Cake creator extraordinaire and the baking genius (and Director) behind BAKEORAMA, Charlotte O’Toole is a cake maker on the rise (ahem).
Over-the-top, eccentric and eye-wateringly bright, Charlotte’s cakes are famed for their flamboyant decorating style. Just take a ganders at her Instagram page – and salivate in awe.
This year, Charlotte will be sending sugar levels into the stratosphere with the expansion of her cake empire with an exciting new cake menu, exclusive pudding clubs and a Christmas cake grotto.
Here we catch up with this star cake maker and find out just what goes into those crazy cakes.
You create some outrageously delicious looking cakes - where do you get your ideas from?
I'm inspired by lots of different things. I love kitsch shop-bought treats from when I was little like pink wafers, party rings, jammy dodgers as well as American products which are over the top and indulgent like Reeses Cups, Funfetti and Oreos - in all their varieties. There's something camp and exciting about them that I like to get elements of into my designs.
There's no limit to what I will put on a cake and we use various kinds of picture toppers and also non-edible items to make sure they look incredible. I like to make sure they taste as good as they look too so we have a large choice of flavours that range from good old vanilla to apple pie crust, pina colada, birthday cake and caramel latte to name but a few!
What’s been your favourite cake creation?
My most recent wedding cake was one I was really pleased with. It had a 'Cornwall beach' theme. It had beach huts and edible sand and seagulls on top. The bride loved it so this made me happy. I would never send out a cake I wasn't happy with so I do love them all once finished! I keep pictures of each one.
My favourite cake on my cake menu is the one with the apple pies baked inside with cinnamon apple pie buttercream or the caramel and peanut butter cake which has salted caramel and homemade peanut butter cups on top!
Any bakes that didn’t turn out so well?
That happens to every baker at some point or another. The wrong flour used or measured incorrectly perhaps. I like to make other items from mistakes so a red velvet that didn't rise would be turned into delicious red velvet cake truffles! It doesn't happen often but the best thing you ever made could come from a mistake!
How long does each cake take you to make?
That depends on the cake itself really. The standard cake menu items take less time than a bespoke order as they have the same things on them each time. I have my decorating time down to 8 minutes per cake but for the personalised orders up to an hour or more.
I source and make all the edible items for decoration personally and my mum makes the non-edible toppers for me like sparkly plastic animals in party hats and rainbows! I liaise with the client to make sure it's exactly what they want. Lots of people trust my judgement and just give me basic information which is a huge compliment.
How did you start out?
I baked and cooked with my nan for the family at weekends when I was little. Scones, victoria sponge and helping with the Christmas cakes! Laying out plates of my beloved party rings and jammy dodgers! I always enjoyed baking and after starting a little business from home after university and various jobs I decided to go back to college as a mature student to get my basics in place officially.
I studied patisserie for 3 years and loved it so much and eventually found a job baking cupcakes for one of the pioneers 'Sweet Tooth Cupcakery' in Chorlton. I learned a lot and developed my skills further here. I took courses in chocolate work, cake design and decoration. I moved to Home Sweet Home 3 years ago and built up my style and brand into something I'm very proud of and that is becoming popular and in demand!
I have now left Home Sweet Home to build BAKEORAMA further. I'm very proud of the high standards I maintain and I'm incredibly excited and lucky to be able to carry this on and do what I love in my own way.
Do you have one top tip for newbie bakers?
I would make sure you know the basics and keep in touch with trends. Beginners pastry courses are held most catering colleges and are really worth it for personal development at any stage of your life.
What’s your one kitchen baking essential?
I'm very spoilt as I have a fancy work space with everything I could ever need but I cannot use any other turntable for decorating than my own! It was a cheap £5 one I bought about 8 years ago and it’s the only one I like to use out of the fancier ones on the shelf!
Which recipe book couldn’t you live without?
My favourite books are the Milk Bar Books by Christina Tosi at Momofuku Bakery in the USA. They are innovative and I'm inspired by her a lot. I visited them recently and it was amazing!
Follow Charlotte on Twitter @Bakeorama or Instagram @Bakeorama_