Cakespeare Proves Victorious
BETH SWORDS talks to Emma Powell about her most recent victory – Cakespeare – the Bard in cake form, soggy bottoms and tarts.
To celebrate the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare, the V&A Museum invited people to bake a cake inspired by the works of the Bard.
Emma Powell, a third year from Homerton studying English, Drama and Education proved to be star baker, winning this prominent competition.
Caked in glory, Emma talks to BETH SWORDS about drawing on life’s inspirations in her baking, how she nurtured this intricate gift and how she plans to use this achievement as a platform for greatness.
You made a Shakespeare-shaped cake. Why…?
Shakespeare is kind of an inspiration for me. He’s not as well known as he should be so I’ve often thought of honouring him in some way; a lemon sponge and icing seemed the most relevant choice really.
Is this something you want to take further than Cambridge?
I would love to continue baking in the future. I might apply for the Great British Bake Off or train in patisserie at Lenôtre in Paris, but at the moment I’m planning to focus on my modelling career.
All chefs have an obsession: Mary Berry’s is AGAs, Nigella Lawson’s is cocaine. What’s yours?
I collect 50p coins. And I used to be coached by the Olympic Archery coach – that was really my dream for a while. I still like archery. And the Archers – more people should listen to it, especially at the moment. It’s so full of drama.
How do you cope with a soggy bottom?
For tarts, I’d say blind baking is the key. Keep the fat cold. Add liquid slowly. But you MUST work quickly – you can’t go wrong then. I’ve had the odd soggy bottom and there’s really nothing worse.
“The aroma of a good chilli should generate rapture akin to a lover’s kiss.” What sort of kiss does your baking imitate?
Do you have any life lessons from the baking world you could apply to worldly endeavours? Such as ‘always butter the tin’ or ‘bring eggs to room temperature before conception of a cake’.
I think it was Confucius who once said, ‘The party don’t start ‘til I walk in”. I always remember that when I’m baking macaroons. It helps me a lot.
Who is your ideal figure to make in icing and marzipan form?
I’ve always wanted to bake Meryl Streep. I think she’s brilliant and would totally suit the icing.
How do you balance your responsibilities as a baker with the demands of your degree?
I tend to bake when I’m stressed. But I have been known to bring brownies to supervisions, which never hurts.
Have you ever eaten an entire cake?
The tragedy is I don’t eat gluten. But I did once win a school potato-waffle-eating-competition when I was fifteen. That was my proudest moment to date.
Sir Toby Belch, of Twelfth Night fame, once asked, “Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?”
Clearly, Emma is both virtuous and well acquainted with gastronomy. Sir Toby, I insist you eat your words. It’s clearly #gbbo not #gdbo.