Sometime ago, I met with Claire Ptak from Violet Cakes. She has the most humble, beautiful and delicious bakery in East London. She is known for her lovely palette of icings and decorating with fresh flowers. I was drawn to her homemade qualities and how she applies her icing in a perfectly imperfect way.
Last year, when I was deciding the different projects I wanted to include in "My Floral Affair" book, I knew I had to include one of these cakes. I chose my preferred style and the palette of fresh flowers.
The scheduling of "My Floral Affair" photography was quite an undertaking. Working out logistics of locations and flowers all in the different countries, France, Norway and the Uk. Annabelle Daughtry was our co ordinator and went with the wonky flow.
We had originally planned to photograph the cake in a location just outside of London with a friend of my photographer, Amy Neunsinger. We organized the delivery of the cake from East London to where I was staying in Nottinghill (West London) the day before. On arrival, I realized the cake was too big to fit in my little fridge so I placed it outside on my porch, mainly so the flowers would keep fresh. Around midnight the location we were to shoot at fell through, so we scrambled and pulled forward our next shoot. Only problem was, it was in Norway. I couldn’t bare the idea of not including the cake, so along she came.
As well as being beautiful, she was quite heavy. I had also ordered these little tiny cupcakes with teeny pearls on top. So these too had to be carefully navigated.
The first stage was the drive from Nottinghill to Gatwick, which is about 90 minutes. The cake sat on my lap, and one of our assistants (Amy’s son) was given the task to carry the little box of cupcakes. He had to be reminded every now and again to keep the box straight so the cupcakes didn’t slide around.
Once at Gatwick we navigated though security. I won’t go in elevators, as they scare me, so the cake was quite the weight to carry up the stairs.
She made it through security, but on our Norwegian Airlines arrival they told me she couldn’t sit on my lap. She had to go in the overhead hold or under the seat for take off... yikes. I held my breath as we took off, worrying she would slip around. But I did retrieve her once we reached our cruising altitude and placed her once again on my lap. She was doing okay, but the box was getting a bit beaten up.
Another taxi awaited us at Bergen Airport in Norway. More lap time and then eventually, we arrived at Jorunn Mullen’s house where we were staying until our shoot the next day. At that point it was clear I was going to have to replace the flowers, smooth out some of the dents in the icing, and find a cake plate to sit her on. We scoured a crazy antique store where everything was piled high to the ceiling. I found a simple & inexpensive hammered metal tray. And then I went in search of some flowers. I settled on some pale pink roses and chrysanthemums.
Once we arrived at the Damsgurad Museum to shoot it was clear my intuition was right, that this cake deserved the effort of the journey. The backdrop and surroundings were magnificent.
And then, the icing on the cake ... (no pun intended) It was announced this week that Claire Ptak of Violet Cakes has been chosen to make Meghan and Harry’s Royal Wedding cake. Hopefully the ride from East London to Windsor castle will be a little more prepared than my journey. But clearly these cakes are made for royalty.
Photography by Amy Neunsinger & Annabella Daughtry