Stevenage baker overcomes severe anxiety to win top prize at Cake International Birmingham
- Credit: Archant
For more than six months last year Laura Loukaides was unable to leave the house, crippled by the severe anxiety that has afflicted her since childhood.
The slightest thing – heat from the oven, standing up for too long – could trigger panic attacks and she was forced to turn her back on baking the cakes she loved.
But now the 21-year-old has won the gold prize at Cake International in Birmingham, beating hundreds of other bakers to a top prize.
She said proudly: “It took 150 hours to complete the cake, but it was worth it, and receiving a gold award was an amazing surprise.”
When she was five the former Thomas Alleyne Academy pupil’s confidence was shattered by a teacher shouting at her in class.
She was bullied throughout her school years and finally developed such severe anxiety that she could not speak to new people.
At 19, after watching American TV series Cake Boss and inspired by the artistic skills on show, she started baking her own cakes and watching online decorating tutorials.
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Two years later, her designs have been featured in international magazines and shared around the world on social media sites.
The cake that took top honours in Birmingham was dubbed The Big Eater – decorated with burgers, sandwiches, sweetcorn, pancakes and more, but with every single item crafted from cake, Rice Krispie treats, fondant icing and edible dusts and gels.
Laura said: “I didn’t want anything to go on my cake that didn’t look real, so I spent hours on every piece to achieve the highest level of realism I could.
“I always tell myself: If it doesn’t look right, it isn’t finished.”
Speaking about her troubles last year, she said: “It was really heartbreaking because I had finally found something I really enjoyed and was working hard for, and it felt like it had all been taken away.”
Laura is cooking up new designs and plans on entering Cake International London in March, which will see her designs pitted against those of bakers from all over the world.
She said: “Never in a million years did I think that I would feel confident enough to enter the biggest cake competition in the world.
“It’s taught me that just because you’re shy or suffer from any kind of anxiety, it doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve big things.”
For more information about Laura’s cakes visit lauraloukaidescakes.co.uk.