A day in the life of a Cake Decorator

Baking a birthday cake – behind the scenes with Katrien van Zyl (written by Monean Winterbach)


Katrien van Zyl is the author of ‘Katrien’s Cakes’ and the recently released ‘Katrien’s Mini Cakes’. Her business is also called Katrien’s Cakes and she bakes the most amazing wedding cakes and birthday cakes (and all sorts of other cakes) on order. We decided to join her for a few days to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the process involved in creating her beautiful master pieces.


A few weeks prior to our visit, she was tasked with creating a ‘Gnomeo & Juliet’ cake. Here’s how she did her magic and made the most beautiful cake for a special birthday girl. Although Katrien usually works with chocolate, this cake was decorated using fondant.




 The process started about a week and a half before the delivery date when she created the gnomes, animals and furniture that would adorn the cake. Four days before delivery, the base for the cake was prepped to give it enough time to settle.




Three days to go, and she baked one big cup cake and several smaller ones that would form the bases and tops of the toadstools.




Each toadstool is meticulously formed. The cupcake is shaped and covered with chocolate ganache before a layer of jam is spread over the ganache so that the fondant will stick to it. The fondant is then used to cover the cake and slowly but surely it is smoothed and shaped to form perfect little stems and tops for the toadstools.  Several hours are spent perfecting each one.




In the two days before delivery, the pieces are all put together and the scene slowly comes together, until…




Ta-daaa!! Well done Katrien! And we’re sure Andrea adored her cake this weekend!


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