Eloïse Durrant Local Patisserie chef currently starring in Extreme Cake Makers C4

By Steve Gansbuehler

“We all like a bit of cake don’t we. I know I do. I just lurve de cake” Marjorie Dawes, Fat fighters (Little Britain) which pretty much sums up my experience with cake, strictly on the eating side of things.

My only real experience of baking is largely limited to combining rice krispies and melted chocolate, sometimes cornflakes if I feel like mixing things up a bit. So when I saw a picture of Eloise Durrant holding a guitar as though she was about to perform and then learnt that it was in fact a cake I was pretty amazed. A stroke of genius really, now a performer doesn’t need to smash up their guitar at the end of a gig they can actually just eat it.

To further learn that she runs and owns her own business, takes cake making to a whole new bespoke level and still found time to star in channel 4’s new series, I was very impressed indeed.

We at the Community Hub were lucky enough to catch up with Eloise 36, from Great Baddow, to talk about her experiences and all things cake.


Dog Hotel Cake specially made for the Essex Pooch Palace, Wickford

Is baking something you have always been interested in?

I’ve always been interested in baking and one of my childhood memories is being in the kitchen helping my mum who is both a great baker and cook. I also used to love modelling things from FIMO when I was a kid, which is really similar to the modelling icing I use now! I think it really makes a difference to your ability in terms of dexterity and attention to detail when you’ve been doing something since you were so young.

So did you go straight into baking after leaving school?

After school I went to Reading University where I studied sociology, philosophy, history of art and French, and went on to pursue a career in advertising. It was 6 years later in 2008 that I decided I’d try my hand at baking full time, and I went back to studying patisserie instead! The rest was history really and I’ve run my own cake business for nearly 9 years now


In fact Eloise graduated top of her class in Patisserie College and founded her own business ‘The Gourmet Cake Company’ in 2010, on top of that she opened her cake decorating school and was awarded highly commended ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’, travelling the globe to deliver her expert training. In 2011 she taught home baker Jo Wheatley, who then went on to win that years Great British Bake Off on BBC 1.


Eloise pictured with her dangling chandelier cake, structurally her most difficult

You are obviously very passionate about the baking industry but how hard is the process?

The work that goes in to making cakes is vastly underestimated. Unless you’ve made one yourself, you can never really know! It’s not just the physical side which is a lot of heavy mixing, kneading and rolling but also the sheer time consuming element of creating some of the things I do. It might be ‘just cake’ but often the man hours that go into the cake from concept to delivery can be days. Making cakes has made me have a huge appreciation for anybody doing anything bespoke or handmade.

So how did you go from baking standard cakes to going extreme! Do you just like challenges?

I really do thrive on a challenge. My working style is not to plan too carefully; I visualise an idea in my head maybe do a sketch, but all in all I keep an open mind throughout the process then let the adrenaline do the rest! When doing anything extreme or particularly unusual an open mind better prepares you for any problems that may occur and doesn’t throw you off as much. I never panic and always keep a cool head, because most of my jobs are unique each one is a learning curve and I actually enjoy that process.



The guitar cake which can actually be played made for singer Antonio Lulic who will be supporting Ed Sheeran on his tour later this year

Tell us about some of your favourite commissions and strange requests

The most elaborate request has got to be a request for a double bed cake. Life-size My favourite cake commission has to be the working guitar cake I made. Just the fact that it could be played was mind blowing to watch, even when I was the one that made it! I also loved the process of air brushing the paintwork.

How do you transit unusually shaped/large cakes? Any nerve wracking moments?

Every single delivery for me is nerve wracking. I breathe a huge sigh of relief when we finish a cake and no sooner have I stood back to admire it does the dread of a delivery set in! Ideally large cakes are transported in sections and assembled, but for a shaped cake this isn't always possible as facilities at venues are limited. Delivery really has to be the worst part of cake making for me.

How did you come to star In Extreme Cake Makers?

Back in 2015 I was working away one day in the shop when the phone rang and it was the production company for Channel 4. They’d found me online and asked if I’d be interested in auditioning to be part of a one off pilot for a new cake show. I went on to be selected to feature in the pilot which we filmed and aired in 2016, and it was so popular that off the back of that Channel 4 commissioned a full series of 15 episodes which I started filming pretty much straight away!

And Finally any Top baking tips?

I think attention to detail is really key for a successful cake maker, whether it's following your recipe to a tee or taking your time to make the decorative elements really perfect. Also work hard to develop your own style and flair as this is what will set you apart from the rest!

Weigh everything. I'm horrified when our cake course attendees tell me they guess how much of their ingredients they are putting in at home! At the shop we weigh everything right down to how much mixture we put in each cupcake case, or how much sugar paste to colour up for each and every rose.... A common baking problem our course attendees report is having too much of a peak on their cakes and they have cut the tops off! Often people think this is due to not pushing the mixture down in the tin but actually it's the heat of the oven. This can be fixed in a jiffy by simply turning your oven down.


If you would like to treat someone to something a little special then please visit the Gourmet Cake Company in Eckersley Road, Chelmsford. Or alternatively for more details visit:-

http://www.gourmetcupcakes.co.uk/

And be sure to check out Extreme Cake Makers presented by Rufus Hound, currently showing on c4, weekdays at 5.30pm, described as:-

Lifting the lid on the successes and failures of a crazy, creative and elite group who go all out to produce the world’s most delicious and breath-taking creations, turning cakes into works of art.

Across the series, we see everything from a life size Shetland pony to a 4ft replica of the Statue of Liberty, a life size ball gown with edible peacock feathers to a 5ft edible Wizard of Oz mural. For our extreme cake makers, anything is possible

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