16 February 2015

Time Management

  For people who know me in the cake industry, it takes a while before my temper flares up when it comes to caking but sometimes I need to rant too.
  When it comes to cakes, if something isn't going right and you've been organised ahead of schedule then you have time to step back and gain another perspective. If you leave things to the last minute, then there really is no fall back and you know it has to be done so just finish it to the best of your ability.
  It's been a while since I've had the time to sit and have a chat and as someone just commented on my lack of time management - which I believe to be quite extraordinary, I thought I should take an hour out of my day to write another addition to my blog and vent.

  Time management is a huuuuge part of hospitality. Food needs to be made, kept hot, kept cool, fresh and delivered to the client or we could make someone sick, late, disappointed etc.
  You want a well-done steak in five? Have you ever cooked a 1" thick steak before? Do you know how long it takes? Well, if you haven't I suggest trying it...if you have, then you know that this is impossible.
And it's the same with baking.
  Now, over the years, yes, I have had to deal with a few clients who haven't been too nice or haven't been happy with what I have created for them. Luckily, these are few and far between and hopefully, if you're reading this you've been one of the happier ones...the organised ones.
  Firstly, lets discuss the ones who come to me with the most insane suggestions. eg. I need a custom made cake for this afternoon...really? and how exactly do you expect me to create time? I'm a cake decorator - not a magician. 

  Okay so you need it for next week? Pretty much the same deal. Should I stop all other agreements with clients who were organised and start your order? Would you like it if you were organised and I stopped doing what I need for your cake to look after another client? No, I don't think so...Yes - it is just cake and yes, all up it may take me a few hours, to a day to put together but cakes need time.
  You need preparation for supplies, ingredients and time for baking. You need to be organised in extra's like the finish - is it store bought fondant or does it need to be made like buttercream? Then, the cake needs a day to 'settle' especially if it's a tiered structure as settling can be the difference between the cake staying beautiful and upright or cracking and sagging under weight. Lastly, you need to have at the ready any items (whether store bought or made) required to decorate the cake eg. sugar flowers, fresh flowers (florists need time too), novelty caricatures etc. Again - more time...

  So I normally ask that you book your cake in as early as possible. It's first in, best dressed and if you've left it to the last minute, there's only so many hours in the day for me to get what's needed finished.
Over the last 16 years, I have had last minute requests which have been do-able. Especially when working in a bakery, the managers' don't like to say no to customers (which I understand) so I've learnt a couple of tricks to ensure the cake still gets made to a certain degree of excellence.
However, this is also a situation where you have team members or other staff who can help out. I do need to sleep believe it or not, so someone else may take on the baking or the making of the ganache etc. 
In owning my own business, this isn't possible. Many of us cakers require help and we take it where we can get it. Sometime to the point of passing business on to another friend who doesn't have as many orders. We try and do what we can and our network is successful. If another cake has recommended me then I hate telling the client to move on...I will do what I can. (Here is where I say thank-you, thank-you, thank-you to all my wonderful cake peeps - you know who you are!)

  It still requires time management and for clients to be on the ball when it's a last minute cake order. When we say we need something done from a client, we mean it! It's not a flimsy request, there's usually a reason behind it. In this case - we need to ensure you're coming to pick-up your cake...saying yes without payment may mean we get burnt. Over years, I have learnt if the deposit isn't paid, the cake doesn't get made.
If I ask for a deposit to be paid by a particular date, then that's what I need to get started on your cake. By some strange coincidence you haven't been able to get your a into g then let me know. Strangely enough, telepathy does not come under my list of caking skills. Although I sometimes wish it did.
  When I haven't received that payment and I have a few months, then I may find your quote in among all the others I send out and realise I haven't heard from you and send you a reminder. And yes, I may sound big-headed but when we answer roughly 20 email enquiries a day, no - you are not at the forefront of my mind.
  A last minute request? - the payment needs to be made immediately. I have made it as easy as possible with Direct Debit, Eftpos and Credit facilities (more bills for me) for the client to undertake this small request.
SOOOO is it too much to ask that if you have changed your mind to let me know? Yes, I don't start a cake without a deposit but isn't it polite to use one of the many contactable details (with technology being what it is, I am available by phone, SMS, email, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn etc....) and just say: "I'm sorry, I won't be going ahead." before the deadline of payment? or "I'm sorry, I can't pay you by Sunday night but I can call you Monday morning and pay then"?
  What on earth has happened to society that with all the ways we can remain in touch, this has become so hard to do? 

