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  • Liz

Up close and personal with...

Vaani Wadman...Sugar Plum Bakes

When did you start in this business and what did you do before?

My first full-time job was working as a Chemical Engineer on an oil refinery! Donning a hard hat and steel toed boots every day, I loved the practical aspect to the work but I got stuck in an office behind a desk

As a newly wed, my husband made a major change in his career so I hung on in there because we needed a stable income. But after my children were born, I couldn’t bear it any longer... I wanted to be at home with my kids and the creative in me, that had laid dormant for years, was desperate to get out and shine!

So when my youngest started school, I gave up the engineering to start my cake business and I’ve never looked back! How would you describe your style or are you influenced by the client’s desire/theme?

My style has evolved over the years but I would describe it as simple, considered and understated. My cakes have a quiet beauty about them and I attract couples that are relaxed, style-conscious, often ethically minded and who love food!

What is your favourite style of cake to design/make?

I specialise in buttercream cakes. Mainly because I much prefer the flavour and am not a fan of the taste of fondant. I love the textures I can create with buttercream, something that looks natural and has a sense of organic rawness to it

A simple kind of beauty like you would see in nature itself (I think think this is my favourite style of cake too, but then i do like all cake!)

Where do you get inspiration for your designs and is there a current trend?

Well I tend not to follow trends and am hugely inspired by nature. I often take walks in Richmond Park and find I’m influenced by the seasons, the colours, the texture, the irregularity in the way plants and flowers grow. I try and echo nature through my work, both in seasonal flavours but also the appearance. And I absolutely love to decorate my cakes with fresh flowers

I’ve been learning from amazing florists (including yourself) how to arrange flowers so that when I do put them on a cake, they are placed in a thoughtful and considered manner (well these are gorgeous)

What is your favourite flower?

Am I going to sound really boring if I say roses are my favourite? But it has to be something like a garden rose though, with its exquisite scent and delicate petals

I love David Austin roses and am slowly filling my garden with them - I love to inhale their intoxicating fragrance! It’s about all of the senses for me

What sort of information do you need to know when meeting with a prospective client for the first time?

I know the cake is just one aspect of a wedding, but I love to know everything about the couple’s ideas for their wedding and also to know more about them as a couple. Their story helps me in my approach to designing the cake from the flavour to the final aesthetic (and I think that is so important)

What sort of lead time do you need when taking on a project and can/would you do more than one wedding per weekend?

I do get booked up considerably in advance, so the sooner a couple get in touch, the better really. As I set the cake up and finish the decorations at the wedding venue, especially as I’m often using fresh flowers, it’s a little tricky to do more than one wedding a day. But if I can figure out the logistics, it is something I’m open to doing

Do you have fixed prices or is each cake tailored to the client?

I do have a guide for my starting prices, but that would be for a cake that’s simply iced. I recommend couples get in touch with me so that I can give them a detailed quotation

What is the most fun part of your job?

I do love baking, but the favourite part for me is the cake decoration. I love the buzz at a wedding venue and seeing the cake come together in the setting, it never fails to get me excited

And I love playing with flowers, so that is my favourite part! What is the most important part of your job?

I think when you run your own business, as you’ll know, there are many hats to be worn, many roles to be fulfilled. So it sounds a little dull, but being organised and being on top of all the different aspects from stock inventory to dealing with enquiries, accounts to baking, decorating to social media, delivering to setting up the cake

Organisation is key for all of that to run smoothly

What makes you laugh?

There’s only one answer for me to this question. After nearly 20 years of being together, it is still my husband who makes me laugh. He has a slightly quirky sense of humour and from the very beginning he has always made me laugh! I can thank him for all the laughter lines around my eyes!

And you Vaani have made us all want cake! Thank you for sharing with us today - I do love working on a wedding with you and seeing your beautiful creations!

Here's a link to a shoot we worked on together at Somerley House


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