Responding to ‘Breaking Down a Decorated Cake’

There’s a post out on a blog entitled ‘Breaking Down a Decorated Cake’. Maybe you’ve read it. Maybe you agree with it. If you haven’t, the premise of the post is guiding the readers through making a cake decorated with fondant. Sounds great and normal! Except this post wouldn’t have been written if it hadn’t been for the misinterpretation of a tweet saying that “fondant is only good for covering up a bad bake”. It is without any doubt that the person responsible for the post being written is me, for the following tweet:

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This post seems to be driven on the fact that I tweeted my opinion because the blogger believes that I cannot work with fondant in the first place. I have worked with fondant many times during my GCSEs and I have dabbled with it in the past. I have even written about fondant many times on my blog. I wrote a post on how to make your own fondant and make fondant carrots.

The point I was trying to make is that in a comparison of these 4 cakes, one decorated heavily in fondant and the rest are non-fondant and have all been made by me, the majority of people would say that the fondant cake is better. And I don’t think this is an unreasonable assumption to make.

IMG_3028  IMG_2743 IMG_2223Fondant Cake

The majority of fondant covered cakes that you buy from supermarkets tend to be very plain sponges filled with jam and buttercream. This is what I meant by my tweet. Nothing else. I was simply commenting on the supermarket’s fondant cakes. I certainly wouldn’t criticise any of the skilful bakers on Twitter, many of whom I consider friends! I know how hard they all work to produce their cakes. But it’s a fact that you won’t see most shopbought fondant cakes being anything else apart from this formula whether you buy it from Tesco or Waitrose.

But I do have a problem with fondant cakes. As much hard work goes into making fondant cakes, it can seem that non-fondant cakes aren’t as skilful and challenging as fondant cakes when this belittles cake bakers like myself. I never use simple recipes, I always change up the ratios of ingredients in my sponges to adapt to flavours and occasions, and with the scientific element of baking, this is not easy. There is skill in changing up and inventing cake recipes just as there is skill in using fondant.

Call me superficial but whenever I see fondant cakes get more positive reception than one of my new non-fondant inventions, it makes me feel not as good of a baker. When you see all the fantastic reception that fondant covered cakes get, it diminishes my abilities because I know that I will probably never get that reception on any of my normal non-fondant cakes. I know that some people feel that way and yes you’re right, it’s a skill I don’t have but there is no way that I would ever disrespect cake decorators.

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I understand the hours that go into making a fondant cake, I mean I have watched enough episodes of Cake Boss to know they can often take days to make what with sculpting figures and making animals. But my cakes often take hours to make too and because I work as a chef in a takeaway, I know exactly how demanding the catering industry is; I had to work during my exam period which caused 5/6 hour night’s sleep and 28 hour working weeks as well as school. The majority of my commissions will involve me being up until 2am at night, even though I baked my cakes at 10am the previous morning.

Fondant Butterflies

So please don’t disparage me by saying that I don’t know how long it takes to make a fondant cake because I know a lot about baking and more than you seem to think I do! If you had taken 5 minutes of the 18 hours that it took you to make your fondant cake to ask me what I meant by my tweet rather than spending even more time writing up your post, perhaps we both wouldn’t need to be writing these posts.

There’s no denying that fondant is a necessary tool for cake makers because there is no other way to get this immense detail into your cake decorating. And I also know people hate fondant – the times I have used fondant myself, I hated it. But there is no way that I would disrespect the hard work and time that goes into making fondant cakes.

Coluring Sugarpaste

The post also calls into question my maturity. I do find on Twitter and in real life, people older than me are constantly looking down on me and not giving me the respect that I deserve. I continued to blog throughout my A-Levels and still got into a brilliant Russell Group university. If there’s one quality in people I absolutely detest, it’s looking down on me and being patronising simply because I am younger than them. And neither am I saying that I’m better than you, I think we need to treat each other as equals. We both have a lot to learn baking wise.

I’d also end on the fact that this was my opinion. Opinions should be openly shared and nobody should feel as if they have to stop sharing their opinions because of a few comments yet this is exactly how I felt. I’ve recently celebrated getting my A-Level results yet I cannot focus on that as much as I would like because my passion for baking, recipe developing and blogging has been called into question. This has probably made me very vulnerable to a lot of abuse and hate from within the blogging and baking community but why should I hide away whilst there are many people getting the wrong end of the stick and forming an opinion about me? It’s been two days since the post has been released and I’ve already noticed some accounts acting differently towards me.

