My aim every time I make a cake, is for my client to experience something over and above visual delight. Creating something beautiful, precise, clean, elegant and artistic is a must for me. But we don’t just eat with our eyes. A cake must be lip-smackingly tasty - every filling, crumb of sponge and dollop of buttercream. Making cakes that taste really good is an obsession for me.
A word from Pippa
Hi. Welcome to my world of cake delights. I am Philippa, lover of all things cake, edible design and owner of this little slice of heaven!
How I came to making cakes for a living is a long and tangled tale. I started off wanting to be a classical singer. When the college I wanted to go to said my voice was too young to start training, I switched my attention to the law. I just could not think of anything else to do, so I went to university. As in most things in life, once you get onto a track, it is very difficult to veer from it.
I worked as a lawyer for many years, initially in employment law, and then in regulation. Unlike many people who make dramatic changes in their lives, I really enjoyed being a lawyer - employment law especially - but in both disciplines there was drama and fascinating humanity.
I initially started baking as a bit of stress relief. At the end of a long day mediating disputes, it was calming and almost meditative. That led to taking a couple of baking classes at the Leith School of Cooking. I usually gave the results of my baking adventures to my family, or my colleagues or neighbours, but as my enthusiasm grew and my baking became more prolific, there was a limit to how much cake they were able to eat!
In the middle of 2017, I decided that I would establish something a little more permanent, setting up ‘Let ‘em Eat Cake’ as a market stall at Dickens Yard in Ealing Broadway and FoxW7.
I made my first proper stacked cake for my father’s birthday in January 2018. It was a lime cake filled with lime mascarpone cream, passionfruit curd, and decorated with a passionfruit and lime infused American buttercream. It was my first successful attempt at making a layer cake and I was enamoured with the process.
As with many people, the pandemic was a catalyst to making significant life changes. Being at home every day, spending time at my turn table making cakes and absolutely loving every aspect of the creative process, I decided that it was time to leave the job that I had not been enjoying for some years.
So here I am.
My baking history
Where the story begins
I grew up in a house with a mother whose happy place was the kitchen. She was also the head of the Exams Council in Ghana, but when she came home and she cooked, alchemy happened. My mother is an amazing cook, as was her mother before her.
One of my earliest memories is walking with my sisters, going house to house, presenting our neighbours with a beautifully made cake from a tablecloth-lined basket. We did this every Christmas, and our neighbours loved it.
A different path
Growing up, my main interest was music. When I was 17 I auditioned for the Royal Academy of Music, but my voice was ‘too young’, they suggested that I do something else for a few years, waiting for my voice to mature.
I did my bachelors degree at Cardiff University and a Masters in International Law at Nottingham. After completing the Legal Practice Course (LPC) in London, I went to Exeter for my training contract before qualifying as a solicitor in 2003. My initial specialism was Employment Law, then a few years ago I switched discipline to regulation, training to become a commercial mediator.
Like many people, I would aimlessly scroll through social media on my commute home. One day I saw a recipe for Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness cake. When I read the ingredients and the recipe, it seemed really simple, so I thought I would give it a go.
I made it for practically every dinner party I went to for the next few months, and got such wonderful compliments on it. Then, as my sister was away for Christmas that year, I decided that I would make the Guinness cake for all of our neighbours, delivering a slice of joy, as well as keeping our festive family tradition alive.
A baker is born
As my confidence grew, I decided that it would be useful to get a proper grounding in the basic principles of baking, so I booked myself on a half-day class at the Leith School of Cooking. In a kitchen with qualified pastry chefs, we learned the basic methods of cake making. I went away, practiced some more, then came back for a second class.
Although I was now a reasonable baker, I had no skills in decorating anything. Whiling time away at my desk one day, I found a cupcake decorating class at Primrose Bakery (a few streets from my office in Covent Garden), so I decided to do it. Further courses on stacking and decorating cakes followed.
These short classes, some barely lasting a couple of hours, gave me the confidence to get out into the world and start baking for paying customers. I got all the certificates, permits and insurances required, before starting a small market stall called ‘Let ‘em Eat Cake’.
London has many good food markets: Borough, Broadway, Maltby Street, and so many more. As a new baker, I knew that my best start would be to get a stall at a food market. I found one based in my local area, called ‘Eat Me Drink Me London’, so I applied. I was so nervous on my first day at the Dickens Yard Market. Having to put up a gazebo, set up the tables and trays of cakes was all new, but I had help from my dear friend, Karagh. I needn’t have worried, because we did really well that day.
I also joined another market, ‘FoxW7’, which was much smaller, but attracted such a lovely group of people. That meant I was doing two markets each month. It was utterly exhausting, but I loved it and I got to know so many lovely local people… fellow cake-lovers, other stall holders, creatives and artisan food makers. Many of my clients now are people I met when I was running the stall.
One of my favourite chance market meetings was with a Spanish guy and his son. I loved it if he was at Dickens Yard, because I knew I could always persuade him to do a bit of a goodies swap. It worked every time!
A Little cake Mix
In 2020, one of my lovely neighbours asked me if she could give my number to a friend of hers. She knew of a client who was looking for a cake. We got in contact and I was given the most wonderful brief. The commission was for a four tier cake, with the theme of enchanted garden. That was the first cake I made for Perrie Edwards.
In early 2021, I was asked to make another cake. This one was for a baby shower, which I originally thought was for a cousin of Perrie. A few weeks later though, I noticed a post on Instagram about Perrie herself being pregnant. It was at that point that I realised the cake was for her!
Working with Perrie has been such a relaxed experience. Once the flavours and designs are resolved, she just lets you get on with it. It really helps that she has a lovely helpful family who are always on hand to move heavy cakes into position, and help with anything else I might need.
A week or so later, I was taking a break from decorating when I got a call from my neighbour’s friend, who asked if I had recently made a cake for Perrie. I said I had, so she sent me a link to an article in the Daily Mail, and another in Cosmopolitan Magazine. There I saw the cake I had made! It was completely unexpected and so thrilling to see my work in newspapers and magazines around the world!
Introducing a new name in bespoke cakes:
Pippa Martinson Cakes
In 2021, I officially transitioned from a regular 9-5 office job, to embrace a world of cake, full time. The journey has been so personal, that it felt appropriate to change the name from 'Let 'em Eat Cake'. Pippa Martinson steps into the spotlight... a loud and proud baker, with a delicious vision for celebration cakes.
If you've got an occasion coming up, one of our cakes is the perfect edible centrepiece, designed and baked with you in mind.
We're also running cake decorating courses in the near future, if you'd like to learn the process and create your own confections.
Thank you for reading and, if you go on to order a cake, for supporting my passion. I genuinely appreciate it.