Category Archives: Food


World Class Culinary School 2019 Review – Learn From The Best

What defines the art of food for you? Is it the taste? or, is it the atmosphere that it creates when it is shared among people? How is this a part of your home cake artistry business?
Today, I a deviate from my usual post on cake art, to embrace the bigger picture. Food.

My website and niche about cake decorating, is only but a small piece of the greater ‘food world’ puzzle. Cake Artistry is an art. Art is a creative aspect, which brings food to life.

How do you learn this art? through a culinary school, of course. I have spoken about the online cake decorating courses but today, I would like to focus on something closer to home for me.

My blog today will present my review of the school that helped me gain my Food Safety Certificate, the New Zealand School of Food & Wine.

So you ask, what has this got to do with Art Thou Cakes again?

The New Zealand School of Food & Wine is a popular culinary school. It provides long and short term training courses, that are affordable and thorough, in all areas of food preparations, including: the sale of alcohol, and building your food business.

Creating cake decorations from home is one thing, but it is another to know how to build your home business using the correct knowledge. Oh, and by the way, did you know that wine and/in cake is amazing?!

I hope that my post today will help many of you (especially those who live in New Zealand), see what a wonderful source of learning, we have, at our very doorstep.

My Relationship With NZ School of Food & Wine

My relationship with this school, began in 2018, when I searched online for a short yet, affordable Food Safety Certificate.

I was working full-time during this time and had very limited time or available options, the other issue I had, was that, I lived in North Shore.

NZ School of Food & Wine, had a half day course and it was available during one of my, days off work.

When I created my Art Thou Cakes website. I wanted to direct readers to the importance of gaining a Food Safety Certificate, when considering a home cake decorating business.

Therefore, I placed the school’s links in my very first content post to help others, and continued with my cake decorating blogs.

Until I checked my site emails and found a strange on.

The Email

The Marketing Manager had sent me an email to tell me that their Google analytics had a bump of visitors and upon further investigation, found my little website. They wanted to meet me.

Okay, at the time, when I read the email, I shook not with anticipation, but with fear. My first thoughts were, “You have really got yourself in trouble this time, woman.”

I actually thought that I was going to be sued by the NZ School of Food & Wine, for adding their links in to my post, without their permission.

I quickly replied to their email with an apology and stated that I will remove their links as soon as possible.

The Special Invite

It was a good thing, that I wasn’t proactive with my thoughts to terminate the school’s links. The Marketing manager, responded to my reply and said, that they wanted to thank me personally, with an invitation to a special lunch that was presented by their students as part of their assessment.

Special lunch invitation from NZ School of Food and Wine

My mood of self punishing thoughts quickly changed to one of pure excitement. WOW! my little website, was recognised for something that was, totally unexpected. I became so excited that I had to share this wonderful news with all my friends.


The Welcome

I have never been invited to a special luncheon before, and certainly not as a VIP. Although, I had been at the NZ School of Food & Wine, before, it was different this time to be welcomed as a guest of honour.

Upon entering, I was warmly welcomed by the attendants, my name was verified and guided to the waiting area. There were a few other guests. Some were from other tertiary schools and High schools. I felt like the sponge cake among the glamorous cakes. I was the only one that did not belong to an educational institution.

The Marketing Manager, Hayley Newton and Celia Hay, the owner/Director/Principal of the school, Celia Hay, welcomed myself and the other guests personally and took us for guided tours of the school’s premises/faculties.

Each guest were given name tags and seating was arranged accordingly. I was seated with Hayley and she was able to provide me with detailed information about the school, as we hungrily devoured our deliciously prepared three course meal.

Art Thou Cakes-NZ School of Food and Wine Waiting Area

Food & Wine Luncheon

I don’t want to sound cliche or biased, but the lunch was absolutely, gorgeous and the attendants/servers were well trained.

Okay, back to the food. I am a Pacific Islander, and despite not going to many, high end restaurants in my life, I do have one thing that gives me the right, to write, this personal review. I love food, and with the addition of a few French wines to match what I eat, then you can expect a ‘big tick’ from me.

From the menu, I chose the following for my three courses:

    Entree – Tuna Crudo With Plum Sorbet & Chili Salsa

New Zealand School of Food and Wine - Kingfish crudo with plum and chili salsa

This dish, was a delightful mix of flavours; the cool tartness of the plum sorbet, flirting with the heat of chili salsa. The flavours, matched well, with the Henri Bourgeois Sancerre 2017, white wine.

