Secret Garden Inspiration Shoot

I had the pleasure of being invited to collaborate on a photo shoot last July designed and planned by the talented Grace and Saviour Styling and photographed by Paula O’Hara Photography.  I am in love with this one and thrilled to see the full shoot now published on prestigious wedding blog Green Wedding Shoes.  In this blog post I wanted to give a little insight into the inspiration for the shoot and corresponding brief for the cakes…with a sneak peak of the result!

The inspiration for the shoot was ‘ vintage botanical illustrations from the 18th century’. The brief was dreamy,  ‘..to convey the wedding of a cool, relaxed, slightly bohemian couple who get married in a beautifully ramshackle glass house in a country pile…overgrown gardens and slightly too warm, glistening skin’.  The shoot was to feel earthy and relaxed so I created a mood board for the cakes, drawing on pretty, informal and delicious looking cakes as inspiration, with natural florals for decoration.

Mood board:

 

The ‘country pile’ was Carncairn Lodge in Northern Ireland, an Irish Manor house with a beautiful garden and rambling greenhouse.  It was a glorious July day, creating the perfect atmosphere to convey a relaxed summer garden wedding. The shoot was centred around the greenhouse which was styled by Grace for an informal wedding lunch with draped linen, relaxed flowers, candles and fruits.

 

For the cakes, I opted for a trio for an informal sweet table concept. A main textured iced cake adorned with oversized garden blooms styled by Grace was accompanied by un-iced Chocolate Salted Caramel and Prosecco Peach Thyme cakes (for more of our delectable cake flavours check our our menu!). Purposefully oozing peach and thyme jam, a cake slice, and the exposed chocolate cake layers were chosen to convey delicious homemade and summery sweet treats. 

 

This gives a little taste of what’s to come in this gorgeous summery shoot which features signature informal flowers by Petal and Twine,  exquisite gowns by Ivory and Pearl, stationary by Lenka Calligraphy, hair by Lynette Murray, and make up by Jennifer Ireland. To swoon over the full shoot head on over to Green Wedding Shoes!

And the award for Best Dessert Blog goes to…!

I was beyond thrilled to have won a Golden Tier Awards in New York last month. Bowled over actually is more like it! The Golden Tier Awards is the first American-hosted, international awards show of its kind, recognising the contribution of pastry chefs, cake and sugar-artists, dessert professionals, authors and writers, chocolatiers, instructors, and retailers and celebrating the very best the industry has to offer. The Awards were hosted by Lisa Mansour of the renowned cake supply shop and school, New York Cake,  along with American Cake Decorating Magazine.

A total of 14,000 nominations (yes!) from around the world were received, spread across 13 different awards categories…Cove Cake Design was in the Best Dessert Blog category. I was asked to submit photos of my work and links to my website and blog for the judging panel to review.

An esteemed panel of 15 cake artists and pastry chefs (that read like a whose who in the cake world) then whittled the nominations down to 3 finalists in each category and we were chosen in the Best Dessert Blog category alongside Olivia Bogacki and Veena Azmanov. I was deeply humbled to be amongst the 39 finalists, many of whom I have known and admired hugely for years.

With only 3 weeks until the awards ceremony, a business and 3 children meant that it was no mean feat to go to New York for the awards show. I am hugely grateful to one of my lovely clients who allowed me to deliver her wedding cake the night before her wedding day, and her florist (Melanie of Fussy Peacock) who so kindly agreed to arrange the flowers on her cake for me so I could catch a flight to New York in time! And of course I have to thank the grandparents for jumping in to babysit!

The Black Tie awards show took place in the iPic Theater in Lower Manhattan, with a glitzy cocktail party preceding the main event. The Best Dessert Blog category was up first and I had my incredulous Oscars moment (!) when my name was called out by Ron Ben Israel who presented my award. It was a fantastic night and I have to say the hugest of thanks to Lisa Mansour and all the staff of American Cake Decorating who organised such an amazing night, as well as all the judges who gave their time. And of course congratulations to all of the winners and finalists for whom I have the utmost professional admiration and respect!

On returning home the messages of congratulations were overwhelming. I can’t thank everyone enough for their continuous and generous support of my business. But most of all was the elation of my children, who had crafted congratulations cards for my arrival…they couldn’t wait to see the award! (although a subsequent win of a football trophy by my 7 year old was soon deemed to far surpass Mum’s trophy!).

