A Women’s Day cook book taught cake maker extraordinaire Eileen Scriven the tricks of a trade that has won her national awards.
The 69-year-old from Milton again took home first place in the masters wedding cake and sugar art competitions at the Sydney Royal Easter Show this year.
For the sugar art competition, Mrs Scriven made a bridal bouquet of edible passion fruit sugar flowers. The wedding cake she made was two-tier and complete with pink flowers.
Adding to her cupboard full of ribbons from competitions across Australia, Mrs Scriven said show cakes were her favourite to create.
“I like the challenge,” she said.
“The cakes are beautiful and I always try to do things differently.”
Although it takes up to 220 hours to complete some of the artworks, Mrs Scriven said it was worth the end result.
“It is very fiddly work,” she said.
“I set myself apart from the rest by using a hypodermic needle to pipe out of a triple zero tube, which is very fine and not a lot of people can do it.
“I win because everything floats and doesn’t rest on anything. It is a lot harder to do but my piping skills win every time.
"The wedding cake I won with this year took me about 200 hours. The passion fruit flowers took me about 100 hours.”
All of the cakes are made in her home oven, which can fit eight cakes at one time.
She said following the competition’s rules was the key to success.
“For the Sydney Show, you really have to read the rules correctly,” she said.
“You have to have the right size cake, the right board and everything. You can do all the beautiful work but be disqualified because you’ve done one thing wrong.”
It was 35 years ago that Mrs Scriven began baking, starting with birthday cakes for her four daughters.
“My mum did a bit of cake decorating and then I got the Women’s Day cake cookbook out and started doing to kids’ cakes,” she said.
“Then, for my husbands 50th Birthday, I decided to make something nice for the cake. I piped lace pieces on grease-proof paper and put them the cake.
“I used another Women’s Day cookbook which was on decorating. You can’t get it anymore but the hints in that were fantastic.”
Mrs Scriven said she had the two cookbooks saved to pass onto her grandchildren. She said she would not die without sharing her cake decorating skills with others.
“I will be 70 next year so I may start to retire and so many people have called me asking if I can teach them my skills,” she said.
“I will share my skills with others and run some classes then.”
If she was cooking a cake for herself, Mrs Scriven said it would be “a chocolate and white chocolate swirl mud cake with a buttercream icing or a fondant”.