Jenna Johnson Rayner is the creative mastermind behind Pat-a-Cakes Jersey. A self taught maker of edible art, she tells us all about the work that goes in behind the scenes when making one of her incredible masterpieces.
Tell us a bit about your business?
It’s all about celebrating the special events in people’s lives with the most amazing cakes. I make bespoke cakes for weddings, christenings and birthdays, using as many fresh local ingredients as I can, raspberry jam made using produce grown in my mum’s garden, local eggs and of course Jersey’s amazing dairy produce.
How did you learn the skill of cake decoration?
I’m mainly self taught. I use lots of books, magazines and the internet but primarily I’ve learnt most through trial and error. You learn very quickly what works for you and what doesn’t. I was originally lucky enough to do a days class in the UK with a lady called Rachel who gave me the confidence to believe I could create beautiful sugar craft flowers, and since then I’ve practiced lots and things have gone from there. However there is always more to learn and new techniques to try out and I hope to be able to go and do some more classes with other cake makers in the near future.
Are you artistic in any other way?
I’m not at all artistic on paper. I was awful at drawing and painting in school – but even then I loved to cook. Art can come in so many different guises and for me edible art just works.
What’s the most intricate decoration you do?
Sugar craft flowers. Trying to capture the beauty of a flower in an edible form is time consuming, sometimes infuriating and for me a real labour of love. Each stage of the flower takes time and it’s not something that can be rushed, as it all tends to go wrong if you do. Some flowers can have fifty petals of different sizes and each needs work to help the whole flower come to life.
On average how long does it take to produce each cake?
It’s a question I get asked a lot, and to be honest the length of time it takes to create a cake varies greatly. If you include the time taken to research, design and sketch the cake, then the baking, the washing up, the icing, any figure modelling or sugar craft flower work and then finally the decoration, then it can take almost thirty hours in total. Some cakes take less time than that – but others have been known to take even longer!
What’s your favourite type of decoration to produce, and why?
I love making edible sugar flowers and making sugar craft models. I know they test my skills and my patience but both are incredibly satisfying when they come together, however when my children look at one of my figures and point out a tiny flaw then I realise I still have plenty more work to do.
The sequins that we can see on your cakes, are these made by you?
I make 99% of the decorations I use and the sequins are part of that. They are made using gelatine, water and edible shimmer dust. This is allowed to dry as a sheet and then each sequin is individually cut out using a sterile hole punch. Because of the way in which it dries each side has a slightly different shimmer and colour so that when they are applied to the cake the light can catch on them and make them sparkle.