CQ’s top cakemaker reveals recipe for success
PASSION and patience are key ingredients in Wendy Bell’s recipe for success.
The Alton Downs grandmother was voted Central Queensland’s best cakemaker in a poll run by The Morning Bulletin.
She was overwhelmed by the result.
“I’m so happy but I know there’s a lot out there who are way better at it than I am,” the modest winner said.
Wendy’s interest in baking started at school, where her favourite subject was home economics “apart from the sewing”.
It was further fuelled by jobs at the Gracemere Bakery and the bakery at Allenstown’s Woolworths when she was a teenager.
She went on to take several cake decorating classes and put those skills to good use, decorating her own engagement cake.
Marriage and motherhood meant cakemaking was put on the backburner for several decades before Wendy returned to her craft in 2013.
“When I did start doing it again it was only as a hobby,” she said.
“I did a couple of cakes for friends and it all snowballed from there through Facebook and word of mouth.”
Wendy quickly found her incredible creations in high demand, and she was fielding requests from customers from across the state and from across the border.
She was making everything from baby shower cakes to milestone birthday cakes to wedding cakes.
“Going by the photos stored on my phone, I’ve probably made over 2000 cakes since 2013,” Wendy said.
“I’ve had cakes go to New South Wales and I’ve got one travelling to Townsville this weekend.
“I’ve sent them out west to Emerald and I do cakes for Jericho’s Christmas Fair every year.
“I was at one stage doing up to 13 cakes on a weekend.
“This year I’m cutting back to four or five because it does take a lot of time and my sixth grandchild is due in October.
“Some weekends I’ve still got nine booked in but these are for long-time regulars that I’ve been doing cakes for since the start.”
Wendy has seen trends and tastes change over the years.
“My favourite cake to eat is a fruit cake. I do have a special recipe and I make quite a few fruit cakes at Christmas time,” she said.
“You don’t get too many fruit cakes for wedding cakes these days, that seems to be a thing of the past.
“Mud cakes for wedding cakes is the biggest trend now.”
Wendy finds it hard to nominate the favourite cake she has made but decides on an Indian cake – a white almond sour cream cake decorated in brightly coloured fondant.
That took her about six hours but some of her longest decorations have taken up to 10 hours on top of actual baking time which, for mud cakes, is generally three hours.
Wendy said cakemaking was time consuming and you really had to love it to be good at it.
“You need patience, lots of patience, and time. You’ve got to have a passion for it; if you don’t have that I think it shows in your finished product.
“The greatest enjoyment you get out of it is seeing the looks on the faces of people when you deliver the cakes – just to see that smile and to know you’ve done a good job.”