I love being a cake designer and sharing my ideas and knowledge through my books I write is incredibly fulfilling. When I was launching my wedding cake book last year, I was approached by the Italian magazine Casa Chic to give an interview. I always try to say yes to interviews as I know many people are curious to find out a little bit more about me and my cake designs. Interviews these days are usually organised through email and answering the questions fully and comprehensively takes time and consideration. I guess most of you will not have seen the resulting three-page spread and, like me, don’t speak Italian so I thought I’d share some of the questions asked plus my replies with you:
Cake Designer Lindy Smith’s Interview
What is your background?
“I have always been creative and artistic, it’s in my genes, however when I left school I went to university and then trained as a Chartered Surveyor. Buildings fascinated me then and they still do today, whether they be classically grand and elaborate or modern sleek structures. I often use buildings that inspire me in my cake designs, for example in my new book ‘Simply Modern Wedding Cakes’ I was inspired to create the tile decoration on the ‘something blue’ cake by a fascinating visit to the Alcázar Palace in Seville.”
How-when-why did you start to have a passion for cake design?
“I was inspired by my own wedding cake back in 1991 to enrol on a sugarcraft course at my local college. I have tried many crafts over the years but I really fell in love with cake decorating at my very first lesson, which was how to make sugarpaste – no manufactured paste available then!!. For me, sugar is the perfect medium to work with, as I can use both my design skills and my love of colour to create decorated cakes and cookies.”
Where did you learn to bake cakes?
“I’ve baked since I was old enough to hold a wooden spoon. I was lucky that both my mother and grandmother were keen bakers so learning to bake cakes was all part of growing up. I love strong rich flavours and was always encouraged to experiment and to adapt and change recipes until I was happy. Something I still do today.”
What happened when you baked and decorated your first cake?
“I very distinctly remember the first cake I decorated, it was a traditional English Christmas fruitcake that I decorated as part of my sugarcraft course. My cake was decorated with Garrette frills, which very popular at the time, sugar Christmas roses, holly and ivy leaves and an extremely heavy sugar bell, that my husband still talks about today – I think he may have tried to eat it!”
What is your personal vision for cake design?
“For me, cake design is a real skill and one that is greatly undervalued. It is one thing to copy a cake or even to take parts of different cakes and put them together to create a cake not seen before but it is quite another thing to actually design a cake from scratch.
I consider myself a true cake designer as I love the challenge of creating new uniquely different designs. There are two distinct design stages for me, firstly researching and creating the design and secondly translating my ideas into cake and sugar.
Researching excites me as it always sparks off so many ideas. I find the way some designs evolve over time totally fascinating, like good wine, designs need time to mature and develop – it is often these designs that become my favourites. On the other hand, fully formed designs that just pop into my head as if from nowhere, which they do occasionally, still amaze me even after all these years!
For stage two, I have to work out the best or most suitable way of achieving what I have planned, sometimes the methodology is obvious but not always. Occasionally I have to get products manufactured so that I can create what I envisage, which can be very exciting. This is how The Lindy’s Cakes cutter and stencil ranges came into being and why they continue to grow. There six new cutter designs, both sugarcraft and cookie, just launched to accompany my new book.”
When how and why did you create Lindy’s Cakes?
“It was a very gradual process, started by friends asking me to make cakes for their families, the business then grew organically by word of mouth. It was only once I started entering competitions and winning gold medals that my fascinating sugarcraft journey started for real and before I knew it I had a full-time career! My first magazine article was published in 1997 and my first book in 2000. Our website was one of the very first cake decorating websites in the world and was created in 2000 as a marketing tool. By 2006 we had a fully fledged online shop again one of the first in our industry!”
Please tell us everything about your new book!
“I thoroughly enjoy writing books, it’s part of who I am. My new ‘Simply Modern Wedding Cake’ book is actually my fifteenth published book and is one I have loved creating. Initially, my publishers gave me the title and a short brief, they wanted cutting-edge modern designs that would appeal to today’s brides. What actually went on the pages was entirely up to me.
As with all my books, my first task was to thoroughly research my subject. For this book, I needed to discover the latest and up and coming bridal and cake trends from around the world and to find what wedding colours were predicted to be in vogue this year. My second task was to start ‘playing’ with concepts and ideas to see what would work and what would not, what excited me and what did not. I find it is always easy to design the first few cakes for a book, they just seem to fall onto the page, the hardest is always the last – each cake has to be different in design, use a variety of techniques, including new techniques, but still complement and sit well with the ones that have gone before.
Each cake in the book has a unique design story to tell, my inspiration came from many places some of which is referenced in the introduction to each cake. I have my favourites but they will not necessarily be yours!
Regards time-scales, it takes longer than you might think for my books to be published. My publishers, David and Charles, started the process back in August 2014, I received my contract in October 2014. The cakes and all the hand shots were photographed between March and June 2015. I wrote the text by the end of June and then editing and layouts took a further three months. The book was finally sent to print mid-October 2015 and was published in March 2016.
My goal, as a cake designer and author, is to help today’s brides create modern and stylish DIY wedding cakes they can be truly proud of!”
What are your sources of inspiration for the form, the colours and the decorations for a wedding cake?
“Form Inspiration: I love playing with shapes and coming up with unusual combinations. Having said this the cake shapes in my new wedding book have been largely influenced by tall thin cake forms seen in the US and Australia. I have, I believe, however, interpreted this current trend in my own way.
Colours Inspiration: I am intrinsically drawn to beautiful and unusual colour combinations in the world around me and often use them to inspire the colours I use in my work. I carry a camera with me wherever I go and I often buy small items such as birthday cards or scarves just because I love the colours and think they would work wonderfully well on a cake!
Decoration Inspiration: Anything! I basically take inspiration from what I see and what I am drawn to. For example, the decoration for one of the wedding cakes in my new book was actually a fiery red and black Latino dancer costume I saw on a television show.”
I hope my interview has made you a just that little bit more curious to find out more about my latest book ‘Simply Modern Wedding Cakes‘ I know you will love it…
Passionate Cake Designer