Leading cake maker Peggy Porschen has described her new book, in which she focuses for the first time on sugar flowers, as her ‘most challenging work to date’. After viewing a beautiful display of designs from Cakes in Bloom at London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, we spoke with Peggy about the inspiration behind her latest creations.
How did you go about choosing the designs for your new book, Cakes in Bloom?
Fresh flowers were my inspiration for this book. I spent two years researching beautiful blooms, dissecting them petal by petal, stamen by stamen and learning how they changed in various states of bloom – my mother and grandmother were both florists and I have always had a passion for flowers, which has influenced my work right from the outset. This book is something that I have wanted to do for years, it is incredibly important to me and a true labour of love for all things floral.
I was also conscious to choose designs for the book to suit cake makers of different skill levels; I grouped simpler blooms together for beginners and included some show-stopping centrepiece cakes for the more experienced cake makers who are looking for a new challenge. Additionally I wanted to include cakes to suit a number of different seasons and occasions.
My design choices for the book were also influenced by my private clients; I made sure to include new versions or distinctive elements from their favourite designs from my collections such as the Vintage Blooms and the Floral Cascade, which is a new twist on my Floral Avalanche wedding cake, a bestseller of mine for the last three years.
What’s your favourite sugarcraft technique?
I absolutely love to create sugar flowers, it’s my passion. I also love piping intricate details.
What’s your most treasured piece of sugarcraft kit?
My ball tool: I have had it for over 10 years and it is the first one I ever bought. I have worn it down through years of use so that it is not so much a ball shape any more but more flat. It is sacred to me.
Are there any current trends in decoration that you particularly like?
I love the current trend for gilding using metallic colours, especially gold, within cake designs. I also particularly like opulent displays of sugar flowers, combining bouquets of many different blooms on one cake. I love incorporating graphic patterns such as chevrons within designs and I adore piping decorations using the Lambeth method, too.
What are your predictions for sugarcraft trends over the next few months?
There is certainly a trend towards the traditional tiered cake; brides are opting for elegant and understated designs which display detailed craftsmanship and skill. Abundant sugar flowers, of course, remain very popular; I find a lot of brides ask for a bouquet of different blooms as opposed to one flower and one colour. I have noticed that mainly it is size and shape that are changing; cakes are becoming more contemporary and architectural in structure and designs are less fussy and more graphic with lots of pearls and swags and tiers with varying heights and shapes. For example I love to incorporate a petal-shaped tier in an otherwise traditional tiered cake.
What’s your greatest sugarcraft triumph?
I think it is still my first book, Pretty Party Cakes, which spearheaded the whole shift of cake décor from traditional to cutting-edge. It appealed to a new generation of cake makers and I feel that it broke new ground. The book won awards and was a runaway success, still continuing to sell well to this day. It defined me as a cake artist and represented everything I had set out to become.
What would you say is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned in your career as a sugarcrafter?
Stay true to your signature style, know your strengths but never stop learning and evolving as an artist.
Do you have any top tips for starting and running your own cake business?
If it’s a career in cakes you are interested in there is no better start than a professional course at the Peggy Porschen Academy. More generally I would say that one should be prepared for a lot of hard work and should always have a plan and a business basis before starting. Be confident and don’t undervalue your time and skill. Cake makers are often criticised for charging high prices for their product, but I think it’s important to compare our craft to that of a tailor or even a plumber for example, who charge far higher prices without question. A lot of patience, dedication and resilience are also essential for success!
Do you have any other exciting projects coming up?
I am so pleased to release Cakes in Bloom, it has been years in the making and I am very excited to see what people think of the book. I am also looking forward to a very busy summer wedding season, which is fast approaching. Having just launched a new Floral Wedding Cake Collection, we are busier than ever and the team, as well as our kitchen, is expanding all the time.
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