Sweet treats for kids with serious illnesses

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 05:00 14/12/2012
Glenfield Baker
SWEET SURPRISE: Glenfield baker Kerry Morris made this birthday cake for a two-year-old girl in Starship Hospital with leukaemia.

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A 20 kilo chocolate cake topped with an edible Elmo was enough to bring a slice of joy to a toddler as she battles leukemia.

The girl, whose mother has requested her name be withheld, has just celebrated her second birthday in Starship Hospital less than a week after enduring a taxing bone marrow transplant.

Glenfield baker Kerry Morris of private cake company Kiwi Eat Cake worked for 10 hours baking, icing and decorating the cake for the girl's birthday on November 23.

Mrs Morris is one of 200 amateur and professional cake decorators who work as volunteers for non-profit organisation Operation Sugar. Run by Balclutha mother of three Rachel Jenkinson, Operation Sugar is a nationwide charity providing free custom birthday cakes to seriously ill children.

Each of the volunteer bakers has offered to make at least one cake a year at their own expense. Seven sick children will receive cakes this month only weeks after the organisation was launched.

Mrs Morris says she hoped the cake would take the family's mind off the little girl's illness and give them a special day.

"I hope it makes them happy. That's what I love about cakes, they make people smile," she says.

The three tier cake, glued together by white, milk and marble chocolate ganache, is valued at around $200 and provided enough morning tea for 40 people.

A qualified naturopath and mother of two, Mrs Morris says she has no formal cake decorating training but just a lifelong passion for baking.

"I would always go around to my grandmas and bake. When I had my two kids I started baking for family and friends and soon people started asking.

"I can't draw to save myself, but when I started baking I realised I could sculpt," she says.

Mrs Morris now bakes up to four cakes a week using the commercial kitchen at the Glenfield Community Centre, but says she has never been asked to make anything too outrageous.

"I am still waiting for someone to ask me to make something really rude, maybe for a stag or hen's do," she says.

The worst part of the job, she says is transporting her creations by car with just a sharp corner or sudden halt enough to send hours of painstaking work down the drain.

But the best part, she says is seeing a customer's reaction when they see the cake.

Go to operationsugar.org.nz for more information.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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