    Mains – Pigeon Bay Organic Lamb, Kumara Anna, Sauce Robert, and Autumn Greens

Beautiful dish, the star was the lamb. It was tender and perfectly cooked with a touch of all the ingredients listed, leaving a colorful after-taste of climatic explosions, enhanced with the taste of Chateau Carbonneau 2016, red wine. I later, learned that, the lamb was certified organic and hand-picked from Celia Hay’s family owned farm, Inveralloch in Pigeon Bay, Banks Peninsula (something that is unique to the school).

Dessert – Passion fruit tart with vanilla ice cream (home-made) – with dark coffee

New Zealand School of Food and Wine - Passion fruit tart with vanilla ice cream

Not sure, how to word this the right way, except for, maybe a: ‘may I die now and go to heaven’ – expression; one which, I rarely give anything in life, except…

…yeah nah (a Kiwi 80/90s phrase), too personal to share here.

Hayley gave me a taste of her mains dish, which was the Roast Red Capsicum Soup With Salsa Verde Grissini. It was just as delicious as mine.

Art Thou Cakes - World Class Culinary School Review 2019

Each plate served had a unique touch, that left a zing in my taste buds, wanting more, yet fully satisfied. Even that for a Tongan to say, is special.

The luncheon finale, was getting to hear Celia Hay’s impressive history and about her visions for furthering the excellent education for her students.

Art Thou Cakes-NZ School of Food and Wine - World Class Culinary School Review 2019

I would like to say, thank you to: Celia Hay, Hayley Newton, the chef of the day, Will Geddes and to all, the participating students at the New Zealand School of Food and Wine, for a lovely and heart-felt luncheon.

For my readers, I am now, going to give you a review of this amazing school.

For many of you, this can be an opportunity for those of you, who, may want to learn how to create amazing food, like I just described, or, want to run a food business or, are interested in gaining a basic Food Safety Certificate.

No matter, what reason it may be, you might be a little surprised and impressed, by what I have to say. Therefore, I suggest that you read on.

Product Review

Name: New Zealand School of Food & Wine

Owner/Founder: Celia Hay


Level 3, 104 Customs Street West,


Auckland 1010, New Zealand

Art Thou Cakes - World Class Culinary School 2019 -NZ School of Food and Wine


New Zealand School of Food & Wine is accredited with the NZQA (new Zealand Qualifications Authority)

Field of Study:

Culinary, wine & hospitality education

Duration of Courses:

Part-time and Full-time

Course Fees:

Very Affordable. There is Provision for Student loan or/and Student allowances to those who are eligible

NZQA Category Rating:

One (the top-level in its specialised area of education)

My Rating:


Why, NZ School of Food & Wine is a World Class Culinary School


The school is strategically located and within walking distance to many of the Auckland City attractions. Students can catch the bus or train from anywhere in Auckland to Britomart, and walk time is between two-five minutes, to the premises.

There are also, all day paid parking nearby (straight across from the school location), for a fixed rate of $32.


Enrollment is open to anyone in the world. Although, it is located in New Zealand, I had met a few students when I attended the Food Safety Certificate Course, who actually came all the way from the US to study in NZ, because they loved, what they saw in the New Zealand School of Food & Wine’s website. This chance meeting, left a lasting impression on me about the school. Hence, why I am a great advocate.


The school caters (pun not intended), for both part-time and full-time learners. Each option comprised of:

Short Courses:

  • Cooking
  • Wine
  • Barista & CocktailCompliance (Alcohol, Food health & Safety, and Setting Up a Food Business)
  • Secondary School Courses (Scholarships offered to study at the NZSFW)
  • Team Events (this is team based events that offer experience in a professional/realistic setting)


Art Thou Cakes - World Class Culinary School Review 2019

Full-time Courses, that specialise in:

  • Professional Cookery (the most popular being, the certificate in Cookery Advanced)
  • Hospitality
  • Wine

Students can enroll in a basic course ( and grow their learning experience into a full-time (18-36 weeks) course.
The School, also offer, the Chefs Recognition of Prior Learning Level 3 courses. These courses cater (again, no pun intended), and in popular demand for those students who are already working as chefs (internationally and locally) and wish to gain formal accreditation. The New Zealand School of Food & Wine enables this, by offering a focused five-day level 3 New Zealand Cookery Certificate course, which can also be used as abridge course towards level 4.


