First of all, apologies for how long this post has taken to get out of the oven!! Not many people outside the cake world really know this but Faye Cahill was one of the original founders of Planet Cake in Balmain and an extremely successful decorator who’s pioneered a number of stunning techniques in the Australian market, she is a bit of a demi-goddess to most cake decorators.
My last blog post was about the brilliant Jean Michel Raynaud and this one is about someone who also delivers stunning results on a daily basis and is Australia’s queen of vintage glamour when it comes to wedding cakes. The first workshop I actually took on Day 1 of the Perth Cake Convention was with Faye.
To me, she was a lovely gentle soul with a softspoken demeanour and is someone who just radiates “artist” vibes. Throughout the class she had this very nurturing way about her which made her a really great teacher. I first met Faye when I was going to commission a cake from her for my wedding and we had been emailing the week before about materials to bring to the course. I also wanted to attend one of her workshops on how to create sugar phalaenopsis orchids and couldn’t make it because of other commitments. Faye is based in Marrickville in Sydney so it was slightly ironic that I had to travel to Perth to learn from her.
The class was “Glamour Finishes” where we covered the quintessential basic Faye Cahill techniques that give her cakes the really polished finish that she’s become so famous for and makes her undoubtedly one of the most popular wedding cake designers in Sydney. It was a great refresher of the basics and an excellent warm up to a more challenging workshops ahead of me. Because of the abbreviated workshop format, Faye started off with a demo of how to ganache a round cake and also covered her tips of how to achieve a smooth shape. Nothing too new here for me but it was still useful to just compare Faye’s technique to others I have learned from.
We then moved on to covering our styrofoam dummy rounds with sugarpaste. Recapping the technique of how to create sharp edges was also useful with Faye coming around to show us how best to achieve sharp edges with our own equipment.
Next came the fun part – lustre! It was interesting to compare Faye’s technique with a very large bristle paintbrush with another that I’ve learned from Lorinda Seto. I found Faye’s creates a more vintage look and I actually created quite a “brushed” finish whereas Lorinda uses Chinese calligraphy brushes followed by sponging down the lustre before it dries to create a streak-free finish which is very polished.
Lustreing Faye’s way was actually really fun but we created a huge mess!! I had lustre specks all over my table by the time I was done with mine and didn’t actually get a photo of my lustred cake because my hands were totally covered in dried lustre! The other thing I noticed was any kind of tears or tiniest of cuts in the icing are instantly highlighted by lustre so it’s quite an art to get a perfectly lustred cake with absolutely no flaws.
The next part was the most fun – piping a simple dot pattern around the cake. This was a really great drill in the basics of small dots with a tiny tip on a pre-traced pattern. It was also so therapeutic having a hush fall over the room as everyone piped their dots intensely for a good 1/2 an hour.
Piping to me is like a retreat into a state of total blankness of the mind.. It’s a bit like the cake decorator’s form of meditation! Nothing else enters your brain when you pipe. Some decorators describe it as “entering the zone” where you’re just completely focused and there’s nothing more gratifying than stepping away from a piped cake, no matter how simple design and being able to say “yeah.. i really like that!”. Here’s my finished piping!
The last part of the class was focused on making some simple ribbon roses. These are deceptively hard when you miss just 1 step!
Edit note: I have taken down the mini-tutorial on the ribbon rose so as not to compromise Faye’s teaching and classes but if you need more information on Faye’s classes please feel free to contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
So overall, a really great class and an excellent way to practice and polish up on the fundamentals. Here’s the class with our finished cakes (unfortunately with Faye’s eyes closed!).
On a final note…Faye was a fantastic teacher despite some of the recent strain of the loss of one of her best decorators – Imogen White. Whilst I never got to meet Imogen, she clearly made a huge impact on the cake world and I just want to thank you Faye for getting through the class and still giving us a great experience. It was a pleasure learning with you and maybe one day I’ll be good enough to work for you! ; )
If you’d like to find out more about Faye’s classes check out her website here: http://www.fayecahill.com.au/