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Spectacular Dorset celebration cheese cakes

PUBLISHED: 11:12 25 February 2016 | UPDATED: 11:13 25 February 2016

Tanys with her replica Mark 1V cheese Cambrai tank cake in front of the real tank at Bovington Tank Museum

Tanys with her replica Mark 1V cheese Cambrai tank cake in front of the real tank at Bovington Tank Museum

The Tank Museum

Tanys Pullin lives and breathes cheese. She also designs spectacular celebration cheese cakes for the award-winning Dorset cheesemakers, Ford Farm

My husband Mike is one of the Directors at Ford Farm – a traditional West Country farmhouse cheesemaker, based on the Ashley Chase Estate at Litton Cheney in West Dorset. Mike is chairman of the Cheese Awards at the Bath & West and was keen to encourage more people along to the awards so asked me if I could carve a crown from a half tonne piece of farmhouse cheddar to commemorate the 57th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. And so I took on my first commission as a cheese sculptor!

It was quite a challenge, and took me three days and nights to finish. Farmhouse cheddar is quite crumbly so you have to work quickly and keep the cheese moist, otherwise it will crack. When sculpting cheese I always wear a hygiene hat and gloves and have to hand a water spray, some olive oil (which doesn’t detract from flavour) and cling film – to stop the cheese from drying out.

I work in one of the cold storage rooms, which is completely separate from the house, as it maintains a fairly constant cool temperature which is ideal for cheese carving. The sculpture has to be fully wrapped in cling film after I’ve finished for the day to prevent moisture escaping from the cheese.

Since that first piece back in 2010 I have worked on a number of other interesting commissions. In November I was asked by the Royal Tank Regiment in Salisbury to create a replica Mark 1v tank from a selection of our cheeses. Fortunately, the Bovington Tank Museum is only a few minutes from Ford Farm so I was able to nip over there to see the tank in situ. The cheese tank cake was to mark the Regiment’s most celebrated battle, the Battle of Cambrai in 1917 and was served in the Officers’ Mess at a special dinner.

Another interesting commission was from the organisers of the Wells Literary Festival who asked me to create a cake on behalf of Mary Berry who was one of their speakers, and also my idol. I made some flowers out of a cheese-based royal icing, which I then used to decorate the cake.

Cheese wedding cakes are always popular and I recently created one for a bride who got married at Wookey Hole, which was filmed by Channel 4 for a reality TV Show. I also appeared on Russell Howard’s Good News TV programme on the Guess my Secret Skill slot, which was a real giggle.

When I’m not carving in cheese you will find me working 200 ft underground in the Wookey Hole Caves, looking after the Ford Farm cheddars which we mature in a dedicated cheese cave.

The cheddars have to be turned and brushed regularly and it’s my job to keep the space immaculately clean. It’s not quite as glamorous as appearing on Russell Howard’s show but someone’s got to do it!

Find out more about Ford Farm’s sensational celebration cheese cakes at fordfarm.com.


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