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.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Signing Off! For now, at least...

It was three years ago today that I started this blog! I've learned so much and come so far... I'm almost half-way through my pastry cook apprenticeship, and I've made some pretty amazing cakes along the way. But things change, and unless circumstances change again in the future, this will be my last entry. I've made several attempts to get back into doing cake orders, but I'm done with the on-again off-again thing.

After much soul-searching in the last few weeks I have decided that it just can't be done in my current circumstances. My full-time bakery job is physically demanding and extremely tiring, and the last thing I feel like doing when I get home is more baking and decorating. The last few cakes I've done, I've wound up so stressed and exhausted that it's hardly seemed worth the effort.

However, this doesn't mean I'm giving up on decorating altogether. I still hope to compete (at least in the Newcastle Show, if nothing else) and I have every intention of continuing to learn and practise my craft as time and energy permit. To those who have followed my journey, thankyou and farewell... for now!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Let Down Your Hair!

And finally, Rebecca's "Rapunzel" (from Disney's "Tangled") cake! There were delays in getting her together due to some unforseen family circumstances, but it was worth the wait to hear the squeals of delight from my darling 4 year old daughter when she was finally finished.

I found this tutorial about a month before Rebecca's birthday, which was a HUGE help. The only doll cake I've done before was a fairly simple buttercream job, but for this one I pulled out all the stops... as I tend to do when I make my own kids birthday cakes! When I'm only paying ingredient costs and my time is my own, I love to take the opportunity to challenge myself and try out some different techniques where possible. I've mostly shied away from decorative piping and working on the sides of cakes... for Rapunzel, I piped a freehand lace pattern on her underskirt and the border and corset strings on her dress.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Butterfly Cupcakes

My beautiful daughter Rebecca is every bit the "girly" girl... she loves fairies and butterflies. And she loves pink. And purple. So these are the cupcakes I made for her to take to day care on her 4th birthday... chocolate cupcakes with piped Italian buttercream and modelling paste butterfly cut-outs.

I can actually thank Rebecca for finding the piping technique I used on these cupcakes. The week before her birthday, I was watching random decorating tutorials on youtube, my little girl wanted to sit on my lap, then after each video she started picking which one she wanted me to watch next.  One of them happened to be a clip showing a few different ways to pipe on cupcakes, including this technique... it uses a zig-zag motion with a petal nozzle to create the ruffle effect.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

That's So Magical!

A year over-due, but here she is... Sesame Street's favourite fairy, Abby Cadabby!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Time keeps Marching on...

Bugger... so much for getting back into blogging this year. I completely missed February, it's almost the end of March already, and I'm running out of time to post pictures of a cake that I still feel absolutely terrible about missing. My daughter Rebecca turns 4 this week, and I never got around to posting pictures of her 3rd birthday cake.

March 2011 is kind of a blurry patch in my memory... my first apprenticeship placement had fallen through, and I was working at Snows Patisserie (which only turned out to be a  four week stint). I'd been planning to enter the Newcastle Show, but after losing my job in February I was worried about the expense of dummies, icing and other supplies. I ended up going ahead and was quite happy with my flowers, but the cake itself was a bit of a rush job as I was running out of time... unfortunately it showed, and was reflected in the judges' comments. 

Then I had to back up from Show stress with Rebecca's birthday the following week... I made her an upright 3D "Abby Cadabby" cake. And the week after that I lost my job at Snows, which triggered a pretty major personal crisis. I felt destroyed, and started having doubts about whether or not I was cut out to be a pastry cook... and in the midst of all that, I never got around to writing up a post on Rebecca's cake.

Fast forward to March 2012, and history has repeated itself to some extent... once again, I left it too late to get my Newcastle Show entry organised. But this time, when I realised I was headed for another case of "nice flowers, shame about the cake" I decided to quit while I was, well, behind. After seeing the entries at this year's Show, it's really hit home just how much more I still have to learn. I rely too much on my flowers... the winners always have amazing decorative work on the cake itself.

So, long story short... I WILL have photos of Rebecca's last birthday cake up before her NEXT birthday. And  "lesson learned" that competitive cakes aren't something you start a month out from the competition. I've already started planning and sketching ideas for next year's wedding cake... watch this space in 2013!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Hoot Hoooot!"

And here it is, my first cake of 2012, "Hoot the Owl" for Kendra's first birthday! Unfortunately I didn't make it to the party myself as I work Saturdays, and the bakery gets very busy in the Summer holidays... especially on the weekends!  Hoot's head was Cherry Ripe mud cake, and his body was an experimental Caramel mud cake.  The caramel needs a little work in my opinion... tasted more like butterscotch to me. Overall, though, I was really happy with the job I did on this one!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Kendra's Christening

I've just delivered my first cake for the year... my little niece Kendra turned 1 earlier this week, and at her mum's request I made her a "Hoot the Owl" cake (of ABC Kids "Giggle and Hoot" fame) for her party tomorrow. Photos yet to come, but in the meantime, here's one of the missing "cake files" of 2011... this was for Kendra's christening back in May.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy 2012!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! After a hectic and often stressful 2011, I'm hoping to get back into doing cakes again in 2012.  I've almost finished my Cake & Pastry certificate... no more practical classes or exams, just some Food Safety assignments to do in the upcoming semester and I'm done! I know I put a lot of pressure on myself to excel at TAFE, so a lot of the stress I've been through was self-inflicted. Even though all I need to do in apprenticeship terms is pass, I'm not the kind of person that is satisfied with "just passing"... I definitely come from the "if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well" school of thought!

So, about that rather sad looking number of blog posts in 2011... yes, it was a rather lean blogging year. I still have quite a few cakes that "missed the boat" so to speak. I'll try to catch up over the next month or so, but my Facebook page is always up to date if you'd like to visit and browse my albums.  Most of the cakes I did last year were for family, as I stopped taking orders from the public due to being over-tired, over-stressed and over everything.  But I'm far happier where I'm working now than where I was this time last year, and the bulk of my TAFE work is behind me, so it's all systems go for 2012!