  I can't not deliver a cake - either on time or on the day requested and expect my client to be happy. Yet other businesses/people seem to get away with just that. We continuously receive phone calls of "my cake decorator can't make my cake"; "my cake decorator is sick'; "my cake decorator can't do it"...WTH?
In all the time I have been in business, I have yet to not be able to get a cake to a client (touch wood). I have been laid up in hospital and my caking friends have rallied 'round to help out. I have badly injured my hands and cakers have been there to do what was needed. That's why we do it. Without friends in our industry, we couldn't make it on our own. We already do long days of baking, decorating, accounts and answering emails without the needed stress of how little we earn. Most of the time, we don't charge for the time spent on a cake. We don't see family or get together with friends - and you can forget public holidays or weekends because that's usually our busiest time!
  I'm usually answering emails late at night as that's the only time I have left. Then people wonder why cakes cost so much? Although I haven't charged for the extra hour or two I decided your cake needed that extra special touch. Yes, time is of the essence - so any time to talk to clients is great. 
They seem to think so. I get SMS's at 6am and at 10pm so I'm supposed to be contactable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But then - hold on, I also get told I'm rude for sending an email after 11pm at night! You can't win.
  So if this is the case, don't you wonder how a particular 'cake decorator' (or so they think they are) can possibly pull out at the last second? Did you pay a deposit? Are they a legitimate business or a 'friend' making the cake for you? Or were they going to give you a cake wreck because they haven't had years of experience or the tools needed to make the cake you wanted to begin with?

  Well, I'm telling you, if they're a reputable business, they will make your cake no matter what - and it will taste awesome and it will look fantastic. If they have an inch of ethics in their bones, your cake will be there even if they have to deliver it. If you paid your deposit and booked it in, then there is absolutely no reason unless they are on their death bed that that cake did not make it to you (even then, you may still get your cake!).
  Seeing this is the case...please be polite to your professional business cake decorator. You may think they're time management skills are up the wazoo but if they have said yes, then they will kill themselves to get that order to you. And if you can't go through with the order then let them know - IMMEDIATELY!
Thanks for your time and apologies for the rant. I'm off to eat cake.

16 September 2013

Inspiration Can Come In Many Forms

  WARNING: This blog contains photos of cakes Not Made by the Cake Girl! Where possible I have given reference to the decorator involved.
  I was reading a post on Facebook the other day and it was from a fellow cake decorator asking "You Know you're a Cake Decorator when..." and I found myself agreeing with the response by so many followers...unfortunately when I tried to go back and find the story to post the link, I couldn't find it.
It's a huge world out there but with tools like Facebook and google at your fingertips, there is no limit.
There are many cake decorators out there...so many wonderful creations being made every minute...and they just keep on coming!
  The amount of brilliant cakers' I am linked to on social networking is amazing. Watching what they do every week keeps me making cakes. We could never have dreamed of doing this years ago. The fact that they are welcoming and happy to share what they do each week is even more amazing when you think that in so many areas, hospitality closes it's doors to the 'competition' in case ideas are stolen.

  There are people like Karen Portaleo (https://www.facebook.com/karen.portaleo?fref=ts) - a genius by any other name! Seeing her cakes makes me smile in awe and hope that one day I can be as good as her. Craftsmanship that belongs with the classic artists like Rembrandt and Michelangelo yet households around the world don't recognise her name unless they are interested in cakes.
Her talents are extraordinary and could rival any sculpture out there when you realise that her art is edible!
The Mermaid on the left is just one of her many cake creations and as you can see, she is breathtaking!

  What about Mikes' Amazing Cakes (https://www.facebook.com/MikesAmazingCakes)...phew! There are no words to describe the cakes I have seen by him. Details of extraordinary ability like the Alice In Wonderland inspired cake on the right.
The icing is perfect and the figurines faultless! I could sit and look at every minuscule millimeter and don't think I would find anything out of place.

  Debbie Brown cakes, Rosebud Cakes,  Davids Cakes, Michelle SugarArt, Cakes by Molly, Richards' Cakes and the list goes on and on and on....
All around the world, they gather in their studios and work their butts off (excuse the Aussie colloquialism) and show us the extraordinary world of cake decorating.
Traveling to the UK and Italy last May was unbelievable and made me realise I need to take time out every once in a while just to meet some of these fantastic inspirations in the flesh. With a group of established Brisbane/Toowoomba cakers like Cakes by Simone, Celebrity Cakes, Contemporary Cakes, Your Cake Kitchen and Merivale Cakes with students who were undertaking classes in cake decorating we set off to explore and meet some of our idols. This is our photo below on the last day with two of the leading ladies of the British Sugarcraft Guild.

