The Travelling Garden

“Who needs a wheelbarrow when you have a suitcase”

An inside into the creative process of a cake designer


The brief for this cake was to design a cake  for a gardener who has travelled from England , lived in Melbourne and now Jakarta.  It was ordered by his girlfriend Claire; she sent me some photos of cakes she saw on the internet. They were mostly traditional round shaped cake with shrubs, garden designs.  They were quite pretty but she didn’t want anything too girly. I knew I could take the design to another level.

In order to make the cake really personal I  normally try to get as much information as possible about the person . It really makes a difference to the end design if I can incorporate some of their personality into it. Afterall if you are ordering a novelty cake it is probably a once off so you might as well have something really special.

At first I thought of making a cake in the shape of a wheelbarrow with shrubs and flowers but then I had a Eureka moment. Seeing as he has been travelling for the last couple of years I thought it would be a clever idea to have an open suitcase with shrubs and plants. The customer loved this idea but a little problem for me; I had no idea how I was going to make an open suitcase.

 My aim was  to make it all completely edible but after researching  I realised that a lot of cake makers use foam board to support elaborate designs.  I also saw a tutorial on by Lauren Kitchens  on how to make a suitcase using modelling chocolate. Unfortunately with this heat and humidity and lack of ingredients in Jakarta modelling chocolate was not an option for me. I used sugarpaste, and flower paste. Originally the back of the suitcase was to be the only foam board part. However the sides didn’t dry on time ( again due to the heat and humidity) and didn’t give enough support. This was very stressful as the sides kept coming apart  and I only had a few hours to complete the cake. Luckily I had some foam board left and I supported the sides with it.

I used edible travel labels of different places that James had travelled to around the side of the suitcase.  The soil was made from crushed oreo biscuits which worked really well and tasted yummy with the carrot cake and orange zest buttercream.

I was chuffed with the end result even though I finished an hour before I had guests arriving!I really liked this design  although challenging to get the structure and shape right I really enjoyed the process from original idea to seeing the end result.