Upcoming Open Days:

If you wish to see the school yourself, they have open days, in which you can visit and see their faculties:

School Open Day14-May-2019 4:00 PM NZST, Auckland City>>>Click to Register NOW<<<

School Open Day28-May-2019 4:00 PM NZST, Auckland City>>>Click to Register NOW<<<

Update of up and coming full time courses:Level 3 Certificate in Cookery, June 11, 2019Level 4 Certificate in Food and Beverage, July 1st, 2019. There are also, short term courses in Barista, Wine Knowledge, and a variety of short term cookery programmes.

Art Thou Cakes-New Zealand School of Food and Wine 2019 Open Day Brochure


New Zealnd School of Food and Wine was founded by Celia Hay, in Christchurch, in 1995. However, due to the Christchurch earthquakes, it was later moved and re-established in Auckland City, in 2012, walking distance to the Viaduct and other popular city venues.


The Founder – Celia Hay

Art Thou Cakes-World Class Culinary School Review 2019- NZ School of Food and Wine Founder- Celia Hay
My first impression of Celia Hay, is her passion for education and food. I saw her personal touches at the school that show cased her history and love for organic and quality food. As she lead us on the class room tours, you can see the immense pride and joy she had, when she spoke of her students’ success stories; a motherly pride.

I did a little research and found out, just what an amazing woman, Celia really is. A trail blazer, in her field, an outstanding leader, an Entrepenuer and an Educator with marked authority.

Celia is a highly qualified chef. She holds the WSET (London) Diploma of Wine as well as: a Bachelor of Arts degree in history (her love for history evident in the many family images on the school’s wall); a Master of Education (with distinction); and, a MBA – Master of Business Adminsitration, from the University of Canterbury.

She further went on to gain the French Wine Scholar credential, certified by the Society of Wine Educators.

Here are her many achievements and community contributions:

  • Establishment of Hays Restaurant in 1994
  • Establishment of the School of Food & Wine in Christchurch, 1995
  • Under her guidance, Hays Restaurant was awarded the presitigious, Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, from 2005-2009
  • Established the Duvauchelle Store and CafĂ© located in Akaroa Harbour
  • Established Celia’s Pies, specialising in healthy pies featuring, the family’s signature organic Pigeon Bay lamb and lower fat pastry.
  • Wrote and published, How to Grow Your Hospitality Business ,third edition, 2017
  • Published the New Zealand Guide to Wine, in 2014 – which was awarded Gourmet World Book Awards, and now used as the text book, for NZQA unti standards in wine.
  • Founding Chair and President of, NZ Sommeliers and Wine Professionals Association
  • A member of Food writers NZ
  • A board member of Auckland City’s Business Association – that includes other Auckland City government strategy groups
  • A column in New Zealand Herald, portraying a selection of recipes

Alongside these great attainments, her greatest feat, in my opinion, is that she, is also a mother of three children.


The Tutors

Celia Hays is not only, the Founder, she is also tutors, and why not? With all her expertise, and professional background, students will get one of the best educators, that they could ever experience for a fraction of the price, that one has to pay for someone of her caliber.

As well as Celia herself, students get to enjoy highly skilled chefs and Cooking tutors, who also, have their own stories and accredited backgrounds. Here is a list of well-known global and international names:

  • Will Geddes (whom I have already mentioned)
  • Frank Laruelle
  • Micaheal Chen
  • Grant Pickup
  • Ralf Schmidt
  • Connal Finlay
  • Lynette Hudson
  • Clint Davies
  • Stefan Loetscher
  • Joelle Thomson


Student Testimonials

A review will not be complete without a section to portray client testimonials. I spoke to several students after the luncheon and found out from them, what they each thought of New Zealand School of Wine. One in particular:

Brian Patterson, is 19 years of age and is Fijian. He is currently studying to be a Barrister. I asked him, why he preferred NZ School of Food & Wine to other New Zealand tertiary institutions that offered the same course. His reply, he had done some research to compare his options before he enrolled, and found that New School of Food & Wine, had smaller classes and that the courses offered more practical/hands on learning. He clarified his point by saying, that AUT or MIT not only took longer, and the ratio of learning was more theory based versus practical.

Unfortunately due to time constraints, I couldn’t name the other students who also joined in our conversation, who each echoed the same views as Brian’s.

The students all agreed that they gained overall satisfaction, and many were going to re-enroll to further develop their food/alcohol skills.


NZ School of Food and Wine- Alumni
When you read the success stories of the past students, you gain a better perspective of what the New Zealand School of Food & Wine are all about. The students come first in their learning and their potential to arrive at their dreams in the competitive world of food.


Why I ranked the NZ School of Food & Wine as 5/5

When giving a review, every blogger understands the immense influence, that they, can have on a company’s product or service. I take this seriously and will only provide honest and unbiased opinions, of a company if I deem that they are not out to scam or provide misleading information.

