Building cakes with Aliya

The art of building cakes with Aliya

Firmness, commodity and delight – those Vitruvian principles apply just as much to cake baking as they do to well-designed buildings. And with the graduate employment market as tricky as it is, one Manchester Architects member has diversified her skillset.

Aliya Farjo has recently completed her MArch / Part II architecture degree at Liverpool John Moores University, and is looking for a practice placement. Meanwhile, she spends her spare time baking stunning cakes for birthdays, baby showers, weddings and corporate events.

We caught up with Aliya to find out how she approaches building cakes, as opposed to buildings.

How did you get into baking?

I have always loved baking as a hobby as long as I can remember, especially cupcakes and desserts. I graduated last year with a Masters in Architecture and while I was looking for a job I decided to get back into baking properly. I made a birthday cake for my mum in September and shared a photo on social media and everyone loved it! After that friends and family started asking me to make celebration cakes for them and so Aliya’s Cakes was born.

What has architecture taught you about baking cakes?

Architecture has taught me not to be afraid to be more creative with my cakes. Like with my architectural drawings, my cakes start with sketching ideas down on paper. Taking inspiration from what I see around me and making something unique. I want to keep experimenting and use my architecture knowledge to design amazing cakes.

What has baking cakes taught you about architecture?

That baking cakes is much more fun!

What ingredients do you specify most regularly?

I try to buy quality ingredients where I can but don’t always stick to one brand. However one brand that I always use now is Callebaut chocolate chips. They are definitely the best quality chocolate I have used. They melt really nicely and don’t burn like other chocolate, making it super easy to experiment with. They also taste great in my chocolate brownies!

Do you use any off-site methods in your baking?

Well obviously with the exception of base ingredients like flour and icing sugar, which you’d be insane to make ‘on-site’, the only pre-made decorations I buy are sprinkles. All the other elements you see on my cakes are bespoke and handmade by me. I love experimenting with fondant and chocolate to see what can be created and to make sure all my cakes are unique.

What’s the project you’re most proud of?

I made my first wedding cake in May this year. It was my first one and also the first multi-tiered cake I have baked so this was a huge achievement. It was definitely a challenge and took me four days to make but was worth it when the bride told me how happy she was with it. The cake was made up of three different flavoured tiers – pink champagne, white chocolate & raspberry, and chocolate & salted caramel. Unfortunately the bride and groom forgot to share it out on the night, so no one got to eat it!

Sounds like they didn’t want to share it, more like.

Ha ha, quite possibly.

Has anything gone wrong in your baking, and what has it taught you?

Luckily I haven’t had any major disasters (yet!), but I have learnt that like with anything, practice makes perfect.


You can find out more about Aliya and her cakes on her website, and follow her on Instagram.