Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Up close and personal with Faye Cahill

As soon as the Galloping Gus course was over, the next course was a 2 day private workshop at Faye Cahill Cake Design, in Marrickville. If I had to choose my all-time favourite cake designer in Sydney, hands down, it would be Faye Cahill.

I absolutely love her style and designs, using cutting edge techniques and delicate artwork. The private workshop was completely tailored around what I wanted to learn! I couldn't have been happier to do it, even though I was quite tired from the Galloping Gus course :(

Faye and I worked on the course details together via email and we came up with a good game plan. I wanted some fine tuning and polishing on some ganaching and icing techniques (skills which form the most important part of the cake), as well as, learn how to pipe intricate lace and edible beading. She got me to look for patterns on the internet, which would translate well onto cake, and in particular our design.

Shop front

When I arrived at 9.30 a.m., I was greeted by Mav, the senior cake decorator, who was going to be my instructor for the first session. Mav has been with Faye for 5 years, and started there doing work experience. 

Mav made me feel very welcome from the moment I stepped foot into the studio. My notes were laid out, along with my chocolate cake, ganache was ready, and all the tools required were kept neatly in a little basket on my work area. I even had a little packet of popcorn to nibble on :).

We began with the basics - ganaching and torting. The cake that I was working on was a 7" round, and it was going to be 26cm tall. Mav was very good in explaining how the support system would work with a tall, 2 tiered cake.

We ganached and torted for a good couple of hours. By the time our cakes were ready to be iced, it was almost lunch time. I must say, I did pick up some new tips and tricks on how to ganache properly. Skills which I will use with each and every cake that I ganache from now on. 

After lunch, it was time to ice the cake. Icing a tall cyclinder is not an easy job, hence the request by myself. Faye's studio was kept at a cool 18 degrees, and it was perfect conditions for cake decorating. The icing was firm and the ganache set beautifully hard. If only I had those conditions here in KL, life would be so much easier (and faster!).

Mav demonstrated on her cake first, and she did a marvelous job. Once she was done, it was my turn. The icing was firm, and so easy to roll - a far cry from what I work with in KL. I knew I wasn't going to have any trouble with it the moment I rolled it out. I draped it over the top and began easing it down the cyclinder. Slowly, slowly, the icing covered the cake and then I had to make a long, straight slit down the cake, to create a seam. This would prevent it from tearing and would be the easiest way to remove the excess of the cake.

Mav assisted me when it came to this section, and together we finished it. Once the icing was on, it was time to smooth the cake, and to get those razor sharp edges. Again, this was another skill I had wanted to perfect. Mav showed me that it just a slight adjustment with my smoothers and it made a world of difference! 

Happy days!

I think I must have spent at least 20 minutes just smoothing the icing and getting those edges sharp. Then it was time to pearl lustre the cake. A beautiful finish to the ivory icing. I chose a champagne colour and Mav mixed up the colours and demonstrated how it was done. 

Then it was time to mark the cake, for the edible beading. Faye had already prepared a template and this would help with the positioning of the beading.

I marked it carefully with Mav's guidance and it was such an easy method! Then we covered the board with icing and that was it for day one. 

The next day, it was decorating day with Faye Cahill herself. I walked in at 9.30pm and the studio was in full swing already. There were numerous cakes being cut and ganached, flowers being made, it was busy, busy, busy.

Faye had set up all the equipment required and we talked about our design. She explained what we had to do first and showed me the different decorations that we could use.

I had my eye on the edible beading the moment I saw it, and was keen to learn how it was done. Mind you, I was so wrong when I tried to guess what it was! It'll be unfair to myself if I shared with you what we did, so all I can say is that, it took 2 and a half, back breaking hours to create that look that I wanted. And it was only on a 7" cake! By the time I was done, my eyes were sore and my back needed alignment :). 

We worked on applying the silver leaf after that, and that in itself was a delicate operation. It would take lots of practice with the silver leaf, before I could get it all on without tearing. 

Finally, it last job - the piping. Faye is known for her piping skills and it she does a lot of it. She piped the first few goes for me, and it looked so easy when she did it. I struggle when it comes to piping on a vertical surface. I'm more used to piping on a flat surface. It's a lot easier for me to control the piping bag.

So the practice I got there, and the tips I picked up with Faye, were very helpful and made a lot of sense too.

I was doing it the hard way all this while! 

The finished cake

Edible beading and piping work

From the left : Mav, Faye, and myself

Me and my cake :)

Unfortunately Faye doesn't allow work-in-progress shots anymore in her studio. This is due to some students taking step-by-step shots, and posting them online. It really defeats the purpose of paying a lot of money for a class with Faye, and then someone on the internet could easily pick up how it's done, for free! So fair enough - I could only snap a few when the cake was complete.

I kept my wedding cake and Gus cake for approximately 2 weeks, just so I could admire them everyday :). When the time came to leave Sydney, I had to painfully take them apart. All I have left is this blog and a bunch of photos, but the skills I've gained, with last me a lifetime.

Time for more big cake adventures!


No comments:

Post a Comment