I just want to clarify, that this review has no monetary benefit to me or my website. There I said it.

However, don’t forget that I had enrolled in their Food Health & Safety Cetrificate Course. I am very happy that I chose the New Zealand School of Food & Wine. The tutor knew his topic well, the teaching was presented in bite sized formats and the assessment was all open book (which I appreciated). Once the open-booked test was finished, we were allowed to leave, with our printed certificates.

I have found the New Zealand School of Food & Wine, to be owned and run by honest and caring people, who are experts in their field and who know what they teach. This is one of the main reasons why I endorse their school.

The only thing that I would see, to be deemed by some, as a con against all the pros of the school, would be the paid parking. I personally do not deem it so, because this is something that is a world-wide issue, and it will not dilute the many positive aspects provided by the school itself.

Therefore, these are the reasons for why, I have given a personal ranking of 5/5 in my review of the New Zealand School of Food & Wine.

** Please note that all images and information are all copyright to New Zealand School of Food & Wine, and have been permitted only for the purpose of this post.


If you are looking for a culinary school to help you towards building a food business or to gain the skills required to work in the Food industry, then I suggest that you visit the New Zealand School of Food & Wine on their open days.

Get the feel of the school for yourself and meet Celia Hay, her staff and the students. You will be impressed as I was, as you step through their door.

There is no doubt in my mind that, the New Zealand School of Food & Wine, is in its own league and is a world-class culinary school.

I hope that you find this review useful and opens the door to greater learning opportunities. If you have questions about this post or want further information to what I have written, then please leave a comment below.

See you soon,

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All about buttercream-main image

All Things Buttercream – My Six Best to Use for Cake Artistry

Probably one of my most favourite, and most reliable, icings to use on the go to or for flavour and texture is buttercream. It is probably just about everyone else’s favourite also, no matter what age or gender they are.

I have literally seen grown men wanting more buttercream than cake. Therefore, this post is about all things buttercream and what I consider the six best to use in cake artistry.

Buttercream is a mixed consistency of fat (dairy or animal fat – watch this video on my previous post to know how to add tallow) and icing sugar (also known as, powdered or pound, confectioners sugar). Other ingredients that can be included are sugar syrups, eggs, flour and milk.

This icing is used for filling, frosting, covering and decorating. I have used different variations, although I tend to stick to the most basic and less time-consuming of the recipes. I only use the other types, when there is call for extreme extravagance.

All Things Buttercream

Some of the best recipes are not found online, I have gone to libraries and even listened to friends, family members and strangers I have met, give their verbal versions, while writing furiously on anything I have on hand (even my arm! yes, even my arm).

At the end it will be your own taste bud that will guide you to which is the best, and these are my six best buttercream variations.

The final choice of buttercream to use, will depend on the following factors: how many people will be eating the cake/s; the seasonal weather conditions; the environment that it will be displayed in; and the hours it will take from delivery to when it is to be eaten.

If you would like to find your own recipes or learn from professionals then I recommend an online baking course that I have found to be of great use and works around my time, Cakerschool. They teach everything that you would want to learn about cake artistry on-line.

However, if you do not think that you can make these yourself or cannot be bothered (yes it is okay, to feel this way – we are human and it is something to be not ashamed of) there are store bought, pre-made buttercream available for you also, yay!

Some Guidelines First

Once you have made buttercream a few times, you will soon find out, what not to do and here a few guidelines that could be of great use:

  • Always try to use ingredients at room temperature

If your ingredients are too cold or too hot, your buttercream will turn out either too thin or too thick. What you want is a beautiful, light yet fluffy ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ consistency.

  • Avoid using butter that is too soft

Butter should be soft enough to break or cut into cube form but not too much that it creates an almost oily like consistency. This will there are cause separation or give a curdled looking result.

Trust me it doesn’t look good and you will understand this when your icing does not look as pale as it should. I have had a lot of failures to know so.

Another option is to use tallow or vegetable fat (see my previous post on this).

  • Do not freak out if separation happens during the process

While mixing your buttercream curdling or separation may happen, this usually, is a natural process and can be easily fixed by further beating/mixing. I threw away quite a few good mixtures before I made this discovery.

  • Storage of buttercream

Home made buttercream can be stored after initial use, for up to several days in the fridge or three weeks in freezer.

  • Always use fresh ingredients

Using the freshest eggs, milk or fat/butter can definitely give better quality to your buttercream taste, consistency and texture.

