At Avala Catering we believe strongly in building good working relationships with other local suppliers. And there’s nothing we like more than being able to personally – and confidently – recommend another supplier who will be able to contribute to creating a perfect event for our clients.
With that in mind, we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Allen of Cakey Bakey Creations and tempt you with some deliciously appetising images of the cakes she creates. Not only do they look amazing, they taste divine – we felt it was only right to carry out a taste test! In between mouthfuls of cake, we made sure to ask Ashley a few questions about the business.
Mine is a relatively new business. I’ve been making cakes from home since 2014 and because demand has grown it made sense to give myself more space in which to work, so I’ve recently moved into a studio/kitchen in Bordon.
It happened almost by accident, really. I’ve been in the catering industry for over 30 years, having trained as a chef, and had never particularly bothered about making cakes. But when my brother’s 50th birthday came along, I decided to make him a birthday cake – and one that would be totally unique. Given his love of fast food, I created a cake that looked like a massive burger and fries, complete with biscuit tomatoes and lettuce, cheese and sauce made from icing. I loved the whole experience of designing and making it and the look on my brother’s face when he saw the cake was priceless – I was hooked!
I started making cakes for family and friends. But I could see that there was potential for this to become more than a hobby, and setting up a Facebook page, where I could share photographs of my creations, allowed me to reach a wider audience and the ball just started rolling.
Most of my clients have some kind of an idea of what they want. I like it that way, it gives me something to work with and I’ll then tweak and develop that idea to create a fully-formed concept. If a client isn’t sure of what they want, we’ll have a good chat so that I can understand their likes and dislikes from the outset.
Naturally, the Internet is perfect for research. Asked to make a superhero cake, for instance, I was able to find plenty of images and designs that I could look at for inspiration and then create a bespoke cake for my client. I also keep a close eye on what’s happening in the cake world – it’s a constant evolution of skills and techniques. There are so many cake makers I admire and it’s a very ‘sharing’ industry – which is what cake is all about, of course – where people are happy to share ideas.
Not yet! But there have been a few that have presented a challenge. Toughest to date is probably a Highland cow. The hardest bit was figuring out how such big horns would stay up. I eventually came up with a cunning plan to make them from rice crispy treats – a combination of melted marshmallows, butter and crisped rice cereal – that would be lightweight and easy to shape. The cow’s head itself was chocolate fudge cake with chocolate ganache, covered in fondant icing and airbrushed to give the cow its characteristic long-haired look.
We start talking! I have a lovely relaxed area in my new studio, where we can meet, but if distance is an issue then we’ll speak over the phone. The important thing is to talk through their requirements so that I can then work on a sketch or 3D design of the cake. At this stage, I also provide a no-obligation quote that details everything about the cake, from flavours to special requirements such as allergies, plus delivery/collection details. Once a client has accepted my quote and pays their deposit, they can sit back and relax while I get on with working to the deadline.
I get huge enjoyment watching a client see their cake for the first time. The smiles, the laughter, the surprise, I love it! And while every cake is made to be cut up and eaten at a special occasion, it’s a really lovely feeling that my creation will be a focal point of an event, will get everyone talking and – hopefully – provide a lasting memory of a special celebration.