In 1898, John F Renshaw decided to mix marzipan in his bathtub! Humble beginnings for a company that is now a leading manufacturer of marzipans, ready-to-roll icings and chocolate and jam, supplying major cake manufacturers, high street bakers and retailers.

Recently, Renshaw invited about 40 members and guests of the prestigious Richemont Club (Great Britain) to the company’s factory in Liverpool. The Richemont Club is an international society, formed in Lucerne, Switzerland, in 1948, to encourage the exchange of ideas between bakers and confectioners.

Sarah Summers, commercial director of Renshaw, welcomed the party as it arrived. "Hosting this visit offers us the opportunity to share some of the vast amount of knowledge and skills we have acquired over the years."

Members were taken on a guided tour of the factory, where the smell of caramel is potent. Renshaw’s range includes a rich, thick Luxury Caramel, with a firm setting, and an injectable caramel, with a soft, spoonable consistency, which can be placed into piping bags or injected into bakery goods such as muffins.

"We can’t stress enough that we make more than just sugarpaste," says Janet Abraham, marketing manager. "In Liverpool, we also make caramel, marzipan and nut pastes. Our factory in Scotland produces jam, mallows and chocolate."

Tom Cardwell, marketing and innovations controller for Renshaw explains that over half of the company’s sugarpastes are now coloured with natural ingredients. "We’re working to ensure that, in time, all of them will be," he adds. "If you buy a Cars Disney cake in Marks & Spencer, the bright red icing has been made in Renshaw, using paprika."

In the factory, there are huge metal drums, which have been coloured bright red, luminous pink, bottle green and so on, because of the sugarpaste. "Other natural products used by Renshaw for colour include tomato, seaweed, grass and radishes. Kids would probably be horrified to learn that the green and orange icing on their birthday cake was coloured by spinach and carrots, for example! Together with our suppliers, we’ve even managed to produce what we consider to be the ’holy grail’ - a naturally coloured blue sugarpaste, created using ingredients derived from maritime plant extract," he adds.

Recently, Renshaw decided to make all of its Regalice branded sugarpaste products with non-hydrogenated fats and claims this is the only non-hydrogenated sugarpaste on the market. Tom Shaw, product development manager says: "We have worked hard to develop a sugarpaste that maintains the functionality and stability qualities which have made it the professional choice."

Model approach

After the tour of the factory, Richemont Club members were treated to sugarpaste modelling demonstrations. The first was a joint effort given by Renshaw’s Claire Bailey and Nic Hemming, the second by Karen Bowden from Slattery Patissier and Chocolatier, winner of Celebration Cake Maker of the Year at British Baker’s Baking Industry Awards 2006, which was sponsored by Renshaw.

President of the Richemont Club (Great Britain), Trevor Mooney said: "Visiting an industry leader, such as Renshaw, was an enlightening experience for all our members. The modelling demonstration provided some great ideas and techniques, which I’m sure many will put to good use." n