A month in the life of an Ibiza cake maker…
In this members’ blog, Pro member Eileen Spargo sheds some light on the hectic life of an Ibiza cake maker, which culminated in her having to deliver 3 cakes to 3 different locations in just 1 day!!!
Here’s Eileen’s story….As I am in a slightly different position to so many of my ‘cakey friends’ on the Paul Bradford Pro members group (mainly due to location), I thought I would give you all a glimpse of the cake life I lead here on Ibiza.
I am sure many of you are aware that the Island is really quite small considering (only 11 miles across and 34 miles long) however, that doesn’t stop me from keeping busy!
In fact, just 2 weeks ago I delivered 3 cakes in one day!
A little insight before I tell you about my crazy day…
I set off at 12:15 PM with all 3 cakes for what was around a 50 miles round trip.
Now 50 miles might not seem too long considering. However, it took me 4 hours to do this because…
- The Island has many dirt tracks and meandering roads (not great for cakes)
- We have lots of traffic jams
My work tends to be all in a very short season. So we cake makers push ourselves to the limits because so many of these ‘clients’ are willing to pay good money and of course the work will not be here in the winter.
However, you still wouldn’t believe how many people from all around the world come here and expect a bespoke cake either the same day or the following day!
Getting in a pickle
As I’m 66 now, I try to take my work life a little easier. So I keep my prices high to control the amount of work in this tight short season.
Although sometimes that doesn’t go to plan, like the day in question, where, without realising, I agreed on 3 cakes for the same day.
Having been in the UK during the winter months last year I had not really checking on my dates (I use google calendar and an update last winter caused havoc for my Husband and I), …… OK I thought, no more orders and then I can cope.
…BUT!! Then I started to get the big late orders from wedding planners. I couldn’t turn this work away as these wedding planners are not only my friends but also the bread and butter of my business.
To add to this, I also then received an order for a seven-tier cake from a very famous footballer, with only 4 weeks’ notice!
Obviously, I couldn’t refuse. So many a sleepless night followed!
A busy calendar
So after agreeing to all this work it was time to roll up my sleeves. I started work at the end of May and my calendar looked a little something like this
- 4th June I had made 10 wedding cakes.
- On the 5th June I did the 7 tier cake for the footballer, knowing that the busy week was yet to come.
- On the 9th June I did a 4 tier cake with 3 cutting cakes for the kitchen.
- 15th June I did a 5 tier cake.
- On the 16th June I did 4 wedding cakes: 1 x 3 tier. 2 x 4 tier, and one 7 tier cake.
Flavours used for the cakes included:
- dulce de leche,
- red velvet,
- white chocolate,
- dark chocolate,
- lemon with swiss buttercream,
- passion fruit with swiss buttercream,
- and white chocolate with white chocolate ganach to name just a few.
25 cakes in 2 days!!!!
Well in 2 days I cooked, 25 cakes, (I have 2 ovens) then I torte, filled and ganached all. I made the decorations weeks(months!) in advance, so this was not quite so time consuming except for putting the cakes together and adding ruffles bows etc etc.
Now to the delivery day. On the evening of the 15th June, I delivered the 5 tier cake to the beautiful Agroturismo Hotel about 15 minutes from where I stay.
Here is a picture of that cake in position in the ‘chill out area’.
Saturday 16th In the morning, I loaded up my car with the first of the 4 cakes. Again this was being delivered locally (about a 10 minutes drive away).
The Hotel had sent me 2 emails and called, asking about the size of the cake how would they cut it etc etc. I was told by the Manager that the cake should be delivered by the first hour. I told them no way could I take the cake so early as it needs to be set up in position (this was a seven-tier cake).
We agreed upon 1pm, as being the latest for them and earliest I would contemplate delivering a cake that was to be outside in the June heat!
As I walk in the Hotel, it feels overwhelming as everybody seems to be ‘wanting something’ from the stressed staff. My bride (I never did get to know the name of Husband to be) wanted everything you could imagine on the cake (one of those customers that you have trouble making the design because she wanted so much).
I was originally supposed to meet the event planner in reception, but I was told to go to the 4th roof floor. However, I refused to do this without some assistance!
Once I eventually got someone to help me carry the cake, I took the cake up to the 4th floor in sections and met the event planner (she looked about 12!!!)
I then met with the chef, and we agreed how the cake would be cut.
I had also actually made extra dummy cakes so that some of the real cake could be given to the kitchen in advance, as they were not happy about cutting and serving this cake!
I set up the cake on a very very hot day it was in the shade, but as you can see from the picture was very exposed. I had a problem with the top 2 tiers (they were white chocolate ganache which really isn’t strong enough when the weather gets so hot). You can see the 2 tier bowing out ☹.
One and half hours later I returned to my place and collected 2 more of the cakes. The second cake was the smallest 3 tiers, the bride categorically didn’t want sugar flowers, when I arrived at the villa (which was extremely difficult to find).
I asked the wedding planner for the fresh flowers/foliage for the cake so that I could prepare and add them to the cake…”Oh! ” She said “we don’t have any” So I told her that I couldn’t leave a cake like this and that we needed to add something!
So I raided my toolbox and put on a few flowers and leaves. They weren’t really adequate, but still better than nothing!
To add to my woes, as the table had been set up in the sun I had to prepare the cake on the ‘makeshift’ bar that had been set up for the wedding where the guests were all at the bar drinking cocktails before the ceremony.
Here’s the cake:
After a while I left the rather drunk guests and drove on to the next cake delivery at the other end of the Island which took around about 40 minutes.
Yet another completely different environment. This time it was a beach restaurant at Benniras, a very famous beach for the ‘hippy vibe’ (shall we say a VERY chilled atmosphere some distinct smell in the air too!).
The beach restaurant is very laid back and run by Italians. They have a small boutique selling Ibiza style beach clothing within the restaurant too.
When I arrived, they were only just setting up the tables for the wedding dinner (one hour before the wedding was to commence) so I asked where to put the cake?
They had been informed by the bride that she wanted the cake brought out after dinner as a surprise, so the cake was to be stored in a fridge until later. (She hadn’t informed me of this and I had told her the time I would deliver).
I informed my ‘learned’ Italians that there was no way the cake could go in a fridge as it would ruin the decoration and the taste of course. So I was then taken through the restaurant with the chef into the kitchen (where it was far too hot to store the cake) we then went down 2 flights of stairs to the storeroom where the frozen food was stored and the washing up was done.
I told them “no way are you bringing that wedding cake down here!” So after one hour of looking for a suitable location, I made it clear I was putting the cake on display as it is meant to be.
The staff, although friendly, were’t particularly happy about this but allowed me to do it eventually as long as I took responsibility with the bride.
So I wrote an email to the bride saying what I had done and luckily everything worked out fine (She wrote to me the next day saying it was all good and everything had been perfect!!). Here is a picture of that cake in position on display!
It was now time to return to my place and load the last cake into the car.
Remarkably, I was just about on time, as I had agreed with my wedding couple that I would deliver and set up the cake for 7pm, just in time for their wedding dinner at 8pm.
The venue was another Agroturismo Hotel called Can Curreu. It is absolutely stunning and I
believe shows Ibiza at it’s best.
It’s such a tranquil place with orange groves, almond and olive trees all around. You
couldn’t choose a better venue for a wedding. I also know the staff at this place and they are always very friendly and helpful.
The cake was set up within 10 minutes and the couple loved it! all in all it was a perfect end to an unbelievable day!!
It was also my favourite cake of the day 😊 Here is the picture.