When is a cake not a cake – when it has been created by Aggy Dadan. From making a teddy bear cake in her kitchen to appearing on all of the major TV networks in the UK and producing artistic real-life pieces of cake art for leading Hollywood actors, it has been quite a journey for Aggy. We caught up with Aggy as she visited Dubrovnik to take some home-grown local recipes and give them her own special treatment.
This isn’t your first visit to Croatia, and indeed to Dubrovnik, what keeps bringing you back to our city?
I should have been born Croatian. I just love the weather, the people and the beaches, you know I have been to many countries in the world and this is certainly for me one of the most beautiful. Dubrovnik is just so unique. I would love to eventually move to Dubrovnik and live here. I was born in Poland but my business really keeps me in the UK at the moment.
Enjoying time (and a cake) with her daughter in Dubrovnik
In fact, this time you aren’t in Dubrovnik for a family holiday, but you are on a working break. Can we expect to Dubrovnik on the screens in the UK in the near future?
Yes, I am recording a new program, but at this time it’s a little secret so I can’t really say which UK channel it will be broadcast on. Sometimes you just have to keep some secrets. The working title is “European Bake-acation” like a play on words. I am taking traditional Croatian and regional dishes and putting my own twist on them. I want to keep it a little simple so I am trying to create dishes that can be prepared on the balcony or with as little equipment as possible. I am trying to source all the ingredients locally. I have been collecting these ideas by speaking to locals and reading and researching. So I have dishes such as rostule, burek and baklava.
Why baking? What brought you into the world of baking?
I have always liked food. Since I was little I would stand by my grandmother and mother and watch them cook and bake. I was always sticking my nose into pans and picking up the smells and that’s probably where it all started. When I came to live in England I never forgot these skills but I was just so busy with other jobs that I didn’t have time to bake. I used to work in an office in the UK and when the recession struck I was the first to get made redundant. Then I fell pregnant.
One day I just opened the cupboards in my kitchen and found flour, sugar, butter and eggs and I thought “I can bake.” So I decide to be a stay at home mum and look after my child. I started making cakes and then uploading them onto my social media accounts. Pretty quickly there were more and more people following me and copying the recipes. I then saw that these people were actually using my ideas to start their own businesses so I then saw that I had to change tactics, that’s when I started carving cakes and making artistic cake sculptures. Loving colours and loving art the sculptures seemed to be the right path, and I have been lucky to be so successful, although there has been lots of hard work along the way.
You have been extremely successful with these cake sculptures, with countless appearances on TV shows and thousands following you on social media. But it’s a long jump from making cakes in your kitchen to presenting them to Hollywood stars. How did this happen?
All the steps over a six-year period seemed to connect in a big way. Eventually I surprised myself. I went from making a teddy bear, which was my first ever attempt to presenting a cake to Jason Momoa the star of Aquaman and Game of Thrones. It was a long journey and lots of hard work. The first celebrity cake I made was for the British comedian and presenter Leigh Francis. He actually spotted me on Instagram and sent me a direct message asking if I could make some special cakes for one show he was doing on ITV. I had a short deadline, but when he asked I just couldn’t say no. When you get opportunities like that you just run and run and make sure it happens. Of course I was panicking but with only five days before the show was due to be recorded they finally confirmed they wanted the cake. It was a lot of work and a lot of sleepless night, but we got there and my cakes were a huge hit. I think I had three or four hours sleep a night for five nights.
What is your most famous celebrity cake?
That’s not a difficult question to answer, especially being in Dubrovnik. Jason Momoa obviously starred in Game of Thrones which was filmed here so everyone here probably knows who he is. He inspired me a lot. I always wanted to meet him. Not only because of his acting but also because of his strong environmental views.
I am myself environmentally crazy and I try to do as much as I can for charities and good causes. Because I am in a position that a lot of people follow me on social media and through my TV work I am fortunate that I can use this to influence people to think about our planet. So working with him was a dream. A little secret, he has a birthday coming up and he will be in London for it so I hope to make a birthday cake especially for him.
A proud moment with Jason Momoa - Photo Instagram
How did you manage to get in direct contact with a Hollywood star? You are clearly a fan on Marvel films but I can’t imagine you have the actor’s mobile numbers.
Again it was the power of social media. He saw me on Instagram and I contacted him with a special cake carving of him. Presenting it to him in person was an absolute dream come true.
You put so much time and effort into making these cake sculptures. Are you then a little frustrated or disappointed when people actually cut them apart and eat them?
No, not at all, quite the opposite I feel really happy. I love it when they cut the cake open. I once made a cake for the BBC TV personality Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and when he saw it he said “Oh my goodness this is art.” Although when he cut it apart I felt just as happy as when I was making it. My cakes live as long as they should live and then people enjoy them, that’s their purpose.
Aggy hard at work on a TV show
Do you have a sweet tooth yourself?
Oh yes! I have to have cake every day, and if I can’t find cake then I’ll take some chocolate. If I can’t find a cake to buy, then I’ll just make something myself.
There is a rather interesting video of you baking a cake with Deadpool. We already know that you are a Marvel fan but was that really Ryan Reynolds?
It was Ryan but not Ryan Reynolds. Yes, that was a video that we made for charity in the UK. We actually made the whole video in Kate Moss’s house, she was very generous to let us use her home for the video. We donated all the money we made to a charity that is very close to our hearts.