  With two days to spend in London, four of us took in as many sights as we could. This included the newly opened Choccywoccydoodah (knew we couldn't make it to Brighton in time)! So I was ecstatic we could go there! Upstairs we settled in to a warm cup of hot chocolate and polished off the dessert plates between us.
four of us set off towards Birmingham and our major stop - the British Sugar Guilds Cake Convention via Wales. I must say that the late sunset really threw off my body clock!

  In amongst many little pit stops we got to try places like a small tea room near Covent Garden and see the sweets and goodies at Fortnum & Mason.
But it was time to leave for Telford so we gathered into our hired car.

  First stop - Eric Lanlards' boutique in Battersea: "the cake boy"! ...and for those of you who think I used the female version of the name - Not at all! I came up with my business name when I saw a car with the licence plate: CKE 80Y in Sydney approximately 14 years ago. I was watching Lifestyle food channel and saw Eric Lanlards show for the first time about two years ago when I heard of his nickname!
But anyway, his quaint patisserie had the most extraordinary desserts! We all dug in and swapped and shared...that seemed to be the best way for all of us to try everything we could without having too much! Pity he wasn't in but apparently was in London filming a special that day :(
  With quite a bit of sightseeing thrown in - including Bath and Cardiff (me - huge Doctor Who/Torchwood fan!) we arrived exhausted in Birmingham!
The next day saw us thrown into tutorials with a class group mixed from all around the world. We learnt flooded royal icing and brushwork embroidery with Elaine MacGregor. This was followed by sugar flowers with Alan Dunn. Phenomenal man! He just seems to speak to his flower creations and they grow before your very eyes! A small tweak here and another there, the finished sprays were beautiful.

  Lots of chatting and exchanging of details, opening up our network of cake decorators. Even down to our famous USA/Canadian counterparts: Mary-Sue, Barb, Mary-Jo & Barry.
On the weekend, we all had the British Sugarcraft Guild Convention with loads of small demonstrations booked in by people like Debbie Brown, Karen Davies, Francis McNaughton & Dawn Butler
Then there were the people who I have only heard of like Tomby Peck, Marion Frost or had books on my shelves from Lindy Smith, Stephen Benison, Peggy Porschen & Mitch Turner.

As you can well imagine, the days were full of learning, fun and continuous talk of who we had met and what we had learnt.

  The last few days Lesley from Celebrity Cakes and myself left the group to drive up towards Scotland. We stopped off at Richards' Cakes and Slattery's in Manchester and then David's Cakes near Liverpool.
  So much enthusiasm and willingness to show and share their knowledge and passion.
  We're very fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet and liaise with people like this and it's what make my life all the more interesting.
  I've said it before and I'll say it again. cake decorating can be a stimulating rewarding career if you put the time and effort in!

   And who knows, this could take me elsewhere around the world sooner than I think!

05 February 2013

Cake School Is IN!

  With a few classes under my belt, I thought I should at least do a blog - as promised to my students - about the time spent teaching and some of the wonderful people I've met through this experience.
Lets start with a lovely girl - Suzy - who has a real passion for making cakes. Obsessed with cake shows on television and wanting to learn more, her Mum booked in a beginners' class for her
We completed her 'Fathers' Day" dedicated cake by the time her Mum arrived and she was so proud of her work! And who wouldn't be when she had never made an iced figurine prior to this.
During a six hour day, she managed to try her hand at piping, using cutters and making a figurine! Wow!

  With this hand-bag class held at "Your Cake Kitchen" in Ormiston, the kids took over the experience. The students were allowed to make their bags in the colours they wanted using the bag I had created to inspire them. Each one reflects their own personality.
I like to encourage the students to open themselves to their creative side. If I tell them exactly the colours and style of what they need to make, it may not be what they wanted to make.
Along with the bag was the shoes...now of course, ladies love high heels but the boys in the class were obviuosly not interested.
So the boys had a little extra attention and made sneakers to match their gym bags. Very bright and funky.

  Over the Xmas period, Jenny held another class for me to teach. This time a Christmas theme was the order of the day and you can't get more festive then "The 12 days of Christmas". I had focused on the items in the poem and researched on google the cakes other poeple had made. Sketching out some ideas, I used these to create my inital cupcakes for the class and had them copy mine from start to finish. We started with the hardest ones that required setting time and moved on to easier ones.
At the end of the day, everyone has 12 cupcakes to take home and share with their loved ones.

