Friday, September 30, 2011

At last - the Masters!!!

Day 1 and 2:

GUESS WHAT??? It's the MASTERS time!!! Yep, those wonky funny looking cakes that we luuuurve so much! Good thing: no ganache. Bad thing: polystyrene. Great thing: LUIGI is our teacher for this class! Woohoo!!!! This is my first and last class with Luigi, our Mario Brother, lol! Bless him, he's such a great teacher and a lovely guy. Although I think that he's having difficulties adjusting to being surrounded by a horde of women, who have the tendency to slag off their husbands and kids (and males in general!) every other five minutes, lol! But he's doing great - we think!

In this workshop, the students get to choose between those sexy corset cakes and the topsy-turvy cakes. Only Ellie and I have decided to do the Topsy-Turvy in the class. So there I was thinking that I would "take it easy" and all, but that was before Luigi asked us to design our own cakes. For a good 30 minutes, my brain went blank. I couldn't think of good design and couldn't make up my mind about the colours. The funny thing was that within about 5 minutes, I went from "taking it easy" to "ARE YOU FLIPPING INSANE????" cake. The original blank canvas has miraculously turned into a 4-tiered topsy-turvy cake, extra large, with individual designs on each tier, and about 100+ flowers! Could this possibly be any more insane? Yep. Ellie and I have decided to make the flowers together because she hates making roses and I hate suffering on my own, so we now have to make 140 roses together! I wish I could say that this was fun…

Nothing, except from the set-up of the cake, seems overly complicated so far. We're pretty much left to do things at our own pace and the way we like, which is an interesting experience. By the end of the second day, all our cakes and spacers have successfully been iced and flower buds prepared. In a way, I am quite nervous about how my cake will turn out because it's like a proper wedding cake, which I've never really done before. I guess that we'll just have to wait and see!

Day 3:

Sometimes, I feel really bad for poor Luigi. All the women in the room seem to enjoy teasing him a little bit too much and he's now become a common joke, lol! But despite being traumatised by us students, the man ploughed on and continued to give all he's got - always ready to give careful guidance and important advice. He's definitely one of our most favourite teachers!

So Ellie and I have finally finished making our roses! While Ellie carries on making MORE flowers, it was time for me to decorate the cake. As things were starting to take shape, I noticed that my topsy-turvy is looking quite pretty and elegant, which is not my usual style. We were definitely feeling the pressure today - three days have gone by so quickly, it's almost impossible to imagine our cakes being finished! But the show must go on - there's no stopping now. Tomorrow, four of us will be graduating from the Planet Cake Basics Series so we're all really excited! Anyway, I’d better get some rest before the big day. Night night! xx

The Graduation:

The day has finally come. Here we are standing at the end of the road, about to begin our own adventures, left to our own devices. Two months earlier, I would never have imagined myself as an "advanced" cake decorator. The truth is that I feel less than confident to be leaving this safe learning environment and embarking on a new journey - on my own. Will I be able to make it out there? Have I got what it takes? Will people like my products? Will I be able to overcome unforeseen obstacles? I am absolutely terrified!!!

But! If I've learnt anything in the past couple of months, it's that you must believe in yourself and never give up.

Planet Cake has given me SO MUCH - more than I could ever have imagined. To have had the opportunity to learn from some of the best decorators in the world is like a dream comes true. Not only did they offer me a vast amount of knowledge and skills, they also made me feel like part of the family - somewhere where I belonged. When I first came to Australia, I was homesick, lonely and scared. Now, I'm going home with a tonne of life-long friends and family, many of whom I'll never forget.

Thank you, Anna-Maria, CC, Jess, Luigi, Margie, Ritzy, Marianne and Neoko for sharing your valuable experience with me and for making me a decent decorator that I am today. I will never forget all that you've done - your patience, support, encouragement, friendship, guidance. I will try my best to remember all that you've taught me and make you proud some day. You were such wonderful teachers and I am so glad to have had the honour to learn from you - my mentors! So thank you, thank you, thank you a million times for everything! You will all be dearly missed. I hope that we will keep in touch xxx

Thank you, Michelle, Lori, Marisa, Kylie and Debbi for being so awesome and helpful all this time! You've all worked so hard to help me get through those rough and miserable days and you guys made the good days fun! You are truly wonderful in your own ways and I wish you all the best in whatever you do! Keep in touch, k? xxx

Thank you, Lesley, Emma, Thea, Cat, Antony for your big bright smiles and never-ending support. A special thanks to you, Lesley, for organising my lessons and looking after me throughout the duration of my stay! You have all been incredibly helpful and welcoming - it was so great to have met you all!

