Rebel has done a lot of books. And the shoe she crafted for one party was so successful that girls kept trying it on, like Cinderella’s slipper. These are, however, cakes. A business less than two years old has seen Mullumbimby-based Rebel Taylor become sought out for her novelty cakes. When she shows you photos of them you can quite see why. Meticulous attention to detail deceives you into believing that the Kombi van is the real thing except in miniature; that a watch is quietly ticking away; that a finger on a cupcake, sinisterly, has just been severed.
Her Rebellyous Cake Company was born out of the increasingly popular reception Rebel’s cakes were inspiring at friends’ children’s parties. With youngsters of her own she had always wanted to do something a little different when it came to juvenile events. In the beginning her cakes were simple and two-dimensional, shapes cut out of her basic baking so that they resembled butterflies or robots. ‘My early cakes are shocking, hideous!’, she tells me, ‘but I was so proud at the time.’ She was using an old version of a Women’s Weekly cook book, having decided that her youngest child was an age manageable enough for her to have some time on her hands and be creative. ‘I wanted to do something rather than just be a mum,’ she says. Besides, the appeal of creating fantasy cakes was in the making something from nothing, seeing it take shape, then seeing people’s reactions.
Rebel was up and running, largely teaching herself through trial and error but learning as well through online research. As her confidence and experience grew the cakes became more ambitious; they became three-dimensional. And it is all she thinks about! ‘I dream about cakes,’ she tells me. Even if she is reading a story to her child she is busily wondering if there isn’t a cake in there somewhere; obsession might the the word.
Meanwhile, she has developed her own process. She tells me that one cake will generally consume a minimum of four days but up to a week what with the various stages involved – the baking, the application of ganache, the drying out, applying the fondant. It’s high-risk, with every element needing to be stable every step of the way – especially given the humidity of the far north coast, a challenge Rebel cites as by far her greatest. She is currently researching different ways to combat it and is trying out a new recipe using potato flour. ‘But I’ve tried various things – like lamps shining on the cakes to dry them out, or the air-conditioning in the car. Storage, because of the humidity, is another problem.’
Clients – all of them as a result of word-of- mouth or Facebook (she has never advertised) – approach Rebel with specific requests, so it’s a bespoke business – and, for all the playfulness of the designs, it is an adult market to which she largely caters. She tells me that no two creations are ever the same, even if she is asked to replicate one.
I ask Rebel if she still enjoys eating cakes. ‘Am I allowed to say I don’t like cake anymore?’ she replies. ‘I’ve gone off it!’ Rebel’s cakes can be viewed on her website www.rebellyouscakeco.com.au or, for a more comprehensive and updated range, on Facebook.