Monday, November 16, 2009

Mixed media

Wine bottle Birthday Cake - top view

The endless rain has started in Vancouver, and while I do love cozy days listening to the pitter-patter, walking to and from the bus stop is somewhat soggier than usual with wet autumn leaves still lining the streets. I tend to hibernate during the cold months but when asked to create a wine bottle themed birthday cake this week, the artistic challenge was quite invigorating!

Wine bottle Birthday Cake - the label

I had a bit of déjà vu because this cake was for another 60 year old who lives far away, just like the Tree cake. In order to make life easier, the more elements which I can create ahead of time, the better and so, the fondant grapes, gumpaste wine label and bottle cap, white chocolate scrolls, and faux-wood chocolate box panels were all done in advance.

The most rewarding but time-consuming element was undoubtedly, the wine label. Having recently attended a Compressed Italics calligraphy workshop by Martin Jackson (who I secretly wish I could be), I was eager to practice this hand and experiment with my calligraphic tools on dried gumpaste. Using Wilton colour paste mixed with vodka for ink, my Speedball C2 nib flowed quite nicely whereas the pointed nib was more tricky since it tended to scrape into the gumpaste and get clogged.

Wine bottle Birthday Cake - the bottle

The cake itself was built from a 10 x 15 x 3 inch slab of chocolate cake layered with whipped dark chocolate raspberry ganache. This was divided into the 6 x 15 x 3 inch box and the remaining section was carved into the life-sized wine bottle which was covered with black rolled fondant and stacked on top of the box. I never think of myself as particularly skilled at doing highly realistic cakes but this was quite a lovely outcome!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The final frontier

Caitlin's Solar System birthday cake - planets

My niece Caitlin turned five recently and initially requested a Space Invaders themed birthday cake. After contemplating how time consuming the production of an army of alien invaders would be, I asked if there was anything else she might want. Luckily, she currently loves the Solar System and this planet-filled birthday cake was born.

Showcasing all eight planets meant that much surface area was needed. A 10" x 15" x 2" slab of chocolate cake, dark chocolate ganache, and raspberry mousseline was assembled and glazed with a shiny chocolate glaze in order to resemble the deepest darkest depths of the universe.

Caitlin's Solar System birthday cake - top view with spaceship

Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars were simply little balls of fondant, whereas Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune were Rice Krispie domes covered in fondant and later airbrushed. I did try hard to maintain the relative scale of each planet in terms of size and distance from the sun but alas, some creative license was taken.

Caitlin's Solar System birthday cake - far away

Feeling sorry for poor Pluto's recent demotion, I decided to include Pluto by hiding it on the side of the cake near the bottom edge. Can you see that little grayish blob in the above photo? Happy Birthday Caitlin!