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Introducing workshops!

Picture by @clementsandthefox

I’m proud, pleased and super bloody excited to be bringing Perth cupcake and cookie decorating workshops soon!

These have been more than six months in the making as I wanted to get them just right. I wanted to create some beautiful classes that people could come to and learn a new skill, meet new people and have a great time. Plus, take home some delicious desserts.

I’m not actually sure you can hear my excitement through the screen, I probably need to use a few extra exclamation points!

Tell me all the details!

Date: Saturday 27 July
Venue: Studio64 in South Perth
Time: There are two options, based on the class you prefer

Cookie decorating workshops Perth Cakes by Carli

10am – Cookie decorating

Learn how to make those sweet little stamped cookies for party favours! We’ll decorate them several ways, giving you all the skills to make them yourself at home. Book here.

cupcake decorating workshops perth cakes by carli

2pm – Cupcake decorating

Gain the confidence to pipe some beautiful designs of your own, and learn what tools you need to complete at home yourself. Book here.

In both classes you will receive take home recipe books, lots of hints and tips, and have a whole lot of fun! We can cater for various dietary requirements – just ask.

Please note – these are decorating classes only. While you will see a demonstration on the day, bases will be pre-made for you to decorate.
The childcare does not operate on weekends. Unfortunately we can not cater for young children as bystanders or taking part. If you have a teen interested in taking part, please get in touch to discuss before booking.

We are so excited to have you along! Questions? Comments? Email cakesbycarli88@gmail.com

How serious allergies can be

This is a sage reminder how serious and awful allergies are. This is me eight hours after an allergic reaction.

Cruising for a reaction

This picture was taken at 2am in the bathroom of a cruise ship cabin. It’s the European summer of 2016 and we’re cruising from Venice to Croatia and Greece. It’s our second dinner of the cruise. During the first dinner I was told they would make a nut free dish that night, then to choose the next night’s meal and it would be specially prepared. Cruise ships have a great rep for allergies. You can get your day trip food packed for you, chefs will help out at a second’s notice and walk you around the buffets showing you what’s safe.

A special meal

Unfortunately for me, I had a terrible experience. That first night, I selected my dish for the second night – the entree was arancini balls. The menu description said pinenuts in the sauce, but they were going to make me a special version. I was served the next night and I started digging in, but I knew something was wrong immediately. It was such a special version that it had nuts in it.

My reaction

We went to the ship’s hospital. By this point I’m crying and getting super panicky – a reaction does that to me. There’s something going around your body that’s trying to kill you, so the body goes a little haywire and for me I get flustered, very shaky and a bit hysterical. I’m also stressing out that I’m going to die in a floating city a million miles from home. I was in the hospital for a while, they gave me drugs and tried to make me laugh. I tried though the tears. We eventually went back up to our room and they sent us some dinner. Can’t say I felt like eating it.

And then my face swelled up

A few hours later, my body flushes hot. I turn bright red. Redder than I’ve ever been. It looks like I’m sunburnt all over my body. Then, my eyes start swelling shut. If you have a script for adrenaline you get two epipens on one script. And this is why – secondary reactions. I felt ok but we sat and watched the swelling get worse and worse. It was fascinating in a sick way. We called up the doc and was told take another anti histamine and I’d be ok. Righto. I tried to go to sleep but wasn’t really feeling it. Hence being up at 2am and taking a photo.

The value of my life

I’m not going to name and shame the cruise company, besides having the most lacklustre response to them feeding me an allergen and the compensation they offered ($150 voucher towards a future cruise hahahaha – yeah nah!).

It’s a simple reminder for those with allergies to carry your medication at all times, carry the spare (preferably get someone very close to you to do this in case a bag gets lost or stolen), and be alert even when served an ‘allergen free’ meal. For those without allergies, I’m anaphylactic but only if I ingest nuts. I consider myself lucky. Please be kind and considerate towards anyone in your life with allergies and help them by being vigilant on their behalf, they are no joke.

The perfect cake, according to me

birthday cakes celebration cakes perth wa beckenham perfect cake
Perth cakes

So what makes a perfect cake? Is there even such a thing?

Well, we can sure get close. Now, everyone has a slightly different idea about what makes something good, just like art.

To me, a perfect cake is about sweetness, icing, texture and flavour.

