Saturday, 16 November 2013

I have been a little awol when it comes to social media recently, falling in and out of love with it at the click of a mouse, if I'm honest I think I'm just exhausted. My love of cake never wanes but occasionally the actual physical exertion of working so late at night catches up with me and as with everything it's nice to get a break. The decision to take October and November a little easier was not a difficult one, more normal bedtimes and whilst I probably feel more tired than ever, I had time to plan the weeks ahead and finish an exciting little project along the way!

September was a very exciting month. With two wedding fairs to prepare for I think I was surviving on adrenaline and not much more. It was my first time exhibiting at the Quirky Weddings Alternative Wedding Fair in the Waterfront Hall and I had been planning a few special cakes that would take me out of my comfort zone and make my stand memorable, hopefully for good reasons, but one of them was going to be my biggest challenge as I didn't want it to be like any others that had been done previously based on the same theme, the theme which I am sure you have guessed by the title of this blog post.

A little bit of background might help explain why I chose to design this particular cake... I have always loved fairy tales and fantasy, thankfully Mr Candytuft does too. Some of you may know that our youngest daughter is named Arwen, and if you are fans of J.R.R.Tolkien and Lord of the Rings you will recognise the name, the fact that her middle name is Winter however is more to do with her being born in the midst of our ever increasingly snowy winters despite the obvious link to Game of Thrones. Whilst I don't have the same time to read these days, there is always television, films and some fantastic series to watch, so you can imagine my delight when Mr Candytuft told me that the series of books he had been reading were being televised and so his love of Game of Thrones continued and mine began. All this coupled with the fact that much of it has been filmed right on our doorstep meant once the tiny thought entered my head I had to run with it.

As with all my cakes they evolve. Throughout the design process and even in the final stages little elements can be changed. The initial sketches for my Game of Thrones cake were nothing even similar to how it turned out. I always wanted it to be striking and instantly recognisable to any fans but not in your face, verging on novelty and there were of course some elements that I wanted to incorporate like the dragon egg effect. The design was bound to be affected by the characters that I enjoy watching and much of it was based on the amazing costumes designed by Michele Clapton and also the embroidery by Michele Carragher along with a little Dothraki and dragons! Hopefully many of you who have seen the show will identify the characters/elements from each tier.

With a photographer for a husband we often talk about the fantastic photoshoots we could have with many of my cake designs but in reality we just don't have the time to follow them through however with the Game of Thrones cake we had to do something. So, we got to thinking where our setting could be. There are many locations all within driving distance which would be instantly recognisable to any GOT fan but only one seemed perfect, if only we knew the exact location.

After a bit of digging Mr Candytuft managed to pinpoint the general location of the Godswood and headed off to ask the estate staff if we could set up a mini photoshoot, at the Heart Tree! I had decided to go with a banquetting theme, in as much as you can with limited props and space. I thought, with the beautiful setting of the Heart Tree and a little camera work from Mr Candytuft, we could set up a stunning mini set to display my Game of Thrones wedding cake. We were aware that there were bus tours to see the location of the tree, so when we were given the go ahead for the photoshoot, we assumed we were in for a treat and got ourselves a little excited. If you don't know the tree/wood in the show I am referring to, here it is:

Now obviously we weren't expecting it to be exactly the same but what we were greeted with made our hearts sink...

We drove through a beautiful wooded area then on our left saw a clearing, looking in we saw a large tree, suspiciously like the Heart Tree, but with no leaves and a brown trunk, and no pond. I thought, no it couldn't be there, really, could it? We drove on a little further and both turned to look at each other and agreed that that had to be it, it was too much of a coincidence, so we phoned the Farm Manager and he confirmed that it was indeed the Heart Tree. He had assumed we had seen it and knew the state of the actual tree so hadn't said anything on the phone. However, not ones to let this little set back change our plans we unloaded the car and set up as best we could.

Walking on the ground near to the tree you could tell where the pond had been, the ground still soft and squelchy underfoot, you could also see where the trunk had been painted, where branches had been nailed on and we even found a selection of fake leaves which had been stuck to the tree. So, yes, the ethereal scene you see above actually looked like this:

We had loaded the car with everything we needed, wedding cake, table, flower urn by the lovely Marie Cafolla, hurricane lamps, candles expertly melted by Mr Candytuft and various other props, there was no way this was going to waste. Here is what we did:

Mr Candytuft aka Simon Hodge Photography is working on the photos to see if he can add a bit of magic to them, we still had a fab time, just the two of us. We both love what we do and love joining forces. Marie always goes above and beyond and the display she made for the shoot (which you can see in more detail just above) was more than I had hoped for. Although, she admits, not her usually neat and tidy self, the beautiful foliage and exquisite roses and berries in a weathered urn were simply perfect.