Thank you, Paris, for allowing me to come into your kitchen and learn from your talented cake artists! Also, thank you so much for all your time, encouragement and assistance - I will try my best to make you proud of me some day! I've had the most amazing experience and will always owe my success to Planet Cake!

Thank you, my classmates, you've my time here really fun and interesting! It was so lovely meeting you all and I wish you all the best for the future! xx

Thank you, Ellie, my sister from another mother! We've had such a fantastic time together and I'll always think of you when I sit alone at home making cakes! You're a truly wonderful friend, rose-making partner, moaning/whining/gossiping/having a banter buddy - I really hope that we'll keep in touch and be friends forever and ever... MWAHAHAHAHAH!!! Love you to bits xxx

Finally, thank you so much my gorgeous readers/fans/audience. You guys inspire me to be better at what I do and helped me to get through tough times. I appreciate all your time and support - I hope that you've enjoyed reading my blogs!

So I guess that this is it for me - the Blog. Although I'm shaking with excitement at the thought of returning home to my beloved family (and dog!), my heart is sinking at the thought of leaving such a fantastic place and its people behind. I'm terrible when it comes to saying goodbyes...

Anyway, before I go, I just wanted to let you know about my new Facebook page! I know that it's still relatively empty, but I am working on building up my portfolios and I'll sure keep you guys updated on the progress of my work. It would mean the world to me if you could all help me out by 'liking' my page. Please visit: Thank you so much again in advance!

*SIGH* Is it time to say good bye already?? Well, farewell, Planet Cake. Farewell, Sydney. Farewell, everyone. Thank you so much for everything - you'll all be dearly missed! I hope to be back here again some day! Until next time!

Pam xxx

Monday, September 26, 2011

Basics 109 - it's time for the madhatter!!

Ah, the infamous mad hatter cake, taught by our very own "CC"! This little beauty is definitely the devil in disguise. While many of us actually found this course easier than the Basics 108 (or even the Basics 107), we were not left without complications. Firstly, it's tapered. Secondly, it's top-heavy. This means that covering this cake was relatively challenging as you can easily tear the icing if not careful. Another very important thing to consider is the angling of the top tier because if this is not done correctly, the cake will not look "right". I for one did not manage to get the "perfect look" but that's ok. I'm here to learn, after all.

Funnily, a lot of us found the bows difficult! Lol!

Once again, this was my last lesson with CC, whom will be dearly missed. CC has taught me many novelty and basics courses and he's truly a great teacher. He's always there for the students, spending most of the time giving us guidance and assistance, even if it means that he doesn't get his own cakes finished or perfected - now THAT's dedication! His calm and relaxing manner also help us to feel more reassured. So thank you, CC, for making my time here so wonderful and full of laughter!

Half the class will now go on to do our Basic Masters next week - so watch out for beautiful photos and terrifying moments! I can't believe that my time here is nearly up.. It's certainly been a great journey - one that I'll never forget!

Better get packing now. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! xx

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Basics 108 - the results!

Day 3:

Wow! I can't believe that all eight of us have managed to finished our cakes on time despite all the hiccups in between! They're all so fantastic! So amazing! So breathtakingly beautiful! One of the hardest cakes has now been completed and with no unfortunate disasters too! I am so incredibly proud of myself and my classmates! Congratulations, everyone!!!

Since this is the last class I have with Jess (and Kylie, our awesome facilitator!), I want to talk a bit about her. Jess and I have had many wonderful 'first moments' together: first flowers, first round, first square and first novelty. And I'm really glad to have had such a knowledgable and patient teacher teaching me all the basics and foundation. I'm glad to have had her support and encouragement throughout these two months. So thank you, Jess, for everything <3

Before the end of the day, we all shared a special moment - Mary, one of our lovely fellow students, has finally completed the entire basics series today!!! Well done, Mary!

So just in case you were all wondering, yes, I did manage to finish my "crazy cake" (as described by Ellie)! Woohoo! The hand-painting came out really well - although the set-up of the cake was just a tiny bit wonky. Oh, and check out my hand-made African mask, lol! xx

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Basics 108 - Pam takes us through Day 2...

Hallelujah! Alas, ideas and inspiration! I can now see clearly! And, of course, I am once again pushing myself to the limit. It's going to be really tough to get this cake done in time and it needs to be done well. Very well, in fact. If you were wondering how crazy my design is, let's just say that all 15 sides will have different things going on. Fact.

I'm not going to lie - this whole marathon is sucking the life out of me. I'm beginning to realise why I was advised to take breaks in between my private lessons!  Cake decorating can be surprisingly tiring.

