Tuesday, 19 June 2007

A trip to Sydney, a course, and broken cakes.....

After months of planning and anticipation we finally set off for Sydney for our Planet Cake course. We were going to step into the hallowed ground of one of the best commercial celebration cake suppliers in Australia.
Planet Cake is in Sydney, about 800kms(500miles) from our home in Melbourne. Three of us set off on our trip, Fran, Min and I.
The course was a two day Mad Hatter course. Planet Cake (in my opinion) makes the best Mad Hatters in the world. Yeah, big claim, I suppose it’s all up to personal taste. I was never very thrilled with the original Mad Hatters they had in their website. They were rounded but the ones they’ve been doing lately have been simply amazing, sharp edges that seem impossible to achieve in cake, let alone fondant. The secret is their newly acquired Mad Hatter queen.
Anyway, so Fran and I booked all our stuff together, our other friend initially had other plans of going visiting some other friends, so she booked her stuff on her own.
We left Saturday morning on an 9.00am flight, arrived in Sydney at around 10.30am. We were expecting to get a nice brekkie on the flight, well at least I was. All we got were these dry biscuits and a cuppa tea. YIKES!!!
We arrive at our hotel, and manage to get connecting rooms, the lovely concierge upgraded our room so that we would be able to get connecting rooms. We had a view of the Opera House from our window.
Our class was to start at 1.00pm, and it was still early, so we went to the exec club to have some nibbles (Membership to the executive club was part of the room fees).
My husband was saying before we left that the course was just an excuse to get away with the girls. To tell the truth it was a little for me, as I NEVER expected to learn soooo much on a single weekend.
After our snacks we got a taxi to Planet Cake. Their shop front is small, but very lovely and neat. The front room, which I guess is where they must see their customers, has a table with chairs all around it, and it has lots of display cakes. Every single one simply amazing.
At the back the place is huge, we get taken to the class room, which is where they make their cakes. WOW, there was a 10 tier cake there which was supposed to be a replica of Jessica Simpson’s wedding cake. My goodness, I have NEVER in my life seen a cake that big in person. It took them quite a bit of working out to get it out and into the delivery van. It was pouring down with rain at the time. The thing had piping all over it, and 300 gumpaste roses, along with all these other filler bits and pieces!!! WOW, sooo much work.
A while later we meet the owner, Paris Cutler, what an absolutely lovely lady, and then we met the master Anna-Maria Roche, an Austrian pastry chef, who is the lady responsible for the most fantastic Mad Hatters I've ever seen.
So she shows us the sample cake she made. I'm thinking NO WAY am I going to be able to pull that off in two days!!!
Our tables were all set up with equipment, aprons and cake. We got started straight away. We finished at around 5.00pm, we cut up the cake, crumb coated it and left it ready for decorating the next day.
I left in absolute awe of the Anna-Maria’s talent. We went back to our hotel, had showers, and got ready for our dinner at Forty-One.
We were starving, and our booking wasn’t until 8.30pm, so we went back to the exec club for Hours’Dourves. That was a very silly thing to do!!!
We arrived at Forty-One a few hours later, wow it was gorgeous!!! It was on the 42nd Floor of the Chiffley Tower. Just outside the lift on the 42nd floor, there is a gorgeous Japanese garden. The restaurant had a wonderfu atmosphere, the service was fantastic, and the view was out of this world.
While waiting for our meals I was still dreaming of my cake back at Plane Cake!!! Hahahaha, I was a woman obsessed!!
We chose to have a tasting menu which had 6 courses. We thought that a tasting menu would be that, tasting, small serves. OMG, by the time we had gotten to the second course we were completely stuffed!!!! By the time I got back to the hotel at around midnight, I thought I may explode!! The food was delicious, but definetly too much and too rich!!
I spent most of the night tossing and turning in a strange bed (which although was very comfortable) was still not my own.
First thing the next morning we were off to have buffet brekkie at the exec club, it was delicious, but I am still wondering how it was I could fit in breakfast after that huge dinner. Ok so i’m a PIG.
We packed our stuff, checked out, and went back to Planet Cake to finish off our cakes. Anna-Maria showed us how to apply the stripes and how to assemble the cake. We were going well, until it got to the part of making a bow. I always make bows with gumpaste, and although i'm no expert at it, I can do it usually after one go. I made my bow about 7 times, and could not get the darn thing to work. In the end Anna-Maria finished off my bow.
Fran, made her cake with colors selected by D'arcy, the cake was to go to her art teacher that was retiring from school this week.