I even made a little thank you cake for the Farm Manager, to say thank you for his help, Game of Thrones inspired of course, with the irony that I had decorated it with the very elusive red leaves that we so missed that day!

 This, we hope, will be the first of many collaborations, and we hope to involve lots of the many talented people we have met over the past few months. It is a very exciting time for us both and having been accepted for the next Quirky Weddings Alternative Wedding Fair on the 2nd February 2014, I am already planning a few stunners for then. Can't wait!!!

Kathryn xxx

Monday, 2 September 2013

Little did I realise when I started making my very first celebration cake, that in a matter of a few years I would be in the position I am now. I often wonder have I made the right decision. I am trusting this is what I am meant to be doing at this point in time. I love making plans, Mr Candytuft and I have lots of things we would like to do, including combining his photography and my cakes but our priority is our 3 children so only time will tell whether these plans will come to fruition but it's nice to dream.

When the business really started to kick off, naturally things cropped up that weren't immediately apparent, a few years down the line, there are many other issues to consider. One of these issues may seem trivial to non-cakers but definitely worth consideration for those already in business or thinking of doing so, and perhaps interesting to those of you reading this who may order celebration cakes for special occasions or those thinking about it in the future.

So what is this issue? It's the issue of inspiration versus originality. You may ask what that means, well, of course I shall tell you as best I can. I like to think of myself as a cake designer, that's not me being pretentious, that's the view I have of my work. Yes, I bake my own cakes from scratch. Yes, I ice and decorate my own cakes. Yes, I handcraft all my sugar models and flowers but ultimately the bit I pride myself on most is my cake design, this goes especially for my wedding designs which is where my passion lies! Can you imagine then my feelings when I see my designs copied almost to the tiniest detail? I am not a multi million pound company, I do not teach others to replicate my designs, I do not have a book of my designs available with full instructions for others to purchase and copy, I do not post my designs on my website, Facebook page and blog for others to copy. I do it to promote my business, by giving potential customers the opportunity to see what I can do and I certainly don't expect other cake decorators to copy my designs pretty much to the letter!

Now don't get me wrong, there are so many fabulous cake designs out there that I fully agree there are few truly original designs but anyone with a little vision should be able to put their own spin on a design or have the confidence to design their own cakes based on a theme etc. I too am inspired by many, many unbelievable cake designers,  who create stunning cakes but I always endeavour to make each cake design I do unique and personal and that is what I want to be known for.

Why then am I writing this? I'm sure you have guessed by now that I have come up against this myself. I have no doubt it happens to many cake designers the world over and by and large this doesn't affect those designers directly but when it happens on your doorstep it is a different matter entirely. I charge for my cakes and included in my price is the design process which can be quite labour intensive, it's not just a case of copying a cake, it's the thought, the research, the sketches, the continual evolvement of a design that make it unique and hopefully make it that bit more appealing than a replicated design and make me stand out from my competitors. However when someone profits from a design that I have produced it cuts me to the core! Part of my soul goes into every design,  they are like little extensions of me and I am very protectice of them!

I have experienced this first hand over the past few weeks. At first I was gobsmacked, I always presumed it was an unwritten rule in the cake world. I wasn't naive enough to believe it didn't happen but I at least thought that a local competitior would have the decency to come up with her own designs. After a few blatant copies it almost became comical, waiting to see what they would do next! I got over it though, until last night, when purely by chance I saw one of my cake designs copied by another, relatively local cake maker. There are some cake designs which, no matter what you do to try to change them simply look like many others, in essence they have a simple style. This design however was a labour of love on my part. A design which took weeks of planning, research and tweaking to get just how I wanted it and one which I showcased at a wedding fair last Autumn. I received two enquiries about this particular cake and genuinely quoted a price, only to not hear back from either party. Then last night I find a replica of my cake made by another NI cake decorater for one of the brides who had initially enquired. Suffice to say I was gutted! I can only assume my price wasn't right and the bride asked other decorators to quote for MY cake design, this decorater obviously felt no remorse in blatantly copying my design, detail by detail as far as she could see in my photos and of course profitting from it!