Anyway, better go to bed early tonight because I'll need all my energy for tomorrow! Have a lovely evening, everyone! xx

Pam's Basics 108 blog

Day 1:

Guess what??? I am now an "ADVANCED" student! How advanced? Advanced enough to put me off ganaching FOR LIFE! Seriously, we spent THE WHOLE DAY carving and ganaching this bloody cake!!! I will definitely charge my future clients extra JUST for cleaning up! Never before have I seen the buckets being changed so frequently as there was so much mess everywhere - all the time. It's an annoying process: check measurements, carve the cake, turn the cake over, carve again, build up the height, carve, turn the cake over, carve, check measurements, check for excess cake, prepare cake for ganaching, crumb coat, ganache, smooth.. It just goes on and on and on and on and this whole process had to be repeated 3 TIMES!!! Sure thing, everyone was on the low - tired and ganached out.

And don't even get me started on how complicated the internal structure is.

Oh, and I've got this big fat giant blockage in my brain! No bright ideas, no clear vision - nothing. I have no idea what I want to do with this cake. The ones that I've thought of doing are either too complicated to do in 2 days or missing the X factor. I'm doomed.


Hopefully, will have some good news to share with you guys tomorrow! x

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 2 and 3 of Basics 107 - Pam's Vase experience

Day 2:

So the worst is over! Never before have I felt so much tension in class.. Just to give you an idea, the cake required 2-3 people to help cover it!!! Our partners were put to the test but, luckily, we didn't have a runner. My trusted friend and cake partner, Ellie, and I struggled.. and struggled.. and struggled until we both got the icing on the cakes - which, by the way, turned out quite beautifully!

Thanks, Ellie! =)

On a more serious note, it would be smart to check your face and clothes before leaving the room after a serious air-brushing session..

And yes, people WILL and DO stare if you're walking around with BLUE NOSTRILS!!!! ***cringe***
Day 3:
The energy was low in class today. Everyone just looked exhausted.

Luckily, all the big parts have already been completed, so were left to our own devices most of the day. I did all the painting and air- brushing before lunchtime just to make sure that the icing will be dry during the assembly. ***Note to self: check you nostrils before leaving class*** Speaking of colourful nostrils, it turned out that I wasn't the only one with embarrassing moments yesterday! SCORE!!!

Was I happy with my cake? Yes, I guess.. All the elements came together pretty well and I got to do draw and paint the sea turtles like I'd hoped to do.

Sea turtles:

And the final result:

I better go and work on my Facebook Page now - will sure keep you updated on the progress! Speak soon! xx

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pam for Planet Cake : Basics 107

Day 1:

Something was telling me that I was going to have a good day. And I did. This morning, Anna-Maria, Michelle and I decided to indulge ourselves and had scrumptious German pastries and Adriano Zumbo's for breakfast before class. Today was Anna-Maria's last day at Planet Cake before she goes on her long-awaited holidays. We were rather sad to see her go.. It would have been nice to be able to have her for the whole course, especially for the covering tomorrow (which, by the way, is known to be the most difficult cake to cover our of all the cakes being taught at PC!). But as the wise man would say, you gotta live in the present, so all the worries will just have to be save for later.

An interesting fact about the vase - it actually took us all morning plus after lunch time to ganache the whole cake, which is longer than all the other cakes we've done up till now. Unsurprisingly, it was a day full of challenges, which, sadly and unintentionally, I have somehow set for myself. 30 minutes into class, as my tapered vase was starting to form, we spotted the problem. I had sliced too much off the cake, which means that I had to 'glue' the off-cuts back on again with ganache. Soon after, it was obvious that my cake was one of the tallest and slimmest in class - a.k.a. good luck with the covering, Pam, it's gonna be a miracle if you could get the icing on tomorrow!!!

Ganaching this thing was also awkward. There were many things to

consider: the slope, the tapered top, the off-set corners. Can't say it was a fun process, although the end results were utterly satisfying!

During the afternoon, Anna-Maria taught us how to make water lilies/ lotus. But after much consideration, I decided that the usual 'under the pond' theme wasn't going to do it for me (come on, it wouldn't be right if I was too easy on myself!), so I was trying to come up with a more "unique" design. First, I thought about adding new elements to what's already been done in the previous classes.. May be adding a frog or goldfish to it or something. But I don't like frogs and find goldfish a bit boring.. **SIGH** Then I thought about doing ocean theme. BING! CORALS! STAR FISH! SEA TURTLES! NEMOS! But.. but.. what about the lotus? Lotus don't grow in the ocean - do they?? May be it could be a cast-away lotus? May be someone dropped the lotus? DROP THE LOTUS.. Yes!!! I'm gonna drop the lotus! No one said that they've gotta go on the cakes! **evil grin**

