I couldn’t live without...
‘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!