Sunday, January 15, 2012

Jennywennycakes open house!

I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm having a little open house next Saturday to showcase some of the things I bake for my customers.  I'm getting lots of enquiries from recently engaged couples, so I thought this would be the ideal opportunity to show people what I do.

If you're free then I'd love to see you!  Stop by anytime between around 12-2pm to sample cakes, cookies and cupcakes with a cup of tea or coffee!

I'm also looking for people to share my kitchen space.  Just call us is a great place to start a small catering business, there is everything you might need in a commercial kitchen.  I'm specifically interested in people to share on Saturdays, and maybe Friday afternoons.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

More Sugar Flowers with PME

I recently managed to take a quick trip back home.  December is a great time to visit as everyone is so excited about Christmas!! 

My primary reason for this trip was to learn more about sugar flowers at PME cake decorating school in Enfield, near London.  It was a very affordable 4 day intensive course, which was only 250 pounds, which included lunch and as much coffee and tea as we could drink.  I didnt realize at the time, but it was part 3 of a 'master sugar artist' course.  I may return for the other parts in the future.

 We covered so many flowers! 

Starting with some unwired flowers we made gerbera with ivy, a rose, and a Christmas rose and poinsettia. They were all on plaques, which could be prepared ahead and then would finish any cake very nicely.

We then started on some more difficult wired flowers.  We made 'filler flowers' and buds, then fuschias.

Carnations were next.  Apparently the instructor doesnt like carnations, but I really loved them.  I'd love to design a cake with some enormous carnation type fantasy flowers dotting the front of it!

We then made some lily of the valley.  This was the instructors work, I thought they were so delicate and pretty, and actually not that hard to do, I hope to be making more of these in the future.  So cute!

This picture also shows some calla lilies.  They were nice and simple to do too.

We also made rose leaves and ivy.  I was disappointed that this was one of the last things we got started on, leaves are very important in the design of bouquets, so it was very frustrating that there wasn't much time for these because everyone got so caught up with their other projects.  If we'd been taught these early, we could have been working on these in any downtime we had.

This is the display that the instructor made,with a very pretty lily, which was one of the other flowers we worked on.

The other flower we made was, of course, a rose.  This is one of the most used flowers in cake design so it was good to have another try at it.  I didn't quite get mine perfect, but hopefully with a bit more work I can get the hang of them!

 This is one of my sprays of flowers, you can see I'd have been better off had I had some extra ivy to fill it out, and my coloring of my lily left a little to be desired, but its a good start!

My other spray had the prettier flowers, but 'lacked focus'.  You can see that my next project will need to be a flower arranging class!  It was amazing to see the sheer volume of flowers we managed to produce in 4 days!!
Previous classes I've taken leave you with two flowers over two days, so this was definitely more intense and productive!  PME designed this class to help people produce sugar flowers that were actually commercially viable, so they may not always be perfectly correct looking, but good enough for most people. 

The other downside with the PME classes is that the only equipment and supplies used are ones that PME sell, so they were either JEM, Wilton or PME.  Even if there was a better product, we werent able to use it.  This was particularly frustrating when making leaves as I'm used to using a grooved board to roll them out on, which leaves a groove for the wire to be put into.

I've taken a few pictures of other examples from the other students and instructors.  It was interesting to see the different color schemes. 

Every student on the class went away with something beautiful, so it was a testament to a great instructor that such a complex skill was so well taught. 

Having been to many classes with Jacqueline Butler at Petalsweet Cakes, and also a class with Tami Utley, I'd say this was much more intense, and the students were not there to have fun, they were there to learn.  Everyone seemed to be feeling the pressure, even though maybe half of us werent professionals.  I had to wonder about why they were taking time off work to do something that seemed to be stressing them out so much!

Overall this was a great experience.  I got experience of making a ton of different flowers.  I feel a lot more confident about trying new sugar flowers, and I already was asked to make some orchids for a cake that they were making at CAKE, so they already came in handy!  Here are the bright vibrant flowers they asked for!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011, What a whirlwind of a year!!

I'm looking at this vest right now, and I cant believe that I kicked off the year with a half marathon!  I hate running!  It was a fun experience, but one foot in front of the other, and I did it.  Maybe not the fastest (I finished with the speed walkers!!) but I did it!  I dont plan on running further than a couple of miles in the future, but you never know!!

