A care home manager is giving Mary Berry a run for her money as the Queen of Cakes with her latest masterpiece in the shape of a pedigree dog.
When Ann Chapman from the Pendine Park care organisation was asked to make a baked version of Daisy the snowy white Samoyed, she took to the task without a single paws for thought.
And the tail had a happy ending because about a week later Ann, who runs the Bodlondeb dementia centre of excellence in Wrexham, displayed her flair for culinary magic with an 18 inch tall model of Daisy.
Before it was cut into portions, the stunning cake was being widely admired by Ann’s fellow staff members and residents at the Bodlondeb where she’s been in charge since it opened seven years ago.
Daisy is one of two Samoyeds owned by Mario and Gill Kreft, the proprietors of the Pendine Park care organisation.
Five year old Daisy and her sister, Rosie, three, are regular visitors to the organisation’s eight care home where they are firm favourites with the residents.
Ann, 61, who has spent her entire working life in the care sector and is a registered mental nurse, took up baking soon after starting at Bodlondeb to create a talking point for residents as part of the home’s activities and enrichment programme.
“I took up baking relatively recently to give me an interest away from what can sometimes be a quite stressful job and also to do something a bit special for my workmates and our residents at the home,” she explained.
“I started off by baking bread and used to take it into my local pub at Brynford near Holywell where I’d ask the regulars to taste it and mark it out of 10.
“They seemed to like it, so I started bringing bread and cakes I’d also baked at home into work at Bodlondeb.
“Discussing daily concerns while you’re eating something tasty together is just a nice way of doing things.
“I also love to share my baking with the residents and they seem to like it too. Just because someone suffers from dementia doesn’t mean they can no longer have the nice things in life like eating cake.”
Since she started her popular sampling exercises, Ann has had numerous commissions to bake cakes of every type and a couple of years ago ventured into sculptured versions.
She said: “I’ve done all sorts of different shapes like handbags and shoes, football boots and teacups. Lots of people ask me to make them specially, including fellow staff members, residents and relatives.
“Some of the ones I’ve been particularly pleased with were pug dog shaped cakes, one of which was raffled off for a cancer charity.
“At the moment I’m working on a Snow White and the Seven Dwarves one for the birthday of a colleague’s young granddaughter. It’s been a bit tricky to do all seven of the dwarves but I managed it alright and now I’m working on Snow White and the wall she’s sitting on.”
But Ann admits that the cake she’s just finished is the largest and most complex she’s ever attempted.
“Mario and Gill Kreft, who own the Pendine Park care organisation, are passionate about their two all-white Samoyed dogs and they asked me if I could produce a cake shaped like one of them, five-year-old Daisy,” she recalled.
“I knew it was going to be a tough one but I accepted the challenge. I was working on it for over a week and it really tested me.
“The cake is made from four separate pieces of lovely rich chocolate cake and then covered with more chocolate to give it extra strength.
“I used 6kgs of icing sugar for the final covering – and that’s an awful lot icing.
“Samoyeds like Daisy are famous for their gorgeous feathery white fur and getting the right effect was also quite difficult. Before the icing dried out I had to sort of tease it into the right consistency using a very sharp knife and my catering scissors. I just hope it’s worked.”
According to a delighted Mario Kreft, the Daisy cake, which weighs in at around 12kgs on its base complete with two edible chocolate bones, is just what he and Gill were looking for.
He said: “Our enrichment programme incorporates the arts and a host of other activities and Ann often bakes bread with the residents at Bodlondeb.
“We always knew she was extremely talented when it came to the art of baking marvellous cakes but she’s definitely surpassed herself this time.
“Making and most importantly eating these wonderful creations is all part of our programme to enrich the lives of our residents and also our staff and I wanted something which took the whole process a step further by creating a confectionary version of one of our beloved Samoyeds.
“Our other dog is three-year-old Rosie but as the dog Ann created is something very special Gill and I have decided to give it its own name of Lulu.
“The cake is so incredible that it’s almost too good to cut but I’m sure that’s what will happen in the end as everyone can’t wait to taste it.”