So I thought cakes were delicious, but also flat and mostly four-cornered, at the most with an imprint of someone/something on it, all done up with lush creamy cream! That’s what I had learnt from the books of Enid Blyton! Little did I know how little I knew, until I met Anna!
Anna’s cakes are mostly two feet tall, and they’re neither quite flat nor round. She builds cakes; she bakes and then sculpts them into various shapes.
Sculpt a cake? Really? I asked, after I had my wondrous blinks under control after going through some of the pictures of her cakes.
“Some people sculpt with clay, some with wood; I think this is my medium!” She chose her words interestingly and with precision.
She also recently won an award from 'Pretty Witty Cakes', a popular online decorating classes that's based in UK, and her cake also got to be on the cover page of
Anna Mathew Vadayatt, somewhere on the bright side of thirties, is a post graduate in Fine Arts. She used to actively paint and do embossed paintings for a long time. After a short respite from it all, when she tried getting back, she found that her creativity had surged way ahead, and that she wanted to explore newer realms, but didn’t exactly know where to begin until the day she took up a challenge and baked a cake for a friend’s party. It was for a birthday party and her elaborate cake, more like a cutesy home—complete with fences and farm animals—just set a whole new standard for theme cakes altogether. And that was how 'Cake Canvas' took shape, slowly, but very surely!
For a while, I found it difficult to wrap my head around the fact that what I saw was cake and not icing sugar. That to realize that it was the spongy, chocolaty divinity that was chiselled and given a whole new identity, was a defining moment! They didn’t look like edible cakes; they gave those little artifacts in your home an inferiority complex with their perfect cuts and smooth curves. The myriad colours added to the aforementioned 'concern' to a large extent!
So, what kind of cakes do you bake? I reverted to the topic of cakes, counting the varied number of cake-related questions I had, for her and feeling happy about it.
“I’m not a chef, I’m an artist”, she beamed, bowling me out clean, and striking off my entire list of recipe-related queries.
“Oh..! That’s new!” I blurted.
Now this is what you call revolutionizing a product. Anna is literally creating something that most bakers cannot; not because they aren’t good chefs, but because they aren’t artists. Her cakes aren’t the ones you’d go looking out for if you’re after variety in flavor. Hers are the show-stoppers; the eye catching, literal eye candies at every party!
“There is one great recipe I follow”, she quipped, “It’s chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache coating; after baking about two or three cakes, I put one on top of the other and then start with my sculpting!”
And the process involves a whole lot of crafting, the famous ‘fondant’ making, and occasional gum paste flower-making. For those who're new to the lingo, I asked—what exactly is fondant?
She explained that fondant is the smooth sugary creamy paste with which you coat the cake, sculpt, and paint upon using edible paint. While fondant is smooth, it cannot be made into thin strips, and that’s where gum paste comes into the picture.
Remember the old birthday parties, where a thick-skinned icing sheet covered the cake, and little flowers, deceptively soft-looking, were placed on top? Those are made of gum paste; not as soft, and hence could be used for detailing. This is especially useful for making those flowers on the cake that kids fight for.
I had to get a little sly here—Say, how would you make the fondant? She laughed, “I cannot share the recipe! I mean, it isn't mine. I learnt it from my friend, Rumana of 'Cake Bake', and she is the owner of the recipe, and I cannot disclose it!”
A little disheartened, I continued with the chat, and even though I was listening, my eyes wandered over the picture albums again and again. The unbelievable designs, out-of-the box ideas, and flawless execution of it all, was, to the say the very least, was simply out of the world. So how long does it take for you to make one of these?
“I keep a week aside for a cake. I don’t take up more than one order a week. Since I don’t repeat my cakes, it’s a whole new process coming up with an idea for a theme and it takes time. And I work with my hands, there aren't any molds.
What elaborate ways of cake-making! And what came to mind was the famous mishap that paved the way for the ‘invention’ of the molten lava cake. Did you ever stumble upon any of your own ‘accidental discoveries’ or ever made a messy cake?
For this, Austin Bobby Vadayatt, Anna's husband, had a ready answer. “She outdoes herself every time. Each time we think this is her best cake, the next time, she makes us swallow our words and retract our statements! She never really made something that’s anything short of wonderful!”
For all I could think of, this was an exciting merge—baking and arts! And creating a mini blitzkrieg of sorts in the market is no laughing matter. Point to be noted is that this was accomplished effortlessly, for Anna has found her a niche audience and a loyal market. Whoever said art only makes a dent in your pocket, can swallow their words, and retrieve to their caves!