People have since asked me what it means to me to have won this and one word comes to mind..validation. I gave up my science career 9 years ago, spent the intervening years rearing children and running a house, somewhat then falling into cake decorating, a business and a blog. I work part-time from home covering all aspects of the business myself. Sometimes it is hard to find the time to be as creative as I would like to be, or to advance things as much as I would like to.  Probably like all those in creative industries I have had moments of wondering how I ended up here, whether I am good enough for it, and whether the juggle is justified. But to anyone starting a business, pursuing a passion, being creative and having moments of self-doubt I will leave you with one of my favourite quotes which springs to mind when wondering if the path chosen is the right one……

 

 

Custom Flavours for Chinese New Year

I adore Asian food and flavours, having visited various parts of the region over the last 10 years while my husband worked there. So I was thrilled to be asked to create custom flavours with a nod to Asia for a Chinese New Year event that took place here this week. The clients requested an assortment of macarons as well as a small dessert-style sweet to include flavours of lychee, green tea, rose and raspberry. The colour palette for the event was one of red, gold, green and deep pinks.

For the dessert option we made white chocolate mud cake bites, with green tea buttercream, toasted black sesame, raspberry curd and rose meringue kisses.

Topped with gold leaf of course!…

The macaron flavours were Green Tea and Chocolate, Lychee, and Raspberry and Rose…with decorative flourishes of chocolate drizzle, gold  and rose petals!

We are always happy to customize flavours to suit your wedding or event….simply contact us with your ideas!

 

January Newsletter

January can seem like a long, dark month in the Northern Hemisphere but it is one that I think is secretly relished as a slightly quieter month by all those working in the wedding industry! Sometimes a little time with few orders allows you to catch up, take stock, try new things and plan for the year of business ahead. Here is a little of what we got up to this month…

Sample boxes:

January was sample box month and we were delighted to send delicious tasting packages to many of our 2017 brides! This month’s boxes included some of our most popular flavours such as Lime, White Chocolate Pistachio; Champagne, Elderflower and Strawberry; and of course what has become a signature flavour, Guinness Chocolate with Roasted White Chocolate! Our next dispatch is scheduled for late March.

Classes:

Off-peak wedding season is a great time for us to host some classes. We offer private 1-2-1 tuition, allowing clients to pick exactly what they wish to learn. I had a lovely day with Melissa from the UK, teaching techniques including smooth chocolate ganache, semi-naked buttercream, macarons and overall styling. This was the result of the day! If you are interested in private tuition contact us directly to discuss options and available dates.

Press:

It was a pleasure  to collaborate with Orla Neligan of Cornershop Productions in a botancial themed photo shoot for the Spring Issue of Irish Brides which is on sale now. Shot in the beautiful surroundings of Cliff at Lyons by the talented Kataya Koliban, we loved the soft foliage, hints of gold and considered props. Our cake was a classic lace design which Orla styled with deep velvet green ribbon, white rose and foliage.

New Design:

Not one to put anything to waste, after our photoshoot for Irish Brides I reconditioned our lace cake for a new display model. Taking inspiration from the current trend for oversized bridal bouquets, I topped the lace design with an abundance of sugar flowers to include David Austin Roses, Garden Roses, Frilly Peonies, Freesia, Blackberries and lots of foliage. Perfectly in keeping with the Pantone Colour of 2017 we are a little bit in love with this one!

Recipes:

No month would be complete at Cove Cake Design without some time spent experimenting with recipes and flavours! Pink peppercorn has been on my list of ingredients to try for some time and makes a deliciously spicy addition to these Chocolate Raspberry and Pink Peppercorn cupcakes. Perfect for some Valentine’s Day baking this recipe will appear in the Febuary edition of TheTaste.ie .

…and here’s to Febuary!

Macaron Menu

With the unsurprising popularity of macarons as wedding favours or pretty additions to cake tables, we are delighted to launch our first macaron menu.

Jenny Packham Inspired Wedding Cake-Design Inspiration and Process

My style is naturally minimalist but I have always adored the exquisite beading of Jenny Packham bridal gowns which are simultaneously decorative and yet elegantly understated.

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(Images courtesy of lwdbridal, elizabethannedesigns, thefashionmedley)

 

For some time I have wanted to translate this into a cake design and with one of my cake resolutions of 2015 being to embrace more decorative elements a recent week off gave me the perfect opportunity.  My design inspiration was the ‘Eden’ gown, a delicately beaded ‘flapper’ style dress in art deco style.

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(Images courtesy of and Style Me Pretty and Jenny Packham)

 

I decided on a tall tier structure reflecting the elegant streamlined nature of the gown.  Using the pattern of the dress as my inspiration I drew my own on baking parchment and then transferred it to my cake tiers using a scribing tool to mark the design onto the cake by needling through the baking parchment. It was then a case of a few quiet hours piping delicate dots and finishing off with some choicely positioned silver dragees.

