Outside interest: Cake baking and decorating

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 28 Sep 2016

Alicia DawsonWYG town planner Alicia Dawson gets so much pleasure from baking and decorating cakes, she has put herself forward for the WYG Bake Off to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

How did you get into cake baking and decorating?

I’ve always enjoyed baking but I became an avid baker during my student years, inspired by the Great British Bake Off. I watched YouTube videos to teach myself decorating techniques and began experimenting with flavours and recipes.

What does it involve?

Baking sounds quite simple, but following a recipe doesn’t necessarily mean you end up with something that looks like the picture in the recipe book. As any GBBO fan will know, you can be caught out by all sorts of problems such as soggy bottoms and not-so-perfect buns. Baking is a science - when things go wrong it’s frustrating but, equally, it’s fascinating to work out exactly why you’ve ended up with a cake that looks like a pancake. All of my bakes must look great – I have to add mounds of frosting. Handmade fondant decorations can be fiddly and take some time but really add the finishing touch.

Why do you do it?

My sweet tooth and I like baking for friends, family and colleagues. I also really enjoy coming up with different decorating ideas and trying new techniques and recipes.

What’s the toughest thing about it?

Pressure – I recently made a friend’s wedding cake and the pressure was intense. The bride was easy-going but I still worried about ruining the day. The wedding cake is one of the most important parts of the day; I was glad to have contributed to my friend’s wedding, though I cried a little inside when they cut the cake.

What’s the most rewarding thing about it?

Baking something that looks and tastes great is always rewarding. I enjoy sharing my bakes with friends, family, colleagues and Instragram (yes, I’m guilty of food photos). And I'm looking forward to taking part in our very own WYG Bake Off to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Are there any similarities between your day job and baking cakes?

Planners love to rise to the occasion and, of course, baking and planning are about achieving elegant structures with perseverance, precision and flair.

Do you have any unusual interests or hobbies that you would like to tell us about? If so, pleaseemailplanning@haymarket.com