Normally this time of year us Wedding Cake makers are knee deep in icing sugar, sugar flowers and cake. As we all know, because of COVID 19 the majority of weddings haven’t taken place. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to interview a fellow cake maker Linda Ashcroft of Buttercup cakes.
We have been friends for many years now and can truly say she is one of the most amazing and talented cake peeps that I have the pleasure of knowing. Like myself we have been caking for some years and often chat about things happening within the cake industry.
Linda owns and runs Buttercup Cakes based in Whaley bridge in the peak district. Not only does Linda make the most stunning Luxury wedding cakes, she also teaches and makes the best brownies ever which are posted all over the UK.
When I asked Linda if I could interview her, she jumped at the chance. So without further ado let me introduce my wonderful friend and fellow cake maker Linda Ashcroft of Buttercup cakes
What made you become a cake maker
It started when I was a little girl baking with my Nana, it’s always something that I have enjoyed. Like most mothers I used to make my children’s birthday cakes, this blossomed into making celebration cakes for family and friends.
Then my work life took me in a different direction and I didn’t make cakes for many years. I got back into it about 12 years ago, again making cakes for family and friends. It soon took off and I made the decision to give up my day job and go full time with the cakes.
The business was ran from home to begin with, then 7 years ago we moved into our studio based in Whaley bridge and I began to specialise in Luxury Wedding Cakes.
What cake are you most proud of
There are so many cakes that I am proud of because I put my heart and soul into each one. If I was to forced to choose, I would say that the one I am most proud of is the one I made for my daughter’s Wedding.
I have to say that trying to make a wedding cake and deal with all the last minute preparations for the wedding was pretty stressful. Having said that, it was wonderful to be able to create a beautiful cake for this very special day. I even set the cake up on the morning of the wedding in my rollers
Can you think of what cake has been the most challenging
Cakes are often challenging but one in particular was particularly so. It was a huge 3 tier cake with each cake being 9” tall and each tier consisted of 2 cakes with a thin board between to give extra support. By the time it was ganached and covered, it weighed an absolute ton and because of the design, it needed to be transported to the venue as whole.
Because it was so heavy, it took two men to carry the cake into the van. A nerve wrecking hour and a half journey to the venue Thornton Manor on the Wirral. Placing it onto the cake stand was a bit stressful to say the least. It was all worth it to see it set up and the couple were absolutely thrilled with it
What do you love about your job
I absolutely love my job (well most of the time.) I love the freedom it gives me to be creative, to set my own standards and work when I want to work. I also love creating a cake that is such a special part of a celebration and making memories.
I’m so proud and honoured to play a part in their special day and they often become lifelong clients for celebration cakes.
What made you start Cake Decorating and Sugarcraft Classes
I’ve always enjoyed sharing knowledge and was always asked how to do this and how to do that as well as people asking me to run classes. So I thought why not?
It started with cupcake classes and I absolutely loved it. So I then began to offer a wider range of classes including large cakes, wedding cakes and sugar flowers.
You often mention ‘Mr Buttercup’ – Can you explain who he is, what role he has and how important it is having him around
My husband Ian, is affectionately known as Mr Buttercup and he is an important part of the business. Whilst he isn’t involved in the making of the cakes, he likes to think of himself as Head of Sales and Logistics!.
He’s my delivery man extraordinaire – there’s no-one else I would trust to deliver and set up a wedding cake. He’s my errand boy, my washer upper and my biggest supporter. I really couldn’t do this without him – but sshhhhh, don’t tell him
Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for a customer
I always pride myself on excellent customer service and will do my utmost for my clients. However, 12 months ago this was taken to a whole new level.
Our studio and home are in Whaley Bridge in the Peak district. You might remember the very serious situation when the dam near the village looked as it was about to collapse. This situation made national news and was covered by most news channels.
When the order came to evacuate the village, I was working on a 4 tier wedding cake. As we were evacuated from our home too, I couldn’t even take the cake home with me. I had to leave the almost finished cake in the studio. The situation became even more serious when a cordon was placed around the village, with no-one being allowed in. I was so determined that the couple should have their wedding cake the following day, that I posted on social media that I needed to rescue the cake.
What happened next
The post got shared and Derbyshire Police contacted me to see if they could help. After much discussion and deliberation, they agreed I could go to the studio, at my own risk for 5 mins so I could get the cake and any equipment needed. It was so eerie – no sound except for the Chinook flying overhead with sandbags to prop up the dam. I managed to grab what I needed into the car and off I went to the venue Heaton house farm.
The venue was so lovely and allowed me to use their kitchen to finish the cake. The couple were overjoyed and it was certainly a talking point at their wedding. Needless to say I was pretty much chuffed once I recovered from the stress of it all!
What do you find most challenging about being a Cake Maker
So much of what we do as cake decorators is quite difficult and not straightforward. There are so many things that can affect a cake. Working in hot and humid conditions is particularly challenging. Buttercream can melt, ganache won’t set, sugarpaste is super sticky, sugar flowers won’t dry etc. Yet somehow we still manage to cope, even if it means working late into the night and starting very early in the morning.
What would be your dream cake and why
Most definitely, beautiful elegant luxury wedding cakes and would love to make a huge cake with many tiers and masses of sugar flowers
If you were to give any advice to somebody starting out in the cake world, what would it be
Don’t do it unless you are prepared to work very long hours, often to very tight deadlines and that you must have an absolute passion for what you do
Name you top 3 cake tools you couldn’t be without and why
My favourite tools are – my Sharp Edge Smoother. I pride myself on the flawless finish and sharp edges on my cakes. The sharp edge smoother enables me to achieve this quickly and effortlessly, its a game changer
Agbay – I absolutely love it, so easy and quick to torte a cake
For more information on the Sharp Edge Smoother click HERE
I have a tiny PME palette knife that I also love and use all the time for all sorts of things. My ganache plates, my Kingpin rolling pin. Oh, my silverwood multi pan and spirit level!!
And not forgetting my pasta machine
Linda said it’s hard choosing which were her top 3
So I then asked Linda, if you were to lose one of them you mentioned above and it made you lose your paddy, which one would it be?
I’d have a paddy if I couldn’t find my tweezers when I’m arranging sugar flowers, egg crate foam mats – I couldn’t live without these either.
However, if there was a fire I’d grab my Agbay and Sharp Edge Smoother!
Thank you so much Linda for taking some time out in your busy schedule for this interview.
I hope you enjoyed reading about her life as a cake make and decorator.
If you would like to order Linda’s amazing Brownies click HERE I can vouch for them, they are delicious!
Till next time