Molly Robbins - Extreme Cake Maker
PUBLISHED: 00:00 13 November 2017 | UPDATED: 19:34 17 January 2018
There is no challenge too small for cake maker Molly Robbins, writes Mairead Mahon
Take a peek inside Molly Robbins’ Crawshawbooth studio and you’d find everything a professional baker could ever need. But it’s her trainers that are her most essential items.
‘I’m on my feet all day and sometimes into the evenings so comfortable feet are the basis on which my success has been built,’ said Molly, who runs Molly’s Creative Cakes. ‘I believe in the right tools for the job which is also why, as well as my trainers, I have over 40 aprons in my wardrobe.’
The talented baker, daughter of actor and comedian Ted Robbins, has found success swiftly gaining fans from across the country as well as an appearance on Channel 4 series, Extreme Cake Makers. While the special effects course she studied at college helps her in her current career, she fell into making cake sculptures by accident.
‘The course involved studying the use of colour and making structures, as well as teaching me how to be a dab hand with an air brush,’ said Molly. ‘But I would have been astonished if someone had told me back then they would be useful skills for a career as a cake sculptor.
‘I had never even considered applying them in that way until I decided to make a wedding cake for a family friend. I made a Madeira sponge cake in the shape of a table with tiny sculptures of everyone seated at it. The icing was a bit lumpy but everyone loved it.
Six years on there isn’t a lump in sight on Molly’s sculpture cakes. In fact, her skills have earned her Gold and Silver awards at the Cake International competitions. Molly’s cake mixture is usually Madeira, lemon or chocolate but the real skill is in constructing and icing her creations.
Molly’s niche has become her talent for making cake sculptures in the shape of animals and receives nationwide orders. Customers send her photographs of their pet so she can capture their expression exactly. Not every cake sculptor would be happy if a dog growled at their creation but for Molly, that’s a compliment of the highest order.
‘I love it when a client and their dog calls to collect their cake and the dog becomes convinced that my sculpture is a real dog,’ said Molly. ‘It happened recently with one of my pug dog cake sculptures.
‘I once made a dinosaur cake that had a real growl embedded in it but luckily, the client didn’t bring a real dinosaur with her, so I can’t completely vouch for its authenticity. I’ve made a unicorn cake sculpture too.’
Molly’s birthday and celebration sculptures are completely edible but her life sized creations, which cause a real stir, can contain non-edible skeletons.
‘A skeleton has to be constructed first, in order to provide a structure and then the cake is applied and carefully carved to fit: a process that can be very time consuming. It is the icing and food colouring spray painting that really provide the detail and brings it all together. ‘These life sized sculptures aren’t just decorative though; they are there to be eaten after all, so they do have to taste good.’
Quite often, her huge sculptures are used to raise awareness or money for a particular cause, such as Reggie the Chameleon, who was made for the launch of the Salford City College Animal Centre.
Her skills have led to her becoming one of the stars of popular series, Extreme Cake Makers. One episode featured Molly making one of her biggest commissions - a life size sculpture of a Shetland pony called Bea, which was over 3 feet tall and used 25 kilos of sugar paste. Bea lives at Cheshire Dogs’ Home and funds needed to be raised for her upkeep, which is why Molly decided to help by donating the cake.
‘It was certainly a challenge,’ admits Molly. ‘There was a frame and lots of cake to make. The recipe called for 216 eggs and then I needed to make sure the colouring and Bea’s lovely expression was exactly right.
But Molly isn’t fazed by anything which is lucky given she hosts live cake demonstrations to hordes of fans at the increasingly popular cake shows. Even having a film crew in her studio didn’t make her nervous.
‘It’s a lot of fun and I love meeting people and filming,’ she said. ‘When I was younger, I used to enjoy watching American shows that featured cake makers and now, here I am, taking part in a British one.
‘It’s great as sharing my knowledge is something I really enjoy and hope to do more of.’