Texture

Oh you know I’m going to use this word here – moist. Nobody likes a dry cake. Nobody likes a rubbery cake. And no one wants to eat a cake so dense that you’re dying after a mouthful that takes you forever to chew and needs to be washed down with a whole glass of water.

The perfect cake is light, fluffy and MOIST. There’s really just no other way to describe it.

Flavour

The flavour should be easily recognisable. Sometimes you do want the cake to be subtle if you are pairing it with icing that is pretty intense. 

But you don’t want a flavour that smacks you in the face. Or a flavour so sour your mouth shrivels up in protest. It’s all about balance. Balancing sweet and sour, salt and sugar.

If you have a cake flavour in mind, I can suggest some classic or modern combinations that work well and give balance. Like chocolate and vanilla. Or lemon and raspberry.

Icing

Now this is something that really is up to the individual. I offer classic buttercream (whether that’s butter or non-dairy) icing only. I like a small amount of sweet icing, but without a greasy mouth feel.

For a while there I played with Swiss meringue icing (incorporating cooked egg whites) and I also tried fondant cakes. But nope, my lovely customers just wanted classic buttercream. So that’s what I stick to. 

The only time I’ll deviate slightly is during our extreme summers to make sure your cake doesn’t slide right off the board. Sun and cakes are not a match made in heaven!

Sweetness

The key to the perfect cake? One that isn’t too sweet and that you can go back for seconds because the first piece hasn’t put you into an instant sugar coma.

For me, it’s about the ratio of cake to icing. And icing that isn’t ‘blow your head off sweet’ and that all important flavour balance. Sweet, sour, salt, sugar.

So there you have it, the perfect cake (according to me). Do you agree?

Fun facts about Cakes by Carli

cakes by carli nut free cakes perth
Clements and the Fox

With a business name ‘Cakes by Carli’ it’s pretty self explanatory about who I am and what I do! But, who am I really?

Here’s some fun facts about your friendly neighbourhood baker.

  1. The idea for my business started when I was 19 and got diagnosed with a nut allergy.
  2. My business has only been going for three years – I took a little while to get my idea off the ground!
  3. I’m a journalist by trade. Now I work in Communications and Marketing.
  4. I LOVE cake. I like smelling cake, eating cake, baking cake and talking about cake.
  5. My fingers and toes are double jointed 🤣
  6. My favourite countries are Slovakia and Japan. I’ve been to the former three times, and the latter four times.
  7. Pizza is my favourite savoury food. Hot, cold, pineapple, no pineapple. I just like pizza.
  8. I’m not great at cooking dinner. I mean I’m ok, but I don’t really enjoy it all that much.
  9. I love dogs but I’m allergic to them. Along with cats, dust, grass, nickel. Yep, I’m a barrel of laughs.
  10. I’m a total introvert and would much prefer to be curled up with a book than out at a party! 

So there’s a little insight into Cakes by Carli and how this business came to be!

So next time you need a nut free, dairy free, vegan or gluten free cake, think of me with my funny fingers and love of pizza – hahah!

It’s just flour and sugar!

small business expenses perth cupcakes

When you order a cake from my business, it’s just flour and sugar, right?

Not exactly.

Well I do use flour and sugar in my cakes. But that’s only part of what you are paying for.

Small business life

Running a cake business is a glorious mix of being an entrepreneurial boss lady loving setting my own schedule, crossed with an exhausted, overworked artist.

Because cakes are art. And just like every artist out there I didn’t start making cakes because I wanted to be a millionaire – I just bloody love cake.

I love making cake, I love eating cake and I love smelling cake. I could talk your ear off all day about cake and there’s nothing better than someone who appreciates dessert as much as I do. Most of all, I love making cakes for people and every step of the process.

Design, bake, decorate

Here’s some of the things you might not expect you are paying for when you order a cake.

Because as much as this is a passion job, I’m also trying to run a business which is sustainable and earns me more than $2 an hour.

Designing

– I can spend hours chatting to you about your plans to make you the perfect cake to fit your occasion.

– I chat to florists and cake topper creators to get quotes. I’m all about supporting other small businesses.

– Searching for speciality items such as decorations and cookie cutters can be time consuming.

– A phone, a computer, a printer, internet, stationary (for sketching) and an invoicing program are all needed for these tasks.

(And all of this can be for nothing if my quote isn’t accepted!)

Baking

Here’s the flour and the sugar bit. And the raising agents, eggs or oil, butter or margarine, icing sugar and other pantry items such as cocoa, coconut etc.

