When I was in culinary school, I fell in love with the cake decorating portion of my Baking and Pastries courses. I loved the precision and attention to detail required to make something that obviously tasted delicious look delicious. During our Pastry final that covered the course of two days of baking, cake decorating, confection making, ice cream creating, meringue piping, cookie cutting, and plate design, I was more excited about the extra credit we could accumulate: create a celebration cake.
I already had pictured the cake I wanted to make. Screw what I HAD to do for my actual final, to me that felt like a piece of cake (HA!). I wanted to make a cake that "celebrated" my class of 36 student friends. When I realized that I was three hours ahead of schedule on my final (like, I was done with everything three hours ahead of time) I went to work on my celebration cake. I colored some fondant a nice royal blue (Le Cordon Bleu color) and started to roll it out to put on my styrofoam rounds that would create a small two-tier cake. I then built the cake and started to pipe out each of my student friend's names in different fonts all over the cake. I still managed to finish with 30 minutes left of time, and my chef instructors and friends loved the simple cake, and the fact that I had had the time to do it! It was an extra sense of accomplishement, and I was able to channel out my creativity.
I started picking up wedding cake books and cake design books, buying piping tips in every shape and size, and even making a faux children's cake "on a whim" just because I felt like it. I started to love working with fondant, even though I detested the taste, just because you could fold it over cakes and use it to make shapes, designs, etc. I sketched cakes and even helped to design one for a girlfriend's wedding.
Then I started to get creative. My sister's boyfriend at the time was about to turn 30. He was and still is a very big fan of Jack Daniels. I immediately was struck with the idea of making him a Jack Daniels cake. And a large one at that. There was a party being thrown for him, and I knew what I was going to make. Everyone thought I was slightly nuts for attempting this, but really it was just a way of channeling the creative energy I have.
I began building the whole thing on styrofoam, just to do a test run. Note the size of the real bottle vs the styrofoam mold.
Building on the styrofoam...
And here was the finished "test run" - not perfect, but that is the point of the test run.
So the next pics are a sequence of putting the cake together. First up, my favorite - a bottle of Chardonnay and my pillowcase all make it into the picture.
The look of intensity. And, yes, the pillowcase and glass of wine make it in the shot. Thanks, Party Marty. The main part of the cake ended up being three layers.
Took me a few hours, well, more than a "few" hours, but here was the finished product.
I was a proud cake designer.
One more pic of the final product before it was put in a box.
I was so proud of this cake. And all of the friends at the party were amazed. I got a lot of praise for what I had done, but really the thing I remember most (besides the compliments) was the sheer exhilaration of releasing that creative energy. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I realized then that doing cakes like that was one of the best forms of therapy for myself.
I then did a Champagne cake for my girlfriend's birthday as well:
Most people ask where I find the time or effort to do these cakes, and I always say it is just a way for me to release creative anxiety. It was just the other day I realized I needed to release this anxiety, as I haven't really been baking much in the last two years. And I just have to say my inspiration was a bottle of Johnnie Walker. Yes, I am inspired by booze - but at least I know how to create a bottle of booze out of nothing but sugar, flour, and a lot of TLC.
So, a new post and pics to come. Stay tuned!