When Le Tran's daughter Sophia was born, she was determined to make her an amazing cake in time for her first birthday. Four years and another sweet little baby on, Le's cakes are looking pretty spectacular and she now has a growing list of friends and strangers who are keen for a slice.
It's actually been years and years since we last spoke - what've you been up to since high school? And what are you doing now?
It has been a super long time! After high school I studied Design in Visual Communication at UTS, then went on work a little in design and retail before meeting my now-husband and living in Hong Kong for a year and then coming back, getting married, travelling a little and having two daughters! I am currently a full time mum and cake baker on the side ;)
Your cakes are amazing - when did you start getting into baking and making these really elaborate cakes?
I have always been interested in baking but when I had my first child I told myself I would practice that first year so I could make her an amazing first birthday cake. Well, time flew by and I didn't end up making what I initially thought I wanted. More years past and I only ended up baking for a few birthdays a year. It was only at the end of last year when a friend asked me to make a cake for a party and it received great reviews from all the guests that I thought I would start 2016 with a new passion.
I'd love to know what you're inspired by when it comes to creating a new cake design.
I'm inspired largely by other Instagram accounts from all over the world. The most inspirational to me are CakesbyCliff, Cordyscakes, Niuafe, lottieandbelle and rymondtn. I'll usually jot down ideas of techniques and flavours I'd like to try next and luckily I have friends who are happy to be the guinea pigs. I also like to visit the flower market once a week for ideas and colour inspiration for my next cake.
You have two super cute little girls, Sophia and Chloe, how do you find the time to bake? Are they keen to help?
Most of my day is being a mum but I'll squeeze in my baking when they go to bed at night or during their daytime naps. I like to bake at night just so I can concentrate on making sure I have the correct ingredients but I'll usually leave the decorating til morning while the girls are playing amongst themselves.
My eldest is the one who is keen to 'help' but I only allow her to do so for cakes we eat ourselves now :P She's always so excited to see the cake every time I make one, which is why Jujubakes is named after her - 'Juju' was her nickname since she was a baby and it means 'pig' in Chinese, she was a chubby baby!
Are you baking all the time? Or making cakes for holidays and occasions?
I am currently taking orders and make a few cakes per week. I try to limit the amount of cakes I make a week just so I don't overload myself.
Can you share your number one tip for making a professional looking cake?
Practice and patience if you are a beginner. If you're just starting out you really need to take the time to make things look right but usually you can see the difference when a lot of care has been put into a cake.
What's up next for you? Are you starting to make cakes for family and friends, and get orders? Do you have a crazy new cake design in mind?
Usually my cakes have been for family and friends but I've just started getting some 'non friend' cake orders which I find very exciting! I'm still learning every time I bake so I'm keen to experiment more and become more confident with my skills. There are so many new cake designs I would like to try but sometimes I'll just make it up as I go. Putting the cake together at the end and having that creative freedom makes all the stress and late nights worth it.
It was so lovely to catch up with Le, I remember her being one of the friendliest girls in my year and she worked out that it's been 14 years (!) since we finished high school. You can check out her cakes on her colourful Instagram account and on Facebook too.
Photos by Le Tran.