May 26, 2012

wedding cake

For our final project in Advanced Baking, we had to come up with a wedding cake - either a real one or a styrofoam model. Most of us chose styrofoam - less to worry about, but also it can be kept forever. At first I was going to make both, but then I quickly realized that it would be nearly impossible so I settled on a styrofoam one.

I started brainstorming early, because I knew the end-of-semester crunch would inevitably come along (as Chef Mark described it, an avalanche that would snowball and gain speed, taking down everything in its path including us).

For the theme I started thinking about marriage and what I feel married to. It didn't take me long to think "my bed!" and start basing my cake entirely off my bed. I took some photos of what's on/around my bed to try to incorporate it into the whole design.

wedding cake ideas

Here's the duvet, faded lavender with a fern/lavender-like design.


Here are my pillow cases, white with a swirling flower design.


Here's the tissue box, light purple with flower designs, sitting atop lavender sheets.

tissue box & sheets

So from those three elements I thought I would make a three-tiered round cake - faded lavender on bottom, white in the middle, and lavender on top.

I included the lei around my lamp because the flowers were purple and white.

flower lei

The mattress, although blue, has a silvery-pink rose pattern on it. I thought I could find a ribbon like that to decorate the top and/or sides of the cake.


So the first step of constructing the cake model was fondant (kind of like edible playdough) and styrofoam rounds. To get the colors I wanted, I could have used food coloring with white fondant but I chose to use up colors left behind by previous classes. I mixed a rose-hued one, an indigo one and an off-white one to create the lavender I wanted.

fondant colors

Once I kneaded the colors enough till they all blended, I rolled out the fondant to a big flat round and then draped it over the styrofoam round. Because the fondant I used was leftover, it was drier than fresh fondant and parts of the drape cracked. I had to rework it with some shortening so it wouldn't crack as much.

fondant over styrofoam

Once the three tiers of rounds were done, I set to decorating the bottom layer. Unfortunately Chef Mark didn't have a fern pattern cutter, but he did have dozens of other leaves so I picked two that I liked - one lotus-y and the other tulip-y. The cutters saved me from having to cut out leaves by hand, which would have been exhausting. The stems I was able to form using the wavy side of a bigger cutter shape. Although the design didn't come out looking exactly like my duvet cover I still liked how it looked.

leaf cutters & fondant design

Chef Ng caught a picture of me in action, pasting the fondant shapes I cut onto the fondant "cake" with the help of some water.

fondant decoration

For the top layer I used the ribbons I purchased at Michaels. Couldn't find any silvery-patterned ones like I had imagined, so I settled for two different kinds of purple. Cut sections of ribbon and pasted it into a loop with the help of some royal icing (mostly egg whites and powdered sugar, but kind of like glue). I also used the same ribbon to surround the base of each cake layer.

royal icing & ribbons

Once the ribbon loops were arranged they made a flower pattern.

ribbons arranged

On top of the loop I inserted a fake white rose (also from Michaels). I would have made one out of molding chocolate like this one Chef showed us, but then it would've been off-white (because of the white chocolate) and not the bright white to match the middle layer of cake.

rose on top

The last thing I did was pipe royal icing designs onto the middle layer. Royal icing itself is harder to pipe because it doesn't flow like whipped cream or buttercream. But not only that, I had to pipe sideways, which meant that I was working against and not with gravity. It was harder than I expected, so the designs I'd previously practiced on paper had to be vastly simplified.

patterns & icing

Overall the cake was very enjoyable to make because of the whole design process - idea/theme, gathering of materials, working with material constraints, etc. There were things that I could have made better if I was willing to redo them - the cracks in the fondant, the blemishes in the piping work, etc. But I'm happy with how my first wedding cake turned out. The colors and the flowery details still remind me of my bed.

finished cake

To see my classmates' final projects, click here and scroll left through the pictures!

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