"The intuition of free will gives us the truth. "
- Corliss Lamont
Success comes to those who dedicate everything to their passion in life. Go out into the world with your passion and love for what you do, and just never give up. These thoughts completely resonate with Dubai based baker and cake artist, Reema Siraj.
Ever thought of fashion taking the form of desserts? Well, Reema surely has! With her love for fashion, laces and sequins, she makes sure to add sartorial elements to all her gorgeous cakes, which have catapulted her to greater heights.
“I try to bring fashion into cakes,” she says. We were honoured to have a conversation with Reema about her fascinating work and have shared her invaluable thoughts.
Q. How did you first get started with baking and cake decorating?
I have been baking only for a while now. My mother is a home baker so I used to watch her and got inspired. When I moved from Sri Lanka to Dubai, due to boredom I thought I should start something of my own so I began baking for friends and family.
That’s how Reema got into the industry and once she started she loved what she did. Research has been an important part of her journey and slowly got her introduced to the more intricate parts of cake decorating and baking.
Q. What are some things you do differently now than when you first started baking and cake decorating?
When I first started it was all about baking different types of cakes having different flavours. I used to make fruit cakes, gateau cakes and the likes. Gradually I started moving into decorated cakes and I took a few workshops from some artists which grew my interest in cake decorating even more. Now I make more of the decorated cakes than the regular ones that I did before.
Earlier, her focus used to be more on the taste rather than the decorations. But now, she is more into keeping her cakes basic while creating visually appealing cake decorations. Looking at her amazing creations, we are definitely not complaining about this transition.
Q. Can you tell me what has been your greatest challenge in baking up until now?
I think the most challenging task at the beginning was to be able to stack very tall cakes and get them straight. I am not professionally trained, I’ve learnt everything on my own so the last thing that I perfected was to be able to assemble a tall, straight cake. Everything else was easier for me to be it decorating, making flowers and even the most difficult techniques were quite easy.
As we all know, those pretty tiered cakes that we love are not that easy to stack. But Reema does it beautifully and strives for perfection in every cake of hers.
Q. We were going through your work and came across the gorgeous life-size bridal dress cake that you made. Could you tell us something about the experience of creating this breath-taking piece?
Yes, for that cake, I took inspiration from the amazing Ziad Nakad. His designs are really on a different level. What attracted me the most was his workmanship so when I decided that I wanted to make something life-size, I wanted people to see what challenged my creativity and what I can actually do. So I had to choose a designer who creates very intense designs and not someone who makes the elegant, classic English wedding dresses as that would be quite simple. I wanted something very rich, something where I could prove my craftmanship.
Fashion designer Ziad Nakad is well known for his sensational, intricate dresses that contain elaborate beading and beautiful laces. Most of his designs consist of diagonal lines as well and Reema perfectly replicated all these elements in her cake. In any case, she says, a lot of her cakes involve a little bit of fashion. So she loved the entire process and it was an unforgettable experience for her.
Q. How hard is it to make these fashion-inspired cakes?
It’s actually not very hard at all. I believe that when you like doing something, it is not difficult to achieve what you want. I am also very good at using different mediums such as edible fabrics and edible lace so for me replicating those dresses becomes easy. And it is quicker than making flowers which I also specialize in.
This is so true. Love what you do, and do what you love. It is the only way to reach our goals effortlessly.
Q. What is the most rewarding part of your career?
The satisfaction of seeing the final cake. For me, the most rewarding part would also be seeing my students do so well. When I see them do the kind of work that I do, the happiness and excitement that they get on achieving something are priceless.
Most of her students come as beginners and are nervous at first. But with their hard work and Reema’s dedicated guidance, it is no wonder that they are able to accomplish their baking goals.
Q. What are your favourite tools?
I would say my favourite is any tool that I use to make flowers, like the Dresden tool. I am also a big fan of my lace mats because I do a lot of lace using silicone mats.
Q. Which one of your cakes is your favourite?
The bridal dress cake is my favourite so far.
Ours too, we say!
Q. Could you give some tips to the budding bakers and cake artists out there?
My most important tip would be to do what you love whether it is baking or any kind of technique that you are learning. Something that I have learnt is that there’s always a lot of hard work and love involved in achieving your desires and goals.
She strongly believes that if we enjoy what we do, we will surely be successful and get good results.
Q. What does The Bakers Collective mean to you?
It means a lot to me. I feel very special to have been selected as one of the artists for this event. I am flattered that they invited me. I really believe in the power of networking, whether it is locally or internationally, so I find this a very good opportunity for me to get to know other artists. It is always inspiring to meet someone new and learn from them.
Well, who would not be inspired after listening to such wonderful thoughts? We definitely were!
Here are some of Reema’s achievements throughout her journey –
- She has been a judge at Cake Talk which is a great platform for home bakers to exchange ideas and baking tips.
- Reema is the founder of Cake Convention which is an annual networking event for bakers in Sri Lanka where she brings together all the local cake artists. The event consists of exhibitions, demonstrations and product sellers.
- She also teaches her beautiful art at local studios in Dubai as well as internationally.
We really admire Reema’s stunning art and profound insights. More power to this talented artist!