With a title like Chocolate, there was always a good chance the team at Food Heaven were going to love this new book – and sure enough, this recipe collection by cake entrepreneur Molly Bakes has pages of inspiration and countless indulgent treats to satisfy even the most extreme of chocolate cravings. It went on sale in February, and has some brilliant ideas for making your own fondant-filled Easter eggs or your own truffles for Mother's Day. We met the lady herself to get her insight on the new wave of chocoholics... I read that you are self-taught, but some of your cake designs are so ambitious! Have you really not had any training? Not to start with! I have taken one or two classes in cake decorating over the years to brush up on skills but the baking and cake pops was all trial and error. The business has also grown so much since then, there's now four of us who work on the orders which range from cupcakes, classic cakes, bespoke cakes and even chocolates. We all work on different things but much of it is a team effort. Most of my team are also self-taught and the nice thing is we all have varying skills we learn from each other. I couldn't do all of this by myself. How did you get started in the cake business? I was bored and unemployed, my savings were running out. I'd only been baking for six months but loved it so much I was baking all the time so I went to some offices to see if anyone would buy my cupcakes. The reaction was great and it led me to start a market stall on Brick Lane. Most of my orders to start with were from the stall, social media and word of mouth but I was soon baking for large companies and celebrities, then Selfridges started selling my cake pops and that's when things got really busy. Do you think the recession is encouraging more people to set up a creative business like yours? For sure, there's nothing like losing your job to encourage you to make that leap whereas if I still had a desk job I may not have started my own business. In a way I had no choice but to give it a try. When the recession began many turned their hobbies into a business because there wasn't much around and like me, they had nothing to lose. Five years on I think lots of people have seen the success stories and decided to take the plunge by actually quitting their comfortable, safe jobs and follow their dreams. It's definitely fuelled creativity. Do you have any advice for people who want to follow in your footsteps? Don't run before you can walk, research your market, start small and only start a business in something you're really passionate about. A business will take up all of your time so be prepared to put a lot of hours in and say goodbye to your social life for a while. I had to work 12-16 hours a day when I first started and hardly ever saw my friends, it took about 4 years before I could ease off slightly. I work pretty much "normal" hours now but you'll still find me answering emails at stupid o'clock just because I love it. You've worked with some amazing clients. Can you tell us about your favourite celebrity bakes? The Barlows recently ordered a Disney-style fairy castle cake for their daughter's 5th birthday. It was really fragile so I had to assemble it in their kitchen! What did you make for Lady Gaga? Her record label saw our Lady Gaga cake pop in a magazine and thought she'd love it so they ordered them for her as a gift. She was pictured handing them out to waiting fans outside her hotel. What's the most unusual or challenging request you've had as a project? Challenging has to be large orders at short notice - 8,000 cake pops with a weeks notice, 2,000 cookies at a day's notice. Things like that come up once in a while, the crazy in me just can't say no. I love a challenge. I managed it by never giving up and by being super organised. Every cake has its own challenges and sometimes things go wrong, I'm great at problem solving. What do you think are the essential cake decorating tools that every enthusiast should have? Rolling pins of various sizes, sharp knives, fondant smoothers, a turntable, flower cutters and a set of piping nozzles. Your new book, Chocolate, is out now. Do you have plans for more books in the future? I love writing books and hope to do more. Maybe a decorating book of really cool cakes (both classic cakes and novelty cakes) but one that actually features lots of really good recipes as well as decorating instructions. Chocolate by Molly Bakes is out now, published by Square Peg (£20).
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