Damn! I've already given too much away! Anyway, let's hope that I'm going to be able to pull this off this weekend! I'll let you know how things go on Sunday =)

Nighty nighty xx

Maisie Parrish for Planet Cake

With so many celebrity clients under our belt, I have to say, to get the PC crew star-struck is damn near impossible...with one exception. Whenever we are faced with celebrities from our own world (the crazy world of cake decorating) we just loose it. This week we were thrilled to host sugar figurine fairy Maisie Parrish. Maisie spent years modeling her unique characters but it was only in 1998 that she turned her hand to sugar art. Based in England and recognised and renound nation wide for her exquisite and unusual work, Maisie has been sharing her art with some very lucky Planet Cake students this week.

Missed out? Unfortunately Maisie is only with us for a very short time, but check out her website for a list of her books and DVD's:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 2 and 3 of Basics 106 - Pam's Springtime results...

Greetings, once again! Can you believe it? It's the middle of the week already! What exciting things have you guys been up to lately?

As for me, yeah, you guessed right, I've been caking it to the limit!

You know you need professional help when everything you see reminds you of cakes.. My shoulders are so sore from all the kneading that I can no longer feel the pain! One more problem - I've changed my mind about the design again so now I have no idea what to do with my life.

Looking around the room, everyone else has already started working towards their designs, then there was me, staring blankly at the walls and haven't got a clue about anything! So Day 2 for me pretty much consisted of covering and shimmering the cake.. Oh, and putting together my lilies and that was it!

So this morning, I went into class, depressed. Then I thought to myself, if the original ideas don't work - scrap it. After a while, I came up with another (vague) idea and started making up my own piping pattern, then tracing it, then transferring it onto my cake, then - NOTHING! There was literally NOTHING on the cake, no pattern, no pencil marks - just nothing! What the hell happened? I swear I was about to go into hyperventilation! Then Anna-Maria came to my rescue and helpfully told me that I had been using the WRONG pencil all along and "don't worry, honey, all you have to do is to start all over again (*reassuring smile*)"! Fine. Start again. BREATHEEEEEEE...

Second go! Didn't work either. The same lovely Anna-Maria then came over to rescue me again - only that there was nothing to rescue me from. The tracing wasn't going to work because of the shimmer on the cake.. Soooooo I basically wasted 2 hours of my precious life on something that was never going to work. Great. Fantastic. Awesome.

A while later, after my hands have stopped shaking from the earlier emotional breakdown, I started to pipe. In black. On white. Honestly, I'm starting to ask myself "why do you always go out of your way to make your life really really really difficult for yourself?!?" more and more often. Planet Cake has a nicer way to put it ("You like to set yourself a challenge"). So there I was, with bare minimum experience in piping, free-handing the crap out of it! I'm glad that I chose this pattern actually.. It's one of those designs that can't really go wrong because you could always add more things to it to make it look a bit better. By the end of it, I was simply too exhausted to appreciate the beauty of my own cake.

Everyone did so so well and I was incredibly proud of all of us. All the cakes looked absolutely amazing and I just couldn't believe how far we've come in terms of cake decorating! Would you like to see my cake? Here you go!

Until next time

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Basics 106 - A whole new set of challenges

Day 1:

Have you ever seen zombie movies? You know how the zombies kind of walk around aimlessly and making stupid noises? THAT is exactly how I've been feeling today. The problem is that cakes give me nightmares

- It’s definitely a love-hate relationship. I love making, decorating and eating them, but they give me such a heartache that I can no longer sleep or eat properly! I'm the sort of person who almost always knows exactly what and how they want things to go in life, at least for that particular moment in time anyway. So when it's left to us to design our own cakes with no specific guidelines or structure, I feel like crap. For the past two days, all I've been doing is wondering what I'm going to do with my Basic 106 cake. At night, I laid awake staring into the dark, dark gloomy miserable ceiling, thinking about cakes and sleep and then more cakes, which resulted in the lack of sleep. Thousands of ideas run through my mind but none stood out from the rest. Damn! What am I going to say to my lovely Anna-Maria tomorrow?

So when I walked into class this morning and everyone was talking about what exciting things they're planning to do, I felt like throwing my ganache out the window. Should I go for the cute and cuddly? The bright and bold? Or perhaps the elegant and beautiful? Hell, I wasn't even sure what colours I will be using! I'm not going to lie to you, this is probably the most exhausted I've felt since my arrival.

