Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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3 years, 17 cakes, Farewell OAE

Mon Sep 8 2014

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I can’t quite believe it but I am leaving the OAE 3 years to the day after I started.  The past three years at the OAE have been a complete whirlwind with the brilliant, vast and varied projects that we undertake here in the education department and the fantastic concerts that the Orchestra offer.

To work at the OAE you need a good sense of humour, willingness to muck in and a sweet tooth.  It is a well-documented fact that I enjoy baking and I thought the most fitting blog-based goodbye would be a self-indulgent ramble about the cakes I’ve made (specifically for work) over the last 3 years.

No-one enjoys cake more than the OAE Office, right?

Anthem Cake


This cake was balanced carefully on my knees as Ceri Jones (ex OAE Projects Director) and I drove to Plymouth for the first rehearsal of the Anthem tour.   I shyly (I was new at the time) presented the cake to the Anthem orchestra and learnt, very early on, that a slice of cake is a welcome addition to any rehearsal. The cake was based on the colourful Anthem project logo.

Philippa and Lucy’s Cake


This was a cake for two colleagues who were very different but had a birthday very close together.  I volunteered to make a cake for both of them together so we weren’t over-caked in the office (I don’t know why we were concerned about that, but we were) and had to come up with a design to suit them both.  Lucy loved owls and Philippa loves Wispas.  It went down well.

Jubilee Picnic


We had a lovely office picnic for the Diamond Jubilee and everyone had to contribute food for the picnic; not unlike our Glyndebourne outings, but with more of a regal theme.

String Club Cakes


These biscuits and cakes were the result of a day of baking with Sophie Kelland to celebrate the end of term at String Club.  We made over 50 musical sweet treats for pupils, friends and family.

Broken Love



These cakes were for the office on Valentine’s Day.  It was my own unique take on the celebration of love which included sickly sweet icing and smashed love hearts.



This, again, was a cake for two colleagues.  Lucy loved octopuses and Izzy was way cooler than me and thus the Hipsterpus was born.

Easter cakes


Another set of cakes for a seasonal celebration.  This was a new take on the old chocolate crispy cake.  I was trying to do something different and ended up preferring a simpler design I had made the year before.  You win some, you lose some.

Stephen’s Birthday Cake


Who doesn’t love a chocolate cake? Well, our Chief Executive definitely does. I noticed he had a very sweet tooth so decided to take it to the max for his birthday cake.

Unicorn Cake


There have been many unicorns during my time at the OAE.  Sophie is largely responsible for this.  The first birthday cake I made her had a unicorn leaping out of a bed of starts and hearts.  Obviously.

Simon’s Leaving Cake


Simon was our Projects Trainee who loved to draw.  Although I made the cake, I got all of the office to doddle and decorate it with edible ink before presenting it to him.  The result was this rather eclectic graffiti cake.

Jan, Cat and Koggy


Jan, Cat and Koggy, three (dis)graces (self-named) were retiring from the Orchestra and held a lovely barn dance.  This was a big old cake challenge that included hand drawn manuscript made of rice paper and edible ink.

Christmas Jumpers


We are quite good at Christmas jumpers here in the office. When it came to Christmas everyone had their own little Christmas jumper cake to complement their festive knitwear.

Patrick’s Cake


This is one of my favourite cakes that I’ve ever made and it was for a colleague’s boyfriend – a cake commission.  He loves comic books and so he got a comic book cake.

Flapjack Cake


This was for Lisa Sian whenshe left the OAE.  Lisa introduced ‘Flapjack Friday’ to the office so her cake was a highbred of flapjack and cake – Cakejack?

Sophie’s Smarties


Unsure about how to follow the unicorn cake I was a bit worried when it came round to Sophie’s birthday again.  Luckily, she gave me a clue – chocolate.  This was my response to that brief.

Fried Chicken Cake


Matt had far too many fired chicken stories – you know the sort, when you’ve drunk a little too much? When he left the OAE there was only one way to go with his cake decoration (the cake contains no chicken, just cake).

Daniel’s Birthday Cake


Daniel is our resident opera loving, Portuguese, Finance Officer.  Daniel also loves penguins.


And there we have it – a whistle-stop tour of my 3 years with the Orchestra in cake.  Of course, me talking about cake is a bit of a distraction techniqueI can’t even begin to write a blog that would do justice to my time here so I thought (as usual) I’d say it in cake.   Thanks OAE for all the memories and you can all breathe a sigh of relief as the office feeder skips off into the sunset.

More about my cakey adventures can be found here – http://ellabelleskitchen.wordpress.com/

Ellie Cowan, (former) Education Projects Manager

Postscript – since drafting this blog I have had my leaving party which was a surprise OAE Bake Off, for which I had to judge the bakes! I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much pressure in the OAE office where 8 anonymous creations were presented to me to judge in front of everyone.  The baking included a unicorn biscuit scene, a chocolate tart, cookies, a rainbow cake and everything in-between.  It was an impossible challenge and a wonderful end to my time here.  I think I also insulted a few people while clutching at straws to try and critique the baking (which had been made with love…) sorry team!

One Comment

  • The office (and their tummies) will miss you dearly! Best wishes for your new adventure!

    Emily Stover Mon Sep 8 2014