It sounds strange to say that I have cake-making/decorating/baking inspirations, but I do. They are amazing people who have made their lives and careers by doing what I want to do, incredible bakers who are also creators and innovators and artists. Some of them are what you might call traditional bakers, making conventional cakes and bakes (though often with their own individual twists and takes on the old standards). Others are real experimenters, unconventional in both style and method, pushing the boundaries of baking and cake-making. I like to think that this combination of classic and experimental styles helps me to broaden my techniques and methods; the traditional practices form the foundation of what I can do and the innovative allows me to free my creativity.
I draw inspiration from any and everywhere that I can. I’ve started to think in terms of cake. If I see an interesting building or car or scene, the first thought that springs to mind these days is “I wonder how I could recreate that in cake?”. I dream in flavour combinations and piping patterns. I draw out cake designs when I’m bored. I devour food programmes on iPlayer and trawl through websites for new ideas. I’ve even taken to keeping a notebook, my Cake Journal, for jotting down spur-of-the-moment ideas that pop into my head at all hours. The people who inspire me to bake (an assorted array of food bloggers, “celebrity” chefs, professionals etc.) play a very important role in my life; they nurture my ambition as I aspire to be as good as they are, they remind me why I want to bake and why I’m so passionate about it and they also provide me with ideas of my own, fuelling my own creative spirit. Here are just a few of them.
Joy, as her name suggests, is a baker and food-blogger. Her blog is funny, smart and beautiful and her recipes are amazing. (Her S’mores Brownies are particularly good.) She’s down-to-earth and real and so very passionate about food and baking, it inspires me to be too. Plus, she loves chocolate and peanut butter and cats. What’s not to like?
You may know of Duff and CCC from the Food Network programme, Ace of Cakes. They don’t just make cakes, they quite literally build them. Unconventional is one way of describing their work – power tools feature heavily in the creation of many of their cakes. From the traditional and classic (such as tiered wedding cakes) to the Millenium Falcon, Jeeps (and other cars), pianos, beavers (and other animals), sports stadiums and more, it seems that they will make any and everything. The word “can’t” doesn’t seem to figure in their vocabulary, and they truly do test the limits of baking and cake-decorating. I just find everything they do incredible; the effort and care and detail that goes into every cake they produce is mind-blowing. These are people who really seem to love what they do, and that is what really inspires me.
Edd is the 2010 winner of the BBC series The Great British Bake-Off. Since winning, he has written a cookbook and started teaching macaron classes. He inspires me because he began as just another amateur home-baker, but has now made it as a professional. It proves that it can be done, if you have the passion and determination and skill, and it gives me hope to know that others have succeeded before. My ambitions aren’t just pipe dreams any more, but something tangible, real; if I work hard and stick with it, maybe one day, I’ll make it too.
Of course, there are many others, but these are my main inspirations – the ones who really show me that it’s possible to realise your dreams and do what you love and love what you do. They are, if you like, my cake-making heroes (that sounds so strange) and they are the ones who, day after day, make me want to keep baking.