Novice to star cake decorator, Zoe Hopkinson, tells the story of how she transformed her artistic hobbies into a successful businessWhen did you first start decorating cakes? I started decorating cakes as a hobby about 4 years ago when my partners mum asked me to make a topper for a cake she’d made. I put a picture on Facebook and lots of family and friends started asking me to make cakes for them, and it took off from there! [caption id="attachment_11791" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Image: Zoe's fancy cakes/Facebook[/caption] Where did you learn your baking skills? I’m a self-taught baker and decorator, originally using recipes from books and watching videos on YouTube, and gradually I’ve adapted things as I’ve gone along, picking up lots of hints and tips along the way. How did you become such a good artist? I’ve always been creative, I loved drawing and painting at school. I did a fashion degree at University, and used to make jewellery in my spare time. I’ve always had a lot of arty hobbies, such as jewellery making, pottery, and glass painting, and my cake decorating just felt like a natural progression. [caption id="attachment_11792" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Image: Zoe's fancy cakes/Facebook[/caption]
How would you sum up your style? I’m often told that my style is instantly recognisable, when people see my cakes and figures they recognise them as my work. I don’t know how I would describe my own style, but I appreciate that others can see my work and know it’s mine! What is it that most appeals to you about sugar paste modeling cakes? I like creating things out of just a block of icing and some basic equipment. I worked behind a desk for a long time, and this just feels so much more satisfying, creating things that people love. It’s an amazing feeling when everything comes together in the end! Where do you get your inspiration for creating new designs? All over! There are so many useful resources on the internet now, that I can look at trends, fashion, pictures etc. I also have a vast array of cake decorating books that I can use for ideas and inspiration. What’s your design process? A lot of my designs have to be based on what the client wants, so I take in to consideration all of their requirements, then I look at pictures online, in books etc. until I have a clear idea in my mind of what the end product will look like. Then I create a mock drawing on paper, then I bake and create! If it’s a design I’m doing for myself, I often just have ideas in my head and so I just create them as I go along! What are your top tips for sugarpaste modelling?
- When working with sugarpaste, add trex to prevent it from drying out, and use cornflour on your surfaces to stop it from sticking, I prefer to use cornflour to icing sugar as I find it doesn’t dry the icing out as much.
- Store the sugarpaste in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out, don’t store it in the fridge!
- Practice makes perfect! The best way to get better is to keep practicing, and find what works for you, try different types of icing to see which best suits your needs and don’t be put off if it doesn’t work first time.