  A follow-on to this class, one of the ladies who had completed "The 12 days of Christmas" course - Trish - booked herself in for a basics personal class.
Wanting to be able to make home-made cupcakes was Trish's main objective for her family on special occasions so we covered the basics in fondant and buttercream.

  Signed on to work for a large Supermarket chain in their bakery section, Colleen needed an express class in piping. She was really good at following my instruction and by the end of the day Colleen was more than capable of taking on piping in a hospitality environment.

  Coming from overseas to study in Australia is not an easy prospect and many of our apprentices need to find jobs here whilst studying in their field too. Going to TAFE & learning to become a pastry chef is not an easy prospect and the classes don't cover most of cake decorating.
  Linh works in her boyfriends' bread bakery and was hoping to expand his business to include her specialty cakes...Great thinking! Check out her fabulous cake!
  So if you're interested in a cake decorating class - just give me a call or shoot me an email and we can discuss your experience and what you would like to accomplish with your cake decorating! It's one on one so no hassles competing with other students.
  Happy Baking.

13 February 2012

TRADEMARK IT! Identity Theft by any other Name


 This is a warning to anyone out there who thinks that QLD Government covers you when you start a business and try to do everything by their rules...you get screwed! It's called Identity Theft and there's nothing you can do about it once it's happened.
 Unfortunately, this Blog won't be about my cakes but the business of Names. A very steep learning curve.

So three weeks ago, I got up on a Monday morning and jumped on to answer client emails which is all I seem to do in my spare time. One of the few answered that morning was from a fellow called Gabriel who had asked me via email to join his free promotional wedding page "TopWeddingsAustralia". I had spent over an hour the previous week answering his "interview" via email and attached several of my cake photos to be included in the site.
  He seemed decent and polite enough in our written discussions and when I recieved the email stating that his website was functioning and the link, I was so excited I immediately jumped onto it.
  You can imagine how dissapointed and betrayed I felt when I saw a website for a lady calling herself "cake girl" who wasn't me.
  Boy - it was like a kick in the gut.
  I went straight to her site from the tab and looked at her website: so close in name to my own.
  Then I flicked back and forth in tabs to Gabriels' and couldn't spot my own...WTF?
  So I immediately picked up the phone and spoke to the Department of Fair Trading. According to the person on the phone, there wasn't much I could do.
   He checked ABN's for her and trading names: Nothing.
  There was every chance that she wasn't working from a legal kitchen.and had started the business without the required licences. If this was the case I was to write a letter to the Registrar of Business Names explaining the situation and basically telling on her.
  I didn't want to do this.
  He told me not to worry - if she tried to use the business name it would come up as "too close" in the files and not allow her to have it.
  The trouble was she already had taken up a web address that was extremely close. Using a prefix of 'the' as any librarian will tell you doesn't mean that the name is filed under T.
  This woman had used the same name as me without the prefix and as far as I was concerned she was trading under my name already!
  I thought about what the guy had said and pressed the "contact me" tab on her site. The only way to reach her was thorugh an email so I made an enquiry asking her to please call me in regards to her trading name. I wanted to know why? Why had she started using my business name? Yes, her website explained this was her nicckname but so what? It didn't mean she had the right to hurt my business!
  I jumped on Facebook and asked my Fans and Friends for help. Anoher cake decorator - Sarah Jane from Cake That was a plethora of knowledge. Armed with more information I rang IP Australia (Intellectual Property) - by this time office hours were closed...they run on Sydney time...stupid me!
  Sitting on the computer I tried to get as many details as I could but the IP site was so confusing using terminology I'd never heard of.
  A night of restless sleep followed as I hadn't done any work. I couldn't help feeling that the universe was going against me and that there was nothing I could do.
  The next morning 8am rolled around slowly. I finally managed to get through to someone at IP who basically told me what I had already gathered. I could apply for a trademark as a word, a typeface or a logo and each one cost over a $100.
  And this wasn't a certainty! I would then have to wait 3-4 months until they let me know whether the application had passed! Once they let me know if it was a positive return I would need to pay for an Australian or an International trademark on top of the money already spent.
  Now I understand...it's another way for more money to be dished out to government. What a rort!
 Fine -caught between a rock and a hard place I had no choice. I placed my applcation and wished for the best...not that it's ever helped in the past but what could it hurt?
  My head was spinning. I was over tired, feeling ill and sick of it all. Is it really all worth it? All those years of trying to get something together. Something I wanted to do, Something I thought I could be good at - out the door!
  Then I sent the lady another email...please respond! I was going out of my mind!
  I sent emails to trademark lawyers but had no response.
  I sent an email to the website creators and lastly an email to Gabriel. Explaining my dismay at having discovered this lady through his website with the same business name, in the same city, I thought he would realise what had happened and remove the website link and replace it with mine.
  But no.
  Not only did he not do this but he repsonded to my email with the nerve to say "We'll I have checked your Business names and your's is The Cake Girl, and the one in the site is Cake Girl, some sort of similarity but two completely different businesses. As for the website, your's is http://www.thecakegirl.com.au/ , and the one on the site is http://www.cakegirl.com.au/ , and if I am not mistaken these are two complete different websites." WHAT??? Completely different businesses?? How so? With a prefix of 'the'? We both make cakes. We're both in Brisbane. We're both called the cake girl!
  I'll tell you the difference!
  I have an ABN and a registered business name.
  I have been trading using this name for 4 years!
  I have worked, done the hard yards and advertised for clients - to which I now have a business which is reasonably successful.