After lots of photos, we left Planet Cake, all happy in having learnt so much, for me it was so much more than I ever expected. Also, left in awe of how absolutely lovely every single person that worked there was. How giving and willing to share information they all were.
Anna-Maria is now my new cake idol, STEP OVER Mr. Ben-Israel, hehehehehe.
The lovely folks at Planet Cake did their best to package our cakes, which were on 18 inch boards and weighed a ton, for air travel. The air travel would prove NOT to be the problem.
We arrive at the airport, all feeling exhausted, after too much food, lots of work, and very little sleep. There is a girl on the queue for check ins, that is an utter COW, she treated us like trash. We got to the counter, and the guy was lovely, he managed to get us on to a different flight, a bigger airplane, where we'd be able to have a free seat each to carry our cakes. If the flight was not over booked, those seats were ours, and if they were booked the plane still had plenty of on board storage to fit our cakes.
We proceed to security, we have to leave our trolleys behind, and put our cakes on the conveyor belt so that they can go through an x-ray machine. ARGH!!!!Red alert, red alert, I put my cake down, after Fran's, Min was behind me, as soon as I put my cake down, some old bag screams at me to move my trolley out of the way, so I have to leave my hand bag, backpack with all my possessions and cake going through the x-ray machine, and I have to go and put away the trolley. COW!!I walk through the door, and I beep, I am made to take off my shoes, and put them in the x-ray machine!!! I walk through again and all is fine. I get to the other side and find Fran beside herself, they have broken her cake, the top tier has completely fallen off. I was fuming. I turn around, and my box is still in one piece, but I look at the conveyor belt and Min's cake is coming through UPSIDE DOWN. The security people couldn't give a rat's what happened to our cakes, they didn't apologise, and looked at us like it was OUR FAULT, that they were absolute morons and killed two cakes. Min says to me, is my cake the right side up, I look inside the box and see the bottom of her board. I turn it over, and somehow the cake is still in one piece, banged up and smooshed but the tiers are still together. Fran's is not. Fran has an argument with the security guard, who goes ballistic, Fran walks away. I am just amazed that these people can be so careless, complete and utter SCUMBAGS. I explain to the security guard that was going crazy, that from the moment we stepped into the airport we were treated like trash. No one cared.
Franny's cake ended up in the bin, I tried my best, while she was talking to her husband, to repair it, I managed to put it back together, but like she later explained, repairing it at home would be very difficult, matching the colors in order to patch it up would be almost impossible. The cake was in the trash!!! ARGH!!!!
From that moment on, the whole trip home was a pit of darkness. My heart was palpitating because I was just so full of pent up rage, I just couldn't get over it.
We had such a fantastic, out of this world weekend, just for a couple of absolute, no-life morons to ruin our whole weekend in a few seconds.
My cake managed to get here in our piece, but it's no joy to have it, when both my friend's cakes, which they put so much work and love into, were completely destroyed.
After this rant, and maybe a few letters to Qantas and the Sydney airport, I am going to move on from this, and try to remember only the wonderful time we had learning from a true master, the special time we had in Sydney, before the untimely end of two very beautiful cakes.
In the group shot, Fran's cake is the second from the left, the blue, green, yellow and white one with the white polka dot bow. Mine is the brown one, Min’s is the black and white one on the left.
Luckily as well, the very clever Franny, took her super dooper camera and took pics of all our cakes before leaving Planet Cake. At least we all have wonderful pictures.