full time Pastry chef and Cake Decorator at 'Exquisite Cakes by Lennert' in Cessnock, NSW.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Now, where was I...

And just when I decide to make an effort to get back into blogging, my long on-its-way-out network card finally gave up the ghost.  Internet access... you don't realise just how much you've gotten used to having the world at your fingertips until the door slams shut on them!  Anyhoo, back in the dim dark final weeks of 2010, I struggled on while battling depression to finish the last couple of orders I had on the books before taking what was to be an indefinite hiatus.

The string of first birthdays continued with another combined birthday/naming in a fairly similar style to the previous one...

... and my third 'Upsy Daisy' cake  She is proving to be one popular little lady! I could have done a fourth by now, but declined a recent order because of the afore-mentioned work/family/health life-balance issues.

There was to have been one more cake before the year was out, a 60th birthday cake for the mother of an old school friend... however having also suffered the devastating effects of depression, my sympathetic friend offered to cancel her order to make my life a little easier.  You know who you are... thankyou.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Project McQueen: Part 6

One last thing just HAS to be done before he goes on the board...

... a comparison back to the toy I used as a reference model. Quite happy with the likeness!

And finally on the board... on his actual birthday, only a few hours before family were due to arrive!

Happy 5th Birthday to my favourite little boy!

Project McQueen: Part 5

OK... wheels & spoiler added, details piped... time to show off with a 360 rotation!

Project McQueen: Part 4

Now the REAL fun begins!!!

Covered with red icing ...

... and now with coloured cut-out for the main features.

Looking oddly Mater-ish again... must be the brown circle of the Rust-eze logo looking reminiscent of Mater's exposed engine!  Not to worry... he's about to look a thousand percent better once the piping and details are done.

Project McQueen: Part 3

Just a little more fine-tuning was needed to get him ready for icing...

Indentations carved out for the wheels.

The built-up roof needed a little smoothing, so I came up with the idea of mixing some cake crumbs from the off-cuts with a little ganache to make a sort of "chocolate putty" to spread over it.

Fully ganached and ready to rock!

Project McQueen: Part 2

At this point in time, there's only one thing for it... grab a knife and start cutting!

From a square block to a rectangular block... not too shabby!

Hmmm... looking like I heading for Mater rather than McQueen at this stage.

Ahh, curves make a HUGE difference!

A little extra height, and I was done for the day.

Project McQueen: Part 1

Well, Cameron's 5th birthday has now been and gone, and he was stoked with his Lightning McQueen cake! I was pretty happy with it myself, but if the lead-up to the big day hadn't been a 6 day work week, I could have done better... and the plans I had for decorating the board as a desert highway scene went out the window because I simply ran out of time. However, even with the time constraints, I did manage to take quite a few progress photos along the way.

First thing's first... this is Cameron's much-loved and slightly beaten-up Lightning McQueen toy, which I used as a model to turn the cake that he's sitting on into his likeness.  It's a 10 inch square chocolate cake, but I made the mix for an 11 inch square to give it a bit of extra height.  I cut down the bicarb in the recipe slightly, hoping for a slightly denser cake that would be easier to carve.  I also froze the cake, as I've read here and there that cakes are easier to carve when frozen.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Two Years On...

How time flies... it's the 1st of August once again, two years to the day since starting my blog.  As stated in my very first post, I intended to 'document my quest to become a pastry chef and cake decorator.'  While I succeeded in recording my early efforts in learning the art of cake decorating, blogging fell signifcantly by the wayside once the real journey of becoming a pastry chef began.  So far it's a road that's been a little bumpy and taken a few unexpected twists and turns... my first job at 321 Patisserie fell through unexpectedly, then I had a brief stint at Snows Patisserie, but that didn't work out either.  Life's little roller-coaster is finally back on the upswing, though... I'm now happily working at Saxby's Bakery in Salt Ash, into my third semester of Cake & Pastry at TAFE, and not too far off being a second year apprentice.

Although I tried to keep doing cakes from home, the pressures of full-time work and study quickly became too much to handle.  Bakery/patisserie work is more physically demanding than I had anticipated, and unexpectedly long days at work caused significant stress when I was already exhausted to breaking point and then had to go home and make more cakes for my own customers. My sincere apologies to those who have made enquiries recently... at this point in time, staying focussed on my apprenticeship, and time for myself and my family, are higher priority than 'cakes on the side.'

Having said that, I will still be doing a select few cakes for family, close friends, and competitions.  I started my blog in the lead-up to my first serious attempt at cake decorating... my son Cameron's 3rd birthday cake.  Now my boy is nearly 5, and even as I write, the cake that will become his long-anticipated 3D 'Lightning McQueen' is in the oven.  It should be an interesting project... if I have time, I'll try to take a few progress pictures during the week.