Clifton mother of three Deb Sheather knows firsthand that there’s more to cake decorating than sweet icing and sugar flowers, and is making quite a name for herself.
Deb has been decorating cakes for almost three years, and recently tasted major success at the British Sugarcraft Guild International Cake Expo in Telford, England. Deb travelled to the UK with a group of 12 cake decorators from Brisbane and Toowoomba where she was awarded a silver medal in the Novice category with her entry, A Night at the Theatre, depicting a Victorian ladies riding hat from My Fair Lady.
She competed against cake decorators from across the globe, and has come home to great acclaim. Her homegrown, hobby-based business, My Goodness Cakes, has only been operating for six months, but Deb is already busy making wedding, novelty and celebration cakes for people throughout the region. Deb is a self-confessed perfectionist, so customers and friends know if she makes you a cake, it will be a work of art. “I sometimes do certain aspects of the icing again and again to make sure it is just right,” says Deb.
After holding onto a passion for arts, crafts and baking for her entire life, Deb decided to do something that also fitted in with her young family and farmer husband, Ross’s lifestyle. “I took up cake decorating classes with Mary Reid at Merivale Cakes and Crafts at Highfields, and have learnt so much from her,” says Deb. “I now also work for Mary a couple of days per week, decorating wedding cakes for brides from Brisbane and the Gold Coast,” she says. Deb believes there are many tricks to the trade, including getting a good base for your cake, using good quality tins for baking, and cooking at the right temperature. “However, we use a lot of dummy cakes, made of foam, for cake decorating competitions, as we know the cake will be level, and it can take up to 40 hours to decorate one,” says Deb. “It is very time consuming … a handmade sugar bride and groom can take between 10 and 15 hours to complete.”
Deb has also seen success at home. After entering the 2012 Toowoomba Royal show with her contemporary wedding cake, she won the grand champion cake. She also won the reserve champion rosette with her entry in the Novelty Cake class. “I have a lot of clients in the Toowoomba area, and most of my business is word of mouth. But my dream is to one day open a boutique bakery in the city, with fellow decorator Sherri Sutton,” says Deb. She tries to make her cakes affordable and chooses not to charge by the hour. “It would be out of reach for many people,” believes Deb. Her decadent celebration cakes are priced similarly to her wedding cakes. “They require the same amount of work, detail and precision,” says Deb.
Deb’s next goals are to see her business grow and to continue working with Mary Reid promoting and teaching the craft.
Words by Linda Mantova | Images by Linda Mantova