Monday, 8 September 2014

Stacked Cakes

You might be wondering who and what Stacked Cakes is. I have made mention of it a number of times on the blog possibly without proper explanation. Stacked cakes is my former cake business that I ran for around five years from my own home. I had a fantastic website that my web designer husband created for me that I have since closed down and in the name of posterity I am shuffling a lot of the pictures and information about the business over here.

What follows is the story of the business, the good times and the bad times I had churning out cakes of all shapes and forms.

Learning to cake decorate and becoming a cake decorator was been a roller coaster ride. I started around 6 years ago in 2008 when I signed up for some cake decorating courses at Planet Cake in Sydney. Being the overly enthusiastic person I tend to be I didn't test the waters I just jumped in and signed up for around $5000 worth of classes. I headed up to Sydney for a few blocks at a time, sometimes weekends and my longest stretch a two week block. I called it my cake holiday and it was fantastic. I rented an apartment in the city and channeling Carrie from Sex and the City I would catch a taxi each over to Balmain each day, no public transport for this princess. To tell you the truth I tried to catch a bus one day & they wouldn't let me on as I didn't have a pre-paid ticket, it was all too hard to I decided at $10 a pop a taxi would be easier and quicker.

Planet Cake ran a series of courses from cake basics to advanced and into novelty. The selection I undertook really gave me enough skills to go ahead and start up a cake business and for those skills I lacked... you know the old saying "fake it till you make it". Can't pipe? who cares that's what stencils are for. Can't make many sugar flowers? Whatever you can buy them in from suppliers ready made.

Tempering chocolate at Planet Cake

Chocolate cigar anyone?

My first cake completed

My first attempt at sugar flowers, all handmade by me

Heading home after two weeks of cake classes at Planet Cake

At the time I was working full time in a travel agency in Canberra and I decided I would get up a website and make the cakes in my spare time. It was a little insane coming home, cooking dinner and then making cakes in the evening. Not really something I would recommend doing if you want to keep your sanity but when you have a dream of starting up a business you do crazy things like that. Thanks to the website the orders came in no trouble, in one 6 month period I turned down 60 cake orders as I just didn't have the capacity to do them all. The demand really highlighted to me the "build it and they will come" scenario. To start out with the website didn't have that many cakes on it, that grew fast though as I filled those orders.

The hard work bought all sorts of opportunities my way. I made and delivered a cake to Parliament House for the opposition party (the now Prime Minister of Australia ate my cake which is cool even if I do have opposing political views), I had a cake published in Cosmo Bride Magazine, I filmed a segment for the kids TV show Prime Possum, I sat at the President of the United States dinner table at the US consulate to discuss a possible commission the recreate the consulate in cake (one order I was glad was not placed due to the enormity of the task) oh and he was not there at the time just the consulate staff . I also saw some of my best cakes go viral on the internet (it is such a novelty to see your face and cakes talked about in many languages around the world)  and last but not least I made hundreds of cakes celebrating people's best occasions in life weddings, birthdays, baby showers, hens night and with my novelty cake skills you name it I have made it in cake.

My Australian Flag cake for MP Wyatt Roy's 21st Birthday. Pictured with Julie Bishop, the minister for Foreign Affairs, Tony Abbot, Australian Prime Minister, Wyatt Roy MP and Philip Ruddock MP

My Butterfly Cake pictured in Cosmo Bride Magazine

Filming Prime Possum with Madeleine Collignon
My Dalek Cake that went viral on the internet

After doing the cakes part time for a number of years I decided to make it my full time profession and in what was a very scary manoeuvre quit my job in travel that I had held for nearly a decade. As the orders kept rolling in and the requests got more outlandish it did astound me the amount of money people would spend on cake. What astounded me more was the difficulty in making a living despite the high prices and huge quantity of cakes I was churning out. I didn't think it possible to earn less than what I did as a travel agent but becoming a cake decorator proved that theory wrong.

I was also working harder than I ever did as a travel agent, my joints and muscles paid the price and with all the kneading and heavy cake lifting I managed to irritate a disk in my lower back, an extremely painful thing to do that I do not recommend and I have recurring tendinitis and weak joints in my wrists and hands.

After close to a year of doing the cakes full time I went back to work as a travel agent and back to doing the cakes in the evenings which I did for another two years. I have fairly well exhausted the cakes, the pressure I have put on myself as to not disappoint paying customers wore me down. The final feeling of achievement when the cake is finished and delivered is amazing but the endless hours of labor along with full time work and a two hour daily commute is just too much. If I wanted to work that hard I would have kids!

Now that there is some space between myself and the cakes I look back at photos astounded that I ever created these works of art. My skills are diminishing overtime which is a shame but you can't force yourself to continue with something that you have lost interest in. It goes to show that passions change over time, people change, hobbies change, career goals change but I always have the wonderful memories of that one time I was a cake decorator.

Stargate Cake, my first major novelty cake order. I can thank all the amazing detail work to my husband Martin who hand piped all the details on the gate meticulously adhering to the details of the gate from the TV show

R2D2 Cake, again my secret weapon Martin worked out the structure and details of this cake

Cookies, never a sometimes food!

One of my favourite wedding cakes, it was the clients idea to mix the brooches and the sugar flowers and I love the result.

This cake was so much more impressive in real life, I panicked for weeks before making it and when the time came I hand carved that whole shape and all the 3D details no trouble at all. It was also like a meter tall you just can't tell from the photo.

My first prop cake so I could get some content on my website, all styrofoam on the inside and even though it is covered in real icing it disturbingly still looks exactly like it did five years ago. Hmmm.

A themed cake close to my heart

My own birthday cake that Cosmo Bride asked to use in their magazine, was stoked!

The largest wedding cake I have ever done. Had to be assembled on site and finished on a ladder. The lovely bride was so happy with it. A happy client makes for a happy cake decorator.

Handbags and shoes were a popular theme. the shoe is all sugar and the bag all cake mmm.

My first extensive use of moulds and my own design for sugar flowers using moulds as the flower centres.

A great partnership with cake decorator and florist can create a stunning cake.  I delivered the cake with a styrofoam spacer and the florist filled it with fresh roses. This bride is just gorgeous cutting her wedding cake.

Originally posted on Monday, 8 September 2014 by

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