Odiham Cake Company
Charlotte Pearson talks to an Odiham baker whose creations look a million dollars.
Looking at all the cakes created by Odiham Cake Company it seems almost a shame to eat any of them, be it Olaf from Frozen or the sorting hat from Harry Potter.
“I see my cakes as edible art,” explains master baker and sugarcraft expert Gareth Jones. “Each one is made to be eaten, and I feel almost offended if it isn’t.
“I can understand why people don’t always want to but it is a cake.”
However, there is one exception to the rule.
“Aslan was probably the most upsetting cake to cut into,” he reveals. “He was huge and you just looked into those eyes, so in the end we had to stab him in the back.”
Described as one of his favourite cakes, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe character was made using Rice Krispie treats for the head and legs with a vanilla sponge and German buttercream for the body.
“Most of the cakes I make I use the treats and sponge, everything on it can be eaten,” he says.
Another favourite for the baker was the Millennium Falcon from the Star Wars films.
“I love my boys’ toys and this one was great,” smiles Gareth. “With all the cakes I know exactly how I want them to look, so with this I knew I wanted it to have lights and fly so had to figure out how to do it.
“I know it frustrates my wife as I’m not good at drawing so everything is in my head.”
And if it isn’t perfect it won’t leave the kitchen.
“I want it right for the client,” he admits. “I wouldn’t necessarily say I am a perfectionist but I want it to look right.
“For example on a tiered cake if the bottom one isn’t straight by the time you get up to the fourth or sixth tier it will show, so we use a spirit level.
“I have been known to start a cake all over again if I’m not 100 per cent happy, and added another 24-48 hours to my workload.”
Gareth’s career started when he was 16 years old working as a pastry chef.
“I needed a job so I could get money to spend on going out and travelling,” he recalls.
“My friend worked at a hotel and said that there was a job in the kitchen, so I went for it, and loved it.”
In 2012 Gareth was made redundant, something he says gave him the push to go it alone.
“It was a tough decision,” he says. “I had always had these ideas and been creative and thought about it, but I was on a good salary.
“If it hadn’t been for the support of my wife, children and family I wouldn’t be doing what I am now.”
Providing cakes for all kinds of occasions from birthdays to anniversary and launches, no request is too big or over the top.
“I love it when people come to me with ideas and ask ‘can this be done?’,” enthuses Gareth.
“As soon as I see something I start thinking how it can be done, and if someone tells me it can’t I will make sure it can.
“I had a recent request to do a cake featuring a skeleton watch by a German watchmaker.
“I got in touch with him and he said it couldn’t be done, which just spurred me on. He was so shocked when he knew I had finished it.”
Looking back over what he has created he admits that the phrase ‘practice makes perfect’ rings true.
“The cakes have got bigger and better,” adds Gareth. “I look back at the cakes I did when I started and I cringe.
“At the time I loved them but tastes change and I have grown more confident.”
For those that watched BBC’s The Millionaire’s Gift Guide earlier this year, Gareth may be a familiar face.
“The Aynhoe cake (left) had to be split into three so we could move it,” he says. “It was huge. We do a lot of cakes for the company Dazzle and Fizz Parties, and we did this cake and it just grew and grew from there.”
Something which is very true of his career as what started as a way for him to earn some money has grown to something much more.
For more information and to view Gareth’s other cake creations, visit odihamcakecompany.co.uk
Odiham Cake Company has made it as a South East regional finalist at the Red Ribbon Awards 2016.
It is competing to win ‘best British award’ against two other companies.
On the website it said: “These exceptional family-owned businesses were shortlisted by the panel to represent the very finest in British commerce and entrepreneurship.
“They encapsulate all of the reasons family-owned businesses have become the engine room of the UK economy.”
The ceremony will take place at Wembley Stadium on July 15.
Pictures: Tina Bolton Photography
April 28, 2016 Food and Drink