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Symposium Speaker: Grand Patissier Elizabeth Solaru collaborates with Fendi at Harrods
Melanie Anglesey | a year ago
 
‘I see cake in every object!’

Faithfully rendering the Peekaboo bag in cake is certainly is a testament to your exquisite pastry skills. Tell us about that journey?

When we were approached by Fendi to collaborate with them on their pop up cafe in Harrods I knew it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and it actually made me nervous! There were other cake makers who could have been approached but Fendi specifically wanted Elizabeth's Cake Emporium and went out of their way to make it happen.
I knew it was important for the handbag cakes to look chic, realistic and stylish.
After a few visits to view the beautifully crafted Fendi bags at their flagship Bond Street store, we produced some drawings and our fabricator produced a prototype. After a few trials, we produced the 12 mini Peekaboo handbag cakes, matching the vibrant Fendi colours as closely as possible.
The cafe is now a roaring success and has been called the coolest cafe in the world by Vogue. We've had to pop in regularly to repair the handles as customers keep trying to pick them up, thinking they are actual Peekaboo bags.

Who taught you to bake? What do you remember from those early days in the kitchen?

I am largely self-taught. I often joke that years ago, in many African homes, the oven was used for storage. When I was ten, a school friend brought in a cookery book and it had a recipe for Victoria sponge in it. I couldn't believe that simple ingredients could produce something so delicious as cake. From that moment I was hooked and started baking for friends and their mothers. After a while, my mother decreed my school work to be more of a priority and that was the end of my fledgling baking business.

Your luxury wedding cakes are favoured by royalty and for prestigious hotels such as The Dorchester, The Savoy and Blenheim Palace. Can you describe some of your most opulent creations?

I couldn't possibly pick a favourite but I have to admit the 20 tier grand baroque gold and white wedding cake we created for a private client in Vienna at the Palais Liechtenstein was pretty special.

What are the essential ingredients for a wedding cake?

For me, it starts with the client. It is of utmost importance that we completely understand their vision, their dreams and their goals for their wedding. We look at their ideas, sources of inspiration and the look and feel of the wedding before we start on the cake design. In terms of what goes on and inside our cakes, we source and use the very best ingredients. In fact, we are brand ambassador for the best sugar paste in the world, Massa Ticino, produced by Swiss based company Carma.
Your fabulous confections featured in the remake of My Best Friend’s Wedding. What was it like fashioning cakes for the film industry?

Making cakes for film or TV is different but very exciting. You need to think from the perspective of the actors, set designers, director and producer of the show. Issues like continuity, long hours, hot studio lights, angles and adverse weather conditions need to be taken into consideration.

What luxury ingredients are you working with right now?

At Elizabeth's Cake Emporium, the provenance of our ingredients is of the utmost importance. While it's important to me that I support local farms and producers, I also have to be conscious of balancing this with sourcing the best products. At the moment, we are collaborating with an amazing British company that is a household name and we will be sharing more of that later on.

Can you share some anecdotes about your favourite cakes to make and also some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome to get the mix just right?

One of our specialities is making destination wedding cakes and we have travelled by land, sea and air to get them to their rightful destination. One of my favourites was a 9 tier gold leaf and pink ombre cake with a sugar flower cascade we delivered to Castilla Termal Monasterio de Valbuena in Spain. It was during a 40C heat wave called El Diablo and we had to find ingenious ways of cooling down the refrigerated truck in order to protect the cake. Thankfully everything arrived relatively unscathed which was a major victory.

Where do you go to draw inspiration? Is there a particular setting that conjures up your most brilliant ideas?
Inspiration comes from many sources. We draw inspiration from our clients, from colour, fashion, song lyrics, nature, art, museums, textures etc. Anything and everything can become inspirational. In fact, I joke that I see cake in every object!

Meghan and Harry’s wedding cake toppled the tower tradition. Where do you see cake trends heading next year?

I did love Meghan and Harry's deconstructed wedding cake as it was refreshingly different. The cool thing about luxury wedding cakes nowadays is the fact that the rule book has been torn up and the sheer diversity of cake design ranges from sleek and streamlined cakes to the most ornate and opulent, with everything in between. Cake trends for next year will be all about versatility and personalisation and a luxury cake maker has to be able to showcase the necessary skills to meet this demand.
What is the secret for making sumptuous cakes taste as good as they look?

Ingredients, ingredients, ingredients, technique and I can't emphasise this enough, knowing your oven. You should also be willing to experiment and adapt to changing demands and tastes. For instance, our triple chocolate cake has evolved over the years and we now have fruity versions as well as alcoholic versions. Our latest obsession is our Peaches and Cream flavour which many of our clients end up falling in love with.

Can you give us just a little taste of what to expect at the Symposium?

I have a great deal of love and respect for James Lord and what he is doing. Last year's inaugural symposium was different and refreshing and this year's is set to raise the bar. I am looking forward to sharing some of my experience with the attendees with the hope that they find it useful.

See Elizabeth Solaru at the Bridelux Symposium 30, 31st October, 1st November at The Savoy, London & The Langham, London.
For more information email symposium@bridelux.co.uk
Thank you so much for including me in Bridelux. It was a huge success and I enjoyed every bit of it. You should be very proud. Johnny Roxburgh
Very well done again to the whole Bridelux team for the organisation of the Atelier show. It has been an immense pleasure to work with you. Ladurée
The ultimate wedding emporium. Mayfair Life
What an absolutely fantastic event and it has been a very successful initiative for our brand, thank you again for letting us be part of it. Giuseppe Zanotti Design
You have been awesome to work with and handled the whole event really well. Thank you very much for all your help, the show was great and we loved our space. We hope to see you again in the future. MonAnnie Cakes
The Bridelux Gallery