You may know Australian cake designer Eliza Stubbings from her instagram @copperforkcakes where you can delight in gazing at her cakes with clean lines, perfectly accented with florals. Or perhaps you know her from starting the #ArchCake craze! Arch Cakes took the baking world by storm. This classic architectural shape is now being requested by clients worldwide.
The launch of this blog post also signifies the launch of CakeSafe’s Arch Acrylic Disks. We are partnering with Eliza to make Acrylic Disks in the same dimensions as the cakes she has made famous! You can also purchase an online course from Eliza that will take you through every step to make the perfect standing Arch Cake.
Before heading over to shop Arch shaped Acrylic Disks, let’s get to know Eliza and how she got to where she is today. Stick around until the end where she gives some much needed advice for bakers and cake designers. We hope you enjoy this interview with Eliza from Copper Fork Cakes:
I think it's always been there to be honest! No one in my family are particularly keen bakers, so my passion for baking, especially as a little kid, is a bit of a mystery. I've loved baking and cooking for as far back as my memory goes. I remember receiving a spring-form tin from a family friend for a birthday when I was quite young, and the friend told a story of how the cashier really questioned if this was what a 9 year old would want for her birthday? She insisted I'd love it, and she was right. My cheesecake studies were imminent! I also spent my entire childhood in the States, which as far as I'm concerned, was an ideal environment for me to fall in love with the kind of baking I now adore. I might call myself an Aussie these days, but I'll defend the iconic American red velvet cake against any Australian that thinks it's just a red chocolate cake (or has anything to do with raspberry!).
2. Are you self taught or have you taken any pastry or baking arts programs?
During the two years I spent in a Californian high school, I found myself in an amazing advanced culinary program, which I definitely credit for putting a food business head on my shoulders. Aside from this, no. It's been training by trial and error (lots and lots of error!). It's definitely my favourite way to cake though! I feel like you can have an end goal in mind, and you might never get there, but you can discover three new techniques and designs you were never intending to, while you're trying to make something else happen.
In the studio, it's just me! I don't think I could fit anyone else in there with me; it's a bit of a shoebox, but I love it! For the back end of the business, I have my absolute gift of a human being, Meg! She handles my website, parts of my socials, marketing, graphic design and the odd delivery. Having Meg means that when things get intense, I can still give my couples 100% of myself, and not feel like I'm being spread too thin.
4. Where did the idea for an Arch Cake come from and how does it feel to start a trend?
About this time last year, I was asked to be a part of a giveaway/photoshoot with a local styling and events company, and they gave me free reign on the cake design. When they sent through their inspiration images for the event, all of the signage was in arches and there was this stunning light pink brick archway in the venue. I couldn't get it out of my head! Arches were popping up everywhere in wedding styling, and I was itching to merge it with cake! I'm hesitant to say I started a trend, because while I hadn't seen the kind of arch cake I had in mind, I had seen a version of an arch cake - a sort of semi circle cake on its side. I know it's not the same, but with some sensitivity to copying in our industry, acknowledging this is important to me. With the tall skinny arch design I had in my head, I knew I was going to be in a battle with gravity. I wanted it to look like the kind of arch you walk through, or the kind you see in old buildings (although some people seem to only be able to see it as the kind you get buried under!). The end result on the day was the kind of cake that makes me grateful for my glass door fridge, so I could just stare at her for as long as possible before delivery. I had tasked my topper designer (@somethingforcake) with creating a corner arch topper to perfectly fit the size of my arch, and she nailed it. The first Copper Fork Cakes (CFC) arch cake was born! She was a peach coloured, floral babe. Seeing people recreating the arch cake using my tutorials never fails to give me that butterfly feeling in my stomach! I love seeing the idea built upon and changed by the unique style of each caker that takes it on. Watching the trend travel has also taught me a lot about original ideas and how design credit gets lost along the way when trends spread far and wide, and I think that's okay! When a cake shape I shared gets so big and goes so far that it's being recreated by cakers who have never heard of my account, and therefore don't know to tag me... That's wild, in the best kind of way!
This is a cake I made for a wedding expo recently, and it makes my list of top favs because the journey to the end result was challenging and exhausting, but ultimately really rewarding. I had seen a vase with this kind of scalloped/column edge about five days before the expo, and knew I had to recreate it in cake. The only issue being, at five days out, I had no way of getting my hands on any boards or scrapers to make the process any easier. I went back to the drawing board (and to the local hardware store) and came up with the most round-about, pedantic way of creating those smooth buttercream columns. I documented the whole process in a highlight on my page on @copperforkcakes if you’d like to take a look! It took hours and all of my patience, but it worked, and she's been a favourite ever since!
6. What was your journey like to start offering Online Courses?
I filmed my first courses back in June of 2019, while my business was still quite small. I had a handful of keen followers who had seen glimpses of some of the quirky, pedantic techniques I've come up with in my caking, and were interested in learning. To be 100% honest, part of me thought if the only thing I got out of filming was some (very expensive) instagram content, I'd be okay with that. I still had a part time job, and was not quite in the real business mindset just yet. When I launched the tutorials in July, they were a slow burn, but seven months later, when I had just gone full time with the business and COVID took my weddings, they became my lifeline. I added the Arch Cake Tutorial to the list of courses in early 2021 and have since seen the CFC style arch cakes popping up all over. It's still a very strange concept to me, that anyone would want to know the cakey thoughts swirling around in my head!
7. Can you share about a time that things didn't go as planned (in the cake business, course making, or anything) and it was a real learning experience?
Just over two years ago, I was still working part time and doing about as many weddings as I do now, and I was working myself to the bone. I had got into the practice of constantly pushing myself further, and when that didn't end in disaster, I'd push the boundaries a little harder the next week. I had two weddings and a wedding expo on the same day, and as the perfectionist that I am, I tried to give each cake 100% of myself. Come 5:00pm that day, I had pulled through by the skin of my teeth but I had also forgotten to eat or drink anything all day. I passed out cold at my parents house shortly after the expo, and awoke to my Mum lovingly lecturing me about how unhealthy this was, and how I needed a change. I shared this experience on instagram a few weeks later, because it was a huge learning curve for me. I used to think success was directly linked to a busy schedule. I thought the more you do, the more successful you are, which I now realise couldn't be further from the truth. I now share this idea pretty frequently on my social media, because I want the next generation of cakers to know that less is actually more, and there is nothing impressive about working so hard you hurt yourself.
8. Do you have any advice for bakers just starting out and hoping to have a successful business?
Here's a few big things I've learnt in the last few years...
- Start before you feel ready. Whether that be your business or your next big project, just get started.
- Setting boundaries is especially important in an industry that people (for some reason) don't seem to take as seriously as others. You are the boss, and you get to make the rules. Decide what your ideal business looks like, write down the rules that support that idea, and stick to them.
- This one sounds so cliche but... believe in your product and your skill. Everyone in business suffers from imposter syndrome, but the more you genuinely believe in the value of the product you offer, the better equipped you are to tackle this and push yourself further.