Posted on April 11, 2016
To celebrate the relaunch of the Tunbridge Wells Store this Easter Oak Furniture Land commissioned a special 3ft White Rabbit Cake based on the 1865 illustrations by John Tenniel from the Lewis Carol fairytale ‘Alice in Wonderland’. This is the forth local commission from Oak Furniture Land received by Kent CakeBomber Francesca Pitcher of North Star Cakes. Francesca was delighted to take on this latest challenge from the furniture specialists, “making this well loved character for Oak Furniture Land was such a pleasure and so different from the usual commissions I get, I’m very lucky to be asked to make such varied cakes for a company that supports local events and causes and I’m so happy to be asked to take part in one of their store openings for a forth time”.
The Cake has a strong internal structure allowing it to stand on two legs and is made up of seven 8 inch square sponge cakes expertly sculpted into shape by Francesca. The cake was filled with heaps of Madagascan vanilla buttercream and covered in white chocolate ganache before modelling started. All the small details are made from edible materials including the buttons, embossed gold pocket watch, playing cards, and dirt! Francesca even had to cut a paper dressmakers pattern in advance so that she could then make the edible sports jacket complete with ‘leather’ elbow patches for the white rabbit to ensure that it would all fit correctly on the cake. You might think that going to this level of detail in confectionary seems extreme but Francesca said of the cake, “making a pattern for an edible jacket in order to dress a cake rabbit is just one of the many necessary but unusual skills I’ve acquired in the name of cake art – it’s all in the detail”.
The cake was later donated by Oak Furniture Land to Groombridge Place for their special ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Easter Holiday Event and was put on display in the restaurant before being consumed by the public.
Posted on February 2, 2016
CakeBomb was delighted to celebrate with cake the three new store locations for Oak Furniture Land in the days leading up to Burns Night this January. Oak Furniture Land commissioned three of our artists to create Burns themed cakes for their new store openings in Hereford, Paisley and Stirling.
Veteran CakeBomber Annabel de Vetten-Petersen took on the Hereford store opening with a life-sized boxed set of bagpipes. The cake was later donated to the Hereford Burns Club for their annual Burn’s Night Supper and then auctioned to raise money for the Alzheimer Society.
For the Paisley store opening CakeBomb was pleased to introduce local cake artist Natalie Hume from ‘Tilly Makes Cakes’. Natalie made a huge Haggis cake to celebrate the occasion. The cake was later donated by Oak Furniture Land to local charity Home Start and accepted on their behalf by Councillor Hall, who also attended the store opening.
The last of the Burn’s Night cakes was made for the Stirling store opening by another newcomer to the CakeBomb team, Suzanne Esper. Suzanne sculpted a pile of Burn’s poetry books from cake, and a sugar ink well, quill, red rose and the Burn’s poem, ‘My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose’ painted onto aged edible paper.
What a great way to celebrate Burns Night!
Posted on August 24, 2015
Earlier this month Cakebomber Francesca Pitcher of North Star Cakes brought the tropical sun of Hawaii to Oak Furnitureland Broadstairs. Francesca constructed an oversized pineapple punch cocktail cake which any holiday maker would be thrilled to receive on a sunny beach! The 20 inch tall cake was made in three (very long) days and consisted of 4 large stacked vanilla cakes carved and split with vanilla buttercream, 960 hand made edible rice paper flowers threaded to make a colourful Hawaiian Lei – which took 4 hours on its own to make. The cake was accompanied by oversized frangipani flowers, glacé cherries, an orange segment and the whole cake was placed on a tropical edible ‘sandy’ beach. After the official store opening with the Oak Furnitureland staff and the lady Mayoress the cake was presented to DreamLand Margate, the recently re-opened pleasure beach just down the road from the store. The cake was displayed during the Dreamland Hawaiian Luau event that weekend and cut for the public by one of the visiting Hawaiian dancers at the party. Sounds fun!
For more information and further photographs please click this link for the article in the Thanet Gazette.
Posted on April 24, 2015
Ahh, Spring is well and truly here, and to celebrate their latest store opening Oak Furniture Land commissioned CakeBomb to make a life-sized baby lamb cake for their Maidstone store over the Easter Holiday’s.
‘Baa Larkin’ our Spring lamb cake was made by Award Winning CakeBomber Francesca Pitcher from North Star Cakes who is local to the new store in Aylesford, Maidstone. Local attraction, The Museum of Kent Life, attended the store opening in the form of Sarah Hirsch, with Francesca and store manager Amir Hawila. The life-size lamb cake was later donated to the Musuem by Oak Furniture Land for auction. Baa Larkin was named after Ma’ Larkin from the popular 90’s TV show ‘The Darling Buds of May’ because the Museum is home to Ma’ Larkin’s Kitchen set from the show, and which is still on display to the public.
