Saturday, 28 August 2010

Crafty Shout Out - Cakes and Bakes

This week's shout out goes to Leah from Cakes and Bakes. I came across Leah on Twitter recently and was really impressed at the pictures she posted of some of her cakes - the work that must go into creating these edible works of art is something else.

Halloween Cake - Cakes and Bakes

This is especially true when you consider that this isn't Leah's main job - she has to fit all her amazing cakey creations into whatever spare time she has after the full time working day is done. She manages to do that with copious amounts of early mornings and late nights and no small amount of talent and creative flair.

I asked Leah how long she had been baking and she says that she remembers from a very young age being happiest in her granny’s kitchen. Leah loved helping her gran bake and then arguing with her brother and cousins as to who would get to lick the spoon at the end!

Credit: Cakes and Bakes

Leah's whole extended family are foodies, every celebration or commiseration is loaded with food of every kind. Whilst her mum is an amazing cook, she prefers the savoury end of the spectrum so most of what Leah has learnt has come from books and online research and just getting stuck in and trying things out.

Dragon Cake - Cakes and Bakes

Leah's real obsession with baking began about 4 years ago after asking her mum for her famous Banana Bread recipe to try and use up some over ripe bananas. Even though she had to measure the ingredients in a plastic drinking cup as she didn’t have any scales and she didn’t actually have any of the other ingredients she needed in the cupboard!

The banana loaf was a success and her obsession grew. She started a huge (and ever expanding) cookbook collection and found her way online, scouring baking or food blogs for recipes, tips & tricks. Leah has never actually taken a course (although she plans to this coming year) or had anyone show her how to make anything. All her training has been practice and online research.

Brownies - Cakes and Bakes

When I asked Leah where the name came from she said that she didn't want to be known just for cakes. She never started off making novelty cakes, it sort of evolved from the variety of baked goods she made. She still loves to make other treats and doesn't want the focus always to remain solely on cakes and cake decoration so she chose to have bakes in the name as well as cakes.

Interestingly Leah has also been a face and body painter for over 12 years but the baking has taken over and so she only paints at one or two events a year. At one point the site was going to be a joint baking/ painting venture and Leah's other half thought that bakes could be a play on the Northern Irish slang for your face (as in "shut yer bake!") although she says not many people have picked up on that!

Credit: Cakes and Bakes

Leah has had a few orders via twitter before but says that until she is in a position where she can do it full time she is mostly sticking to making them for friends and family just now. It’s difficult to balance with her job and maintain a home life but she says it truly is a passion that she can't imagine her life without. Her plan is to take some courses and look into how she can turn this love affair with baking and creating amazing cakes and bakes into a full time career.

Leah started a blog in August 2009 so that she would have somewhere to document the many recipes she has both found and created and to share her tales of new discoveries in the world of food. And, handily, as she frequents restaurants in the Belfast area, I will be able to try some of the places she has recommended.

Her blog on eating out has made me want a meal in Made in Belfast and I might just have to drop some heavy hints to S about one of Leah's amazing cakes for my next landmark birthday next year - hopefully by then Leah will have left the number crunching behind and be baking full time!

Halloween Buns - Cakes and Bakes

My problem with blogging about Cakes and Bakes was actually which of the many fabulously decorated cakes to post photos of! This is just a small selection of the many cakes Leah has made - check our her blog for the flavours and what actually goes into making these creations of sponge and fondant loveliness!

Chelsea Cake - Cakes and Bakes

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