It boils down to cake makers etiquette, perhaps there should be a rule book. Many things in the cake decorating world go without saying, but I admit it may be difficult to know what these rules are. I assumed that copying a competitors cake for a lesser price would be a huge 'NO!' and when I am presented with pictures of cakes from other designers I explain that I will not copy the designs. There are occasions when a design may be perfect for an occasion, in these cases it is a given that permission is sought from the original designer where possible, or at least credit is given for the design. I completely understand that these things may not be immediately apparent to any newbie cake decorators but who are any of us without a little education and experience?

Perhaps those of you who are reading this who are not cake makers may be mindful of this too. Part of what I do at Candytuft Cakes includes a unique design service and my designs are precious to me. The particular cake in question was inspired by the 2012 adaptation of Anna Karenina, I first exhibited it at the Crawfordsburn Inn Wedding Fair last Autumn, it made it into the top 15 on the Cakes Decor website, I chose it to display in my photos of my newly designed cake room and it now takes pride of place in one of my display cabinets and I still love it, maybe that is why it hurt to see it copied by someone else. Please don't think me silly for feeling like this but when you dream of a cake design over several weeks and finally take the time to bring it to life only to have it copied by another, making profit from your hard work and vision, it hurts. My cakes are never just cakes, so if you see one of my designs and like it, so much so you enquire as to the price, please accept that every bit of love and attention I have, has gone into my design and it is priced accordingly, because of this please don't ask someone to replicate it. Talk to me about it, I will work with you and see if we can come up with a similar design to suit your budget. Similarly, if I do not have availability please don't ask someone else to replicate it, they are like little babies to me and a little piece of my heart is in every single one.

Kathryn xxx

Sunday, 11 August 2013

"I just want to make cakes!" I can often be heard groaning this when I have so much to do and the admin side of business seems insurmountable! I freely admit how fortunate I am when I have a husband who helps me with everything he can, accounts, ordering, shopping, emails, and any practical aspect he can, leaving me to design and create. We have 3 children, a 5 yr old, 3 yr old and 7 month old. I took a career break after my second child to be able to stay at home to bring them up, paying childcare costs just didn't add up. During that time I discovered I had a skill in cake decorating and I made many, many cakes and took a small business start up course before deciding to register Candytuft Cakes. Many of you reading this will be just like me and therefore know how difficult juggling family life and a business from home actually is, especially a cake business! It takes over your home, your life, your every being. You live, eat and sleep cakes, you cannot escape them, and most of the time you don't want to, it's an addiction!

You may or may not wonder why I have opened with this, well I want you to know how serious I take my business, I can truly say I have never worked harder in my life, staying up until 2, 3, 4 a.m., even the occasional all-nighter. The sense of achievement I get from seeing my cakes finished is one of the best feelings ever however I can't raise my family on my sense of achievement! Each cake I produce is custom made, I aim to make each cake unique and personal and as with everything custom it comes at a cost! I can spend hours, sometimes over several days, thinking about a design, making sketches, researching styles, ordering specialist equipment, just to complete an idea in my head and that's even before the ingredients are bought, measured, mixed and baked. Each finished cake takes a combination of thought, planning, foresight, time, money, and skill. I have been blessed with this ability, I am very fortunate to be able to stay at home with my children but it wasn't a decision I took lightly. The truth is, without making a living from my skill, where does that leave my family? How many times do you hear people say "It's only a cake!" ? Try telling that to my children when mummy's too tired to play and falls asleep reading them their bedtime stories. Try telling that to my husband who spends his evenings helping me after a full day at his own job. Try telling that to my friends and family when I have to turn down invites!

There have been many blog posts circulating about the cost of cakes and I agree, there are people who want a custom made cake at supermarket prices, but there are also people who understand the value in the skill and time that goes into a custom cake. The question I have is this, "Where does the problem of pricing lie?". Is it the customer who is unwilling to pay the price for experience and expertise? I don't think it is. With a huge rise in the number of people starting to sell cakes and cupcakes for profit, the difference in pricing, not to mention level of skill, is astonishing (you've only to take a look at, go on, give yourself a chuckle!) I am sure many of you with cake businesses recognise this but with no regulatory bodies as such I guess it's up to each individual as to how they choose to run their business. I am under no illusion that every person selling cupcakes runs a legitimate business, but either way, there are people selling cakes and cupcakes for barely cost price. I do not know how or why they do it but what I do know is they are making a mockery of the rest of us who shed blood, sweat and tears over our creations! (not literally thank goodness!). I don't mean to sound harsh but I feel very strongly about it and I will tell you why in the next paragraph.

