Baker Jordan Rondel has a penchant for delectable cakes — and a cornucopia of much-loved possessions.
ARTFUL AND DECADENT cakes are Jordan Rondel’s thing. A self-taught baker, she completed a degree in marketing and considered a career in advertising before her passion for patisserie became a successful baking business three years ago.
In 2010, while still at university in Auckland, Rondel started a blog titled The Caker. Within six months, the homemade cakes she featured on the blog had caught the attention of Karen Walker and other fashion names and Rondel was receiving steady orders from a list of high-profile customers. Now Rondel, 24, bakes a selection of nine cakes to order, as well as larger, custom-made commissions. She tinkers with unusual combinations: lemon, almonds and rose-water topped with crushed pistachios and Turkish delight; and coconut and lime with plums thrown in. Her approach to sweets is original; she eschews structured, formal icings for more ad-hoc confections and tries to use wholesome alternatives to refined flours and sugars, as well as dairy- and gluten-free options, wherever possible. Her creations are whimsical and delicious, not overly structured or at all refined — and a hell of a lot of fun.
The Auckland resident’s baking aesthetic is influenced by her French descent. It’s also an extension of her personal style and her home, a 1920s’ Ponsonby villa she shares with her boyfriend, tattoo artist Stefan Sinclair of Two Hands, as well as two friends and adopted cat Coco.
“We love the big rooms and high stud. There’s a lot of natural light that flows in here, which keeps it bright and warm. I’ve really never lived in a house with single-floor living, so I’m sold on that too,” says Rondel.
Inside the home, contemporary artworks owned by Rondel and Sinclair, including Dan Arps’ Rat Casserole and a sculpture by artist Liz Maw, are on display.
“I’m obsessed with these artists and I’d love to own more of Andrew Barber’s work one day too,” she says.
There are also a few fun and quirky collections thrown into the mix: skulls in various shapes and forms; cookbooks (her own one, The Caker, amongst them); and a new hoarding of Falcon enamelware most of which she keeps in her commercial kitchen on K. Road.
Outside there’s a small backyard, a shed that houses Sinclair’s drawing studio and a porch planted with manicured herbs and flowers that Rondel grows as garnishes for her cakes.
“It’s very Ponsonby,” Rondel says. “My dad is a designer and an architect so I’ve grown up in some pretty amazing converted warehouses around this area. I’ll always be in Ponsonby; I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
A few of Rondel’s favourite things
1. Neon sign. “Stefan commissioned this for the opening of his shop, Two Hands, in 2010. It sat in the window until the Council told him to take it down. I’m not sure why, but the good thing is it is now a permanent fixture in our home and throws a blue and pink glow into our dining space.”
2. Zoe & Morgan skull. “I have an obsession with skulls and this is a favourite in my collection. It’s a Peruvian skull, hand carved from wood. Stefan worked on a collaboration with Zoe Williams [of jewellers Zoe & Morgan] and she gifted it to us as a thank-you.”
3. Сосо the cat. “She started visiting our house when we first moved in and we found the owners’ details and contacted them. They turned up to collect her and took her home but, after a few weeks, she was back with us again. She’s made our house her home and we’re happy having her here.”
4 Rat Casserole by Dan Arps. “Stefan and I purchased this from Michael Lett’s gallery. I find it really interesting. It has a lot of texture and an air of disarray and muddle, yet I find it calming to look at because of its pale colours.”
5. Cookbook collection. “I have around 40 cookbooks that I love to pore over and get inspired by. I don’t use all of them regularly.
I tend to stick to my favourites, which include the Ottolenghi books, Donna Hay’s Seasons and the Rose Bakery book.”
6. Grey Cemetery Angel by Liz Maw. “What I like most about this piece, other than the fact that it fits into my skull collection, is that it’s a bit mysterious. It’s a dainty, extremely detailed portrait on a big chunky skull, which seems unfitting but works really beautifully. Stefan and I bought it together as our first real piece of art, mainly because we are big fans of Liz Maw’s work, but also because we liked the fact that it is a 3D object rather than a painting.”
7. A Study of Comparative Hearts. “I picked this up in Wunderkammer on Ponsonby Road a few years ago. It’s a series of five animal hearts, probably used for science or medicine in the past.”
8. Skull picture. “Stefan drew this picture for me and had it framed for my birthday the year we met.”
9. Herb Garden. “This is potted and grown by myself and my flatmate Lauren and is an important part of our kitchen. We use it all for cooking and the edible violas I use to garnish my cakes.”