We’re taking a small break today from The Road to SDCC for something sweet. Recently I asked Rachel Gill if she would answer a few questions for me about her specialty: baking nerdy cakes. She was kind enough to agree, telling me her story about how she got started with this amazing profession and how she’s successfully designing cakes and other confections for special occasions. Read on and enjoy the sweets!
How would you say you got into cake making? Moreover, your interests in comics and video games?
To say that I like cake would be an understatement. I love cake. I dream about cake. I have woken up in the middle of the night thinking about recipes for cake. Yes, seriously. But cake is not my only love. I also have a bit of thing for geekery, be it comics, anime or gaming. I didn’t grow up on this stuff, I’m not a hardcore gamer, and I don’t have an encyclopaedic knowledge of comics. But I do love them. The first time I read a Batman comic, I went out, bought another copy, gave it to a friend and demanded that they read it so I could discuss it with someone and I haven’t looked back since.
Combining two things I loved wasn’t something I did deliberately, it just happened. In fact, my little cake business is mostly down to Totoro – and yes, I do mean the large grey and white keeper of the forest. I have a mild obsession with My Neighbour Totoro, and about a year ago I decided that I wanted a Totoro cake for a party, I just didn’t know where to get such a cake. They say that necessity is the mother of invention and in my case that turned out to be true. I couldn’t buy a Totoro cake anywhere, so why not try to make one? The cake worked out, people liked it, I enjoyed making it…other occasions came along, and I found myself making cakes for those too. Eventually people started to place orders for cakes and cupcakes, my first few orders took me by surprise and I remember asking with consternation if they were sure they really wanted to give me money for cakes. Most of the time I feel like a kid playing with fondant as if it’s play-doh, so the idea that people were willing to pay me to do so? It blew my mind.
What would you say are your favorite sort of projects? Any plans for future cakes?
My favourite orders are definitely the geeky ones, and my design notebook is full of comic and gaming themed cakes that I’m just hoping someone will order – the day that I finally get to make a Firefly themed cake will be a day of much rejoicing and happy dancing. And if no one orders it, I fully intend to convince my niece that what she really wants for her birthday is a Katamari Damacy cake (I’m shaping her pliable little mind towards good things, don’t judge me). In a perfect world comics, gaming and cakes would have a much closer relationship – hands up if you think comic cons should feature more cakey goodness!
What’s your latest project?
The latest cake I was able to make was a Mario themed one for a kid’s birthday. It’s really fun when you’re asked to make a cake, given a theme and then allowed to do whatever you want with it. I love Mario and given the number of games and characters there are plenty of ideas, unfortunately, I have to work with practicalities such as cake size, so the three tier NSMB cake in my head couldn’t become a reality – not this time anyway. As it was a kid’s cake, I opted for a Mario Kart theme and stuck with the two main guys – Mario and Luigi. (Although I will admit that there is currently an edible version of Bowser and Yoshi in my kitchen because I was undecided until the last minute.) Making cakes is probably like any other creative work – you’re never quite satisfied with how the image in your head translates into reality, and you always find room for improvement, but the main thing is to make sure whoever the cake is for is happy with it. So the best part of the whole process was definitely getting a message saying the birthday boy was thrilled !
For now Rachel can only get her cakes around Ireland but if you’re lucky enough to live in the region you should contact her via Twitter (@liliesandthorns) to see what she can make for you!