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After mixing two glasses of wine with an overdue friend catch up, I found myself seated at a sushi restaurant last month animatedly telling my dinner date about a 13-minute Queen of England cake tutorial. I was obsessed, sending it to family and friends across the country. As time passed, the Queen tutorial became followed by a Belle cake, The Secret Life of Pets, pirates, and World of Warcraft. Each week I’d tune in just to see what this baker would think of next. I officially had a new creator crush: Zoe Hopkinson, the baking force behind Zoe’s Fancy Cakes.
While always very creative growing up, Hopkinson had never decorated a cake until 2012 when her boyfriend’s mother asked her to make a cake for their church choir. Complete with a miniature organ, the cake was a hit and friends and family began reaching out to her about birthdays, christenings, and holidays. She soon set up a Facebook account to share photos of her creations; in November 2013, she started her YouTube channel to share tutorials of her fondant figures and intricate cakes.
“I very quickly started gathering a following and instead of reducing the number of queries I had been getting, they increased, but this time they were all people requesting new videos and sending me photos of what they had made using my tutorials,” Hopkinson tells the Daily Dot. “It’s always lovely to hear people’s stories and how the videos have helped build their confidence when making cakes, I’ve even had people winning competitions with cakes they have created using my tutorials.”
Completely self-taught, Hopkinson has turned her hobby into a full-time career and now fields orders for both events and videos, all filmed and baked in her crowded U.K. kitchen. While her video library is beyond comprehensive with more than 310 tutorials, there is something very personal about each video. She’s inviting you into her home to teach you this new, unique skill.
A photo posted by Zoes Fancy Cakes (@zoesfancycakes) on
In the footsteps of How to Cake It, Sorted Food, the Boy Who Bakes, and more, Hopkinson is using YouTube to make decorating accessible to all skill levels with the message that if she can teach herself how to make any newly married couple out of fondant, so can you.
“It has allowed me to reach people all over the world and spread my work to everyone, from people that already cake decorate to complete novices looking for ideas for their children’s birthday cakes,” Hopkinson says. “YouTube can help people build skills and confidence without them having to go back to college and spend money on courses. It also allows people to learn from the comfort of their home in their own time, at their own pace.”
While many viewers are aspiring bakers, for the rest of us Hopkinson’s tutorials are simply a form of meditative relaxation. Help yourself:
Carly Lanning is a journalist who covers social media. Her work has been published by Psychology Today, NBC, Thrillist, and Ms. Magazine.