It’s also:

– tins and trays

– a mixer (or two)

– a dishwasher

– spatulas

– cookie cutters

– baking paper, alfoil and wraps.

Decorating

Now this is the fun bit! I have a whole cupboard for decorating. And then a whole cupboard for cake boxes.

What’s in them?

– cake boards

– piping bags

– piping nozzles

– shapes and cutters

– cake boxes

– colours

– flavours

– sprinkles

– edible paint

– paint brushes

– rolling pins

– non stick mats.

The business bits

There’s a few things I need/use besides equipment to run my business:

– Council fees. I get inspected yearly to comply with Council regulations. This is a paid service

– insurance. I’m dealing with food. I must have this and I wouldn’t want to be without it!

– marketing. I need a logo, business cards, banners, flyers, labels, cake books, car graphics, paid advertising, website, domain name, business name, SEO

– markets. We probably shouldn’t chat about market fees. Or the gazebo, tables, cloths, display case, boxes, trolley and chairs. Nope, don’t get me started!

– car. I need one of these to buy ingredients and do deliveries. Which needs tyres, fuel, insurance, breakdown cover, cleaning. If you’ve ever seen my social accounts you’ll know I take pride in my car and the effective cake carrier and marketing tool it is!

– training. A lot of cake makers are self-taught and that’s pretty much me too. I did a few semesters at Tafe to help define my cake passion and I loved it. I also attend regular workshops and business networking to learn new skills and chat to others in the small business life

– a living wage for all the hours spent on your cake. No one wants to work for far less than minimum wage. Then pay tax and super. And spend time away from loved ones to do it. Nope, no one wants to do that.

A job not a hobby

I’m proud to tell people I have a business. I’ve learnt so much about myself over the past few years, including my physical and stress limits. I’m continuously amazed at my creative abilities (for someone who battles to draw stick figures).

And I’m proud every time I quote with all the above factors in mind, deliver on the design and taste, and then get excellent feedback. Because it’s taken me a while to value my worth and skills. Custom cakes are expensive because they are made just for you, with love, passion and skill.

So don’t be offended when you expect a cake (that would take 4+ hours to create) for 25 people for $50, and I say no.

Hopefully the above shows exactly why that’s not a price I can, or would want, to match.

And if you got to the end of this, you deserve a medal for your efforts! And cake!

Cake licence? Yes please

cake licence registeredYou know how plumbers and sparkies need a licence to operate legally?

Well, cake makers are just the same. We need a cake licence.

What exactly does that mean?

Registered business

It means I have to be registered with my local Council.

It means I undergo annual kitchen inspections.

It means I complete an annual food safety and handling certificate.

It means I’m insured.

And it means I’ve gone through a whole long (and expensive) process to be a legitimate home-based food business.

Because it’s important.

No one ever wants to get sick, and especially not from cake!

Did you know that most Council areas in Perth (there are some limited exceptions) don’t allow home kitchens to sell uncooked dairy products, because they are a high risk product?

Some people can’t even use cooked cream such as in ganache. And City of Gosnells won’t allow raw desserts because they are uncooked.

It’s why we don’t offer cream cheese icing or cream cakes – but we have delicious, safe alternatives!

Support local

My little business has just passed another home inspection, my third to date. The picture is of me passing my first one two years ago. It was such an exciting time for me to be able to finally launch my business.

There are dozens of cake makers in Perth doing the right thing too. Just like asking a sparkie, I encourage everyone to ask cake makers for their certificates. As with any trade, a qualified professional will have no problem with this.

Stay safe, cake lovers!

Not just another Perth cake maker

perth cake makerSo we’re just another Perth cake maker, right?

Nope.

Cakes by Carli is a little different.

It’s what’s inside that matters

Sure, we make cakes that are pretty. But we also make cakes for lots of different dietary requirements.

Our council-registered kitchen is nut free. Yep, I’m sure you’ve heard by now that I’m allergic to nuts.

But we can also create egg free cakes, dairy free cakes, vegan cakes, gluten free cakes, plus vegan and gluten free cakes.

Oh and slices and cupcakes and donuts and more.

So while the look is important, for us what really matters is on the inside.

Designing your perfect cake

We’ll work with you to come up with a perfect design, that is suitable for your dietary needs.

Because sometimes common allergens are in the most random of things, and we thoroughly check and confirm everything.

When this business first started, only around 10% of all orders were for people with various dietary requirements.