All the physical work, the adrenaline rush and the constant focus is seriously wearing me down, but I want to do this so badly and I NEED to do it well. All these cakes will contribute to my portfolio, not to mention being posted on the internet for people to admire and criticize. There is really no room for mistakes.


On the bright side, I've discovered a new toy today! I got a chance to use one of those mega long metal scrapers to smooth my ganache this morning and it was AWESOME!!! Everything was going well and we were about to have lunch and then - BAM! - I made a really stupid mistake on what was, only a second ago, a beautifully ganached cake! I'd forgotten that I'd already removed the supporting board at the top of the cake, so I ended up taking chunks off it!


Good news? Well, while I was looking through Anna-Maria's folder for inspiration, I stumbled across a few lace designs that I liked.

Suddenly, it all came running! These wonderful ideas just kept rushing through my tired mind and it felt great! Sorry, I'm not going to tell you what the design is, you will just have to wait and see =) But I can tell you that I've gone for a black and white theme.

We then spent the rest of the afternoon designing our cakes and making our own flowers. Hey, did you hear that? WE GET TO CHOOSE OUR OWN FLOWERS!!! (I went for lilies) Tres excited about tomorrow! xx

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's time for Basics 105!! Bring on the extended tiers... :o

Basics 105

"INTERMEDIATE" is what we now are according to our PC Passport!!! I can't believe that I am no longer a "beginner" with only a month's worth of experience. Despite all the excitement, I somewhat feel rather "inadequate" to be awarded with such title. I had dejavu... My mind flashing back to the moment when I had just passed my driving test and was finally legally permitted to drive without supervision.  But deep deep down inside, I knew I wasn't ready but was too proud to admit that I was worried about running someone over whilst trying to figure out when to change gear!

So what does it take for one to become an intermediate student, you may ask? Answer: PASSION (and a drop of MADNESS!)! You have to be crazily passionate about cake decorating, you must be super committed, you must long to learn and try different things, you must go all out and be confident about what you do, and, finally, you must remain inspired and enthusiastic. There's just no way that I'd still be here working my butt off if I didn't 100% love and believe in what I do, as it is a very demanding business - both mentally and physically.

For Basics 105, you really have to crank it up a notch as you've got to work at a decent pace whilst still maintaining 'the standard'. We had a good class actually. Everyone was in high spirits and seemed to be enjoying themselves. After having spent hours ganaching our cakes, most of us were covered in chocolate and my heart truly went out to Michelle, who was facilitating that day! The afternoon was spent making the beautiful peony rose and berries, then it was time to go home.

On the second day, we were shown a new way to cover a tall rectangular cake, which Jess said was the same principle as baby cubes. Because we were actually covering the cake on the board with the centre-pole, you can't actually do it the 'normal' way but have to do it in three stages instead. First, you cover two of the sides individually. Then you cover the remaining surfaces in one go. After lunch, Jess showed us how to stencil, which turned out to be one of the easiest things that I've learnt so far but the result was so satisfying!

Now that I think about it, this cake was actually pretty fun to make.

Stencilling is such a simple yet effective way to decorate your cakes, hence why I've just spent my weekly allowance investing in a set! It was great to be more 'in control' of your cake in terms of designs (not that I haven't been trying to divert from the instructions in the past.. *ahem*). I decided to go for brown with white stencilling and gold borders. Do you like it?

Pam xx

Monday, September 12, 2011

Basics 104 - Guest blogger Pam takes us through her 3-Tier Twist experience

Gosh, I feel tired today. For some unknown reason, I haven't been sleeping very well in the past couple of weeks. My muscles are aching and my mind is exploding with information - a little hibernation might be necessary. Not long now - only 3 more weeks to go. Although I'm getting used to this new routine, it would be a lie to say that I didn't miss home. Don't get me wrong, I'm having such a great time here and learning so much - much much more than I could ever hope for - but I just couldn't help but think how lovely it would be to be able to go through this amazing experience with my family besides me.

But now that I'm here, I have no choice but to finish what I've started. As the first three cakes in the Basics Series have already been completed, it's time to move on to the more advanced cakes with more technical learning outcomes. To be honest, I am not at all confident about the next six cakes that I'm going to be making during the next few weeks due to my lack of experience and unpolished skills.

I'll just have to try my best and make sure that I enjoy every second of it!

There's nothing too complicated in Basics 104. The new thing here is the addition of the centre-pole, which is essential for tiered cakes.

Marianne, our teacher for this class, explained that it's a good idea to make the holes in the boards slightly bigger to allow some room for adjustment, especially if the holes are slightly off-centre. We spent the first day preparing the three tiers and the orchids, and the second finishing off the cake. I've decided that since I've always gone for bold and bright colours, I would try making something more soft and feminine this time. I was pretty chuffed with myself this morning because my icing was almost perfect!