Firstly, cakes are not made from fresh air, fairy dust or indeed, imagined into life, (contrary to popular belief!) so immediately there is the cost of ingredients. Secondly, they take time to prepare and bake, yes, you guessed it, another cost to factor in. Thirdly, the time spent decorating can run into days depending on what you are producing, so unless your time is worthless, charge for it, not to mention your expertise and experience (doesn't everyone progress on a payscale?). If you factor all this into the price of a custom made cake why would you sell yourself cheap? Charging less than your work is actually worth is doing yourself an injustice as well as all those who do value their time and skill accordingly!

So what do all these words come down to? By charging silly prices for your work you are devaluing yourself and ultimately all your cake decorating peers. What does this mean for cake decorators everywhere? The buying public will increasingly expect everyone to produce cheaper cakes but still expect high quality. They will think that cheap cakes are the norm and that we, who price our cakes correctly, are in fact, overpriced! Why should this be so? Take into consideration every aspect of the cake making process and price accordingly. Don't sell yourself short. Maybe it's just a little pocket money to you but please consider that it's a livelihood for many! We shouldn't be fighting against each other, there is a difference between competitive pricing and undercutting. We should be reading from the same recipe book and valuing our expertise, time and sheer dedication.

Kathryn xxx

(below are some of my custom made cakes, you can check the rest out at and

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Hello! How are you all? It's been a while! I have all three kiddies at home all day everyday during the summer so anything that doesn't involve them usually has to wait till after their bedtime! If I do sit down to write a blog post I get no further than a few lines then a little voice shouts... 'MUMMY!!!' so I gave it up as a lost cause, till I get a bit of time to myself, so here I sit on a Saturday evening with housework coming out of my ears, 3 tiers of a wedding cake to ice before 9am tomorrow morning and a very strong desire to go to bed and sleep for, oh, about a month, to write a blog post! Go figure!

So what has made me want to blog? Well, quite simply, bread! I love bread, I always have, I wish I didn't, but I do and I could never cut it out of my diet, what would I eat for breakfast, lunch and sometimes tea too? I have always fancied the idea of making our own, and no, not with a machine, with my hands, so I finally succumbed and bought a book, I love books, and I wanted recipes to follow, with pictures! Any of you who like to bake, will of course, most probably, watch The Great British Bake Off, and will be thinking to yourselves, 'She's gone and bought that Paul Hollywood Bread book!' well yes I have, but no, not for the reason your thinking, it did just happen to be the best looking bread recipe book on the shop shelf at the time... Honest!

Let's cut to the chase though, I have cakes to ice! So, I made the first recipe in the book, the easiest and the one with the fewest ingredients, a Bloomer. Strong white bread flour, salt, fast-action dried yeast, olive oil and water and yes, my hands! The pressure of making a recipe for the first time when two little mouths (ok three, if you count Mr Candytuft) have been talking about it since you said you would give it a go doesn't help, nor does the, 'I don't know what this should look like or feel like' moment leading to the 'This is not going to work!' thoughts! So after the first rise, the shaping didn't quite go according to plan, then I think it was left to prove for a little too long (I don't think the heat of the day helped mind you!), but all in all it tasted pretty good, I just need to work on the aesthetics! My children were overjoyed at our very own bread loaf, my little boy claiming it was even better than the bread we buy in the shops! Now if that doesn't spur me on to make my next loaf nothing will!

Kathryn xxx

Saturday, 18 May 2013

So, the day has come, my magnificent cake room is complete and I am so excited for many reasons, the main one of course is that I can finally get to work with everything to hand in a place designed for my needs, another is for my own sanity, I can finally close the door on a day's work and more importantly it means an end to cleaning and tidying frenzies in the evenings before consultations!

I don't really know what everyone is expecting but I have had a clear idea in my head all along, and way before there was any possibility of it being a reality! It is not an industrial kitchen type affair, it is a useful, comfortable, beautiful, perfect space for me to be able design and create surrounded by everything I need, and also a space for people to come and discuss their cakes, without the distractions of my children (as cute as they may be!). I will still bake in my house, (we have worked in the possibility of adding a single oven if the need arises at a later date) as the priority was to be able to have the cakes in a safe place as I decorate, ultimately out of the reach of tiny hands!