Having never made a lamb cake we were pretty interested to see the frame. Francesca carefully worked out the proportions for the body so that the straight rods were as far forward as possible to allow for the legs to be built up at the knee, hock and thigh to give the illusion of a backwards bending leg like a lamb. The legs were also made longer to allow for the ground to be built up on the boards underneath. Proportionately shaped MDF ‘shelves’ were added at the deepest part of the belly and head to give much needed structural support and a base for the cake.
Of the cake Francesca said this, ‘The frame had to be really solid, I knew that the cake would have to attend the photo call at the new store, and then be driven to the Musuem of Kent Life where it would be on display for a few days. After that the winning recipient would have to drive it home. So Baa’ Larkin needed to be very strong, and the only way to ensure a strong structure with no wobbles or cracks it to get out the tools and make a proper frame in MDF and threaded steel rods, which you then sanitise and make food safe. For this kind of structural bespoke cake, it really is the only way to be confident that the cake will remain perfectly upright and steady’.
For more photo’s of Baa Larkin and other cakes please follow Francesca at North Star Cakes
Posted on October 17, 2014
From 20,000 votes we’ve made it to finalist in the Collaboration category of Cake Master Magazine Awards for our “Welcome to the Jungle” live installation at the Cake & Bake Show Manchester this year – created by all these people in this list here.
Thank you to everyone who nominated us! There were some fabulous collaborations this year (and last year) and we’re delighted to be in such good company … and, let’s face it, it’s a great excuse for a knees up!
And CakeBomber Vicki Smith of Incredible Edibles is nominated in the Novelty Cake category. Well done Vicki!
Francesca Pitcher of North Star Cakes (and CakeBomb’s artistic director) is nominated for best Cake Masters Magazine Cover image for her tiger cake.
[… and look, so is our cake crush, the beautiful Gonzuela Bastarache of Kupkake Tree (off of the telly!!!) star of Halloween Wars on Food Network.]
Check out the CakeMasters website to see the list of all the finalists. Good luck to all!
Posted on August 14, 2014
Beth Mottershead of Cakes by Beth (that’s Dr Beth Mottershead!) was recently mentioned on Weddzilla in a list of 20 of the most incredible wedding cake makers in the UK, in the same list as Peggy Porschen (and our Tracey Rothwell!). Her work is seriously top quality and very, very stylish. She recently made a cake for Paul Weller. She’s a very clever and thoroughly lovely chap!
Hiya Beth! Tell us about yourself.
I’m an art-loving science geek. It was during my time as a scientific researcher for my PhD that I really started cake decorating and it just took over from there. I was actually working as a researcher for a university when I decided to quit my job to focus on cakes full time. I’ve been in business for just over three years now and have never looked back. I’ve always loved baking and remember making marzipan frogs and lily pads for my dad’s birthday cake when I was about 14, but it was only when I reached about 24 that I tackled anything structural. I am completely self taught so I used to try things, analyse how I could improve on them, research different methods that others use and then create my own revised processes. I like it this way though as it means you get to create your own style and put your own stamp on things. The most challenging thing about my job is that as a one man band, I have to operate all aspects of my business, from answering enquiries to designing cakes, meeting couples for consultations, marketing, research, admin, book-keeping … and that’s all before I have cracked an egg or rolled out any icing. I have a part time assistant who will be helping me with the office side of things in about a month’s time, and I have put the wheels in motion to move into commercial premises. It’s great having a home studio but for me, the time is right to take the next step.
You are well known for your elegant and stylish tiered wedding cakes. What did you think when you were first approached to create something for a jungle? Were you out of your comfort zone or did you relish it?
I loved the jungle theme! I particularly loved the challenge of choosing items and styling them so that they were as native to India as possible. It meant that although there was a huge variety of exhibits, they all fitted together really well. It was a huge honour to be asked to be a part of such an amazing project. I felt that the whole CakeBomb collaboration was something a little bit different and to create a walk-in installation at The Cake & Bake Show sounded amazing! I have made structural cakes before and even one that lit up so I had some experience to help me get started but making a working hookah pipe cake was a slightly daunting task. I love a challenge though and always like to push myself so I couldn’t wait to get started!
How on earth did you do that?
It was one huge research project, reading into all sorts of options before I found the right one. It was one of those problems where every option is completely wrong until it is exactly right. I looked at air fresheners, incense sticks, smoke machines and all sorts. Finding something that wasn’t a fire hazard, wouldn’t squirt anything in anyone’s face, wouldn’t dissolve everyone else’s work and both looked smoky and smelled nice was a tough list of rules to abide by. It was only when I stumbled upon model railways and the life-like smoking funnel set ups you can get that I finally found the solution! I can see the scientist coming through. How long do you think it took you to make?
I think it was just over a week of continuous work but this was spread out over a few weeks as things had to be left to dry and set. It took me a day just to get the basic internal support in place ready for the mechanism.
You made flowers and leaves too – what kinds were they? What did you make them from?
I mainly made leaves, which were my version of rock fig leaves (serrated edges in a deep green..and a hint of frosty sparkle) and star fruit fronds (multi-leaved branches with lots of yellow and brighter green). I also created some Pankusum flowers, which I chose a peachy orange colour for. The leaves were all rice paper, hand cut into shape and airbrushed, painted and dusted. The flowers were made from flower paste.