  • Flavours and colours

Any flavour or coloring can be added without affecting the texture or consistency. Cream cheese, can also be added to give a touch of saltiness – and goes well with carrot or red velvet cakes.

I strongly suggest using gel colours rather than water based however, and pure essences rather there are just so that buttercream remains vibrant.

  • You can use buttercream to decorate on top of royal or fondant

Okay – I am not really a fan of mixing icings, but there will be rare instances where it is practical to do so. However, I try to use only one type of icing per cake – so that the flavours taste right.

  • There are variations of recipes

You will find so many variations – like I have and some will not work out and others will. Steal like an artist and make those recipes into your own.


German Buttercream

all about buttercream - German

German Buttercream

This buttercream is more suitable as a filling or piped decoration rather than a covering. It is a rarely used icing because of how it is made. I only made this a few times to fill my creme doughnuts with as it is delicious.

The secret to its deliciousness lies in the fact that it is first prepared as vanilla pudding/custard before it is whipped with butter and a little icing sugar to create an icing with strong stability and lovely vanilla taste reminiscent of a MacDonald’s soft serve cone. Yum!

This icing will hold in its form in the weather, however because of its dairy content would not encourage it being on display for long hours in the sun or in heat, or you will have guests soon queuing at the rest rooms, if you get what I mean – not fair if they blame it on the catering company either.

I have yet to come across a pre-made store bought product of this icing (the only ones sold are normal buttercream tubs) though, however nothing beats homemade German buttercream.

American Buttercream

All about buttercream-American

American Buttercream

This buttercream recipe is probably the most mentioned buttercream and a very popular one. I have found many variations to its basic recipe.

American buttercream is also the easiest Icing to make. It is made by mixing twice as much icing sugar and fat together (butter, margarine or vegetable shortening), with a little coloring/flavouring.

This icing creates a thin layer of frosting when it is in a cool dry environment, which prevents it being sticky. However, despite its simplicity to make, it is also the sweetest of all the buttercream types.

I personally use this icing more than the others, as there is no cooking, or long mixing involved. If you did not read my previous post for ‘My Best Money Saving Tips for Cake Artistry’ (I suggest you read it, if you want to save money), I mention there how I use tallow (100% pure beef fat) or animal shortening as part of my buttercream recipe.

Italian Meringue Buttercream

All about buttercream-Italian

Italian buttercream

This icing adds a sugar syrup (heated sugar and water) to the mix, with the addition of glucose or corn syrup to help stabilize it. Sugar and water are heated to 240 degrees Fahrenheit, while egg whites are beaten to form soft peaks.

The sugar syrup is there are added slowly to the egg whites to cook them (making them no longer raw). While it is beaten back to room temperature butter is added and beaten to form a lovely and soft consistency.

This icing has a glossy sheen to it, when it is whipped and holds its shape well in air-conditioned environments.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

All about buttercream-Swiss

Swiss Buttercream

Over a saucepan of barely simmering water, egg whites and heated until they reach a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This is another way to slowly cook the eggs, so that they are safe for consumption.

Very much like the Italian Meringue, the egg whites are there are whipped to room temperature and into soft peaks. Butter is finally added, and beaten until it forms a thick but smooth and spreadable consistency.

Again, very much like the Italian meringue this icing hold its shape but only in air-conditioned environments.

French Meringue Buttercream

All about buttercream-French

French Buttercream

French is very much like the Italian and Swiss Meringue Icings. However, the French Meringue utilises a mixture of a whole egg and egg white as its base making it much more rich in color, flavor and appearance than the other two.

It is very much choux pastry base used for profiteroles and eclairs – yet uncooked.

This recipe is rarely used, because of Food Safety limitations in raw food consumption (especially egg or chicken products).

I have only used this recipe once but it was included in an ice cream cake, so that it was kept at a very a cool temperature. It was for an adult function and it was small enough to be eaten within an hour with a lot of alcohol to kill off any salmonella (I am writing this with a grin).

Therefore, I would not use this recipe for hot or humid environments or for children’s cakes.

Boiled Buttercream

All about buttercream boiled

Boiled Buttercream

This icing, is also understood as Ermine buttercream and is a very old-fashioned buttercream. Like the other buttercream icings, there are several variations to this one.

I am a great fan of the boiled buttercream only for the simple fact that it, not only withholds its shape, but it lasts well in any weather condition.

Why? because flour is included and is cooked with milk to first of all make a custard (at this stage sugar can be added, which is my preference), and there are beaten with soft butter and castor sugar (granulated sugar – beating it last, leaves a grainy feel though, hence my preference).

