Zimbabwe baker honoured at Cake International

The Chronicle

Flora Fadzai Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
TWENTY-THREE years ago, Grace Kanengoni started a hobby, today that hobby has seen her on stage in England’s city of Birmingham where she was awarded the second prize at the Cake International exhibition.

Cake International is the original and biggest cake show and competition in the world. With a vast selection of cake decorating, sugar art and baking products you can shop until you drop. Thousands of cake decorating and cake art lovers, from novices to professionals, fly to Birmingham to celebrate the ever-evolving skills and creativity in the cake industry.

When she was at primary school at Chipembere Centre in Highfields, Harare, Grace never thought the baking lessons that were being dished by her teachers would come in handy.

It was only after doing her primary education that she developed a liking for baking and started baking as a hobby while she was working towards fulfilling her dream of being a secretary.

The hobby turned into a passion, a passion that drove her to cake making — an undertaking that requires an artistic skill that she has in abundance. Today her cakes grace (pun intended) many a wedding and birthday party — Grace is surely almost everyone’s favourite person at the moment.

It came as no surprise to many when her flora and fauna-themed cake was voted the second-best cake at the exhibition.

The cake has an orange-lit bottom just like the African sky and some of the big five wild animals decorate it. Birds circling the sky catch one’s eye. A leopard’s skin design, which looks almost real, decorates the second layer — giving the cake a royal look — a leopard’s skin is with royalty due to its great texture.

Grace Kanengoni’s cake

The next layer is a drum that stands firmly on the second layer and it supports the last layer — a pot with flowers inside it.

“My submission for the exhibition was based on the flora and fauna of Zimbabwe. The element is a sunset with silhouetted wildlife on the base, then hand-painted leopard skin, a traditional drum, traditional earthenware pot as a vase for our local flowers. I chose all these because I wanted to represent my country properly and show how rich the flora and fauna are,” she said.

Grace said she first heard about Cake International in Birmingham in 2019.

“I went there just to see what was being exhibited and how it was done. I resolved to enter the competition the following year, however, because of Covid-19 and travel restrictions I could not travel for the past two years so I missed the last two exhibitions,” said Grace.

Grace Kanengoni with her prize certificate in Birmingham

She used the two years to sharpen her skills as a baker, she attended various masterclasses with various cake artists and even went as far as South Africa just to gain the extra skill that she used in making her award-winning cake.

This is not her first award; she was recently awarded a silver prize for being one of the winners at the Zimbabwe Cakes Expo that was held in Harare.

She said baking needs patience because one can never get it right on the first trial. The baker said the experience of learning at the Chipembere Centre helped her to get where she is.

“When you are baking you need to have a passion for baking and be willing to learn and expand your horizons.

“There are no shortcuts in baking as they ruin the outcome so one needs to be thorough,” said Grace. — @flora_sibanda

Article Source: The Chronicle

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