Unfortunately, our spirit sagged a little during the afternoon as we were assigned two of the most annoying tasks ever - fiddling with paper templates for our bands and making tiny sausages for the border!

As always, I just had to go out of my way to make my life a thousand times harder.. While the others were fussing over their 'single' sausages, I came up with a not very bright idea of making a twisty rope from two different colours of icing, meaning that I had to double the amount of sausages, which I HATE doing! I guess the good thing was that it turned out pretty well and brought my cake together quite beautifully. (If you haven't already guessed, I like to think outside the box and come up with different ideas, in order to be unique.  Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes it makes me want to tear my hair out.. *sigh* )

Alas, everyone finished decorating their cakes! As I stood back and admired everyone's masterpieces, I couldn't help but feel tremendously proud of our work and efforts. Wanna see me cake yet? Here it is!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Latest Creations

Phew, it's been a hectic couple of months in here (then again when isn't it?) but with the Basics and Novelty Marathons now behind us, we are gearing up for the spring wedding season. That's right; spring time in the cake world is not only about flowering blooms, the emergence of pasty winter legs and hay fever, but The Spring Bride. Having taken a peek inside our order book, I can promise you this year is set to be ultra classic and beautiful, and I can't wait to begin sharing our newest designs with you.

In the mean time, things are definitely getting a little bit mental back in the kitchen of late...Check out our latest:

So we all know that cake pops are all the rage, and while admittedly we were a little slow at catching on to that one, I think we've more than made up for it by taking them to the next level - the Dog Pop! Unfortunately the photographs really don't do these guys enough justice, they were just so damn cute.

Intern Shell, flexed her Funky muscles this week. These guys look simple, but those of you who have ever tried to make them will know that they are anything but. Not too Shabby Shell, not too shabby at all.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pam's Basics 103 Experience...

Basics 103

Ok, guys, it's time to introduce you to 'Mi Familia' at Planet Cake (well, what I'm trying to say is that I'm sort of stuck with them, if you know what I mean..?? I'm kidding, I love them to bits!)! Ready???


So we walk through the front door into the front room, which is always full of cakes. We go through another door and immediately to your left, there's the office! The first person you'll see is, of course, our very own Paris Cutler (I once made a mistake of choosing the wrong seat and ended up sitting on her chair - which was EXACTLY what I was trying to avoid!). After having been here for over a month, I've come to the conclusion that Paris doesn't own heels that aren't at least 3 inches high. Paris is a great inspiration and I adore her no-nonsense, kick-ass approach to business! Next is Cat. I'm not quite sure what Cat's position is or what her job description may be, because I always see her running around doing a million different things at once (I've even seen her building a big tent at one point!). But Cat is truly lovely - she gave me a chewy mint that tasted a bit like soap - it was great! Now, it's time to introduce you to the wonderful Lesley, who is a great person to be with (she has a really good British sense of humour that I miss)! Chances are, most of us have probably came across Lesley at some point in our lives, as she deals with everything from changing Facebook status updates to organising the classes.

Lesley takes her job very seriously and I know this because she never failed to reply to my emails (and there were A LOT of emails!), no matter how ridiculously annoying they were! Then we have Antony, who's in charge of all the cool cake designs that we get to admire from time to time. It's not possible to spend a day at Planet Cake without hearing his laughter booming across the room! And finally, we have Emma! Emma's always smiling and happy - I hope that I'll get to know her better now that she's back from her holidays!

So that's it for the office. Now, let's head to the kitchen. First, you have Anna-Maria, who's a fabulous teacher and decorator. Anna-Maria often says really funny things without even realising that she's being funny, which makes it even funnier! I really enjoyed making my dog cake with her. The next person in line is our kick-boxer Jess, who's got all sorts of cheffy qualifications and makes great desserts!

One time, she introduced me to her class as "Crazy Pam" - thanks, Jess! She also has a tendency to utter random Thai words to me at the most random times (her favourite words include "very expensive", "I don't understand", "Really?"). Who's next, who's next...? Margie!

Margie is insanely good at making novelty cakes and realistic figurines (I swear she can make a blob of old icing look good!) and she loves drinking Chai Latte in the morning. Once, Margie tried to teach me to make Will Smith's head, which went horribly wrong, which meant that we had to peel off the skin, which then resulted in something that resembles Freddie Kruger - not my greatest moment..

