Sunday, March 23, 2014

My Big Fat Cake Project 2014

It was cake time again this week! Wondering what I"m blethering about? Check out the cakes we've done in the past at this blog post and - for more detail on how each came together - throughout this blog.

This time, I proposed to the team a pattern based on red. I've had a bit of a red obsession the last couple of years. We settled on William Morris's iconic Strawberry Thief pattern (see left), available as wall paper and fabric, and - er - featured on my newest handbag. It comes in different colourways, but red it was.

The first challenge was deciding what elements of this very dense pattern were going to be rendered, and how. Then, what other elements might be alluded to. Then we split up to do the pieces of icing decoration that could be created ahead of time. The last two weekends were spent on that.

Items like the birds and larger flowery/leafy elements were made with the colour flow technique. A royal icing outline is then flooded with a softer royal icing. More royal icing work is painted or piped on. The colours were tricky but we finally found a Wedgewoody sort of blue and green which were pleasing to our eyes. The green was moss green food colouring gel with a hint of black. The blue was cornflower blue, again with a hint of black.

On Thursday night, I stayed up and baked layers of chocolate cake, three layers at 18 inches square. My place smelt like heaven. On Friday morning, Laura and James showed up with their stuff and we began to assemble. The previous week James (the strong man of the group) had covered the cake board with lightly tinted fondant (so it wasn't glaringly white). We put a chocolately frosting between each layer, trimmed the edges, and then spread a thin coat over the entire cake to help the red rolled fondant stick to it. That was a big job, trying to manouveur the layers around without cracking them, and ditto for the large piece of fondant.

With our more complicated patterns in the past, we've used buttercream as a background which is like a frosting, soft and spreadable. But with fondant, which is pliable and which you roll out, we were able to place all the pieces gradually, and when we were pleased with the layout, to stick them down with dots of royal icing underneath, working like cement. We made fondant leaves and piped more royal icing to make stems, birds' legs, leaves, etc. Small three-dimensional fondant strawberries were placed at each corner, and a twisted rope of green and red fondant finished off the bottom of the cake. We waited till we were at the venue to apply the dark green ribbon around the base of the cake board. That Friday we worked from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

And once again, it was a calm and relaxed process. There's never any worries or tension. Thank you Laura and James for your collaboration once more! Eleven cakes later, we're pondering taking a break. Perhaps waiting for retirement to take on another? Who knows. What this space! Oh, and by the way - it tasted great! Moist and very, very chocolatey.

  
 

17 comments:

Betsy Brock said...

Wow! I do believe this is my favorite so far! It's gorgeous! I love everything about it..the berries and birds, of course...and then the colors and chocolate! Oh my!

I have to say that you and your friends must really have a great compatibility to be able to work together like that. Amazing! You should all be proud!

G said...

Betsy, I agree - it's my favourite too. And thank you!

Cowboy said...

What an incredible work of art. I'm stunned by its beauty and the craftsmanship. The three of you are truly talented. You are definitely NOT allowed to wait until retirement for the next cake! That would be a travesty.

G said...

Cowboy, thank you so much for your kind words - yeah... we're might be rethinking retirement. :)

Gary Mulcahey said...

WOW! That looks amazing.
To all involved a big thumbs up!

G said...

Thanks Gary! Was reading Sam's amazing account of your trip. Looks very inspirational.

Mary Corbet said...

Oh golly!!! This is gorgeous! What a great combination of two lovable things - cake and William Morris!

Jenny James said...

Gorgeous work!!! Have you made his frog designs into cakes yet? Love the detail you put into each piece!

G said...

Thanks Mary: I agree, they belong together.

Jenny: I don't know which one you mean but now I'm curious - please tell me!

stephanie stryker said...

That is incredible! So beautiful I don't think I could eat it. I'm envious you get to do that for a living. :)

G said...

That's very kind of you Stephanie. I have to admit, this was the first of the Morris cakes which was hard to cut into. By the way, I don't do this for a living. My two friends and I do this one cake once a year in honour of our hero, William Morris, for the William Morris Society of Canada's annual birthday symposium or lecture. So it's just fun. We take a vacation day off work (or two) and work the weekends leading up to it to get it done. I *wish* I had more time to do more creative things like this, although all three of us have creative jobs.

Mr Grey 4 said...

How do I get a cake like that for an event?

Lourdes said...

Hello,
Beautiful cake! I really like the paper on which you have inspired, I would like to use in my creations with Photoshop, tell me where I could find him, to have high resolution.
Thanks a lot. A greeting
Lourdes

Gerry O'Hara said...

Stunning! :)

Grace said...

Very, very nice work! Congrats! I love it!

G said...

Mr. Grey 4: As you'll see in my previous comment on this post, this is an annual labour of love for me and two friends. We're not in the cake decorating business, but we love doing this for fun and in honour of the great William Morris!

Lourdes: We usually source our wallpaper designs online, trying to find the highest resolution image. We also look at several of the many books available on William Morris designs to try and find the most accurate depiction of the colours. Sometimes we stray from the exact shades for different reasons: sometimes one tone is a little more appetizing than another. Every part of our cakes is entirely edible.

Gerry: Thanks! :) There was another one this past March and there'll be another next year.

Grace: Thank you so much for the compliment!

It's Boat Life said...

Magnificent! The details are so amazing!