Your work didn’t stop each day when the show ended – you were up late making Cake Lace to decorate the elephant weren’t you? I know late nights are not a new experience for you, but is Cake Lace?
Yes, being quite local to the show, I was ideally placed to make a few extra items that we needed. Even with the best of planning (and boy, was CakeBomb’s jungle well planned!), you never fully know that you have everything you need until it is all in one place so I made some extra leaves and some edible lace for the elephant. Late nights are definitely not a new thing for me, and I’m sure most people who work for themselves will know exactly what I mean. Cake Lace is something I have used before and have experimented with some different ways of incorporating it into designs. One of my most recent wedding cakes, and the tallest of my career so far, featured gold Cake Lace as one of the key details so I’m a dab hand at using it.
What was the most challenging thing about your involvement with Welcome to the Jungle in general?
I have to say, the most challenging part was balancing working on the jungle with running my business. Such a large installation with so many amazing cake artists means there’s no room for rushing or producing second rate work, but couples have chosen me to make the most important cake of their life so they need to be looked after too. The enquiries don’t stop and I had orders to fulfil alongside making the hookah pipe and leaves so it really was a busy, busy time.
Knowing what you know now, would you approach it any differently?
I think with anything, once you’ve done something, you’ll be much faster doing it the second time around. I used a few different approaches to adding the cake element to the pipe and now I know that the answer is always “More ganache!” The visitors who came to see us all really appreciated the animals so I would like to create something furry as well.
Of the others’ work – what was your favourite item and why?
This is a really tough one as everyone’s work was amazing…but I think Annabel’s gharial wins it for me. His skin was amazing and the eye…you just had to see it to believe it.
Who is your cake hero?
There are so many great cake artists out there, it’s difficult to pick out just one whose work I love. The sharp edges and clean finish of Australian work is the holy grail of wedding cake design and that is how I try to style my own work. I think I more have business idols, people who are truly passionate about their work, highly skilled in what they do, and can turn this into a successful, sustainable business.
What is the favourite cake you’ve ever made?
It’s tough to choose because I try to make my latest work my best work and keep pushing myself to create better and better cakes. It takes a lot to beat the chateau cake that I created for a wedding in France. It was a replica of the actual chateau that the couple were marrying in and was definitely a life-changing event.
I once designed a cake with a large metallic bird on the side and couples have really latched onto this idea so I am over the moon when I get to make a giant bird cake. It’s so quirky and unusual, but I think wedding cakes should be a really memorable part of a couple’s wedding day. I am a huge Breaking Bad fan so it also made my year when I had free reign on a Breaking Bad birthday cake design. So much fun!
What’s up next?
It’s officially wedding season so I have lots of wedding cakes to create for lovely couples this summer! At the end of 2013, I was declared the winner of The Balvenie Masters of Craft Award for food and drink, sponsored by Waitrose, so as part of my prize I have a large cake commission for them. This will be for the Autumn, when they launch a new whisky at their distillery in Scotland and I’m really excited about it!
Posted on July 26, 2014
OK rail enthusiasts, can you tell me who Big Lizzie was?
No, not your plus-size Aunty Betty. More accurate to ask, what was a Big Lizzie?
They were the most powerful passenger steam locomotives ever to be built for the British railway network, far more powerful than the diesel engines that replaced them.
William Stanier designed the passenger steam locomotives known as ‘Coronation Class’ for the London Midland and Scottish Railway, and they were around from 1937–1948. Several examples were originally built as streamlined, with the front end encased in smooth metal. The non-streamlined versions of these locomotives were often referred to as Duchesses, and the enginemen who worked with them referred to these as Big Lizzies.
You can see this kind of train on show at the National Railway Museum in York in the form of the Duchess of Hamilton steam engine (picture at the bottom of this post.) She looks rather refined and stylish. I wouldn’t have dared to refer to her as Big Lizzie.
She’s a gorgeous specimen and so what better to use as a subject to be presented in cake form to the National Railway Museum by our own gorgeous specimen of baker, Molly Robbins of Molly’s Creative Cakes.
Yes, you thought this had turned into a trainspotting blog. Tempting as it may be, we don’t have the spare time to hang about with binoculars at railway cuttings so we’ll probably just stick to cake.
The cake is an incredible piece of work. What makes it adorable for me are all the details – the trainspotters’ paraphernalia: Smith’s crisps, pork pie, notebook, camera. It’s beautiful, authentic and funny, a bit like Molly. [Stop sucking up to Molly. Ed.]
Here’s our gorgeous Molly (left) and a local councillor at the opening of the York Oak Furniture Land store on Saturday.
And here’s the lovely re-streamlined Duchess herself, below. You can see her at at the National Railway Museum, York www.nrm.org.uk
6229, DUCHESS OF HAMILTON, National Railway Museum, (5)CC BY-SA 2.0