Indoor: Flowers good enough to eat

The stuff of ... cakes. Sally Staples discovers the delicate art of sugar craft
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The Independent Online
Here is a shop that will solve the dilemma of whether to buy a wedding cake or learn to make one. Corteil and Barratt, specialists in the delicate art of sugar craft, offer both custom-made cakes and classes in how to decorate them yourself.

June Whichello and her husband Ron began their business 14 years ago. On display in a conservatory behind the shop - where classes are held - is a cabinet containing examples of sugar flowers that might pass muster if exhibited at Kew Gardens: lilies, roses, gardenias, foxgloves, orchids, petunias. Every detail is there, from yellowy-gold stamens at the centre of each flower, to the delicate twigs and leaves. The demand is growing for sugar flowers, and if you have a mind to try them yourself, June says she can teach a pupil in a single day.

In the shop, every cake-perfecting gadget is available to buy. The Whichellos are the sole importers to the UK of special silicone moulds used for sugar craft in the US. They sell flower-cutters, coloured dusting powder, special cutters that achieve intricate lace effects on the icing, and even edible- ink pens. There is liquid glucose, piping jelly, confectioners' varnish to make the sugar leaves shine, and edible glue to stick petals on to the flower's centre. There are candles, modelling tools, non-stick rolling pins and boards, instruction books and a better selection of ribbons than you find in most haberdashers' shops.

The shop offers dozens of wedding cakes, from pounds 199 to around pounds 600. It accepts orders for cakes for children's birthdays and christenings and other special occasions. Classes for beginners cost from pounds 20.

Corteil and Barratt, 40 High Street, Ewell, Surrey KT17 1RW (0181-393 0032). Open Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri 9am-5pm, Wed 9am-1pm, Sat 9am-4pm