Whimsical cake designs prove irresistible
Cynthia Taylor recalls being mesmerized as a little girl watching her Italian grandmother at work in the kitchen.
Seeing her move “rhythmically” as she baked a delicious Ciambella sponge cake or Savoiardi biscuits, instilled Cynthia with an appreciation for the art of cooking that has never waned.
“I was lucky enough to spend lots of time with my grandparents growing up,” she says.
“As is standard for many European families, my grandparents had an outdoor kitchen, an insanely lush vegetable patch and an abundance of fruit trees.
“Everything was made at home, by hand.
“Besides climbing their huge fig tree and stealing fresh peas from the garden, my absolute favourite thing to do was make biscuits with my grandmother.
“She did everything by eye, and I didn’t realise it at the time, but she definitely demonstrated that instinct, confidence and love are key ingredients in the kitchen.”
Fast forward to today and the talented Jan Juc mum has turned her passion into a profession by launching her own business, Original Cyn Cake Design.
Her whimsical celebration cakes and cookies are a treat for the eye and largely inspired by her favourite childhood storybooks.
“I used to save all of my pocket money and drag my dad to Target every Saturday morning to buy a new book,” Cynthia recalls, with a smile. “I worked my way through Enid Blyton, most of Roald Dahl’s books – which I’m now reading to my six-year-old son – and the entire Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine.
“When I’m fully immersed in what I’m doing; either reading, running or working in the kitchen, is when inspiration usually fires up and ideas roll in.”
Cynthia launched Original Cyn in March after many years spent baking and decorating for the pure enjoyment of it and sharing her creations with family and friends.
“The beautiful feedback from people who received cookies or a cake I’d made for them left me on a high,” she says.
“That intangible connection to people through baking is nostalgic for me.
“I’d actually been shelving the idea of a cake business, mostly because I wasn’t sure where to start. What would I make? Who would like it? How would I do it?
“All those questions people have when they start something new. Personally, I believe that what’s meant for you won’t pass you by. I also knew that if I didn’t give my vision the shot it deserved, I’d always wonder. So I leapt in.”
Each cake takes between four to 10 hours to complete, depending on whether they require fondant figurines or handmade decorative elements.
Their outer beauty is, of course, complemented inside with mouth-watering choices such as chocolate mud cake, white chocolate mud cake, caramel mud, tropical carrot cake and sticky date cake.
“Chocolate mud is the most popular, it has a beautiful richness without being overly sweet,” Cynthia says.
“And it’s definitely my personal favourite.
“I’m working on two new flavours at the moment and I’m looking forward to offering them soon.”
Her orders so far have mostly been for birthdays and weddings.
In fact, it was one of those wedding cakes she deems as her most challenging to date – a two-tier design with a bottom tier covered in delicate wafer paper ruffles.
“They took the longest time to shape, dry and adhere,” Cynthia recalls.
“I was forever reattaching some of them. And then while reattaching them if I touched one another one would move and I’d have to reattach that one.
“It absolutely tested my sanity, but when it was done, I was so glad to have pushed through.”
A keen student of science at school, Cynthia studied Food Science/Nutrition at university.
“We spent an entire semester studying confectionery and experimenting with the different stages of cooking sugar,” she says. “I was in my element.”
She is now drawing on those learnings as she experiments with new ideas to delight customers.
“I’m really enjoying decorating cookies,” she says.
“I’ve learnt a lot through trial and error. I’ll often stay up to the early hours of the morning to practice a new technique or style.”
Her latest challenge is dreaming up a 2021 Christmas Cookie Collection.
In the meantime, with the most recent lockdown coming to an end and more celebrations back on the cards, the orders are beginning to flood in again for Cynthia’s sought-after creations.
“I’ve had the loveliest clients, and all of them have reached out with kind words but I think “Oh my god, I want to eat it but I don’t want to cut it” is my favourite,” she laughs.
“Seeing their reactions, and watching them carry their cake boxes so carefully with a big grin is hands down the best feeling.”
Order from Original Cyn Cake Design on the website or via email [email protected]. Follow the journey on Instagram @originalcyn_cakedesign.