Now, we’re hovering around 80%. Which only comes from product trialling, testing, tweaking and devouring.

I’m super proud of my creations and the recipes I’ve created (nope, you can’t have them anytime soon!) and the feedback on them.

So next time you need something sweet to cater for various dietary requirements, you know where to find us! You can contact us via our website or Facebook.

For the love of chocolate

I thought I knew a bit about chocolate.

Like how it comes in dark, milk and white and is delicious.

Turns out, there’s a little more to learn about this delicious treat!

I recently went to a chocolate class by Sue Lewis Chocolatier and boy did I walk out (rolled out is a more accurate description) informed.

Bean to bar

In a small group of nine, we started the night learning about cocoa beans, growing regions and the chocolate making process.

Plates and plates and more plates of chocolate were passed around for everyone to try various chocolate from around the world, as Sue shared her knowledge and passion.

As we learnt more about chocolate and tuned into our taste buds, we are all instantly chocolate connoisseurs and sprouting phrases like “mmm that one’s really dry on the palate, must be the tannins.”

Tempering chocolate

Once we stopped being terrible experts, we rolled over to a different part of the shop to learn how to temper chocolate like the pros.

With all her years of experience, Sue made it look way too easy!

We were shown two different methods and the equipment we’d need to try it ourselves at home.

Then with our successfully tempered chocolate we picked a mold each and got decorating, filling, scraping, and setting.

I picked the piggy mold, which was definitely projecting how I was feeling at that point!

We swapped our finished chocolates with each other so I also took home a frog, penguin, cat, sheep and Buddha in a beautiful box.

Perth chocolate class

What an amazing night! The class was a perfect way to spend an evening in Perth and get to learn more about chocolate.

From the complete novice to people who know a little about chocolate, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, asking lots of questions and of course scoffing down a bucketload of chocolate.

I’m so glad I went along and it would be a great gift for that hard-to-buy-for family member.

You’ll just have to wait and see what we get up to with all that new chocolate knowledge!

I’m a food snob

It’s not something I post about a whole heap, but I eat out a lot.

At least a few meals a week.

I love other people cooking for me. I love no dishes. I like trying new things.

I’m in a kitchen for way too many hours a week so I think that’s pretty fair.

But there’s one little problem.

I’m a food snob.

And a dessert snob. A big one.

It’s not like I want something fancy. I just want to eat something fresh, packed full of flavour, well seasoned and balanced.

Yep, told you I was a snob.

And it’s pretty hilarious coming from someone who grew up eating meat, mashed potato, pumpkin (vomit) and grated Kraft cheese (don’t even ask) every single night.

So what are my favourite foods?

Ice cream, pizza, Japanese, nachos. And cake, of course.

I could probably spend all day talking about these foods and exactly what elements are needed to make each of them perfect.

But I don’t think that’s really helping my cause!

Something that I enjoyed recently was black sesame ice cream served in a choux puff from Yuuma. Not a flavour I’d normally go for. But served at the perfect temp and balanced out by that sweet pastry with a sable top, I was in a world of heaven – yum!

I believe I mentioned earlier I’m a snob! What’s your favourite food?

Do you make sugar free cakes?

Do I make sugar free cakes?

Nope, sorry.

We’ve all seen the adverts about toxic fat around our vital organs.

We all know that excessive sugar consumption leads to health problems.

But that’s kiiind of your problem to deal with – I’m not here to solve those woes with sugar free cakes!

A lecturer once said to me “nobody needs cake. People want cake.”

We want cake because cake is a celebration, a special treat!

Cake is something you eat with both your eyes and your mouth.

It’s beautiful, it’s sweet, it’s delicious.

I can make dairy free, egg free, vegan and gluten free goods. And they are all nut free as standard due to my own allergy.

But raw? Nuh uh. Sugar free? Nope.

I’m not in the least trying to be rude or flippant. I offer a huge variety of options for different dietary requirements because I know how hard it can be when you have an allergy or intolerance. But unfortunately I won’t be catering to the health conscious or diabetics any time soon.

When you’ve already taken gluten, eggs and dairy out, it really doesn’t leave a lot to work with!

Sugar does more than just sweeten, it helps to make cakes rise (google it!).

And no, you will absolutely never find any artificial sweeteners being used over here.

I bake simply with flour, raising agent, fats and liquids. No nasties. Just basic honest cooking which is bloody delicious.

And contains sugar.