Johannesburg - Jenny Kay, also known as Angela Day, was a judge in the wedding cake competition at the recent Wedding Expo and afterwards spoke to the winner and runner-up about their experience and inspiration in baking and decorating these creations.
Pat Borsato, who runs a cake business called Cakes by Pat, won awards for the best overall cake as well as the best-tasting cake for her unusual creation inspired by the famous painting The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. She walked away with R12 000 in prize money.
“I entered the Wedding Cake Challenge because last year I won both best cake and best-tasting cake awards and wanted to see if I could do it again. Also, I love competition – it makes one try harder to produce new, better, more original exciting things.
“Gustav Klimt is one of my favourite artists. I’ve wanted to use his art in one of my sugar art creations for some time now and I chose The Kiss as it fell into the art nouveau category which was one of the masterclass categories at the recent SACDG (SA Cake Decorators Guild) National Show in Pretoria. This cake was going to be for that show, but since I didn’t manage to finish it in time I decided to enter it for The Wedding Expo Cake Challenge.
“Interpreting it in cake form wasn’t easy, but I started with a plain white covered cake and set to work with my airbrush to achieve the bright green background colour that I wanted for the top tier.
“I then used royal icing to ‘texture’ it and give me the ‘brush strokes’. It’s all trial and error when you’re creating something from a picture, and sometimes it works, but very often it doesn’t and you end up at square one.
“It took me about eight days in all, but then I decided after a few days that I wasn’t happy with the bottom tier, so took it off and changed it completely and I’m so happy I did as it turned out 100 times better.
“Winning means a lot to me as I’ve only started doing cakes again less than a year ago and this is the boost I needed for my confidence that was lacking.
“Although I started dabbling in sugar art and cake decoration over 20 years ago, I had a break of at least eight years where I didn’t do a single cake.
“I watch many of the cake shows on TV. Some of them are great. I’m not a fan of Cake Boss and I’ll take him on any day.
“These TV shows have definitely influenced what people want. The requests are often very unrealistic since they make it all look so simple on TV.
“I was once asked to make a crocodile as a wedding cake, but fortunately managed to change the groom’s mind after lending him one of my wildlife videos about crocodiles.
“For wedding cakes or any cakes, the look is just as important as the taste and my slogan is ‘Too beautiful to eat, too delicious not to’, so I have to live up to that.
“The average bride spends between R3 000 and R5 000 on a cake. Without a doubt, red velvet cakes are the most popular choice – all due to Cake Boss. Fruitcakes are so out of fashion that I seldom get asked for them these days.
“My advice to aspiring cake decorators out there would be not to rush out and spend a fortune on equipment as there is so much you can do with very basic tools. My entry for this competition was done with very few, very basic tools.
“In the future, I would love to have my own cake decoration school and studio as I operate from home from a very small, basic kitchen.
“I have just started teaching from someone else’s home as I don’t have the space in my own. I would like to share with others what I’ve taught myself as well as what I’ve learnt from other very talented sugar artists, some of whom are sadly no longer with us.”
Deon Swarts, who runs The Cake Genie studio in Mondeor, won R4 000 for the best-decorated cake, an exquisitely adorned traditional cake in a bird cage.
“Recently I have had a few brides who wanted some bird cage detail on their cakes, so I wanted to create something unique along these lines, hence the cake with birds enclosed in a cage. The cage ‘protecting’ the cake is symbolic of the faith, love, compassion, trust, sincerity, respect and fidelity that protect a marriage.
“I am passionate about royal icing work and would love to see this intricate artwork being revived. Cake decorating has become simple and commercialised. Everything must be done quickly, so more cakes can be made. The joy of decorating a masterpiece for each individual bride is being lost.
“It took about two days to decorate this cake, although the flood work, birds and the flowers were done in advance.
“I made my first wedding cake 20 years ago for my first marriage. It started out as a hobby, which eventually interfered with my permanent job. Eventually I left to pursue my cake-decorating passion and started The Cake Genie. The business grew exponentially and we are the current proud holders of a national ABIA Bride’s Choice award in the cake-decorating category.
“It is important to enter cake competitions as it helps one to improve one’s standards. I love setting trends and stimulating ideas for brides and grooms. I want them to know that there are no restrictions in terms of what can be achieved with icing.
“I have won many SACDG competitions in the past and, in doing so, have achieved the highest level of ‘master’ cake decorator. My most-prized accolade was receiving a gold award at the Squires Kitchen competition in the UK.
“I have a cake design shop in Mondeor that includes a cake gallery of about 30 cakes. Here we also do cake-decorating classes for students. I have three cake decorators who help me, but I personally do the more detailed cakes.
“I am a strong believer of sharing my knowledge with others and regularly upskill my team of decorators.
“On average brides spend between R5 000 and R7 000. The most expensive wedding cake that I have made cost R32 000. Red velvet is the most popular flavour locally, but I do a lot of fruitcakes for neighbouring countries as they travel well.
“I have plans to extend my premises and would love to write a book on the art of cake decorating. I would also like to make a training video.” - The Star