5 TIPS ON HOW TO DESIGN A DRESS IN CAKE
By Reema Siraj
People across the globe baked during the pandemic to satiate their boredom, some to fill their sugar habits and others, because baking is a form of culinary that designs a fantasy and brings it alive. Reema Siraj’s Bridal Cake is one of major proportions that becomes a life-like version of designer Ziad Nakad’s dresses. From its intricate details to the layers of material, this cake looks good enough to wear. It’s been a long-standing concept that baking is one of the many arts that take on visual representations of real-life objects. This art form builds from flour and sugar and has received wide acclaim for its unique capability to portray something real. Cakes are often symbols of celebration, from birthdays to weddings these baked works of art are representative of a community and their culture, a presentation of one’s vision and imagination.
Sri Lankan-born, Reema Siraj is a cake artist whose imagination comes alive in her culinary and baking expertise. In 2019, Reema was nominated as a Finalist in the ‘Cake Masters Awards UK - cake Oscars" in the Best Showpiece category for her Bridal Dress Cake; she herself has been on the panel for many cake shows across the globe. Reema was invited to the Annual Wedding Conference & Gala held in New York, alongside New York bridal fashion week 2019, hosted by the World Bride Magazine - New York & Wedding District – France to display her work, a cake inspired by designer Karl Lagerfeld. Reema has conducted countless international workshops educating over 1,000 students from over 20 countries. Her work has been featured in Worldbride Magazine - USA, Cake Masters Magazine - UK, Cake Decorating & SugarCraft Magazine - UK, Fondbites Magazine - India, Sugar Magazine - India & Brides of Sri Lanka, the Wedding Magazine. We converse with Reema Siraj on her work and her inspirations while discussing how her bridal cake came to be.
Q | Can you share with us who you are and your journey in this career?
A | I am a cake designer and an instructor. I entered into Cake designing as a profession 6 years ago. However, baking cakes and designing them have not been new to me. I grew up knowing the basics of cake making as my mother has always been a home baker. Initially I started my career as preschool teacher and eventually became a trainer for teachers in the field of early childhood education. This teaching experience and my ability to make creative cake designs have been vital in making me reach the place where I am today. I have mastered my skills by learning from some of the world-renowned artists such as Maggy Austin (USA), Jasmine Rae (USA), Mito sweets (Vietnam), Tortik Anushka (Russia) and Andrew & Ronanya (Russia). My career has unfolded into a beautiful journey of experimenting new mediums, getting inspired by everything around me and inspiring young minds and sharing my knowledge and creative skills with like-minded artists.
Q | What, do you believe, is the impetus behind designing a cake?
A | In my opinion, passion to create something new and thinking out of the box will introduce you to a world of possibilities when it comes to cake designing. Exploring ideas, trying new techniques in an innovative way and bringing in these elements into cakes has been the newest trend in the field of cake designing. Visual presentation, use of quality ingredients to compliment taste & attention to details also significant in creating a designer cake.
5 TIPS ON HOW TO DESIGN A DRESS CAKE, by Reema Siraj
INSPIRATION - My fondness of mediums such as lace, pearls, and fabrics is what drew me to the idea of constructing this life size wedding dress. Heavy embellishments were fundamentally the focus of this cake so I needed inspiration from a dress that already encapsulated this. I looked to the exemplary designs of Ziad Nakad, a sensational wedding gown designer from Lebanon, who specialises in eccentric fabrics and unconventional beading styles.
DETAILS - All the details in this dress were to be entirely hand-made, so I began by crafting the embellishments one by one. Starting with the delicate flowers made of wafer paper, centred with edible pearls. The tedious task of handcrafting over 2400 individual flowers, was endearing but essential to create the couture gown.
MATERIAL - Lace was the main feature of this cake, with over 1000 individual lace flowers covering the entire dress. Each flower that formed the lace design had to be individually cut and positioned on the dress in an orderly fashion to ensure the design was flowing and faultless.
THE FINISH - The finishing details of the dress were just as important as the main features, as these are the touches that often differentiate between a designer gown and a high street one. The buttons on the back of the gown were 94 in total, lining the full length of the dress, and each handmade using balls of fondant, fastened into another 94 loops, identical to an actual button up back.
Q | Can you talk about your other works and the inspiration behind those?
A | I am able to create interesting, artistic & concept designs because of my ability to see and extract creative ideas from other creative fields and translate them into my cake designing. Eg: Architecture, Interior & Nature, to my brick wall cake and steampunk machinery into my steampunk cake. Also I believe, my ability to execute these ideas into my cakes using right cake decorating mediums, tools & techniques are paramount in designing methods.
Q | Who inspires you?
A | No doubt my mother, Shamina Siraj, was my biggest inspiration to start with as I learnt all my basic skills from her. Also world renowned cake artists Jasmine Rae & Maggie Austin are two artists who inspire me a lot. The Highlight of my career is being able to learn from both of them and meet them in person. My biggest influencer is my brother, Azam Siraj, as he always pushes me to my highest potential.
Q | What are your thoughts on the baking industry now and how do you see its evolution and future in terms of the art of it?
A | Baking industry now has ventured and evolved into the design aspect of it rather than simply focusing on baking & decorating it. I believe that cake designing can be one of the most versatile design fields in future as cake designers can create a designer cake by bringing in many forms of creative design inspirations from other design fields, into their cakes, such as Architecture, interior, fashion, sculpture, painting, pottery, jewellery making and many other creative fields. Therefore I see and believe, in time to come, the designing of the cake will take centre stage in Cake making. Cake designing will be a prospective career for many creative minds.
‘Let Them Eat Cake’, said Mary Antoinette when her villagers starved and the stock of bread was dwindling. The saying initially translated to ‘Let Them Eat Brioche’ as the original phrase had no mention of the word ‘gateau’, which translates to ‘cake’. However, this saying descends through generations and now cake is perceived as an object of luxury, a creation that poses on a pedestal for all to awe at. This is mainly because of how it’s created, the artistry behind its creation and the potential creativity of the artist behind the design. Reema Siraj takes on the role of an artist as she designs uniquely from alternate concepts to create life-like fantasy realms and real-life objects. Her imagination and the application of her vision is preceded through the final piece. Her bridal design draws parallel significance in its design to represent a fashion design perspective and the idea behind it. A dress crucial to a design collection is intricately represented through her work of art in celebrating the fashion designer’s perspective and that capability, we find, is what Reema has achieved. From her bridal cake to her design of steampunk and the articulate details behind the brick wall cake, Reema surpasses a visual limitation to give life to her imagination.