Whilst separate from the house, I wanted it to be like an extension, somewhere we could escape to, read a book, have a little peace and quiet, we even did a lot of work in our garden to make everything really pretty; a little garden seat, teacup planters, a little wooden pathway amongst gravel. I am excited about inviting people to come round to discuss their cakes as well as having somewhere to gather my thoughts when the kids are driving me up the wall! Of course it has come at a cost, these things are never free, but so many things happened at one moment in time to help us to realise this was how we would progress and some much needed money appeared from some very special people, without which this would have been impossible. It would also have been impossible without my ever talented husband, who has been instrumental in every aspect of this little project. If I ever slip into saying 'we' instead of 'I', he is the other part of my 'we', and as he often says, we do indeed make a great wee team. I really hope it will make a huge difference to, not only my business, but also to my home life and I look forward to many late, late evenings, and eventually, days of caking in my perfect little space!

Here are, of course, the all important photos, I hope you all enjoy looking at them!

Kathryn xxx

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Quickly following on from my latest cake room post, here is the photo I had wanted to show but couldn't find! It shows my newly laid floor and painted walls, yes they are pink, just a hint, all done by the fair hands of my husband. I'll air on the side of caution when referring to him as a DIY genuis again though, as his head may not fit back inside the room to finish the work!

Imagine a wall of kitchen cabinets at the back with a double sink then in front of that an island, to the left a sweet, little, mirrored, 2 drawer cabinet, with the tv above (well I need something to keep me entertained during the long nights working!) followed by my two large display cabinets. To the right will be a little sofa, with rug and table, the walls of course will be adorned with shelves and perhaps a picture or two, et voila, a working space for my decorating and a pretty space for consultations! Roll on the weekend when my granite arrives and I can start to fill my myriad of drawers! Yippee!

Kathryn xxx

Monday, 8 April 2013

All good things come to those who wait! Well, I've been waiting and it had better be good!

I am very fortunate to have such a handy husband, although 'handy' isn't a strong enough word, he is in fact, a DIY genius. I have many pet names for him, 'sweetie', 'darling', 'half-a-job-Hodge' (ok, so the latter isn't very flattering but when it comes to everyday house stuff he walks around with blinkers on!) however, if things need fixed, look no further, he can turn his hand to many, many things! He also has a tendency towards 'modifying' things, which has certainly had it's place in our house!

Since the above picture, the room formally known as the garage, has been painted, the flooring laid, the kitchen units fitted, the island built, my cabinets put in place, a TV put up... with my granite work tops to be fitted, my seating to order and the finishing touches to do, I am always on the look out for quirky little additions to make it my space! My husband has gone above and beyond his call, and will have to continue to do so to get everything finished, payment of course will be his immense sense of achievement!!! and of course cake!

Kathryn xxx
For anyone who knows me well, they will know that I am not the most confident person. It does, of course, depend on the situation, but I still surprise myself when it comes to wedding fairs. I can only put it down to being passionate about my work and confident in my abilities.

Having exhibited at my 7th wedding show in the past few weeks I was reminded of my very first displays, this prompted me to have a look at my progress.

My husband and I have been married 9 years and at the time of planning our wedding we didn't go to any wedding shows, I don't actually know the reason for this. On thinking about it though, I also didn't even go to more than one bridal dress shop, in fact, the first I tried on was the dress for me!!! Hopefully that just means I knew what I wanted, although I know I would do it completely different now. There is so much more choice but I won't dare to tell you what my wedding cake was like! So having had no experience of a wedding show, I didn't have any pointers on what my table should potentially look like, here however was the outcome of my second one...

This was in October 2011 and since then I have acquired a few more display items to make my display more interesting! Below is a photo of my latest...

 I like to hope I give visitors something to look at, not only a variety of cake designs but matching cupcakes, cookies and homemade sweeties, beautiful cake stands for hire, and lots of little decorative items, to make one of the focal points of any wedding day extra special, with , of course samples to try! Meeting lots of newly engaged couples is certainly one of my highlights!

