Imagine my delight at having a cake made in my honour and named after me. I love cake, I love poodles, I love black, I love pink. When I first saw it I thought of Elizabeth Taylor having a rose named after her. That must be the feeling.
The wonderful Inga Ruby, founder of Bella Baking, is very fond of making statement cakes. Each cake has an in-depth history with complexities woven in to its clever interpretation. They are all magnificent.
Q: How did Inga Ruby start making such beautiful cakes?
A: I love history, sub-culture and pop-culture from the past 80 years. I am also trained as a milliner. I started making and decorating cakes simply because I could never find any I liked. I felt that cake decoration could be far more whimsical yet remain elegant. I also noticed that fewer and fewer people were practicing the art of Royal Icing on cakes and I wanted to learn it and put my own twist on it. I’m still very much learning it but it’s my favourite element of cake decorating, it’s so versatile.
Q: What was her first cake?
A: I have been baking and decorating for fun since I was a child. My first ‘proper’ cake was a huge star shaped number covered in black sugarpaste decorated with lots of individually cut tiny metallic red stars.
Q: Where does she draw her inspiration?
A: Mostly from the past, 1920s-70s music/art/fashion/sub-culture. Also historical cake decorating styles and the art of Royal Icing: the Nirvana style of cake decorating is the one that really makes my heart race, it’s just so smooth and perfect. As for contemporary cake designers, I really admire the work of Donatella Semalo who is a world class Royal Icer, and Maha Muhammed who does amazing floral work in buttercream.
Q: What is the weirdest cake she has ever had commissioned?
A: I think so far a personalised Coat of Arms cake. I made an 80th birthday cake for an elderly gent and was asked to include his Freemason and Royal Naval background in the design along with his panther tattoo AND include alcohol somewhere. I made him a chocolate Guinness cake decorated with a Coat of Arms bearing a masonic apron, naval anchor and the tattoo. It was a huge success!
Q: What did she do before she was a cake mistress?
A: I was executive assistant to the chairman of the oldest tailor on Savile Row. Prior to that I spent many years working for Agent Provocateur.
Q: What is the most exciting commission she has ever had?
A: I absolutely loved making the ‘Hanging Gardens of the Eaton Rose’ cake. It was commissioned to celebrate the completion of the Eaton Rose dining room at the fabulous Eaton House Studio in Tiptree, Essex. The cake was technically and artistically challenging and the detail was very intricate, but that’s what I love doing most – the small details.
I have some cakes in the pipeline for high profile people but none I can divulge just yet!
Q: How long does each cake take to make and how does she set about making a sculpture?
A: Most of my cakes, even the simpler ones, are quite detailed so it can be anything up to 12-plus hours… and beyond. Modelling and Royal Icing run-outs can be very time consuming so have to be planned well in advance. Sugar flowers are another ballpark entirely, if a cake design is heavy on sugar flowers then it can take weeks to prepare for. I don’t use a huge amount of life size sugar flowers in my designs because my style is stylistic rather than realistic.
Q: What is the cheapest/most expensive?
A: My celebration cakes start from £55 for a simple 6-inch one tier design…price-wise the wedding cakes will always top the scale due to the size and the amount of preparation and planning – these start from about £200 for something petit and simple but the cost really depends on what the couple marrying want with regard to size and design. Designs heavy on Royal Icing usually commands higher fees too.