The Celebration Cake Maker of the Year certificate and picture of Terry Tang with Joanna Lumley, which was taken on the night of the Baking Industry Awards 2007, proudly hangs on the wall of the bakery shop. It is placed on the right-hand side of a nine-foot wedding cake, decorated with over 6,000 crystals.
"We were so proud to have won the award," says Carol, Terry’s wife and business partner. "It was a stunning night."
After winning Celebration Cake Maker of the Year, award sponsor Renshaw sent out press releases to the local newspapers. "A big spread appeared in Mersey World, which read ’A local baker wins national award’," she says. "You would not believe the amount of people who came in saying: ’We’ve seen you in the newspaper’. Terry even received an email from an old friend whom he hadn’t spoken to for over 30 years, and people were coming up to him in the street saying: ’You’re the feller that won that award’."
== from stonemasonry to cakes ==
Before Terry Tang’s was set up, Terry was a stonemason for most of his life. But in a dramatic turn of events, he swapped his mallet and chisel for a packet of icing sugar. "The first cake I decorated was for my daughter. I was recreating a brown teddy bear, which was taken from a cut-out in the Radio Times. Before long, friends and family started asking me to decorate cakes for all sorts of occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries.
"When I was laid off from stonemasonary in the 1990s, I had a mixture of people asking me to decorate cakes and pave driveways. I decided that my hands were getting too rough, so I decided to make a living out of decorating cakes."
== winning cake ==
Terry’s winning cake was decorated with icing sugar models of children. Chunks of the cake were missing, designed to look like the children were eating the cake base: "I knew I was on a winner with this. It’s like nothing I’ve ever designed before," he says.
Every cake made at Terry Tang’s is designed individually. During a consultation, customers look round the cakes on display at the shop or flick through a catalogue of photographs to choose whatever style, colour, or theme they desire, ranging from traditional to novelty cakes. Themes can include anything from hobbies and seasons to seashells, safaris, flying unicorns or even black lacy corsets. "I’ve just decorated a Playboy Bunny cake for glamour model and Celebrity Big Brother star Danielle Lloyd," says Terry. "It features a naked icing sugar model of her lying on the top of the cake and edible photograph transfers of her posing around the sides."
The celebration cakes are sent all over the UK, to Europe and even as far as Jamaica. A five-tier wedding cake was delivered to South Africa. "The funniest delivery was sent to Benidorm," explains Terry. "I made a cake in the shape of a lady’s basque. The chest area was made using two balls of flesh-coloured icing sugar, with a black corset over the top. When the cake went through the X-ray at the airport, all you could see were the two big lumps. The security staff were like, ’What’s that?’ and pushed a skewer inside one of the lumps to check what was inside!"
== eccentricity the norm ==
The Tangs are no strangers to eccentric cakes, having made ’sconehenge’ from scones, a wedding cake in Everton’s football club colours, and a dragon, which was decorated with over 3,000 scales. But one of the most bizarre orders was for a seven-tier, cream and roses wedding cake, to be the centrepiece of an Irish travellers’ wedding, broadcast on Sky One in 2006. It was filmed as part of a series called Great British Weddings and the camera crew went to Liverpool to film the Tangs making the cake.
"It was the strangest wedding I’ve ever seen," says Terry. "I had to go up on the day to set up the nine-foot, £1,500 wedding cake. The bride arrived in the same glass pumpkin carriage used by glamour model Jordan, pulled by four white plumed horses and complete with two footmen dressed in gold."
Terry Tang’s wedding cake range offers a variety of flavours and fillings, including fruit, chocolate, sponge, carrot, orange, lemon and even banoffee. The fruit cakes, laced with brandy, are made three months in advance, to allow the cake to mature. Carol says that because she makes such a wide variety of cake bases every day, the next step could be introducing a café element to the shop: "The number of people who just come in and nose around the shop is unbelievable," says Carol. "It would be nice if we could serve them coffee and cake. At the end of the day, we have to make the bases anyway, so we could just make a little bit extra."