It has been three years now since I registered as a home baker and took on my first commissioned cake and it has certainly led me to lots of exciting places. I have done courses with some of my cakey heroes, met many talented people through social media and then face to face, won the odd online competition, reviewed some fabulous products, developed lots of lovely recipes, the occasional TV appearance and most importantly been part of many many peoples special celebrations.
I sometimes feel that someone will shout me out – ‘Hey you over there who thinks she can make cakes – you have no idea what you are doing most of the time – just winging it – its just you on your own in your kitchen.’ Well that is all probably true but it seems to be working and my order books looking ahead are pretty full and I still love making cakes – so I’m not complaining!
My adventure has recently taken me to new places, I met Nesan from NC Super Clubs, who runs pop up supper events all over London and also runs exclusive private catering events. Together we have designed some wonderful cakes for his events and through him I have had the pleasure of meeting some very talented event and food photographers.
This week my escapades led me to North London and a photo shoot in a professional studio kitchen with the wonderful Majella of Pavlova and Cream. London Kitchen Social is a new concept set up to encourage small food businesses to have professional shots of their food done. My shoot was part of a short slot one to one session, but they also run longer sessions that have several chefs at once creating their dishes and being photographed in the process. We had three hours so rather than bake I took a cake and decorations all ready with me.
I wanted to choose a cake design that best showcased the style I love best, this had to mean a naked style with fresh flowers, but I also had to included a few of my beloved macarons and meringue kisses. The flavours of the cake have been inspired by the Royal Wedding cake and are lemon and elderflower. I’m not going to do the whole recipe but can direct you to my post on How I Made a Naked Cake for tips.
I simply added some lemon zest to the basic madeira recipe that I usually use, I brushed the sponge with a lemon syrup to help keep it moist. The filling was my homemade lemon curd and elderflower buttercream, for this I made made usual buttercream but used Sugar and Crumbs natural elderflower flavoured icing sugar. This icing sugar has an intense and delicious elderflower flavour and I will certainly be using other flavours for future cakes.
My flowers are as always from Maddocks Farm Organics, with the addition of some local elderflower blooms. I am often asked about adding flowers to cakes and it is certainly on trend at the moment. My advice is to use a reputable organic flower grower, they will be able to advise you about in-season varieties and ensure the flowers are edible.
Supermarket and florist flowers have been sprayed with pesticides and many are toxic so in my mind have no place on a cake. For this cake, having asked for a mixed box of yellows and creams and whites Jan sent me a wonderful variety including lilac, calendulas, pansies, dianthus and bellis daisies. All so pretty and just perfect for my cake.
When I arrived at the studio Majella was already mid shoot with Bella a passionate foody home cook, who had produced some completely delicious dishes. The day had certainly started well!
We then popped next door to an Aladdin’s cave of kitcheny props. Wow I was in heaven! A whole warehouse dedicated to crockery, cutlery, boards, candle holders, tableware and much more. I chose a ‘shabby chic’ style wooden board for the cake and Majella picked out some napkins to compliment the cake colours. Its amazing what a professional eye sees that just lift a photo from the ordinary to the very special.
Back to the studio kitchen, it all felt very relaxed, like I was at home, although I was explaining as I went along what I was doing so it had a slight feeling of a class/demo too.
Having levelled and filled the cake, I like to lay out all the things I’m going to use.
Then it was time to start dressing it and Bella was kind enough to time lapse film me doing it which you can watch here.
The action shots for me just capture the world I go into when I’m dressing a cake, completely absorbed by what is in front of me.
Finally however come the final shots, Majella wove her magic and these are the lovely results.