*Ahem* Then we have Ritzy, who, for some reason, likes to say "Easy Peasy Japanesey" whenever she does something that looks super difficult! But the good thing about her is that she likes to "experiment" with various combinations of chocolate cereal treats (they always taste sooooo good!) so my plan is to keep encouraging her to "experiment" every week! Next, we have CC! CC's a gifted sculptor and a great teacher. We've had our moments, which largely consist of me complaining about how bad my cake looks and him ignoring my complaints, lol! The last few in the list includes the interns, Michelle and Lori, who are also very talented cake artists. They are so fun to be around and always offer great encouragement and support - thanks, guys! Finally,we have Luigi, Marianne and Neoko, whom I haven't really had a chance to get to know yet, but I've definitely admired their work from afar! And here we go, guys, isn't this exciting??

Yeah, you're right. The reason I wrote such a long introduction was because I didn't want to let myself loose and write an essay on how much those corners frustrate me. I actually went into class with such low expectation that I didn't even freak out when Lori (the new intern) kneed my beautifully ganached cake at lunch time! (Don't worry, Lori, I will NEVER EVER forget what you've done! Hehe..) I always get myself really worked up about these squares - I mean, I know that this is only my second square and I shouldn't be so hard on myself.. BUT THESE CORNERS ARE SERIOUSLY DOING MY HEAD IN! The sad thing is now it's not even the corners that's the problem,.. I've somehow managed to ruin the easiest things on those ghastly squares (a.k.a. flat surfaces that I kept damaging)! You know how the icing sticks together and then you try to pull it apart, which of course leads to stupid cracks in your icing but you just can't be bothered to start all over again?!? Yeah, that's what kept happening to me all morning! People kept telling me that no one would be able to see those faults once the bands go on but I know what's underneath those pretty green bands and I'm just too much of a perfectionist to ignore this fact! But bad things aside, I actually really enjoyed decorating the Basics 103 cake. I've only recently discovered my love for flower-making, especially those 'stylised' ones (as this means that you could do whatever the hell you want with the flowers and will always have "they're stylised" as an excuse!).

The funny thing is that by the time we put everything together, the cake actually looked a hundred times better and I was really quite pleased with myself (and immediately fell in love with my camera for not picking up those horrible dents!). What do you think?

You wanna hear the good news? Basic 104 is all ROUNDS! I can FINALLY get a good night's sleep without having nightmares about those corners for once - woohoo!!! I've got a day off tomorrow so will try to spend it wisely! Laters! xx

Monday, September 5, 2011

Guest blogger Pam takes us through her Basics Marathon experience...

Ladies and gentlemen, brace yourselves! It's that time of the year again.. The time that we've all been waiting for.. That's right! It's the Basics Marathon time!!! Woohoo!!!

It's now been exactly one month since the day I set foot in Planet Cake. I can still remember my first day: homesick, jet-lagged, first time in Australia, no experience in cake decorating - I was a nervous wreck. I remember myself wondering if I had made a really stupid decision, committing myself to something so alien and unknown to me, in a foreign land, away from my beloved family. But as soon as I walked through the front door, I knew that I was exactly where I belonged. With welcoming arms, friendly smiles and never-ending kindness, Planet Cake team gently guided me through my once in a lifetime journey and embraced my presence without hesitation. And here I am one month later - still having the time of my life! So when the wonderful Lesley approached me and asked if I would write a blog, "Of course!", I replied. It would be an absolute honour for me to share this incredible journey with you.

First of all, a little introduction. My name is Pam. I'm from Thailand. And I'm about to undergo a major career change, one that, I must admit, my family doesn't exactly approve of. It's been almost a year since I left the corporate world behind and began this culinary journey and, quite frankly, I still pray everyday that everything will turn out according to plan. Many people have asked me what brought me to Planet Cake. Well, it's the love of all things sweet and savoury and my passion for books that first introduced me to cake decorating. I've got hundreds of cook books at home but have never actually attempted any of the stuff from the dusty cake decorating section because I never really thought myself as being creative or artistic. But as my time at Le Cordon Bleu (Bangkok) was coming to an end, I knew that I had no choice but to make a decision about my career. Luckily, I already knew that pastry was something that I wanted to specialise in but the bad news was that you can't really go very far in this area in Thailand due to a number of reasons. So what else could I do? In between tantrums, I went back to my beloved bookshelf and desperately looked for an inspiration. And there it was! My two Planet Cake books sitting regally on the shelf in mint condition! After some research on the internet, I found that Planet Cake was about to run their infamous Marathons for both Novelties and Basics Series, which I signed myself up for almost straight away! Since then, I never looked back. I was immensely proud of myself when I completed the Novelty Series last month and really surprised myself too with some of the things that I'd accomplished! And now, it's the Basics Marathon time, oh, how I dread those corners! Are you ready for this journey? Well, hold on tight as things are about to get real serious here!

