Monday, April 30, 2012

Malaysia and Singapore April 2012

After 3 weeks away I am finally back in Sydney and have hit the ground running preparing for lots of exciting wedding cakes coming up.

This teaching (and learning) trip was such a blast but also so exhausting! I can count on one hand the number of days I actually had off. Time seemed to whizz by and before I could go shopping and indulge in the yummy foods, I found myself on a plane back to Sydney.

One of the things I have always admired is the old school techniques of piping. I think it's amazing how cake decorators are able to build structures with royal icing (what is basically icing sugar, water and meringue powder). 

Preparing the sides of the gazebo...

This was on my list of cake things to do and my first stop in Malaysia. Although it's an extremely slow and time consuming experience, and my hand hurt for days after, I am so proud I managed to pipe and build this gazebo. 

Of course this is not without the help of the insanely talented/patient Kelvin. After hours and hours of piping over 3 straight days, I think he almost killed my right hand. 

Then the trip continued with my first class in Malaysia. It was so cosy and it felt like I was amongst friends, I'm so happy to have had the opportunity. 

Thank you to Sheryl for organising this, Mama Min for the hospitality and the rest of the girls who travelled to class :)

Malaysia was just the calm before the storm... I arrived in Singapore and had the luxury of a day off before jumping straight into back to back day and night classes. Jacqueline and her team at Artistiq quickly became my extended family and I'm pretty sure I spent more time there then I did anywhere else in Singapore. 

Fun fact! Over 140 cakes were baked and almost 100 kgs of couverture chocolate were used to make ganache over the 10 days of classes. 

I am truly grateful for all the talented students who attended. From those who travelled in locally as well as internationally from Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Dubai, the US and more - Thank you for your support and it was a pleasure meeting all of you.

Lastly thank you to Jacqueline, Maureen and the rest of the team at Artistiq for their friendly hospitality and organisation. I'm sure they will miss being surrounded by chocolate while I am gone.

I will be back in Singapore this November! I am currently working on some exciting new designs and will let you all know once the dates and classes are finalised. Hope to see all of you soon :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ask Me Anything - Post 2

I usually have issues with my fondant mixture when the weather is dry, it cracks. What can I do to stop that?

I don’t know how you are storing your fondant but make sure it is double wrapped in cling wrap and then a plastic bag. If you want to be extra cautious, you can also place it in an air tight container.

If you still feel it’s dry, add a little glycerine to it. A couple of drops for a small piece and about a teaspoon for bigger pieces. Kneed it and you should feel the difference. If it’s still dry, add a little more.

Alternatively, you can also add some Crisco (vegetable fat) and kneed it in. Try not to use too much of this.

If all else fails, sometimes it’s easier and faster to start again with a fresh batch of fondant.

If you freeze the cake to carve, will the cake taste bad or dry?

It’s the opposite really! I find that frozen cakes are actually more moist (if frozen properly) because there is more moisture added in when they thaw. For carving cakes, I tend to make sure the cakes are chilled because they carve with less mess and the ganache sets really fast when you apply it.

Make sure when you freeze the cakes, they are wrapped well with cling wrap and if possible place it in a container as well.

I wanted to know if you use gum paste or just plain fondant (or a mix of something else) to make your sugar flowers?

Personally, all my flowers are made with gum paste. This is because it sets very hard and can also be rolled very thin. Fondant does not work because it is made from different ingredients and will not dry as firm.

The only time I use fondant to make flowers is when they are being placed on cupcakes and are only small.

Could you share what brand of gumpaste or recipe you use for making flowers? I seem to have trouble with the one I’m using right now when its humid.

I use Satin Ice gumpaste for all my flowers and have only made my own gumpaste once using Jacqueline Butler’s/ Nicholas Lodge’s recipe which is also fantastic. I never had a problem with humidity and my sugar flowers but I also don’t work in a very humid area.

Perhaps try storing them in a box when they are dry until you are ready to place them on the cake. Or also consider a dehumidifier, some of my cake friends have one and they seem to swear by it.

There is also a recipe by Inspired byMichelle that uses potato flour which I have not tried but have heard great things about.

If you’d like to ask a question feel free to email me ( or send me a message through Facebook.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ask Me Anything - Post 1

Welcome to my first Ask Me Anything post. A couple of weeks ago, I asked all my Facebook likers to send through or post any questions they’d like to know the answers/ my opinion on.

This will be a weekly post and I will try and answer as many questions as possible. 

What cake decorating courses did you complete to help you learn the amazing skills you currently have? 

I get asked this question quite a bit so I think I will answer by giving you a more specific list.

I started with a 8 week community college course – the ones where you go one night a week and that’s when I discovered how much I loved sugar art. The techniques thought in those classes are a little bit old school. They were worth learning, but to be honest I do not use much of those skills today although I am sure they are a solid part of my foundation.

Then after that, I practiced by myself for a couple of years and mainly relied on Cake Central for all my information.

After those couple of years, I signed up for a series of intermediate and advance classes at Planet Cake which really helped to hone and sharpen my skills and most importantly gave me the confidence to start my business and charge what I really needed to charge to stay in business. Classes I attended at Planet Cake - Basics Springtime, Topsy Turvy Masters, Novelty Teapot, Hamburger, Bear and Dog.

Since then, I’ve also taken classes with Savour Chocolate School (Chocolate and Pralines Level 1 and Chocolate Flowers), Handi (Advanced Styrofoam Figurines), Jacqueline Butler (Sugar Flowers), Marina Susa and James Rosselle (Glamour Wedding Cakes) and most recently Kelvin Chua (Insane amounts of Piping).

Although these are the classes I have chosen for myself because of general interest or betterment of my skills, everyone is different so my advice is to look for classes with learning outcomes that interest you. Work on the skills that need improvement and sharpen those that you are naturally talented at.

I truly believe that no one is ever done learning and it’s one of the best investments you can make. Sometimes students seem really surprised that I still attend classes. Of course I do, how else can I better train and inspire myself?

What do you think is best to use to paint on my cake?

When painting on cakes, I use a combination of liquid food colouring and rose spirit.

Rose spirit is a cake decorators alcohol (someone else asked this question). It’s 90% pure alcohol so it can be used to thin out the colours but also dry out really fast so it won’t melt the fondant.

Don’t use gel pastes as they don’t dissolve in the alcohol. I have also heard of people using water and lemon juice to dilute the colours. I have not tried this myself but people I know swear by it.

I seem to always have trouble with white choc ganache and it separating and going all oily. Usually I can fix it with a little more cream, however it never sets hard enough then?

White chocolate contains mostly coco butter which is why it is so temperamental and gets oily so easily. It separates because it’s too hot which causes the ganache to ‘split’. The easiest way to fix it (I have found) is to put the ganache in a fridge for a little bit and then when it’s a little cooler, take it out and combine the oils back with the chocolate by mixing by hand or with a hand mixer. If the chocolate and oil is cool enough, it will recombine.

Try not to add more cream as this (as you mention) effects its ability to set. In summer I usually also add 100g or so more white chocolate to make sure it sets.

If you’d like to ask a question feel free to email me ( or send me a message through Facebook.

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