Run and owned by passionate baker Rachel Adkins, Flower & Fondant is a Gold Coast-based cake shop that whips up elegant, beautiful and perfect cakes and pastries for your wedding. With a keen eye for detail and determination to achieve perfection, Rachel ensures that her delights are always of the highest quality; and to maintain that level, limited booking slots are allocated each week. Here, we catch up with Rachel about what sparked her interest in baking for weddings and her opinion on the industry.
Q: How did you get into making wedding cakes and celebration cakes? Was this something that always interested you?
A: I think the love of baking and cake decorating came from my Grandma. She used to make sugar roses and decorate cakes back when I was very little and it always fascinated me, though I think back then getting to eat the roses was a big part of the fascination! She’s 88 now and still bakes the most divine sponge rolls and shortbread. She has always been one of my biggest supporters and paid for my first cake decorating lessons nearly 15 years ago, but it wasn’t till about 5 years ago when I got my own place that I was finally able to grow that passion into a business. Decorating techniques had changed a lot in the 10 years since my first lessons so I’ve had a lot of learning to do to over the past 5 years to bring my fondant skills up to today’s standards. Creating gorgeous sugar flowers is still my biggest passion, though mine don’t taste nearly as good as my Grandma’s did!
Q: What do you find most challenging about being a cake decorator/designer?
A: The long hours! People often don’t realise just how much time it takes to create a beautiful piece of edible art and being a perfectionist I would rather spend longer on something and know it will be perfect than cut corners and know I could have done better. The weather is also a massive challenge. Cakes are so temperamental, they don’t like heat and they don’t like humidity, two things we get a fair bit of in Queensland! It is a constant juggle to keep the work environment at the perfect working temperature, and then you worry when you deliver it that it will stay perfect long enough for the Bride & Groom to see it, so managing delivery times and venue conditions can also be a challenge.
Q: What is your creative process when you start designing a cake for a new bride?
A: The first step is usually to get a basic idea of the size and shape of the cake, this is based both on the number of serves the cake needs to be and on pictures of cake sizes and styles that the couple like, it can also be influenced by budget. The next step is to learn as much as I can about the wedding and the style the couple are going for. So many details can be used to influence the cake. The dress, the flowers, the invitations, colour schemes, bridesmaid’s dresses, suits, venue and venue décor – the list is endless! The more I can learn about what is important to the couple and their special day the easier it is to design a cake that they will fall in love with and will be the perfect fit for them. A good example of this is my little sister’s wedding cake that I had the pleasure of creating this year. We put together a Pinterest board of things we loved. The things that were the biggest inspiration for the cake design ended up being a dark teal/aqua/peacock blue mottle coloured wall, a painting of a aqua blue flower, some leaves and a picture of some aqua poppies with petals so fine they let the light through and seemed to glow. I came up with a basic design idea, but then she gave me free reign to just create her something stunning, and I think the results speak for themselves!
Q: What is the most rewarding part of being a cake designer?
A: Without a doubt, it is knowing you have created something beautiful and that exceeds the expectation of the client. Having a client nearly cry because their cake is so perfect is the best feeling ever, along with getting a message from a couple the day after the wedding saying how perfect (and delicious!) everything was!
Q: Any tips or advice for brides when they start choosing their wedding cake?
A: The first thing most couples do is find some cake designs they love, this is very helpful to give a starting point but when you go for a consult don’t be afraid to bring pictures of other things that you love and inspire you. The more inspiration and a feel for your personal style that you can give a decorator the better equipped they are to design something you will love. The other thing is to be realistic about your budget, even the simplest cake design can take hours to create and delicious tasting cake is not cheap to produce. Another important thing to keep in mind is that, while the design of the cake is often best left till after the dress, flowers, and venue decor have been decided, decorators can be booked out over a year in advance, especially during peak wedding months. If you find a decorator you love I would suggest contacting them as early as possible and offer to put a holding deposit to lock in your date. You can then organise a consult closer to the date once the other details have been worked out.
Q: What best advice can you give for people who are just starting a career in Cake designing?
A: Be prepared for some very long hours and a lot of stress! Not everything works the first time, even after baking for over half my life I still have tried-and-true recipes fail, or a batch of ganache that hasn’t worked, or fondant that just won’t co-operate and these disasters need to be worked through so the client still has the amazing product they are expecting. The other extremely important thing is listen to your client, make sure you understand what they want and be sure in your mind that you can deliver what you have promised. It is better to admit you can’t do something and try and work out a compromise than accept a job that will cause you stress and result in a disappointed client because you couldn’t deliver what they asked for. But the look on a client’s face when you have created something even more wonderful than they had imagined is worth its weight in gold!
Whether you dream of mud cakes, fluffy cakes or one specifically tailored to your dietary requirements, Rachel is always open to sit and discuss what would be the centerpiece of your big day! Delivering slice after slice of awesomeness and relish, you bet that a morsel of Rachel’s cake can even turn non-cake fans back for a second helping!