Claire Maynard is based in Bicester in the UK and despite baking being her hobby and not her business, her cakes are amazing. She won Topperoo’s “Best of the Month” for April as voted for by the Topperoo community.
Claire took some time off from baking to answer a few questions we had for her about her hobby.
Topperoo: How long have you been baking for people?
Claire Maynard: I have baked about one cake a year for my godson for the last ten years – but only in the last two years have things ramped up! I don’t sell my cakes, but I love finding any excuse to come up with a creation for my family and friends. I hope that with practice I will feel ready to sell my cakes one day!
T: As a cake decorator, what do you feel are the benefits of using edible images?
CM: I think they offer different things to each level of cake decorator. For the beginners, edible images offer a great way to personalise cakes which is simple and inexpensive. Edible images are also handy to have on standby to cover up any rough fondant or bulges when you are starting out! I am STILL rubbish at lettering on cakes, so I reply on them a lot for that!
For the more experienced cake designer they offer the chance to add depth to a design. You can bring in more precise themed fonts in a print or add textures or patterns that otherwise aren’t possible with sugar work. When they were first used, I think there was a tendency for cake designers to think of using edible images as a bit of a ‘cheat’, but now we just see it as a challenge to come up with new and more imaginative ways of using them in our designs – well I do anyway! I even used one as the roof of my fruit and veg stall cake.
The only problem I used to have with edible images was how sensitive they were to moisture, but since I found out about Shellac N Shine spray I have never looked back. Now I can use them to cover cake boards too with a spray of Dinky Doodle Shellac n Shine spray they become resistant to drips and scuffs too!
T: Do you have your own printer?
CM: I do have my own printer. I have an Epson and I love it! It took the stress out of waiting for the post and gave me a chance to play around with design and printing at home.
T: Do you have a preference to using rice paper or fondant sheets?
CM: I generally prefer fondant sheets for printing as it gives greater definition to the images. Rice paper does have its place though, and I tend to use that more as a tool – for example in making feathers, flowers or printing onto it to use in conjunction with Flexique to make edible fabrics.
T: You won “Best of the Month” with an amazing Gin and Tonic cake. What’s the story behind that cake?
CM: One of my friends husbands was turning 50 and he loves a particular brand of gin – she couldn’t find anything so specific in the shops so asked me to help. She was doing the set up at the venue, so I had to make it easy for her to assemble there, but I also wanted to make it a bit of a ‘show stopper’ as it was a big do they were having.
What started off as a simple gin bottle cake quickly ended up with this gravity defying pouring gin cake with oranges and rosemary and homemade edible ice. Due to the conical shape of the very distinctive Gin Mare bottle, I had to do a lot of quick learning in order to get the label to print on a curve! Lots of maths!
There is a tutorial for the wooden board, ice cubes and working with isomalt here: http://cakesbyclairebicester.weebly.com/tools.html
T: What’s the strangest or funniest edible image cake you’ve ever been asked to make?
CM: When I made a family tree cake for my granny’s 90th birthday, I printed out images of everyone in our family. I was pregnant at the time, so I had to include one of our ultrasound scan (it was either that, or that cat)!