What Would They Know? Rhonda Yap of The Dainty Baker

by | Cake Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ms Polka Dot
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Cupcakes, couture cakes and all sorts of sweet treats are created in the kitchen of The Dainty Baker. With a delicate touch Rhonda creates goodies we ordinary mortals can only dream about – not only for a sumptuous dessert table, but also the cake of your dreams for your wedding, or special celebration. As Rhonda says “I invite you to join me on my sweet little adventure” – and an adventure it is, in both new and interesting flavours, and a feast for the eyes and tastebuds!

What is your background, and how were you inspired to start your business, The Dainty Baker?

People don’t believe me when I say I used to work in the Engineering/Construction industry. But I have a Bachelor in Civil Engineering and Commerce and also committed 4 years to working with a large Building Contractor. I soon decided that I wasn’t following what I have always loved doing…Cakes. So I headed off to complete a course in European Pastry Arts in the United States. Upon my return to Sydney I started up my own company called the Dainty Baker and have not looked back since.

Which is your favourite cake to make?

This isn’t strictly a cake but I do enjoy making Pate a choux (or what most know as being a croquembouche). I find when I deliver them they always draw an amazing reaction because of their height and artistic appearance. Witnessing the reaction from a crowd is what makes my work so enjoyable for me and that is something I always get with the croqeumbouche.

Do you have a signature or special decorative element that you are known for?

I think piping is one of the things that makes each cake personnel and distinguishes it from any other. It adds the artistic character to the cake and allows me to use my creative side the most. I like knowing that no pattern or swirl will ever be exactly the same and its what makes the cake yours and not just another cake.

Included in your Premium Flavours are Pandan Pandemomium and a cake made from the Durian fruit. Would you describe them?

As far as I remember I have been making Asian desserts. I used to enjoy making them almost as much as I did eating them! These were probably the first steps of the Dainty Baker without me even knowing it. Obviously once I started baking the amount of Asian desserts I made decreased until I thought “why not combine the two”. By doing so I was hoping to let people try something that they may not have had before and for those that have to let them experience them in a very different way.

Both Pandan and Durian are very widely used and recognizable flavors throughout Asia. Pandan is a flavor that is extracted from a leaf by the process of boiling/infusing the Pandan into whatever you are making with it. This process is comparable to that of tea. The scent itself has a recognizable sweetness which is widely used throughout Asia in many different recipes from cream to sticky rice to cakes. Durian is a notoriously smelly fruit. People either love it or hate it but past the very recognizable smell is a unique enjoyable taste. The fruit itself is covered in spikes but the inside is creamy and almost like a custard texture. I incorporate this into my cake by pairing it with my smooth swiss buttercream filling. This adds to the creamy richness and enhances the sweet delicate flavor of the fruit.

What sort of cakes/sweet treats do you suggest for a dessert table?

Dessert tables are getting more and more popular. I love their appearance and how easy it is to create a personal theme whether it be a kids birthday or an engagement party. I try to encourage a range of cakes and sweets so that peoples eyes are made to dart between macarons, mini cakes, lollies, cookies, pate a choux etc. You should be standing there stuck with what you are going to pick up first.

Any suggestions for the set up of the dessert table?

I often suggest that the wedding cake should be the center piece of a dessert table. I therefore introduce as much height as possible so that it towers above the rest of the desserts on offer. However, depending on the style and feel of your wedding, the dessert table could be customized with endless possibilities to completely personalize it for your special day.

Describe your ultimate wedding cake, and dessert table? 

Oh no… this is a dangerous one! Despite the fact that I make desserts and wedding cakes, I am a huge fan and connoisseur of interesting and new desserts, they excite my palate and intrigue me. I think I would love to have signature desserts from all the fabulous chefs (snow egg, strawberry watermelon cake, anything from Burch and Purchese to name but a few) coupled with a selection of all the different types of wedding cakes available e.g. Croquembouche, Kransekake, macaron tower, modern fondant cakes. All of it would be displayed on a beautiful table with gorgeous garlands of flowers so that the whole thing just looked like a sweet, delectable wonderland!

I see that you also make a croquembouche. Are brides looking for different wedding cakes now, and so more will choose cakes like the croquembouche? Is this a challenge to make?

Yes, with the likes of pinterest, facebook, google, instagram, so readily available, brides have the tough job of searching through a barrage of images & information to try and gauge inspiration for their dream wedding cake. There is now such a wide variety and so many trends to choose from, which is why I designed a wedding cake that combines the traditional croquembouche with fondant layers so that brides can have the best of both worlds.

The croquembouche was a challenge at first but like anything practice makes perfect. It is quite a feat to get the choux pastry as well as the structural integrity perfect whilst preventing the effects that humidity has on the toffee. There were also many burnt fingers along the way as well but it’s all worth it in the end.

How are bridal couples expressing their individuality as far as cakes and all things sweet are concerned?

I often sit down with both the Bride and the Groom to get a grasp on the look they both want to achieve. Some couples want their initials and some want to add a specific element of something that is particularly meaningful to them, like a certain flower or figurines.

Do you see some new ideas/trends creeping into wedding cake design?

All the time! Trends in the cake world are as fickle and fast as the fashion industry, it’s hard to keep up sometimes!

How do keep your ideas fresh, and your skill level increasing? Do you attend regular workshops?

In my spare time I browse Pinterest, Instagram, cake blogs and read up on prominent cake makers such as Ron Ben Israel and Peggy Porschen. Wedding Magazines and fashion blogs are also a great way to find new ideas for new textures and patterns. But I believe you can draw inspiration from anywhere. Making cakes is an art form with endless possibilities. Everything around you can become a cake if you want it to be. Sometimes a Client may want something specific and other times they have a general idea only. This is where I can help guide, fine tune and realize the perfect design for them.

There are endless ideas out there and it’s a pleasure to be able to create what people dream up and present it to them. It’s hard to run out of ideas when the spectrum is so wide and there are so many amazing requests that come my way.

I have actually had a lot of requests to make online workshops available on my website. It is certainly something I am considering and as soon as I get a spare moment you will have Dainty Baker workshops coming your way.

What do you like to do for relaxation?

Take a long hot bath or wine and dine with good company and awesome food.

Favourite place for a catch up with friends?

Yum Cha is always first on the priority list!

Thank you Rhonda for sharing your story. To find out more about The Dainty Baker visit the website.

All images courtesy of The Dainty Baker

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