“But all things must have a beginning, and the student who is about to embark on a career of icing and piping must study well the aspect of his own fitness for the work, his adaptability, his will to overcome obstacles, and his willingness to practice.” (Nirvana, 1953, pg. 1)
(A project from Fall 2012…)
I like to say that cake is not always just cake.
It’s a symbol of the achievements of people and the relationships that we have with each other. It’s a tangible, and edible, representation of love & appreciation.
In my adventures in cake, I’ve been blessed to be part of these celebrations. This is no exception.
There is a special story behind this cake. A few years ago I made a Nikon D300 DSLR camera cake for the most amazing couple, as a special surprise birthday gift to him from her. This camera cake quickly became one of the most talked about cakes I have ever created.
I was overjoyed that not too long after, they were engaged! As a photography enthusiast, the goal for me was to create a wedding cake that featured their photos – personal photos that captured the spirit of their relationship and the special moments in their lives:
The plaque was cut out craft knife and template as a guide. It was then hand painted using a paintbrush:
Tape was created using beige-coloured gumpaste, by rolling it out thinly, then “tearing” the edges.
Blue, red and white tacks were hand-shaped out of modelling chocolate:
The images were created by using a computer printer and food colouring ink to print on edible image paper. Each image was then cut out, then attached to a thin sheet of edible sugar gumpaste.
This is one of my favorite photos:
I had the pleasure of seeing the cake cut, and was delighted when a little boy kept coming up to the table to pick up slices for his table. He was sure to pick up the slices with the edible images.
He knew that they were special.
(Congratulations to Erin & Tyler! May you enjoy many countless years of happiness together!)
I am fascinated by spheres. I find the shape of a sphere ball cake not only puzzling, but eye-pleasing.
A modified sphere shape used in a jack o’lantern cake:
As a very angry, irate, bird:
In a global cake:
Another example in a modern chocolate cake:
Tips & Tricks
The issue arises when a sphere is carved out of all cake, the bottom of the cake sinks and compresses due to lack of support from the inward curve:
This results in gravity compressing the bottom few inches of the cake over time. The bottom of the cake or fondant may bulge and/or ripple.
The secret is to construct the bottom 1/2 to 1/4 out of material other than cake. This can include a number of materials. Most commonly used are rice cereal treats, modelling chocolate, or polystyrene foam.
A similar concept is used here in the building of a cylinder shaped cake, used here as a camera lens in a cake. Here the side of a fondant bucket was used in the bottom 1/4, to allow for maximum cake content:
It is also possible to create the look of a sphere using all cake. This can be done creating only the top 3/4 of a sphere, and having a flat base. Another option is to use a heavy dense cake.
For carving itself, I prefer to carve from sheets or rounds of cake, as they bake evenly, however ball cake pans do exist.
Here is an excellent tutorial on carving a sphere out of ice. The same concept applies for cake – start with cylinder shape as tall as it is wide, then round the shape from all angles. Another tip I have learned is to use a half circle (negative) template as a guide.
The greatest challenge is covering a sphere cake in fondant. To give plenty of fondant to work with, if my sphere is 8 inches tall, I roll out my fondant in a circle to at least 16 inches wide. About 1/3 of this fondant will be cut away at the bottom.
Considerable excess fondant will gather around the base. From my own struggles, I have learned to pinch and cut away excess fondant using scissors, then blend in seams.
Another option is to divide the job in two, by splitting into a front and back section, then blending the seams.
For more details about cake sculpting, the book “Cake Sculpture and Sculptered Figure Piping” by the amazing Roland Winbeckler helped me. This book contains practical directions on building internal cake structures, plus lots of detailed information on sculpting with buttercream. Also, the phenomenal Mike McCarey has specialized class events on cake sculpting.
And if you share my fascination with spheres, you might also enjoy the art of the dorodango mud ball. I made one once. It was neat.
