Cake of Thrones

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

Love to bake, love to cook!

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

Have my cake and eat it!

Now that work is well underway on the garage conversion it’s time I had a serious think about it’s many functions and, most importantly, how I want it to look! (as if I haven’t already narrowed down the stye and colours in my daydreams, the only thing that has kept me going at times!) The room will be a blank canvas, I am, however, limited by the size of the room, the placement of the doors and windows, and the number of functions it needs to meet, which is unfortunate but I am thrilled to be finally getting a dedicated work space nonetheless!

When it comes to interior design I tend to pick one element that I have fallen in love with and run with it but in this case my two cake display cabinets have been the focus. They were bargains bought in Ikea and I was very fortunate to get two of them as they are now discontinued. They are actually Edlund linen cabinets and are grey in colour with glass door fronts and a drawer at the bottom with little white ceramic pull handles and a lovely simple print on the interior, complete with adjustable shelves. With grey as my starting point, my mind turned to what type of flooring I could choose, I love white washed wood so searched for laminate with a similar effect and hey presto, Homebase came up trumps! I think my biggest hurdle will be the kitchen units. Whilst they will only occupy the back wall I have decided to go with a grey tone, shaker style door front, to co-ordinate with my cake display cabinets, but until the walls are finished the space between is not definite so the cabinet size and configuration will be decided then. I will also be having an island with more storage and a large work surface; the stuff of my dreams!

The other half of the space will be my consultation area (get me!!!). It will of course feature my display cabinets, seating, coffee table, a co-ordinating floor rug, cakey literature and lots of pretty things! Up until now, when clients came to discuss their cake, they had to sit surrounded by kids toys! I will of course bring in a little accent colour too; I have always had a thing for jewel colours and with the grey and white combination I have decided on plum tones and then perhaps a little touch of pink.

There is one thing however, that I would like to do; I would like to display my wedding dress. As my focus is wedding cakes I thought it would add to the ambiance! Now, whilst my dress was not a meringue, it still has quite a full skirt, but I have seen dresses displayed in ‘shadow boxes’ and fell in love. My dress currently hangs on the back of my son’s wardrobe, what is the point in it just sitting there? Call me sentimental but I just can’t get rid of it! All I need to do now is find someone willing and able to make me a shadow box large enough to fit my dress,  like this one!

Since drafting up this post we have progress, below is a photo of the conversion so far, as if we hadn’t had enough excitement in January, February is set to be a rollercoaster too!

Kathryn xxx