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Real Life

REAL LIFE: Meet the brave mum who baked away the blues with these amazing cakes

''When things got tough, I had a cake-up call.''

By Take 5 team

Maria Koumoundouros, 39, Hobart, Tasmania, shares her story with Take 5:

Everyone gasped as I placed my son Ilias's first birthday cake in front of him.
He loved Sesame Street, so I'd made him an Elmo cake in rich red icing.
I'd slaved for hours to perfect my design and make the most delicious, jaw-dropping cake, and I'd enjoyed every minute of it.
I'd started baking when Ilias was born.
Back then, I'd struggled with the pressures of being a new mum and was diagnosed with postnatal depression (PND).
The Elmo cake made for Ilias. (Image: Instagram)
So to help claw my way out of that dark hole, at night when Ilias slept I scuttled into the kitchen one evening and decided to bake a cake.
On my very first attempt, I set the bar high.
It was my mum's birthday coming up and I'd seen a handbag cake in a shop.
I threw my all into replicating it.
I carefully mixed up the mudcake mixture and baked it.
Then when it'd cooled, I sculpted the sponge using a handbag template I cut out as a guide.
After that I used ganache, made from chocolate and cream, as a glaze, then I smothered it in fondant.
And voila, I'd made a red Chanel handbag birthday cake!
The cakes kept getting fancier and fancier. (Image: Instagram)
Mum was so blown away by my creation she didn't cut the cake – instead she kept it in a glass cake stand on display at home for a year!
"Mum, it'll be mouldy on the inside by now," I laughed, urging her to throw it away.
Over time I whipped up many exquisite, quirky and delicious delights.
The best part was seeing Ilias's face light up when he saw them.
"You should do this for a living," my husband, Michael, suggested.
I laughed it off, but it wasn't a bad idea.
After Ilias's third birthday, I created a Facebook page and website for my cake baking venture, calling it Cake Queen Oz, and orders started to come in.
With son, Rafael. (Image: Instagram)
As time passed, Cake Queen Oz became my full-time job!
I was flat-chat both selling my cakes and baking them for my family.
When I had my second son, Rafael, he was just as pleased as his brother when he saw his birthday cake creations.
Michael was speechless when for his 40th birthday, I spent days secretly making a KFC cake for him.
He drooled while blowing out the candles on the finger-licking chicken bucket!
A finger-licking surprise for Michael's birthday. (Image: Instagram)
Over time my portfolio expanded beyond birthday cakes.
Once I made a Titanic cake that was the length of a table for a lady whose family are obsessed with ships.
It's been seven years since Cake Queen Oz was born.
Cake baking brought me joy when I was going through a tough time.
Every day I feel lucky I've been able to turn my hobby into my job.
Follow Maria on Instagram@ozcakequeen

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