Meet the Maker: Cake Artist Lucy Bruns
Meet Lucy! An extremely talented baker and cake decorator and owner of Lucy’s Sugar Shack. Lucy is proof that with determination and a few handy video tutorials you can accomplish pretty much anything when it comes to the world of baking and cake decorating.
Lucy creates a range of delicious sweet treats made with the freshest ingredients and decorated to near perfection.
How did you get into cake baking and decorating?
I have always loved baking since I was a little girl and I’ve also always been very creative and love making things – when I was about ten years old I saw a picture of a Spice Girls cake which blew my mind, so I promptly went to the library and got out a book on cake decorating determined to learn all I could, and thus a hobby was born! I always made decorated cakes for family and friends, and I even made my own wedding cake.
Who taught you what you know?
I’ve had no formal training and I’m entirely self-taught – I often joke that I’m a graduate of the University of You Tube! If I’m not sure how to do something there are a million tutorials online to show you the basics, otherwise I prefer to work things out for myself – it’s good to have your own style when you’re a cake decorator, it’s what sets you apart from everyone else.
I went to Art College where I learned set design for theatre and TV, then became a model maker and prop maker, set dresser and airbrush artist. I then had a career in retail window display before becoming a photographic stylist where I learnt my trade in food styling – I was regularly decorating cakes for photo shoots and writing recipes, this is what re-ignited my love of baking and cooking and led me to hone my skills in cake decorating.
I’m a graduate of the University of You Tube!
What made you want to start up your own business, Lucy’s Sugar Shack?
It actually wasn’t intentional, it all started when I decided to take part in local cake competitions to see if I was any good – and found that I did quite well! Through word of mouth people got to know me and ask me to do cakes for them and it snowballed from there!
I love being a part of people’s celebrations and happy times, it’s a great privilege to be entrusted with the centrepiece of someone’s party or wedding – and a big responsibility! I can get some strange requests for some cakes but I’m open to anything – the quirkier the better! I’m just as comfortable doing a beautiful and elegant wedding showstopper cake as I am doing a horror themed cake with fake blood and broken ‘glass’ in it!
What’s a typical day like for you?
Every day is different and every cake is different as I make them all bespoke. As well as the actual baking and decorating of the cakes there are emails to respond to, recipes to test, time spent designing cakes, and shopping for ingredients and embellishments like ribbons – Hobbycraft has become my second home in this respect! One of the best parts is meeting with couples to discuss their wedding cakes, as I love finding out how they met, what makes them tick and I get a general overview of their wedding day so I can ensure the cake will fit in with their theme for the day – plus we get to taste some cake flavours!
What is the one piece of equipment you couldn’t be without?
Definitely my icing smoother – it instantly elevates a fondant covered cake from average to looking really professional. I couldn’t be without my Kitchenaid mixer either – a very generous present from Santa – knocking up a wedding cake for 100 people would be impossible with elbow grease alone!!
Where do you find your inspiration?
Anywhere and everywhere – from art, films, tattoos, typography and graphics to nature, patterns on wallpaper, fashion and interior trends. Some cakes are inspired by the textures on a wedding dress, others – like my fish ‘n’ chips cupcakes – are inspired by my favourite foods!
Quite often I’m inspired by the person for whom the cake is for – one time I had a couple who wanted a vintage style birdcage wedding cake but after meeting with them and getting to know about them and their interests (they both worked in the bar / nightclub industry and he was a DJ) I proposed doing a wedding cake covered in graffiti and spinning around on the guy’s record deck… I thought they’d laugh me out of town but they absolutely loved it! I felt it was a true reflection of the couple and it’s still one of my favourite cakes I’ve done.
Is there anything you’ve not yet baked that you’d like to try your hand at?
I’m all for trying new and different flavours, I like that people are becoming more adventurous with the cake flavours that they are requesting. I hope to one day get a brief for a really outlandish, colourful, kitsch, retro wedding cake with lots of exciting tastes!
When baking cakes, it’s important that all your ingredients are at room temperature.
What are your essential products for people just starting out?
- An icing turntable to put your cake on.
- A large non stick rolling pin for rolling out large quantities of icing to cover cakes, and a small dinky one for rolling out icing for decorations
- A set of metal decorating tips for delicate icing work and nozzles for piping on cupcakes.
- A set of food safe paintbrushes for painting on details, sticking your decorations on cakes with water, etc.
- Gumpaste tool set for making models and adding details to your cakes.
Give us your top Three baking tips
- When baking cakes, it’s important that all your ingredients are at room temperature so remember to take out your butter and eggs (if you keep them in the fridge) before you start!
- If you’re going to lots of effort with decorating a cake – don’t forget to decorate the cake board too! It looks more professional and finishes off your hard work rather than leaving the silver board showing.
- When rolling out white (or pale coloured) fondant icing don’t wear a black mohair jumper!! You’ll be picking bits of lint out of it until the cows come home!!
What’s next for Lucy’s Sugar Shack?
I’m looking forward to working on lots more exciting projects, styled shoots, working with new couples to create their dream wedding cakes and also offering my services as a stylist to dress wedding venues, parties and events. I’d like to one day bring out a range of cake stands as I really struggle to find decent and exciting designs – so I may as well design my own!
You can discover more about Lucy over at Lucy’s Sugar Shack.