Piping the last decoration onto the cake, I stepped back and admired my handy-work.
‘Needs a bit more icing,’ I thought to myself.
Around 20 years ago I worked in a shop owned my Warburton bakery, in Droylsden, where I made the cakes displayed in the window.
The funny thing was, I didn’t really like baking, but I enjoyed the fiddly, decorating part.
I loved a challenge and it was such a thrill to see a design come together.
Especially when I’d spent hours on it – it was amazing to think what a bit of marzipan and icing could do!
From that moment on my passion for cakes kept growing.
I would make them for family and friends and started baking them for charity.
‘Is there anything you can’t make?’ my husband Paul, 67, asked, admiring my latest creation.
‘You name it, I’ll give it a go,’ I replied with a giggle.
My designs kept getting bigger and bolder until one of my biggest challenges to date was brought to my door.
The village where I lived in Bakewell, Derbyshire, was raising money for the local transport service and I was more than happy to offer my baking skills for the cause.
They wanted me to build something out of cake to go on display in St Lawrence Church that would be auctioned off for charity.
I asked what sort of things Sandra Naylor, the head fundraiser, had in mind.
‘How about a mini bus?’ she suggested.
‘Do you not want the whole village?’ I suggested.
The fundraiser’s jaw practically dropped to the ground.
‘That would be amazing,’ she beamed.
I said I loved a challenge!
My first step was deciding on the right village in the Derbyshire Dales to base the cake on.
In the end I settled on Eyam – a beautiful quaint town with an interesting history.
I started by walking around the village and taking photos of all the main buildings like the post office, the green grocers, the village pub and the church.
I would work from the pictures to make sure the cakes were as realistic as possible.
In total I would need 65 cakes to complete the village.
I decided to make whisky-soaked fruit cake because it would be strong and long-lasting – perfect for a project like this.
‘We’ve had lots of ingredients donated,’ Sandra explained.
From local bakeries to big supermarkets – everyone jumped on board to help.
In the end we collected 608 eggs, 66lb of butter, 73lb of flour, 462lb of icing, 37 tubs of glace cherries and nine litres of booze.
I baked 10 cakes myself and then the rest were made my volunteers and dropped off.
I had to stack the cakes in order to create a dense structure ready to bare the load from the icing.
Every surface of the bungalow I shared with my husband had been overtaken with fruity, booze cake.
‘I better get to work,’ I laughed, surveying the challenge ahead of me.
Designing every brick out of icing was fiddly and required each one to dry fully.
That meant I had around three or four different cakes on the go at any one time.
It was time-consuming and fiddly – I made everything, right down to individual pieces of fruit outside the greengrocers.
Some days I would work up to 11 hours a day on the cakes.
‘Are you coming to bed?’ Paul asked, half asleep.
‘I’m nearly done for the day,’ I replied.
After working tirelessly for three months, in October 2019 I had finally constructed the entire village out of cake.
I had even wired eighty hidden LED inside the buildings so the village came alive at night.
‘It’s spectacular,’ Sandra said.
We carefully moved each cake to the local church where it would go on display to the public.
After that we planned to auction the building to raise money for the bus service.
The response we got was incredible – I was so overwhelmed by the turnout.
Some days the queue of people would be around the block.
One woman even travelled from Corfu, Greece, just to catch a glimpse of the village.
It was amazing but the most important part was the money we raised.
After the action in November 2019 we made a staggering £18,000 for charity.
People might think I would never do that again but if was asked, I probably would.
What can I say… it was a piece of cake!