It is easy and really delicious, not to mention that you can vary the flour types for gluten intolerance as well.


No matter what buttercream you prefer, any of the six I have listed will be all delicious, if made with your own personality and special touch.

If you are only a beginner in cake artistry and have never graduated from just plain icing sugar and butter mixtures, I encourage you to take the next step forward and make one of the above icings – even if its for a trial. The guidelines will help you.

Remember also, that the amount of people, the environment of display and the time it is kept out (from delivery to display) will determine what type of buttercream you use.

If you wish to learn how to make these butter creams or want some recipes, then Cakerschool can help. I commend their courses for reliability and professionalism.

And…at the end of the day, if, for whatever reason, you do not want to make these yourself, there is absolutely nothing wrong with purchasing the store bought buttercream, as long as you and I understand that, all should be fine.

Again it is my pleasure to have you on my site, my next post will be: All about Fondant. Please feel free to comment and to share your own tips or experiences.

Visit again soon to read about more cake artistry tips.


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My savingMy-money- tips-in-cake-artistry

My Best Money Saving Tips For Cake Artistry

I had briefly mentioned in my previous post, about the costs involved with Cake Artistry. The total amount of money required to bake, create and decorate just one cake will depend on the final design.

Being extra creative comes at a cost, but no fear, I have compiled a few of my best money saving tips for cake artistry, in this post, for you to include in your own.

Alternative Ingredients

Beef Fat or Tallow

My money saving tips-alternative ingredients

A close up of the tallow that I use – clear and 100% fat

I use tallow (100% organic beef fat) in addition to whole cream butter, in my butter icings. I got this idea, whilst watching YouTube one day, from a well-known cake artist, who lives in Canada, Krazy Kool Cakes (now, one of my favourite cake decorators). Her reasons for using this ingredient, instead of only butter, was because the majority of her cake orders were for the hot season.

Tallow (which, she bought from Walmart) mixed with butter held the buttercream shape longer in the heat. It was also much cheaper than using only butter. Check out her video, she is a Krazy Kool chick!

My Nana also used tallow, when she deep-fried her Tongan famous fried yeast cakes (keke). Unlike the ones people make today, using canola oil, Nana’s kekes always remained soft and kept their round forms without the oily residue.

I buy my tallow bulk (20kg box), online from an organic New Zealand farm, that produces clear white one hundred percent pure beef fat, which doesn’t affect the icing flavour. It cost me $60 but it has lasted me for a few months.

Half a box has provided me for more than forty cakes, and I also use it for our home cooked meals instead of some oils. I use a one part  butter and two parts tallow in all my buttercream and cream cheese icings. I have never had any complaints from any of my customers.


Corn Flour, Corn Starch, Arrowroot Flour

Did you know that using half part corn flour (also known as corn starch) with half part icing sugar (also known as confectioner’s sugar) in icing recipes, can lessen the sweetness?

Well, I came upon this, by accident. I had a customer, who said that she preferred buttercream, but that it tasted too sweet. She asked if I could find a buttercream recipe that was suitably less sweet. This gave me new challenge.

After searching for a few days on the internet, I couldn’t find one recipe. So, I looked in my cupboard, and mentally created recipes with each ingredient. It was when, my eyes rested on the boxes of corn flour and arrow root flour, that it hit me!

Both corn and arrowroot flours have the same consistency and use as icing sugar, but were not sweet. I did some research to make sure that mixing the ingredients was not going to cause any health issues, and all the information I found only gave positive reviews.

My money saving tips corn flour

Therefore, I made a few buttercream recipes using each of the flour ingredients (tested each on my family, as I do) and voilĂ !

They tasted incredible; were less sweet and much creamier. The buttercream consistency was much better overall, because, the corn/arrowroot flours bound the ingredients together to create more hold to the shape form, without too much crusting, (too much crusting can cause icing to crumble and break).

The new buttercream recipe’s debut was at my great aunt’s birthday, which was held on a very hot day. The icing held its shape, right to the end, even when it was accidentally bumped into. I got a rave review for the taste.

I also use corn flour when rolling fondant or royal icing – much less sticky when rolled. The best part about these new ideas were the fact, that I could save more money buying less icing sugar.

These are only two of my favourite alternative ingredients that I have used to save money, but I am sure to find more and will update this post when I do.

Opportunity Shops & Online Trade Markets

I prefer to purchase used goods, rather than new. My grandmother also, was a lover of used goods stores, she used to take me along when she visited them.

