Brief history of your business and how you got to where you are today? I began working at The Raspberry Butterfly in 2012 as a teacher. I worked closely with the owner to design a broad range of classes for our students. We built the school up to be very successful, and the place to go for a comprehensive range of classes. Our student base grew from local to interstate, and we soon developed a trusted and good working relationship with our students. In 2015 I purchased the business, and have worked hard to grow the school ever since. At the same time, I also decided it was time Australia had their own Cake Cruise. So I started up Cake Me Away Cruises, catering to the Australian and New Zealand cake community. Together with two friends, Sarah Longton and Blair Olsen we held Australia's first ever cake cruise in May this year. We teamed up with Satin Ice as our major sponsor, and worked hard to make it the huge success that it was. Next year we are offering two more cake cruises, cruising to The Great Barrier Reef and New Zealand.
How were you first introduced to Satin Ice? I first discovered Satin Ice at The Raspberry Butterfly when I began working there. I realized if I was selling the product that I needed to know how it performed. From opening that first tub of fondant, I have never looked back. It was silky smooth to use, tasted great, and came in a great range of colors. It's my first choice when using fondant and gum paste!
Is there one project that stands out? I am particularly proud of starting up Australia's first Cake Cruise. My team and I have been able to offer our guests premium products like Satin Ice to use, a professional and fun environment for learning, as well as international and nationally respected teachers for our classes onboard the ship. Our guests have made life long friendships with each other, which I am very proud of.
(Photo Collage of the inaugural Cake Cruise - May 2016 along with fellow Satin Ice Artist of Excellence Odelia Judes and artist Kaysie Lackey)
What is your signature style & inspiration? I would say my signature style is understated elegance - simple, clean and complete.
What is your favorite cake? My favorites are the ones I have complete freedom on. And it's hard to narrow down, as I have fun with them all, but I would say this one with baby pink roses, and long elegant pleats and lace work. I love making flowers, and I had fun assembling the posy on top.
Most challenging cake to date? My most challenging cake to date would be a large Australia shaped cake I made in 2003 for Australia Day Celebrations in Newcastle. Commissioned to make the cake by Newcastle City Council, the brief was to make it as large as I could, with every state being a different flavor, and each state to have the State flower on it. All the planning and work leading up to assembly went well. I was lucky enough to have my aunt make all the flowers and send them to me via post. I had baked large sheets of cake; bought the largest map I could, and made templates of each state. Just as I was about to assemble it, I received a phone call that changed my life. My brother had been killed. I had 3 days to get the cake done, while dealing with my grief. As hard as it was, I forced myself to focus on the cake, and it was finished in time. It measured 1.4 meters wide, and 2 meters long. It was incredibly heavy, and took 5 men to carry it!
What advice or tips can you offer to Satin Ice newcomers? Satin Ice products are easy to use and ideal for newcomers. I always add a tiny bit of shortening to my hands before kneading the icing, and not to use too much cornstarch or sugar. If humidity or wet weather is an issue, I found the best way to work with fondant is to have the room as cool and dry as possible - use a fan or air conditioner and work quickly.
If you weren't decorating cakes, what would you be doing? I always wanted to be a sign writer or nurse. They are two totally different fields - one suits my creative side, and the other my love of helping people.
What is a 'regular' cake decorating day like for you? I begin my day in the bakery at 4 am, decorating shop cakes and orders. Then I go to my shop/school at 9 ready to teach. Classes will finish between 2-3, than I clean up and re-set the classroom for the next day. After that I make all buttercream and ganache for upcoming classes, unpack and stack shelves with new stock, place orders for more shop products and class cakes. I usually head home around 6 to have dinner with my family and eventually fall into bed by 10-11 - and ready to do it all again the next day.
What is your creative process for making cakes? I take inspiration from various sources, mostly real life and start with one idea. I'll research other options that work with that first idea, and then put it all into a drawing. The cake or flower display develops from there.
What is your favorite part about making/designing cakes? My favorite part of cake decorating is making flowers. I find it therapeutic and relaxing. I love to experiment with shape and color to achieve a realistic look, and assembling the flower spray at the end is one of my favorite parts.
Favorite cake flavor? I make a nice gluten free cherry rip mud cake - it's beautiful! The use of coconut milk in the recipe is key to its longevity and dense texture.
What is inspiring you this very moment? At the moment I find texture with layers of color on the icing inspiring. I love the many types of timber texture around at the moment. Bold color is inspiring to me also.
Who would you love to learn from in the industry? I would love to learn flowers from Ron Ben-Israel, figure modeling from friend and fellow Artist of Excellence Odelia Judes and piping from Ceri Daniel David Griffiths.
What are the big trends you are seeing right now in cakes? Some of the trends include Geode crystal techniques; drip affects, naked or semi naked, bust cakes are also popular. People modeling are probably top of the list, with some incredibly talented cake artists setting the standards.
What do you aspire to accomplish with your cakes? I aspire to try new techniques and designs each time I do a cake. I love the challenge of combining different textures, colors and shapes to create a totally different look that is new to me.
If you could create a cake for anyone in history (past or present): Who would it be and why? Oh that's a tough one, but maybe Prince or Elvis Presley. I love music, and could have fun with that type of theme.
Finally what is the next big thing for you? I'm working on a few new exciting projects that are in the pipeline, but hosting the next two cake cruises - which is huge! Creating more fun and learning for Aussie cakers is my priority at the moment.
Name: Christine Kerr
Location: Newcastle, Australia
Education/Training: After I graduated from high school, I was walking past the local bakery when I was offered a job to train as a cake decorator. So began the start of a 32-year career working as a cake decorator in bakeries, patisseries and function centers, learning everything from baking, pastry and chocolate to buttercream and fondant from industry professionals.
Cake philosophy: Never give up! And be kind to others :)