WHEN Debbie Harwood heard she had been picked as part of a team of gold award-winning cakemakers for a special project, she set to work in her Rogate kitchen.
Her task was to make an elves’ buffet for a ten foot long Santa’s grotto made entirely of sugar.
Perfectionist Debbie spent seven weeks, often working right through the night, to produce 40 masterpieces.
She hand-crafted a feast of sausage rolls, chicken drum sticks, hot dogs, cheese on sticks, a platter of cheese, biscuits, an elf sitting on a barrel and a Christmas tree.
Everything was made of sugar down to the sticks in the cheese and the butter knife. And what is more amazing about her work is that she has never had a lesson in her life.
“It all started after I made a Christmas cake for my husband Max, about ten years ago and went on from there, she said. “I have learned as I have gone along.”
Three years ago she won a national competition designing a cake to celebrate 20 years of the Lake District World of Beatrix Potter wowing judges with her attention to detail.
She started a degree in metal work and jewellery: “But I gave it up because I missed my cake work so much.”
Since then she has won gold, silver and bronze awards. “I make cakes for friends and family and by word of mouth,” she said. “I only do novelty cakes because I like to make people laugh.”
For her latest project Debbie had to scale down every single item to 1:1.6 – right down to the mini quiches and the cheese sticks.
She burned the midnight oil with her ruler: “But I am best in miniature,” said Debbie who relished the challenge.
At the weekend her cakes joined hundreds of others in the grotto at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham for the Cake International exhibition.
They were all made by the elite of the exhibitors at the world’s biggest sugarcraft, cake decorating and baking event, who call themselves ‘Shugarush’.
“It was absolutely fantastic when all the cakes were put together,” said Debbie, “the whole room smelled of sugar and it looked amazing. We had some brilliant comments.
“People couldn’t believe my cheese platter was all sugar and the children loved the burgers and the hot dogs. They said such lovely things I felt like crying.”