Kathryn xxx

Monday, 25 March 2013

I have never been someone blessed with patience, if I make a decision I like to see results yesterday! I also love to make plans, even if they, realistically, may never come to fruition, I guess that comes back to the dreamer in me! However, in the past few months I have had to be patient. If you have been reading along with me you will know about our garage conversion. I had hoped we would be a few blog posts along by now but alas, when relying on the skills of others you just have to go with the flow. So, here we are finally, with a blank canvas, the walls and ceiling has been sealed and I now patiently wait for my husband to get started on the painting, and flooring, and kitchen area, he's even taking time off his day job to do it!

We are both itching to get it done, but with Arwen only being 10 weeks and our 2 other kids to look after, it will take sometime, waiting until bedtimes to begin any work. I know I will get carried away when it comes to dressing the room! Some of my decorative purchases already include, a gorgeous display cabinet from TK Maxx plus a dotty teapot shaped clock and white painted wooden heart bunting from Sainsburys!

So with our flooring purchased and wall paint mixed we are getting there!

Kathryn xxx

Friday, 8 March 2013

I have always loved baking but never dreamed I could make a career out of a passion, feeling I was destined for a tedious office job which simply served to pay the bills. Whilst it's easy to take things for granted I do have to pinch myself at times, as I realise I have the luxury of doing something I love all from the comfort of my own home. Yes I did have an office job before Candytuft Cakes, certainly not mudane, but after six years my heart wasn't in it. The birth of my first child came at the perfect time as during my nine months maternity leave I iced my first celebration cake... three children and a few years later here I am.

Whilst I adore what I do, when I don't have to bake, I love to cook! I love discovering new recipes and although I don't tend to follow them to the letter they have inspired meals which have now become firm favourites in our house. Risotto has long been one of those favourites, especially when teamed with butternut squash roasted with sage and crispy bacon! However I recently found a recipe for butternut squash risotto with the addition of toasted ground hazelnuts. Admittedly it's a bit of a faff on a school night, when you have to make a different meal for your two kids and are carrying a seven week old baby in a sling, but oh wow! amazing!!! You can find the original recipe here, Squash Risotto, definitely worth that little bit of extra effort!

Kathryn xxx

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

As we travel through this life some people and indeed some places are bound to leave an indelible mark on our memories. Some of these people and places have since gone and some are still with us but have merely been transformed... And so I come to the subject of this little post, a place of many memories, which started out as a sandwich bar, an escape from school at lunchtime and has grown into so much more. A place which has seen friendships through many years, new relationships form and grow, and even a romance blossom! The Good Food Emporium and more recently Babettes has been a part of my life for over 17 years and I am sad to see it go, but where did my mini love affair begin?

Being able to leave school at lunchtime once we hit 6th form was a revelation, a dander up the town, a bite to eat and banter with friends away from the classroom or school canteen added to our growing sense of independence. Finding a worthy place to eat was essential and the little sandwich bar on the corner of the Square was quickly established as our place of choice. Not only did you get a delicious choice of filled rolls/sandwiches with quirky names but always a friendly face to serve you. Yule Roll Over, Chicken Tango, Sweet Dreams, Honey Monster and even the Munch Brunch, which no one I know remembers but me, were a few of my favourites.

As time passed, school days ended and university up the North Coast beckoned, but my third year saw a return home and a placement year in Newtownards. Many a lunchtime was spent with a Yule Roll Over catching up with old school friends, which incidentally led to me meeting my husband. On that fateful day I had arranged to meet a friend for lunch, she had double booked, I was late. This resulted in me arriving for lunch just as they finished, so my friend left to go back to work leaving me in the company of her other friend, (little did I know the significance the homemade chocolate cake I had with me that day would have!) the rest, as they say, is history! So for reasons other than a tasty lunch and friendly service, this place holds many good memories! Even in more recent years we would take the kids, just so we coud get a Royal Avenue Champ fix, and they would happily have a hot dog, with copious amounts of ketchup of course, and some crisps on the side!

I'm sure we all have memories of places such as I have described. I know I remember various eateries from my childhood which fill me with nostalgia: Roulstons Bakery in Ards Shopping Centre where you could watch the gravy rings pop out of their little machine, fry, then get coated in sugar, eaten there and then was absolute heaven: Dorothy's in Millisle for their ice cream sundaes: The Stables in Groomsport for their Crispy Nutty Chicken, to name a few. So the memories of these places stay with us, even memories from our childhood, but it is only when we get older that we perhaps get to know those who create the food and the atmosphere which makes the experience memorable, and so it has been with Jackie and her staff. I look back with fondness on the food Jackie created under The Good Food Emporium/Babettes and equally look forward to her new endeavour, wishing her every success! We will certainly be availing of whatever delights she will be creating this time around and enjoy making new memories.