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The end result…

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My minimalism stopped me from making it as decorative as the gorgeous gown but I do love this one and look forward to perhaps more intricate cake designs in the future!

Our Favourite Natural Wedding Cake Styles

The trend for rustic wedding cakes is continuing with ‘naked’ cakes still making a regular appearance at 2015 weddings. Here at Cove Cake Design we have been putting our own twist on natural styles…take a look at our favourites!

Chocolate ganache and buttercream

One of our most popular cakes this year has been our chocolate ganache and buttercream hybrid. A sharp ganached base tier is the perfect contrast for rustic buttercream upper tiers. Decoration with fresh or sugar flowers, or gilded fruit creates distinct styles.

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Semi-naked

Semi-naked cakes are one of our favourite natural styles. We do love a sharp edge and this style gives a sophisticated feel whilst allowing the beauty of the cake layers to show through. Not confined to white sponge cakes, our semi-naked chocolate mud cake with raspberry icing is one we would love to make again! (Image on left courtesy of White Tea Photography)

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Rustic White

We have recently been using rustic royal icing to create a natural style that is crisp white rather than yellow in tone like buttercream. We have used olive leaves and gilded fruits as well as sugar flowers to decorate this style which would also be perfectly complemented by fresh flowers and greenery.

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Pretty Individual Cakes

We love to find new things to decorate our cakes with and have recently used coconut flakes, freeze-dried raspberries, crushed meringue, macarons and flowers from our garden to create pretty individual cakes that would make a beautiful addition to a cake table or could be adapted to tiered cake styles.

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The Gloriette Cake Stand

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Since becoming a cake decorator I have developed a slight obsession with cake stands which has in recent times surpassed that of my love of a good handbag. Rather than hiding handbags, I now retort ‘Oh, that old cake stand!’ if my husband remarks on a new one. The majority of my stands have been purchased on the online treasure trove that is Borrowed Blue Boutique. Stocking a range of gorgeous items for food, drink and party styling as well as gift ideas, it is hard to visit the site without purchasing a new prop or decoration.

Through my purchases I have had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with the site’s owner, Katharine, who has always ensured that my orders arrive safely and punctually while keeping me up to date with any exciting new additions to the catalogue.  Unsurprisingly, I responded with great delight when Katharine recently approached me to collaborate with her in designing a cake to complement a new stand in her range, the ‘Gloriette’.

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This large elegant ceramic stand has a pretty fluted skirt and is finished in a creamy French grey hue. While it looked fabulous in the catalogue photo it was only when I unwrapped it that could I really appreciate its weighty beauty. I wanted to design something that would complement its earthy and natural feel and decided on a rough white iced cake and sugar flowers inspired by a rustic peach, white and green bouquet (Image courtesy of Style Me Pretty).

Inspiration

I selected an old English Tea Rose in peach, a white oversized Rose and my first sugar Succulent. I have a new love for the latter…expect to see more of these varied and unusual beauties!

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The Gloriette, like all of my stands, is of course available for hire and I am looking forward to creating more cakes suited to its pretty yet earthy style.  Don’t forget to pay a visit to Borrowed Blue Boutique for cake stands and more!

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Celebrating The First Anniversary of The Dining Room

Floral lemon bundt cake

This week celebrates the first anniversary of the opening of The Dining Room in Dun Laoghaire, an inter-faith outreach project which sees volunteers from all walks of life preparing hot cooked lunches for the homeless, elderly and those experiencing food poverty and loneliness. I have had the pleasure of contributing in my own small way to this project by regularly donating the results of my love of baking, recipe tests and photo shoots.

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The Dining Room is currently located in the quaint Parish Hall of Christ Church in Dun Laoghaire beside the People’s Park. Every time I drop in there is an amazing aroma of freshly cooking meals and the hum and chat of the volunteers working away. Along with check tablecloths and fresh flowers I can see how such a warm and welcoming environment must be appreciated by those who visit. Serving meals three days a week, often to 50 or more people it has become an integral part of the community. Such is the demand that plans are afoot for a new premises that would be open daily and for longer hours.

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To mark the success of the scheme first anniversary celebrations took place this week with local dignitaries visiting on Tuesday for the official celebration. The organisers  ordered a number of cakes to mark the occasion so I was delighted to make a lemon bundt, apple caramel cake and 100 vanilla and chocolate cupcakes. Pictured are volunteers Michela, Rosie, Marian and Louise taking charge of cupcakes!

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A big round of applause to all those involved from the organisers and volunteers to local businesses and individual donators! Best wishes to The Dining Room in 2015! For more information see The Dining Room.

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