If you've ever seen the cupcakes of Clare Bateman-King, you know that you're looking at the work of true artist. With a perfect cake consistency and intricate, tasteful sugarpaste decorations, her cupcakes reflect not only a culinary know-how, but creativity and a sense of wit. And while many of us can't readily enjoy her treats with her being based in the UK, we certainly can enjoy the visuals on her website (clarescupcakes.moonfruit.com), and Cakespy's interview below will give you the scoop on what's baking (and the lowdown on the UK's take on red velvet cake!).
Cakespy: How did you get started in cupcakery?
Clare Bateman-King: Bit of a family history here--my mum was a professional cake decorator when I was younger, even making cakes for the Royal Family at one stage. I don't think I ever remember one time in the house where the dining room wasn't full of a work in progress wedding cake and boxes of Sugar roses . However, I only got into it very late on...a few years ago when for some reason the novelty of making little works of art on small cakes hit me.
CS: Do you work solely by special order, or do you have a retail
location? How long have you been running your business?
CBK: Special Order, mostly for PR press launches and the like, which is how the business element started. I used to always make cakes for friends, one of them had a friend who needed cakes for a press event for a beauty product, and it all began from there about 2 years ago.
CS: What are your most popular cupcake themes?
CBK: Usually the flowers--lots of requests for boxes of 'pretty' cakes! The Baby Shower cakes are very popular too..we're only just getting into the 'shower' thing here in the UK even though you have been doing it for years there.
CS: What are your most popular flavors?
CBK: Good old vanilla or chocolate...though banana toffee seems to be a hit!
CS: How long does it take to decorate a cupcake for you? They're so intricate!
CBK: Depends on the cake--some obviously more than others. Things like the Palm Tree ones take a whole (lot of time) as there are a lot of elements--making the chocolate trees, then the sugarpaste shoes etc...then assembling them and hoping the tree will stay upright!
CS: Do you just make cupcakes, or do you have any other specialties?
CBK: Just the cupcakes. Have done a few larger cakes, but not as much fun as lots of little mini cakes!
CS: How often do you eat cupcakes?
CBK: Far too often. I always have half / one from each batch I make to test the quality before I send them out so it doesn't help the diet!
CS: What is your favorite type of cake?
CBK: I love anything almond or coconut!
CS: Your cupcakes are so beautiful and gourmet--tell us the truth, do
you ever eat store bought or prepackaged desserts or treats?
CBK: Yes, I do, and to be fair, some of them are great! I don't feel too bad doing it, as mine are rarely ordinarily decorated cakes like store ones, so it feels different somehow. And I did once see a UK celebrity chef buying a ready meal in my local supermarket, so hey, we all do it!
CS: Red Velvet cake is all the rage in the US--what is the general thought on it in the UK?
CBK: 99.9% of people in the UK wouldn't have a clue what that is. I know as I lived in LA for two years, but it's not a known cake here. Ironically I was on the net just last week looking at recipes...going to try a batch very soon.
CS: If you weren't a cupcake artist what do you think you'd be doing?
CBK: It is actually my 'second job'. I'm on maternity leave at the moment with a four month old baby, but my 'main job' is working in sales and marketing for a film trade magazine! Normally it would be daytime in the office, and evening and weekend creating cakes--it's a great release! I imagine when I have more children the day job my go and the cakes will be full time.
CS: What's next for your business? Anything new coming up?
CBK: Always looking or new ideas to be creative on cakes--maybe I should introduce Red Velvet to the nation! Looking forward to introducing lots of new flavours, see if we can get people off the chocolate/vanilla dependency!
Cakespy note: you can also enjoy photographs of Clare's cupcakes on the Cake Fun Flickr Pool.