I buy a lot of my cooking/baking/cake art tools second hand (usually at less than $5 an item). I only buy new items for quality (online stores) or for things that I cannot find anywhere else.

Some of my most valuable and unique cake art tools were found at opportunity shops, items that are either no longer produced or limited editions from eons ago, that the new generation have no idea how to use.

A few of my favourites: egg yolk separators, hand held butter/dough slicers (dicing butter into the dough), and fondant flattening spoon for rose petals. Fortunately, I have seen my Nana using some of these to know what they are used for.

I am still old-fashioned in how I make my cakes – preferring to whisk/beat by hand rather than use machinery, not only to save the use of my power, but for the love of feeling with my hands to create.

I would rather create my floral arrangements or cake toppers, from scratch. Most of these old fashioned tools give me that opportunity, and not to mention the arm exercises are an added bonus.

Money saving tips - opportunity shops

If I ever choose to sell my cake artistry tools, they would have no monetary value, but their usefulness and effectiveness, are worth a thousand times more, than many of the costly new modern items being advertised today, that have no longevity.

They have saved me a lot of money.

Online trade markets are also just as useful for saving money. I found an old fridge, which was given to me free, on local online trade market via Facebook. It was old but still worked well. It was converted it into my cake chiller, and is stored in my garage. To save money on power usage, it is only turned on for cake art.

I have also, found unusual plant holders online too, that can be converted into ornamental cake stands, with a little TLC.

Recycle left overs

Do not throw away your left over cake art. Fondant or royal icing decorations hardened with tylose can last for years, because of its high sugar content. On saying that, the ‘foreverness’ of your creations, will depend on how, they will be stored.

They need to be kept away from moisture and pests, in dry cardboard boxes (not enclosed in plastic containers) covered with paper towels, to allow them to breathe.

Money saving tips-recycling left overs

My left over floral toppers from February this year

I have many left over flowers and roses kept stored away, to be recycled in any future cake art requests.

Some topper decorations are more than six months old. I try to recycle them within a year, as I do not believe in keeping anything for longer than a year.


Buttercream icing can also be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container, or 3-4 days in a chiller/refrigerator. Royal icing using meringue powder, can be left out for up to 3 days, and royal icing made with actual eggs can be chilled for up to 3 days.

Fondant can be kept in enclosed containers away from sunlight, in a cool dark part of your pantry or food cupboard. I have fondant stored from the previous year, that I still use. Fondant hardens once it is exposed after its initial use, but can be made pliable with 30 seconds in the microwave and kneading for a few minutes.

Recycling cake topper art, can save you a lot of money and time in the long run.

Bulk Buying

When I have quite a few cake orders, I like to combine all the required ingredients and buy these in bulk ahead of time. This also saves me from doing several trips as well as save money. I am sometimes fortunate to do this when some large department stores have their monthly bargains.

If I do not use all the ingredients,  it becomes part of our family cooking or donated at church.

Here are some products that can be bought in bulk:

  • Flour – I buy two 5kg bags
  • Sugar – I buy three 5kg bags
  • Icing Sugar – I buy about 10 x 2kg bags, less than $3 each
  • Corn Flour – I buy about 10 x 500 grams boxes, these cost less than $2 each
  • Tallow/ Beef Shortening – I buy 1 x 20 kg box online

Creating My own

I am always on the search for home made recipes or things that will help me to save money. I have added two of my favourites, here as examples:

  • Home made fondant

Fondant is so expensive yet, it is, the most used ingredient for my cake art. I use a simple recipe that uses marshmallows to make my own fondant – this saves me money, gives me better creativity with flavours and it is not as sweet as the store bought fondants.

  • Home made silicon moulds

Money saving tips home made moulds

When I first started cake art, I tried to buy a topper for one of my cakes. The cake shop display price was $50 for a small figurine. I vowed that day, to make my own toppers and after much research, I found a basic food grade silicon mold recipe online.

I used this to create my own moulds for cake toppers and other creations. These moulds last forever, and can be squished again and re-used for other shapes. My homemade silicon mould dough has saved me so much money. However, for those who don’t want to go through all this trouble, you can just buy polymer clay.

  • Home made cake dividers

Money saving tips home made cake dividers

I save large pieces of styrofoam that were used as part of packaging. I then cut these using box cutters and a lighter, into various shapes to use as cake dividers (as seen in the image above).

With a bit of imagination and a few ornaments or coverings, these foams develop into spectacular cake dividers, which can be used again or sold as part of the cake arrangement. This is such a money saver for me, because foam cake dummies are so expensive these days. A 10 inch round foam costs between $30-$40, but my home made foams allow me any size that I want for free.