I have spoken out on something that has hurt me a lot. There is a strong baking community on Twitter; we all follow each other and we always give each other likes and know quite a bit about each other. Everyone compliments everyone else’s bakes and I love being a part of that community. Yet a comment made between a group of 3 people in a casual non-offending conversation has spiralled into an entire blog post written by someone who I admire(d) calling my maturity and baking abilities into question.

I love the blogging community. I always love to write guest posts and have people guest post on my blog. I have made so many fantastic friends on Twitter and I have also met so many of these people too. But it’s sad that I have felt that there is no point in continuing to blog. In a motley group of people brought together by a love of cake and The Great British Bake Off, it’s sad that I also wanted to delete my Twitter account.

IMG_2783Inside of Couronne

So how long did this post take to write? 6 hours. I found it very hard to express my thoughts about this because I was angry that a tweet taken out of context had got so out of hand – as it seems is happening way too often in today’s society.

To summarise, I do not doubt the skill that cake decorators have and I most definitely know how hard fondant work is and I bake for commissions, I’ve baked dessert buffets for 120 people, I know things like this take time. This whole situation escalated from something that was not actually targeted at cake decorators rather the supermarkets and this all could have been cleared up had the blogger in question asked me what I meant rather than us both writing reaction posts. I’ve seen all of the comments that bakers have made in response to her post and it makes me annoyed that all of these people probably don’t understand what I meant.

But I don’t like fondant and I don’t like the fact that fondant cakes will pretty much always get more attention than a non-fondant cake. I also understand that fondant is an essential tool for cake decorating because I don’t know how else you can sculpt people or animals and this is a skill that I’ve yet to master. And I know that. I most certainly do not hate fondant cakes out of jealousy which is what seems to come across. Fondant cakes do look beautiful when they are done well and your cake looked fantastic but your attitude was far from perfect. Let me pick out a few of the statements which have stayed with me since reading your post:

“Maybe they should first judge their own abilities”

The impression I get from this is that you don’t think I’m that good of a baker. I am deeply offended that you believe this and it suggests that all of the positive comments and encouragement you’ve tweeted to me in the past year has all been fake.

IMG_3262 Salted Caramel Choux Buns

“They’ve tried working with it, it’s not for them, which is fair enough but shall we try to be a little more mature about it” and “I would never dream of going on social media and say … how it’s only good for covering a bad bake …  some of the nasty and naive comments I’ve read this week on Twitter”

I would have hoped that you would have been mature enough to ask for my side of the argument rather than promoting your post out on social media and encouraging people to comment their views on what a naive person I seem to be. I’ve seen all of the responses to your post, they make me out to be a villain who is rude and ignorant. Encouraging such nastiness and naivety seems a bit hypocritical doesn’t it?

“The next time you feel the urge to write an ill-thought comment about working with fondant, spare a thought for all the hard work,range of skills, knowledge, time and effort that has gone into it”

I know exactly how much hard work goes into making fondant cakes, more than you seem to think! And my tweet about fondant was not ill-thought, in fact I did research into the fondant cakes offered in both Tesco and Waitrose which was what this comment was regarding in the first place.

  • The Tesco’s ‘Me To You Gift Cake’ is described as a “moist sponge with a layer of raspberry jam and sweet filling, covered with soft icing and edible decorations.
  • The Waitrose ‘Fiona Cairns Celebration Cake’ is described as “an undecorated celebration cake covered in soft white icing”, one of the flavours being “vanilla sponge with raspberry jam and buttercream filling”.

Perhaps the next time you feel the urge to write a post based on what you think something means that offends you, you should take the time to spare a thought for how you’ve hurt the person you are addressing indirectly and also to clarify what I meant before you wrote the post.

I am most certainly prepared to see the number of Twitter followers I have drop dramatically but I am not having people call me out about an opinion that I have which, after clarification, I think people will share. If you aren’t happy with it, that’s okay too because it’s your opinion. I’m not going to tell you if your opinion is right or wrong.

Thanks to Vicky for giving me permission to use her photos.

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