They tell you that you should never meet your idols, because you’ll almost always walk away disappointed.
I had no such luck when I recently met Katherine Sabbath. That lady is a dream.
Katherine was brought to Perth for the first time by Kitchen Warehouse for a series of demonstrations to make her iconic melted ice cream cake.
I’m not going to lie to you – I got there 40 minutes early so I could nab a seat in the front row, like the dork that I am. I’m going to say this – and I just can’t emphasise it enough – she’s just so damn nice. While waiting for other attendees, she was happy to answer questions, talk about Instagram and her breakfast (Stimulatte in Subi, for those playing at home) and rearrange the bench to make sure no body missed out on seeing what she was doing.
Before long, it was show time.
First and foremost: Her aprons are from Gorman. They are gorgeous. Buy them here.
Two: “If I want a chocolate cake, I want the richest chocolate cake I can. I definitely believe in only making a cake that you’d want to eat yourself,” Katherine says.
In fact, if you took away nothing else from her demos, let nugget of advice be it. She believes that by making cakes you want to eat, you’ll buy better ingredients, your passion will show through, and you’ll end up with a better cake as a result.
Three: Time and patience.If you’re trying to make a towering masterpiece, try and give yourself 2-3 days to do it, so you don’t end up in a panicked, crying mess on the floor (I have no experience in that…), especially if it’s your first attempt. It also goes without saying that if it is your first time making something, do not mess with the recipe.
Cakes come together best when they are cold, so throw every layer into the freezer for 15 minutes before you add another – it will help your cake hold its shape.
Four: Think you can’t recreate one of her cakes? THINK AGAIN. All of those cakes you see on Instagram are made in her tiny home kitchen. Even more impressive is that she’s only just invested in a Kitchen Aid. Yep, all of those incredible cakes were made with an electric hand mixer. The take away: if she can do it, so can you.
What I love most about home-taught chefs is that they know how to make do with what they’ve got. No Thermomixes, no Vitamixes, no ingredients that you need a chemistry degree to be able to pronounce. Those flawless sides on her cakes? Achieved with a cement scraper her dad bought her from Bunnings 10 years ago, when she couldn’t find or afford professional tools to keep up with what she needed. (Something kind of like this)
Home cooks also probably have jobs outside their craft – Katherine taught high school kids until this year, while whipping the internet into a frenzy. Your saving grace when you promised someone a cake for Friday night, but can’t skip work during the day? Your freezer. Katherine recommends making double batches of cakes or Swiss meringue buttercream next time you hit the kitchen, because both freeze beautifully for up to 3 months. Simply pull them out to defrost in the fridge overnight, and assemble the next day.
Five: The fun part of cakes is obviously the decorating. Katherine recommends fresh and freeze dried fruits, Americolor pastes, edible flowers, chopped nuts, Valhrona crisp pearls, edible glitter and plenty of sprinkles. The key to those delicious signature drips? Colour melted white chocolate with either a gel paste or special chocolate colouring (supermarket water-based colours will seize the chocolate and ruin it), and gently coax the chocolate off the sides of a chilled cake with the back of a spoon.
Experiment! Have fun!
Places to shop:
Additional tips and recipes:
- How to layer cakes
- Persian Love Cake (I’ve made this, it is INCREDIBLE)
- Watercolour cake (next on the to-do list)
- The Women Pushing Our Sweet Tooths To Higher Standards