  • Home made cake stands

Sometimes, just using people as resources can save money too. I am blessed, to be married to a metal engineer/welder. I can design a metal cake stand and ask my husband to weld them together for me. These stands are used for household decor too, when not used for my cake art.

I use glue gun to stick clear plastic plates and bowls together, to create gorgeous crystal looking table cake display stands, which I decorate with glass looking craft beads for additional glam. I sell these stands as part of the display  with the cakes.


There are so many more money saving tips for cake artistry, and I have added but a few of what I use. I have no doubt, that as I progress in my cake art, I will discover many more ideas on how to simplify my budget. I also know, that you too, may have some amazing tips to add, so please share them, I would love to read your comments.

Feel free to ask me anything, or add your thoughts below, I would love to know what your money saving tips for cake artistry are.

Until my next post,

Cake Artistry Featured Image

Food health safety certificate

Kitchen Safety Rules – for Cake Artistry

First thing is first, before any creative decorating or cake artistry, there are a few basic standard requirements that we need to look at first; to ensure that the people eating our delicious creations do not fall off their seats and die while doing so, or that we hurt ourselves, during our work.

I am a stickler for hygiene and safety, especially when it comes to my food handling, whether it be for my own family or anyone else.

Therefore, I suggest a few kitchen safety rules below, to consider before you start on your cake art.

Food Handling & Safety

Back in my Nana’s days, food safety standards, were quite lax, anybody could prepare anything edible and sell at the local flea market (this is what we called markets in New Zealand, in case you thought we sold fleas) or on the street straight out of their home kitchen.

During this time, ‘flash’ and expensive restaurants would allow patrons to take left overs home in a “doggy bag”.

Now days, you cannot prepare and sell precooked food, without a basic food safety certificate and restaurants will not allow anyone to take any food home, no matter how much is left over, and all that yummy food will go straight to the garbage bins. Continue reading

Caker Artistry Featured about Author

About Ilaisaane

Welcome to my website. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, I hope that you will find helpful information to further improve your cake decorating skills.

My Passion For Cake Artistry


image of my grandmother

My beautiful grandmother Ana Fisi’ihone Akauola


I am a self-taught Cake Artist (having used techniques from various on-line videos and short courses) and Professional Cake Artists.

My passion for baking and art, started at the age of nine, when I used to help my late maternal grandmother, Ana Fisi’ihone Halangahu Akauola (more dearly known as “Nana”). This web page is dedicated to her memory, and all that she had inspired in me.

Nana ran a little stall in our local markets during the early 1980s, where she sold yummy fried Tongan donuts made with yeast (keke ‘isite) alongside her many other homemade crafts.

My cousin Rose and I, were her little helpers: craft making, cooking, sewing and delivering her goods to the markets. Both of us learned skills that later developed within our own lives as we grew up.

During this time, Nana was in her early sixties, but her spirit of self-less giving, kept her energetic. My grandmother had nothing, yet her goal in life was only to help other people, in whatever way she could.

My fondest memories were, of her welcoming people to her home, with her baking or cooking. You could smell the aroma before entering her house.

Sadly, Nana passed away in 1999, but those wonderful memories of her cooking and love for people, are what inspires my creations. I often wish that she could see my handy work today. I believe she would have been very proud.

I bake and decorate cakes for any occasion, which is something that I personally call an “expensive hobby”.

Art Thou Cakes About Ilaisaane

Many would say that, it’s your passion that motivates you to get yourself out of bed every day, but for me, it’s what keeps me up to the wee hours of the morning, making those final little brush strokes, or dusting the final blush on a rose petal.

I do all this to bring smiles to the faces of the people I make the cakes for, even if it doesn’t make me profit. Just like my Nana.

Being Unique

I love baking, but above all I love to transform ordinary looking cakes into unique pieces of art. I am not at all perfect, however, I learn from my mistakes and draw from the professionalism of other Cake Artists, to find the best, most valuable products and strategies for my ideas.

You Can Be A Cake Artist too

If you are bored with just the ordinary looking fondant/buttercream decorations, then try my tips and find your inner creativity. You do not have to be Picasso or have any artistic background – just a lot of passion and a love for fun.

I will also share the products and services that I personally use, that have helped to enhance my skills.

Purpose of this website

This website will offer you free cake artistry tips and shared experiences. Feel free to share your own as well. I would love to hear from you.

If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below or email me.

All the best,

Cake Artistry Featured Image