FROM Phil and Holly to The Grinch – this baking wizard is having her cake and eating it.
Former Sunderland University student Lara Clarke is fast becoming the hottest name in baking with her life-size creations.
The 27-year-old had been watching TV shows about cooking, when she decided to try her hand at cake crafting.
Little did she know that she was about to whip up a new hobby for herself.
“I didn’t know I could make these cakes until three years ago,” she said. “It was just off the cuff.
“I just offered to make my future mother-in-law a cake. But I don’t think the world is quite ready for what I’m doing at the minute.”
Since then, Lara has gone on to make some extraordinary creations.
An online chat monitor for bingo website Tombola, in Sunderland, Lara makes a plastic structure of what she is going to create – whether it be Jack Sparrow, The Grinch, or a dog – then bakes cakes, fills the structure with them and carves them to the shape she wants.
Last year, her near life-size cake sculpture of Disney pirate Jack won her a gold prize at sugarcraft, cake decorating and baking show, Cake International, in November.
“There was no specific category that I could enter my cake in,” said Lara.
“So I just had to enter it under the decorative exhibit category.
“One of the judges said it was the talking point of the competition – you just walked into this tent and saw this big sculpture of Jack Sparrow.
“I think maybe one day there will be a category for me.”
Lara, a former media and performing arts student, now runs the business Tasty Cakes, from which she makes her sweet treats for family, friends and clients.
However she is starting to find fame for her kooky creations, and last week appeared on ITV’s This Morning, where she presented cake sculptures of Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby to the hosts themselves.
“They were really pleased with them,” she said. “They came up to me after the programme and said they loved them.
“I would like to make it a full time business, but I love the fact that I don’t have to rely on it for an income.
“I would rather do one big project a month rather than do little ones and just get by on it.”
Lara, who is engaged to fiancé Nikki Mason, 25, is set to display her talents at her own wedding.
“We got engaged on a catamaran in Gran Canaria,” she said.
“So I think I’m going to make my cake the boat that we got engaged on, with us two sitting on it.
“I can’t really have a normal wedding cake when I can do this.”