I couldn’t live with­out...

Country Homes & Interiors - - MY KIND OF COUNTRY -

‘tea, tea and more tea! a long soak in the bath is a real treat and i’m a huge rugby fan – i love noth­ing more than go­ing to see a game!’

dec­o­rated my cakes with iced mo­tifs and mod­els, but one day some­one asked me to do pheas­ants and I re­alised I couldn’t cap­ture the birds’ in­tri­cate colour­ing un­less I painted them – that’s when I be­gan to work with fine brushes in a more del­i­cate, de­tailed way.

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR IN­SPI­RA­TION?

My mum’s fam­ily are all very artis­tic and I’m sure that’s where I get my cre­ativ­ity from, but I seem to find ideas for dec­o­ra­tive fin­ishes ev­ery­where: even if it’s just a coun­try walk, some­thing I see will spark my in­ter­est. I’m also a huge fan of Pin­ter­est and In­sta­gram.

ARE YOU AL­WAYS BUSY?

The au­tumn and win­ter months are un­doubt­edly the most hec­tic as the Christ­mas cake or­ders roll in – last year, I pro­duced 900 cakes over an eight-week pe­riod.

YOUR WORK­ING DAY MUST BE SO LONG AT THE MO­MENT…

It cer­tainly is. After I’ve seen the girls off to school, I get started at 8am, then keep go­ing un­til they come home again. Once we’ve all had sup­per, I go back to work – of­ten un­til the wee small hours. I now have two ladies to help me with the bak­ing, but I still dec­o­rate all the cakes my­self, so it’s very labour in­ten­sive.

HOW DIF­FI­CULT IS IT TO COM­BINE WORK AND FAM­ILY LIFE?

Some­times it is a chal­lenge, but hav­ing my workspace so close re­ally helps. As a fam­ily, we al­ways try to eat to­gether, es­pe­cially on a Sun­day. It also helps that ev­ery­one is sup­port­ive. Gavin ap­pre­ci­ates any profit has to go back into the busi­ness which takes the pres­sure off, and my three girls are fan­tas­tic: they of­ten form a pro­duc­tion line, help­ing me to box up the cakes, write la­bels, tie rib­bons and so on.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUD­EST MO­MENT AS A CAKE MAKER?

Oh, there have been a few! When a buyer from Sel­f­ridges came across my cakes in a Bath deli two years ago, she con­tacted me about sup­ply­ing the store – I thought it was a joke! Last year, I sup­plied their top-of-the-range Christ­mas cake and it made The In­de­pen­dent’s top 10 rec­om­men­da­tions – and was the only one not mass-pro­duced. It felt sur­real, and I re­alised I’d come a long way from where it all started, mak­ing cakes for my girls at home.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE SE­CRET OF YOUR SUC­CESS?

You have to feel ex­cited and sat­is­fied with what you do. It’s hard work, but it’s al­ways worth it when I see some­one’s face light up when they re­ceive a spe­cially de­signed cake – there’s some­thing about hav­ing some­thing per­sonal made just for you that is very spe­cial.

ANY PLANS FOR THE FU­TURE?

I hope to be­come more of a year-round pro­ducer with cakes for sea­sonal cel­e­bra­tions, and cre­ate a mail-or­der busi­ness. I’ve also no­ticed that smaller baked treats are be­com­ing pop­u­lar – this year, I’ve made more iced gin­ger bis­cuits than ever be­fore.

WHEN DOES CHRIST­MAS START FOR YOU?

On Christ­mas Eve, it’s very jolly as cus­tomers come to pick up their cakes from the kitchen, then ev­ery­one gath­ers in the vil­lage to sing car­ols ac­com­pa­nied by roast ch­est­nuts and mulled wine. It’s at that point our fam­ily Christ­mas can re­ally be­gin!

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WHERE YOU LIVE?

For such a small vil­lage, we’re very spoilt with two restau­rants, two pubs, a mi­cro­brew­ery and a fan­tas­tic bak­ery. Plus there’s the lovely Cran­borne Gar­den Cen­tre and Cran­borne Stores. We’re also sur­rounded by beau­ti­ful coun­try­side. We feel very lucky.

☎ ALIX FAU­VEL CAKE­SMITH, 07795 482907, ALIXFAUVEL.CO.UK

The sit­ting room pro­vides a quiet, wel­com­ing re­treat to take some time out.

Gin­ger­bread trees, rein­deer and a chalet cre­ate a too-good-toeat tableau!

Alix, Gavin and springer spaniel Tean en­joy go­ing on long coun­try walks.

All cakes are boxed and tied with rib­bon, adding a spe­cial flour­ish to the pre­sen­ta­tion.

A de­li­cious take on a tra­di­tional wreath – though it’s bet­ter for in­door dis­play!

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