Basics 101:

I couldn't sleep last night due to a number of reasons. Firstly, I have finally reached the halfway mark and I wasn't sure whether to be excited about going home or sad to leave. Secondly, I just could NOT stop fretting about having to ganache and cover those rounds!!! Yeah, yeah, I know what you're all thinking. Rounds = EASY PEASY, right? And the rest of you must be thinking that I had nothing to worry about because I've done "LOADSSSSSSS" of those novelty cakes, right? WRONG! Hey, this is a really big deal for me. I've never ever done a round before and it's got to look neat and perfect, and it's not as if I could just 'patch it up' like when I was doing those novelty cakes. And for some strange reason, I felt really pressured to get it exactly right! (I think this might have something to do with Jess and her 'great expectation') Anyway, every time I closed my eyes, I kept seeing those crooked edges, torn icings and horrible colour combinations, and no matter how hard I tried the images just would not go away!

Having been dreading the Basics 101 all night, I walked into class filled with misery. Most seats had already been taken but I spotted an empty one at the back of the class. Perfect. Just as I was starting to blame the world for every bad thing that's ever happened, I looked up and there it was - that friendly, familiar face. One of Planet Cake's most renowned and experienced teachers, Jess, was sitting there with her cheerful smile and the sort of look that says 'I believe in you, you can do it!', which immediately assured me that I was in good hands and that the world wasn't going to end if my edges were a little crooked. We started off the usual way - everyone introduced themselves, a series of demos were shown, followed by us students getting our hands dirty! (No, literally, they were full of ganache!) By lunch time, everyone's cakes sat beautifully on the benches, neatly ganached with clean edges - ready to be covered.

Then it was time to ice our cakes! I think that most of us must have forgotten to breathe during that demo, while Jess carefully recited her numerous tips and tricks of the trade. I hate it when teachers make everything look so easy and simple. It always seems as if nothing could and would ever go wrong with their icing, no matter how hard they stretch it or how long they let it sit uncovered! I just don't understand why whenever I leave my RTR unattended for 2 seconds, it ALWAYS dries up and cracks! The next thing I knew, Jess was done explaining the steps (I swear the whole process only took her like 30 seconds or something!) and it was finally our turn to cover our cakes. Miraculously, I managed to cover my cake without much trouble and with those beautiful, sexy sharp edges too! Hooray!!!! (Let's not mention the bits under the decorations.. Ahem.) My first round ever - mission accomplished!

I would like to think that I will be able to go home and get a good sleep tonight but, unfortunately, I've now got Basics 102 to worry about (trust me, squares are like my worst nightmare!)! So I better sign off and get some rest before my big day tomorrow! Have a lovely weekend. everyone! xx

Basics 102:

Happy Fathers' Day! While everyone was out and about enjoying the day with their friends and family, I was in a constant state of panic and found it difficult to concentrate. Today is the day. Today is corners day. Today is sharp edges day. But if Planet Cake has taught me anything, it's that life is no fun without challenges!

Unlike the Basics 101, today's class is all about how to achieve those infamous sharp corners and perfect edges. Ganaching is the secret. Since you need to apply a fair bit of pressure on the cake, it is very important to give the ganache some time to set properly as this will provide a solid foundation for the icing (it's why this would never work with buttercream). For the first time, I learnt that it is much easier to over-do the ganaching at the beginning because you can always scrape off the excess later on in the process. Oh, and don't forget to keep your temp board dry and clean as moisture may cause moulds to grow in your cake (GROSSSS!!!!!)!

Jess told us that the two key things to remember when icing cakes with corners are: (i) SECURE THE TOP CORNERS before you do anything else to prevent tearing; and (ii) Spread equal love and attention when you're smoothing the surfaces. As I watched Jess work effortless on her cake, my heart was filled with envy. How long would it take me before I could get my cake to look as perfect as hers? How many damaged icings would I have to throw away before I could ice a square without causing those horrible, annoying cracks? As I started rolling out my icing, I quickly ran through the steps in my head: get rid of air bubbles, secure the corners, do all the edges, smooth flat surfaces, cut off excess icing, sharpen the corners. By the end of the lesson, I've come to appreciate those cute little cherries and ribbon decorations - what a fantastic way to hide misfortunate flaws and unattractive pin pricks! I must say that I'm not 100% satisfied with the result (yes, I am always very hard on myself!), but I guess that it's not bad for my first! Here it is!

So 2 down, 8 more to go! I can't wait to see what the Basics 103 will bring! Until next time! xx


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