Recently cake decorators all over the world have been creating and sharing free cake tutorials, photographs, and information online using a variety methods. These are the top sharing methods I currently see:
1. Cake Decorating Tutorials on Pintrest
Pintrest has been fast exploding with collections of cake decorating photo tutorials, allowing users to group, or “pin,” these photos onto a shared board. The photos are either hosted on an outside website/blog, or they have been uploaded by the user.
I welcome users to pin my work.
Examples of some popular boards on Pintrest:
YouTube allows users to upload videos, allowing the audience to visually see cake decorating techniques. The quantity of cake decorating videos has increased substantially.
While videos are not necessarily grouped, the YouTube experience rather takes you on an adventure of video browsing by following recommended or suggested videos or channels.
3. Discussion Forums
Discussion forums are a great place to ask open ended questions. Users reply with their own personal experiences or opinions.
Anyone can ask and find the answer to any cake decorating question. My favorite discussion forums are at CakeCentral.
Tip: Instead of searching within the website, you can easily use Google to search within a website by adding “site:url.com” to the end of your search query.
For example, if I wished to find out how to make fondant shiny, but wished to search the CakeCentral website without going through the pages of the site, I would type into Google: “how shiny fondant site:cakecentral.com”
Because of open sharing, the skills of the cake decorating community has grown together as a whole. This is not limited to just cake decorators, but all other interest groups. I hope that the net will be used as a tool to make our world a better place, by becoming a representation of shared knowledge and wealth. I foresee people creating more quality, concise content, and by doing so with intent.
Remember, just because it isn’t online, doesn’t meant it didn’t happen. Although great to look at, it’s hard to eat cake through a computer screen. 😉
The SAIT Culinary Campus, downtown Calgary Alberta, is an amazing new place, focused on education & entertainment through cooking and baking.
The campus is open to the public.
You can purchase lunch meals and delicious pastries here, participate in group and team building events, or take educational cooking classes and baking classes.
I had the amazing opportunity to create the showpiece in celebration of the opening of the campus:
The Culinary Campus is located on the 2nd floor of the Scotia Centre (226, 230 – 8th Ave SW, Calgary AB).
To see the upcoming baking-related classes held downtown, check out their website.
I hope you will find the opportunity to enjoy the new campus!
Here are some cool cake projects as of recently! It is the season of celebrating the people we love & the things that they love about life!
Maria loves writing! In this cake, each line of the page is individually marked using a ruler and the back of a paring knife, then pages airbrushed. The letters on the pages are hand painted using food colouring and a fine-tipped paintbrush. The ink jar is sculpted from modelling chocolate, and the feather from gumpaste:
Elma loves her iPad! In this cake, the iPad is made from a hard chocolate interior, which was then covered in gumpaste. Scrabble is one of her favorite games, so they kindly sent an image with the message written as the Scrabble letters. The image was then printed onto edible photo paper, using food colouring. The cake is covered in lime green fondant, the same colour as Elma’s case:
First Birthday Cake
It’s Tristan’s first birthday! The ball is sculpted out of cake – layers of cake are stacked, then carved from all angles to form a ball. The number one is made using modelling chocolate and gumpaste. The “torn” pieces of fondant were attached after, and blended in:
Cowboy Boot Cake
And last but not least, Erin loves shoes! Here are photos of the original boot, used as a reference. The embroidery on the boot was created using piped royal icing and the brush embroidery technique, then hand-painted using various shades of royal blue. The stitching along the seams was created using a quilting tool:
Recently I had the second delight of teaching a wonderful class of students how to make a hamburger cake at SAIT Polytechnic as part of their Continuing Education classes…
Silent concentration as patties were stacked on top of buns. Lettuce, tomato, cheese and onion were carefully arranged…
I’m grateful to have so many talented students – many had never worked with fondant before, and everyone did great! I am very proud of everyone, and thrilled to see the class full of realistic hamburgers to take home! I hope that the cakes were shared as happy surprises to many loved ones.
Find out more about the new Calgary SAIT cooking and baking classes here.