...looking up every possible link from google to my name, I found her phone number back on the original promotional website. Upon calling, I was directed to message bank and I left the same massge as I had via email: Could she please call me in regards to the business name?
  It was approximately 5-10 minutes later that my phone rang.
  Following my explanation, she stated that "she never meant to hurt anybody" and that "it was an honest mistake" but it didn't feel like she wanted to do anything to change the situation.
  How depressing.

By the end of the week the website was still up and running and one of the lawyers I had spoken to had responded with a phone call informing me that after my call, the lady had applied for an ABN using her name - not the cake girl.
 Honest my foot!

 So with all the stress, I am now in the process of employing a lawyer to follow this through.
 With the verict being - trademark! Do it before you end up in the same situation as me. It's extra money but it's the only avenue we can take to make sure someone else doesn't come by and use all the work you've done to jump the queue.

29 January 2012

With the Rain, Comes the Frogs

Happy New Year to you all - 2012 and the Year of the Dragon!
It's been way too long and I've finally put my feet up; it's Sunday with no cakes due until tomorrow and a busy year ahead.
A lot has happened since the last time I blogged. Business has boomed, we've moved houses (not far, only to Cannon Hill) and cake classes have recommenced.
So I thought I would use this Blog as a kind of tutorial as many of my students have requested I show them how I cut a 3D Novelty cake to shape.
Most of you will have watched cake shows on television to some extent and have your favourites. Personally, I love seeing how other cake decorarators work but I'm let down by the amount of 'rice treats' or wood/piping in their work. I think as cake professionals, we should be dealing more with food products to construct or cake rather than plastic, steel or foam.
Therefore the following "Frog" cake is 99% cake with 2 skewers inserted to provide structural elements to the head.
 1. Start with a 10" square cake. Usually most shapes can be cut from a square. This would be the smallest I would start with as ultimately, you still have a cake big enough to make an impression and yet small enough for details.

 2. Always have a refernce on hand - photos of the frog's left, right and top views are always good. As you turn your cake you can make sure the Frog looks correct from all angles.
  Cutting the cake in half on an angle gives your frog a larger front and a smaller bottom.
 3. Cut the slope down the back of the Frog: this will give you the first few 'extra' pieces' you can work with for other parts of the frog.
 4. Cut in the back bottom section to have a flat point for the frog's bottom.
 5, With the 'extra pieces' slice them in quarters - using two to achieve the shape of the back legs. Make them look as similar in size and shape as possible.
 6. With the other 2 pieces left over, cut the top half of the back legs.
 7. Cut into the front body of the frog. If you cut too far the head may fall from the weight so always cut in smaller pieces. You can keep cutting but you cannot add cake back to the structure if you remove it's strength.
8. Pull the parts apart and keep them in such a manner so you can easily remember where they all fit - just like a jigsaw puzzle!
 9. Using ganache, start "glueing" your pieces together. You want to make sure the cake is all one solid piece before covering in fondant. The thicker your fondant, the harder it will dry so make sure you have fondant that won't remain too soft and will set.
 10. The whole frog need to be completely covered and tacky all over for the fondant to stick to the cake.
 11. Roll your icing out and using a rolling pin unroll slowly over the frog using you hands to smooth the fondant out as it adhere's to the cake. Cut off any exces left on the board. Using your hands make sure all the fondant is as smooth as possible and firmly attached.
 12. Roll out a piece of icing into a thin rope and then indent in the centre and approximately 1" from each end. Fold in half and add a c entre piece to make each of the Frogs feet.
 14, Attach to the two hind legs first and then add the two front feet as well.
 15. Using your fingers, indent the line for the mouth of the frog with the two dimples on either side for the mouth to curve into a smile.
 16. Roll out two black modelling paste balls and attach with some water for the eye balls.
 17. Cut out 2 circles the size of the width of the eye ball and cut in half, Attach to the frogs eye's with a touch of water to give the effect of eyelids.

 18. Cuttin two more strips per eye, attach and fold over the eye to create folds of skin and cut away any excess with a scalpel.

19. Using an airbrushed start colouring your frog. Lighter colours first.
 20. Add darker colours and keep layering to achieve a more realistic colour hue. Darker shading around joints and to accent parts like eyes, feet etc.
 21. With a paint brush colour in the eyelids and the mouth.
 22. Using a piece of wire attach the tongue to the inside of the mouth and allow to dry.
 23. Paint the tongue red and the details on the blowfly. Add other small element - some leaves the birthday message...

VOILA! Here is your finished Frog masterpiece!
I hope you enjoyed and have fun making your own amphibian!

05 September 2011

When it Rains, It pours

With every day, Brisbane becomes more and more like Melbourne - six seasons in one day. But it's not just the weather, all the cake seasons are becoming more and more mixed up as well.
  It used to be that you would have specific months where there would be an onslaught of birthday cakes and of course your wedding weekends... the weeks and weeks of never-ending matrimonies. Maybe it's just me and as I get older I start to generalise the specifics and it's more a 'feeling' than an actual occurence.
  Who knows?
As I look over my up coming orders, I realise that each week is a mix of occasions:
Traditional birthday cakes of cream, nuts and chocolate have now gone out the door...This particular cake was a gluten/nut/dairy free cake for my client to take to her daughters' playgroup centre.

  And for the Foodies Network lovers who will purchase anything that is shown on their latest program -
  It doesn't matter that in Brisbane the humidity will play havoc with your cake. Toffee will melt, sugar will disintegrate and chocolate soft. Food is food and we have to keep up with the trends.

Then the fancy all out iced cakes make a show. Whether it's a masquerade ball with people dressing up in their finest gear,

or a cheeky play at your loved ones' favourite things.

 That is a cow poking it's head out of the rose bush! And at the back of the cake there was a swinging tail.
  Childrens' novelty cakes for the ultimate little gamer

to the 'wicked' little theatre lover in all of us.

 For the young boy wanting to get out

and the music lover.

And then there's the lover's all 'round:
the purple themed nuptials

some roses of red:

to the purist:

Of course the best designs are the ones where the client lets me do what I want.
This last cake was a special delivery all the way down to Sydney. A close friend of mine was getting married and any excuse to get away - even if it was for more work. I'm sure Ede's and Rachaels' lovely day was an exquisite memory for all of the attendees.
  With a beautiful view of Sydney Harbour from the "Sergeants Mess" at Chowder Bay - the music in the background supplied by a passing P&O Cruise ship playing YMCA. Lol

  The couple said their vows and we were ushered inside to a superb menu for gastronomy lovers everywhere. Service was not to be out-done by the food. Generous pourings of wine to make sure no-one's glass was ever empty and laughter all around. We all caught up and when the groom got up to say his speech there wasn't many a dry eye left in the crowd.

  Being of Asian descent - my friends translated their names to English and used this as the theme for the union: "Plum Country". The invitation was a folded square of plum/eggplant and black colour with pointilist plum images on the front.
  What an inspiration! My only criteria was that they wanted individual cakes per guest...
  I created small cubes of chocolate cake with chinese plum wine and a layer of plum jam. Each cube was then iced either in white or a matching colour from the invitation. Then small plum tree blossoms were appliqued to the sides and finished with a piped border. All the cakes were boxed in clear acetate and then finished with another bowed ribbon.

  The stand was purchased especially with black perspex tiers to accent the cakes. On top of the mignon's was a larger version cutting cake to be shared with family at their convenience. A spray of plum blossoms decorating the top.
  I was extremely happy with the finished product and Ede and Rachael were too. I'm glad they made me a part of this moment in their lives and will never forget it.