“…what you can do with a cake is only limited to your imagination.”
An award-winning cake decorator and patisserie teacher, Charmaine Cregan has been delivering sweet creations since 1985. Now retired from cake exhibiting, Charmaine is a judge at numerous cake decorating competitions and enjoys seeing how far new decorators will push the limits. “The industry experienced a bit of a slump in the 1990s,” she said, “but with the introduction of improved cake crafting tools and equipment, technology and innovation, what you can do with a cake is only limited to your imagination.”
The cake decorator back then and today. Photo courtesy of Charmaine Cregan.
Charmaine might be a triple black belt in cake decorating, but it’s hard to protect cakes from curious fingers and farting dolls. On the day we spoke to her, Charmaine had a few kitchen calamities to share. “Today’s cake was an Ariel ‘doll’ inside a cake; similar to a Dolly Varden. Imagine my surprise when the doll farted and split the cake apart, and this is after I had iced her too. So I had to cook another set of cakes. Trust me to drop one on the floor, and now the third one is in the oven. 15 eggs used so far!”
What happens when angels start tasting cakes and adding their own special touch
However, the story that really takes the cake (we had to!) happened when Charmaine baked a birthday cake for her son. Babysitting her two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter recently, Charmaine enlisted this little angel to help bake and ice a simple cake for her daddy (Charmaine’s son, Nathan). The child had fun mixing the different colours of cake batter and stirring the butter icing. Then she sat at the breakfast bar and intently watched her grandmother assemble, ice and decorate the modest cake.
When Charmaine turned away from the cake to wash up, the angel’s little fingers went to work ‘tasting’ the completed cake, adding her own special touch. All it took was a few moments, and when Charmaine turned around to face the cake what she saw was her granddaughter covered in icing. The cake had been attacked. All Charmaine could do was laugh. “When I presented the cake later that day, all my son could say was, “Wow mum, if I had touched one of your cakes I would have been in big trouble!”
From left to right: Nathan’s birthday cake; Charmaine’s creations. Photos courtesy of Charmaine Cregan.