Mount has become the pâtissière du jour at celebrity weddings and A-list parties... Rachel Mount is a remarkable confectionery artist, baking exquisite sugary creations that are more sculpture than sponge cake.
Autumn 2012 will mark Rachel's twentieth year of deliciously sticky cake business
In 1992 Rachel Mount spied a niche for new creativity within a sugar craft market focussed on children's parties and traditional weddings. In the perfect collision of talent and timing, she set up a cake business from a humble flat in South London designing sophisticated made-to-order cakes for grown-ups.
A sugary medium that quickly became an all-consuming passion …
Prior to bringing her particular brand of artistry to the business, Rachel spent six years honing her specialist bakery skills. Seduced by the medium as a teenager she is entirely self-taught, mastering traditional techniques by devouring books about the subject. Though she was equipped with a natural, creative flair, mastering sugar craft and bakery required many late nights of dedicated practice. Creating designs for family and friends developed the artist’s first cake portfolio. That sticky hobby was financed from the ground up by a variety of jobs: sandwich bar manager, pizza waitress, nanny, Australian outback sheep farm housekeeper, Australian city school teacher aide, pharmaceutical factory production line worker, toy shop assistant, and yes, convent chapel cleaner.
Always keep a tape measure in your handbag. Creative confections must fit through the door
Business blossomed through the 90's, and it was time to expand into commercial premises when Rachel’s ambitious creations would no longer squeeze out of the front door. Her client and press list grew as the commissions arrived for high profile events and magazine features. The earliest celebrity birthday cakes were baked for Tom Cruise, Billy Joel, Nana Mouskouri and Robert Carrier. Her modern wedding cake designs were a hit with the bridal press, and the first celebrity brides were Spice Girls Mel B and Victoria. These inspired confections have flown by personal jet to private tropical islands and taxied to the South of France. Rock stars have saved sugar figurines as souvenirs and flown them back to their Los Angeles homes. It may sound glamorous but whilst her cakes sit gorgeous centre stage at parties Rachel can usually be found tucked away at her studio cleaning in preparation of the next cake mission.
Cake couture, designing UK Vogue’s 90th and Spanish Vogue’s 20th anniversary cakes
2005 saw a fashion-inspired collection of Rachel’s cakes featured in VOGUE and CRAFTS editorial spreads. Alexandra Schumann later requested an original design for Vogue's 90th anniversary cake to feature in their collector's issue. The confection also illustrated the cover of their party invitation and was the centrepiece of their party at the Serpentine Gallery. This inspired international interest in Rachel’s work from other Vogue and top fashion publications. German and Canadian fashion TV shows visited her studio. In 2008, Vogue Espana commissioned their 20th anniversary cake.
Fine art exhibition pieces explore darker themes and journey to a world less saccharine
The following year Rachel took on the daunting goal of entering a cake into the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition as large sculpture. The huge edible triptych was rejected and she feared that she had bitten off far more than she could chew with this fine art challenge. Sotheby's art curator Janice Blackburn had expressed an interest in her work and viewed the triptych. This led to Sotheby's CEO, Robin Woodhead, extending the invitation for an exhibition in their Kiddell Gallery, the triptych was exhibited with six new pieces created for show.
In 2007, she created another large and elaborate cake sculpture for entry into the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. This time it was selected and she was one of 20 artists nominated for best newcomer artist award. A year later, The Haywood Gallery's director Ralph Rugoff commissioned a huge confection for their 40th anniversary party. The architecture of the Haywood inspired the design. Ralph conceived an amazing entrance for it with a procession of musicians turning cake cutting into performance art.
In 2011 the V&A’s Learning Department invited the artist to lead sugar craft classes, a one day master class and a six-week term of evening classes. Rachel was very excited to work at her favourite museum and her class project themes were heavily inspired by the museum's collections. Rachel's first teaching project for 2012 will be a masterclass at Kensington Palace.
High streets around the world are cloning while bespoke producers are rare. You cannot mass produce delicate perishable artistry and personal service.
A few years back, Rachel moved the business across the Thames to Kensington, West London. True to her art form, she resists the temptation of business expansion to oversee a production line of less creative cakes. She remains delicately hands-on in the kitchen. The artist’s passion remains garnering fresh design and recipe inspiration to further explore confectionery arts. Throughout her 20yr career Rachel has met a treasure box of characters and has been inspired by their individual cake requests, life tales, love stories and corporate histories. She has researched thousands of diverse themes ever striving to feed the eye as well as the heart. Positive feedback remains the greatest reward with clients claiming these cakes were so beautiful they were moved to tears, brides being more excited about their cake than their dress, and clients framing design sketches as mementos. Families come for their wedding cakes, then christening, and round it out with an anniversary. Yes, a production line has it's temptations but Rachel would never miss the opportunity to take another creative cake journey with her clients.