February was my grandma's 90th birthday, I was very honored to be able to travel home and create a huge birthday cake for her.  I'm so glad she had such a wonderful day, her memory is a little fuzzy sometimes but she was crystal clear and happy that day.  Everyone loved the tiramisu flavored chocolate cake too!!

Another treat was a week spent with my brother, mum and niece.  We don't get a lot of time together living so far apart, it was very special.

In March, I attended another great class at Roz's Sweet Art Studio with Petalsweet Cakes.  I entered a relaxing zen atmosphere for 2 days, and created an anemone and a fuchsia.  It was very relaxing, as well as wonderful to learn a new beautiful flower!

April, I did a crazy thing and went to the UK for a long weekend to celebrate my friend's wedding.  It basically felt like a ridiculous dream, I stayed in a lovely cottage with all my friends around me, and we celebrated with incredible food and drinks, and just amazing warm weather!  I was so glad I got to be there, it was totally worth the jetlag!

We realized we'd not been away as a couple for over a year, so I planned a weekend in Vegas in May for us to relax and enjoy ourselves!  We stayed in luxury at the Wynn, and it was really fun to escape from normal life for a weekend!

June I was making more and more cakes, this being one of the bigger weddings, catering for 150 people at Tom Ham's Lighthouse.  The event went smoothly and I started to get into my stride.  I finally started to feel a little more confident planning weddings and larger events.


 July was when I started in the 'Just Call Us' kitchen.  This has been a great experience for me.  It has been stressful paying for time in advance, trying to work out when I'll need the kitchen and also panicking sometimes to get done in time if someone needs the kitchen after me.  But on the whole the experience has been very positive, I've made lots of friends in the kitchen, learned a lot, and its a great kitchen to work in, I seem to get my work done really quickly in there, which helps me to save money!  I'm hoping that a few more people decide to use the kitchen, as I prefer to share time, so I hope there are a few more folks with new food ventures in 2012!

August was a very special month, spending time with my lovely niece and celebrating her 3rd birthday.  I managed to fit in a trip to Sydney to meet Handi and learn a new technique.  I wanted a great cake for my niece too.  I actually carried this on the plane as hand luggage and I dont recommend this to anyone.  It was a nightmare and I thought my arms would fall off!!

Of course the really huge event in my life was that I gave up my job on August 9th.  It was terrifying, but I had a lot of support and I'd made lots of plans, and saved up some money, so I hoped it would work out.  So far so good!  I haven't really looked back!  I still miss some of my colleagues, but I don't miss the work.

September I got my teeth into fruit and vegetable carving.  I found myself really enjoying this class, I'd highly recommend it.

October is always a special month, its our wedding anniversary, and my husband announced he'd been invited to speak up in Berkeley, so I decided to make the most of it and go there with him.  We had a wonderful few days, the highlight of which was a last minute trip to Chez Panisse for lunch on our anniversary.  It was a very special meal.

Of course I cant forget October without mentioning this doozy of a cake!  My wonderful customer wanted a 'wow' cake for his halloween party, I knew I needed to step up and practice a new technique I'd learned in Australia and make him a 'mad hatter'  I was so happy with how it turned out, although it was extremely nervewracking!!

November came with lots of volunteering opportunities!  I was happy to be a part of the Mamas Kitchen Pie in the Sky event, where I made 25 pecan pies to sell.  I also helped out the Just Call Us volunteers make another 300.  I was ready to say goodbye to pastry for a little while after that!!

I managed to fit a trip to London in December to visit the PME headquarters and do a crash course in sugar flowers.  I also earned a posh looking diploma!  I dont know about my flower arranging skills, but I'm certainly very happy with all the new flowers I tried making, and the old ones that I practiced!  I'll try to blog about this a little more soon!

The year ended on a beautiful note with another wedding.  I got to showcase the lovely peonies that Jaqueline taught me, I just loved the vibrant colorscheme, and I was very happy to see some of my friends sharing the kitchen as I built the cake were unable to stop themselves from picking at the offcuts!

Its been a wonderful year, I'm very excited for 2012 and whatever that might bring!  Don't ask me whether I'm 'living the dream' when I'm in the middle of a pile of washing up, or someone has just complained on the phone that my prices are too high, but I do have to pinch myself sometimes when I'm whipping up a delicious cake, or making a beautiful cake decoration!