Bruce Fowler is a well-known resident of Boksburg – not only for the masterpieces he bakes and decorates, but also for being a caring person who helps people wherever he can.
He is enthusiastic about teaching others in this field. “I love teaching people new skills in the baking industry, as well as any person who is keen to learn baking through to cake decorating. It is extremely rewarding,” he says.
For the past 28 years he has lived in the beautiful golden oldie that belonged to General Christiaan Frederik Beyers during the late 1800s. His artistic hand can also be seen in the way he renovates and decorates this beautiful home, with its inviting verandas.
Bruce’s passion for baking started from a young age, being with his mom in the kitchen. His first attempt at baking was a chocolate cake for his mom on her birthday.
“Well, I was surprised that it looked so good, and mom said she was going to let me bake her goodies from then on,” he remembers.
Bruce qualified as a pastry chef in 1982. He worked in bakeries, a five-star hotel and on a passenger ship. He was a baker manager at Hyperama and then assisted in the development of instore bakeries across South Africa.
Nowadays he is on his own and offers baking training as well as short courses for housewives and those who want to learn to bake. He started Designer Cakes by Bruce a couple of years ago.
“People sometimes request that I copy a cake that they like. I prefer not to copy other artists’ work, but would rather change the design slightly, keeping the client’s request in mind.
Designing cakes for a client is far more rewarding than copying someone else’s work,” he states.
Are you baking from family recipes or have you developed your own?
There are a number of recipes that I have collected from bakers and family over the years, and I have developed a few of my own, but if I have to dig out all my recipes, there are probably over 5000 on file.
What are your favourite bakes?
I love baking artisan breads. It gives me such satisfaction when those loaves transform from raw dough into delicious, tasty baked loaves. I love making choux pastry and custard slices. Oh, and butter croissants … I must say, I don’t really have a favourite bake, I enjoy baking as a whole!
What else does your business entail?
I do a lot of skills development training and learnership training in the baking industry. I am a facilitator as well as an assessor in the industry.
What do you enjoy most – baking, decorating or teaching?
I really enjoy every aspect of baking. When scaling a recipe, following the process which is vitally important, and placing the cake or whatever I’m baking in the oven and then seeing
the baked product emerge from the oven really gives me a great sense of satisfaction.
Decorating is also very rewarding as it allows me to switch off to the world outside and takes me on a fantasy-type journey, allowing my creativity to emerge.
I love teaching as this is a way for me to also give back to the industry. I love seeing an individual gain a skill, and when they have completed a task, to see their face light up and
see them amazed that they baked that item is the best thing ever.
Tell us about your involvement in the South African Cake Decorators Guild
I am a member of the South African Cake Decorators Guild (SACDG) Alberton Branch. I have learnt so much from the guild and it is awesome that there are a lot of young folk joining the guild. We always look for new and young exciting cake decorators to join us.
Please give readers a few baking tips…
Well, baking is not for the faint-hearted. I always say, “Baking is not for sissies.” Remember, baking is not only an art, it is a science. Recipes are developed to create an end product. Always read your recipe and understand the processes. If you follow the processes to the letter, then you will achieve a good-quality product. Never cut corners when baking. Use goodquality ingredients. And bake with passion.