Kathryn xxx

Saturday, 2 March 2013

A full blog post of the story behind this cake will be coming up soon so check back but in the mean time head over to my facebook, twitter and instagram accounts for up to date news.

A full blog post of the story behind this cake will be coming up soon so check back but in the mean time head over to my facebook, twitter and instagram accounts for up to date news.

A full blog post of the story behind this cake will be coming up soon so check back but in the mean time head over to my facebook, twitter and instagram accounts for up to date news.

A full blog post of the story behind this cake will be coming up soon so check back but in the mean time head over to my facebook, twitter and instagram accounts for up to date news.

A full blog post of the story behind this cake will be coming up soon so check back but in the mean time head over to my facebook, twitter and instagram accounts for up to date news.

Friday, 22 February 2013

So Sunday past saw Candytuft Cakes exhibit at the Spring Wedding Fair, at The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn and whilst technically still on maternity leave, these things are too valuable to miss. For the past few seasons we have exhibited at both The Old Inn and at La Mon Hotel and we intend to keep doing so as we build relationships with the venues and other exhibitors. As always it was a lovely day, and, I'm glad to say, a busy day too. With many other wedding fairs taking place in other locations close by you just don't know what the turn-out will be like.

When preparing for wedding fairs I like to design at least one new display cake. With time being limited, I, against all sensibility, got carried away and designed three different styles. I have noticed that more and more couples are having smaller weddings so I focused on two two tier cakes and a small three tier. I also like to provide small samples of cake for people to try in several flavours. Inevitably the night before becomes almost an all nighter as cakes are cut and wrapped and any new designs are completed. This time round, with a 5 week old, it has been an even bigger push to get everything organised.

Well what has been my experience of getting into work again? When I consider my experience of maternity leave with my first two children, this time is a world apart. On both occasions I have had the luxury of 9 months paid maternity leave, broken into 16 weeks full pay and the remainder  statutory maternity pay, this time round however... well you can imagine! Getting back to work is on a needs must basis!  Self-employment does have benefits of course, but throw pregnancy, giving birth and having a newborn completely reliant on you into the picture and it becomes a struggle at best! As for self-employed maternity allowance, almost three months after applying and jumping through several hoops I am yet to be paid a penny! When I consider the stress free, enjoyable, precious time spent with my first two children I do feel sad that this time round is so different but needs must and I cannot abandon my business for a few months so I trek on! On saying that, preparing for the wedding fair has been a welcome distraction, it definitely is a very enjoyable part of what I do!

I relish designing new wedding cakes, that's where my passion lies. I tend to start off with a style or theme and let the design develop. This time I went for classic monochrome with a pretty, vintage edge and beautiful brooch, then soft green with pink, peach and white sugar flowers both made to compliment the pedestal stands they stand on. You can see them on my Candytuft Cakes Facebook page. Not only do I like to create new deigns for each fair but I am endeavouring to be able to provide many different flavours and fairs are the perfect opportunity to trial new flavours. On this occasion, along with my vanilla sponge, chocolate fudge and carrot cake, I made sticky ginger cake with ginger buttercream and white chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream for people to try. I think both new flavours were recieved well.

So with a relatively sleepless night, two children to drop off at grandparents, a car to pack, an exhibit table to set up all whilst looking after a 5 week old, we were set to push it fine, and we did! We were placed in the Gallery, in the Old Inn, I love this room! Each time we have exhibited we have been in the Gallery, only in a slightly different spot, with musicians playing and some familiar, friendly exhibitors,  Marie Cafolla Flowers and Luxe Day Spa, it was perfect. Our baby girl provided a talking point beside the cakes and she was a dream baby all day. I couldn't do it without my husband of course, on occasions I got to see him in action, talking about cake, he did an amazing job and I can't thank him enough!

The next few years are certainly going to be a challenge, with my little boy starting primary school and my little girl starting nursery full time, come September, daily dynamics will change again but with a new workplace and lots of exciting cakes in my future I can't wait to get started.

Kathryn xxx

Saturday, 16 February 2013