Like so many people, once upon a time I was a Twitter cynic who was convinced by my new foodie friends to test the waters and see how it might change my mind. Within a short space of time I was delighted by how easily I could chat to others about my cake design passions whilst going through the long process of setting up my own business.
This was at about the time when photographer Helen Jermyn got in touch with me to discuss the potential of working together on a cake related photographic project. Running your own business can be a very solitary process and I have always found that collaborating with another professional can really fire up the imagination and take you on a path you wouldn’t necessarily have gone down. I think we were both relieved when, after meeting for coffee, we realisedwe had very similar aesthetics and that a slice of cake would always have a feature in our future meetings.
Helen lives in East Dulwich, London, and has enjoyed taking pictures for as long as she can remember. But it was only after a period travellingaround South America with a Mamiya 645 (a very portable medium format film camera) that she decided to take a leap of faith and pursue a photographic career. Speeding forward several years, today she specialisesin creating striking images of food, architecture and interiors, plants and gardens. And as luck would have it, she’s particularly fond of photographing cakes!
My background is in art and design in the broadest sense, having dabbled in most areas of the fine arts, before realisingthat a cake or biscuit acts as an ideal canvas. Our cakes are very design driven but I am also a passionate advocate for quality seasonal ingredients and delicious flavour combinations, which is what my business “Bake until Scrumptious” has become known for.
For a recent commission, the bride kept her own hive of urban bees and really wanted the honey to be used in both the cake itself as well as the design theme, and the result was a rich chocolate cake filled with salted honey chocolate ganache complete with a macaron tower in the form of a contemporary beehive. With this specialised approach to cake design, I was relishing the prospect of working on an entire photo shoot and every detail it involves, from identifying a colourpalette to gathering props.
So with the shared goal of creating a beautiful set of images around the theme of miniature cakes, the idea of fresh seasonal flowers evolved. It was as I was sketching some initial ideas that the thought of exclusively using fresh flowers as decoration popped into my head, and I thought, ‘Helen’s either going to think I’m crazy or she’ll like it’. Thankfully we both thought it would be an interesting twist on classic sugarcraft flowers, and from there it really became all about what we could source around the time of the photo shoot.
I made miniature cakes in 3 flavour combinations to re-enforce the theme of an English summer garden in bloom: lavender sponge with lemon zest meringue buttercream, earl greysponge with apricot preserve, and almond and honey sponge with a rose meringue buttercream. As we set up the different shots, the studio quickly became a lovely place to be, with the fragrance of the various flowers combining with the sweetly scented cakes. From my perspective, not only was I excited about the project turning into reality, it was also a joy to observe a consummate professional photographer at work. It really is amazing the way the cakes seem to magically transform into beautiful images with a few expert tweaks here and there that I would not have even noticed all the little perfectionist changes made. And I hope that the final series of images reflect a joint enthusiasm for the subject matter, brought together by the expertise in our respective fields.
Website of Bake until Scrumptious at www.bakeuntilscrumptious.com
Follow Ceri Olofson on Twitter: @BakeScrumptious
Website of Helen Jermyn Photography at www.jermynphotography.com
Follow Helen Jermyn: @HelenJermyn
Flowers supplied by the Fresh Flower Company, www.freshflower.co.uk