Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake

The 2010 Let Them Eat Cake Competition was so much fun. I always enjoy going to this premier Philadelphia Wedding Cake competition. The event is the brainchild of Philadelphia Wedding planner Mark Kingsdorf from Queen Of Hearts Wedding Consultants and all of the proceeds from the day benefit City of Hope cancer research.

This year was extra fun because I won a prize!! From the more than 50 cakes entered the judges voted mine as the “Most Artistic Cake”. This award is especially gratifying because the design was inspired by my mom’s interest in art and drawing.

The theme for this year’s contest was “A wedding through a child’s eyes”. Well, when I heard about this theme my first thought was a big “UGH”. Generally I’m not really into the princess-y/fairy tale type of wedding cakes, I much prefer modern and streamlined designs. I really could not muster up enough excitement to design a cake around a nursery rhyme or Disney story.

I was visiting my mom one day and she was showing me her newest sketches and art supplies. She’d just bought a book about fairies, and in that book I saw this picture:fairyinspiration

Well, of course, being immersed in the world of wedding cakes this first thing I see is a wedding cake topper. Et Voila, I have the theme for my cake. There were also drawings in the book showing child fairies riding on hummingbirds---they would also find their way into the final design.

So, based on the pictures in the book I came up with my sketch: ltecsketch-blogI’m not sure how other cake designers operate, but I start with an idea in my mind and a general sketch. As I often tell my customers, the exact details tend to work themselves out as I create the cake.

The first step was to begin making the flowers and fairies. Sugarpaste flowers are extremely time consuming and detailed…and I love making them. I was especially happy with the Morning Glories since I’ve never made them before. I couldn’t find any directions how to make them or any special cutters for them. I had to create a process to make them and I was thrilled with the result.

Ok…umm, this is a photo of the fairies in the early stages. ltec2010fairybodies-blogI know, I know, they look pretty creepy--like some sort of psycho-amputee-mannequins. But the heads and torsos need to dry before adding the face, then the arms, then the clothes, then the legs, then the hair and then the “accessories”…and they must dry between each step.ltec2010fairies-blogAll together I spent about 25 hours making the flowers and probably almost the same amount of time making the fairies. Soooo, if you ever wonder why the sugar flowers and figurines are so expensive you can see why. Overall, this cake took about 75-80 hours to complete.

Oh, and the top tier with the sunflower spun around so the fairy bride and groom looked like the were dancing over the cake. In 20 years as a pastry chef it’s the first time I’ve made a cake with an “extreme” element. I’ll explain how I made that work in another posting.

Here are some photos of the finished cake: