Eating with your eyes

Ana Remígio´s wonderful edible art

An artist from Lagoa, practically unknown in her hometown, is steadily making a name for herself in the world of cake art. Ana Remígio, a housewife with two children of 9 and 11, only practices this craft as an artistic occupation, since from a commercial standpoint “people only see a cake. They are not prepared to pay for the many hours spent studying and building the structure, confectioning and decorating it,” she says. “This type of cake can sell from €150 to €300 in England and Spain. Here, if I ask for €50 people think it’s too expensive. I don’t make cakes, I make edible artworks,” she explains, surrounded by the innumerous pieces decorating her house, all different and all wonderful.

It all began by chance, when a friend asked her to make a cake for her son. Passionate about confectionary since childhood thanks to her mother and grandmother, who used to make doce fino (a traditional marzipan cake, usually moulded into different shapes like animals or fruits), Ana started practising her craft for family and friends.

The cakes for sale “are usually made with a dry and hard sponge cake, to support the sugar paste sculpture added on top. The bases of mine can be diverse, like fruitcakes, chocolate or carrot cakes, and many other possibilities,” she says. “When people slice into my cakes, they are often surprised to find that they are actually very appetising, contrary to what they expected.”

Ana says the three-dimensional cake can reach considerable weight and height. “Sometimes it can weigh as much as 15 kilos. I need to consider every variable so it won’t fall apart. First I study where and how to place all the partitions so that they support the whole piece and allow for safe transportation. Only then do I start building the cake, and finally, the last step is decorating”. Between the second and third stage, the cake is frosted with a layer of sugar paste, which seals in the filling, preserving it without losing its gastronomic qualities.

Ana only started competing last year, because she wanted to know how much her art was worth, when compared to the other offers in the market. Her other motivation was, of course, learning. She started in a small and very old contest in Ireland. The organization informed her that winning a
bronze medal there would be like winning gold in other competitions of the sort, due to the high demanding criteria. She participated and earned that exact distinction, which made her want to
go even further.

The Cake International competition organizes three annual events in the United Kingdom. In August 2016, Ana Remígio went to London and won two gold medals, one silver and one bronze. In Birmingham, in November, during what is considered to be the biggest and most important contest, she won five gold medals and one silver. The bakers compete in 20 different categories and Ana won the silver medal in the cupcake category, one of the most complicated, along with wedding cakes.

“Later, after the awards were handed, the judge told me the only reason I didn’t win the gold was because the figures were slightly bigger that they should be,” making it only a matter of detail.

After her success in the competition, Ana created a new set of goals for herself: to upgrade her silver medal in the cupcake category to a gold one and to be Best in Show.

This year she achieved both those goals at the Cake International in London, in April. Over 500 bakers from all over the world competed and Ana Remígio proved her talents once again, entering three cakes and bringing home two gold medals, and a silver. The golden prize was won in the coveted cupcake category, and her piece was also considered Best in Show. In fact, the judges told her she had elevated cupcakes to a new level, as it was the first time a piece from this category achieved such a merit. Ana was also nominated for the 1st Annual Golden Tier Awards, a ceremony celebrating the best of the best in the industry. She competed for Collaboration of the Year, along with the Caketastics (an international group of cake artists) and for the American Cake Decorating People’s Choice Award.

Dared by her husband, Ana is thinking of immortalizing some of her works in clay, as the moulding technique is similar. This would keep them from spoiling and could inspire the imagination and creativity of new generations who want to follow in her footsteps. Ana’s main goals now are to continue her work, which she loves, to keep competing internationally and to give workshops and master classes.

Cakes & Dreams Portugal:

Text: José Garrancho
Photos: Ana Remígio


Author: Inside Carvoeiro

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