'I think it was inevitable that I would end up painting on cakes for a living: I hail from a long line of both artists and bakers, and so perhaps it was only a matter of time before someone in my family had the flash of inspiration to combine the two.'
When I opened the parcel containing my review copy of The Painted Cake, I must admit I did the classic double take on first sight of the whimsically and rather beautifully-embellished cakes on the cover. You see, I'm one of those people who believes that life is too short to fiddle faddle with the intricacies of crafts such as cake decorating and embroidery. My darling mother tried her very best to encourage me to try crochet and needlework, but it just wasn't going to happen, I'm afraid. It's a bit like telling me about recipes where you stuff cherry tomatoes, seriously, who has the time!? But then there are some truly talented folks who also have the patience and skill it takes to turn some plain old fondant into a work of art. Illustrator and textile designer-turned cake painter, Natasha Collins, is a prime example.
Hailed as the 'Beatrix Potter of cakes', Ms Collins says she flirted briefly with the idea of becoming a dentist before realising she was more suited to artistic pursuits. With baking in her blood and being at her happiest when painting, she says that when she became a full-time mum she channelled her creativity into birthday and celebration cakes. What started out as an escape from housework, has now become a career and she transforms cakes, cookies and cupcakes into edible works of art. In 2008, Ms Collins started her own company, Nevie-Pie Cakes, garnering high profile clients such as Selfridges & Co. Nowadays she runs her own cake-painting classes internationally and is absolutely thrilled to have been able to write a book around the topic.
The Painted Cake provides instructions on getting a baking and decorating kit together; basic recipes for sponge cakes, fruit cakes, cookies, as well as fillings, pastes and fondants; guidance on layout and design, as well as painting techniques; and step by step instructions to 30 different 'projects', such as the Basic Rose cake pictured down below. There are also a few handy templates in the back of the book.
Fellow cooking enthusiast and food blogger, Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella, rolled up her sleeves and tried her hand at painting a cake recently, guided by Ms Collins and the instructions in this inspiring book. Lorraine even made a youtube video, which you'll find here. [Nicely done, Lorraine!]. I don't know about you, my friends, but I think I'll concentrate on honing my piping skills for the moment and leave this more involved activity for the experts. ヅ What say you?
The Painted Cake by Natasha Collins $39.99 RRP. Thank you to the publicity team at Murdoch Books and to Natasha Collins for giving me the opportunity to review this amazingly creative (and awe inspiring!) title.
So tell me dear readers, do you have artistic talents? Have you ever thought of painting a cake? Do you think you might try your hand at painting cakes and cookies?
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.