Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cake Decorating

Cake Angelcake 11x17 Print
Today I'm veering off in another direction:  CAKE DECORATING!  I have decorated many cakes in my day, and I want to share that part of my life with you.  The picture above is a print by the artist Nancy Thomas.  She is local to my area (Williamsburg, Virginia--she lives nearby in Yorktown, and has a store in both Yorktown and Williamsburg), and you can see all her offerings at .  In 2005 she had a party to celebrate a big anniversary for her stores (20 years, I think) and her staff secretly commissioned me to replicate the cake in this print for the party.  Here it is:

The cake was HUGE, about 3 feet tall, not counting the flowers on top!  It took me four days in which I freaked out the entire time--I've never been so nervous in my life!!
      Day one:  I made the flowers, leaves and angel decorations out of fondant.  They needed to dry before I added them to the cake.  There were a lot, and I had to make extra to allow for breakage, and it took all day. 
     Day two:  I started baking.  It was four separate 16" cakes stacked on top of each other, and it was all from scratch, and it took a lot of batter to make all that cake!! I also make the buttercream icing that day.
     Day three:  I finished baking, and got down to the business of frosting all that cake.  The buttercream I use is very sensitive to heat, so every cake layer had to be refrigerated when it wasn't being worked on--my whole fridge was full of cake and icing!  I started decorating with colored icing, leaving the fondant decorations for the final day. 
     Day four:  I finished the cake for transport in two pieces:  the bottom three layers all stacked, frosted and decorated, and the top layer, with all the flowers on top, was separate.  I drove to the Yorktown store where the party was to be held and finished the assembly there, which included adding all the fondant angels at the seam where the top and bottom sections came together.

I've mentioned that the cake was a surprise--and Nancy Thomas LOVED it!  I wasn't at the party to see her reaction, but a few days later I received a gift from her:  a copy of the cake print that her cake was based on, with a message for me on the back:

Can you read the message?  It says:  Dear Leslie, The cake was magnificent and was the STAR of the most wonderful evening of my life!  You are truly an artist, with all my heart, thank you!  Fondly, Nancy   Nov. 2005"      Hey, if an artist says I'm an artist, I guess I'm an artist!

     I got into cake decorating after I graduated from cooking school, back in the 80's.  After I married my wonderful husband Bill, and before the sweet babies Wade and Jenna were born, we were stationed in Germany with the Army, and I started making decorated cakes for the other military people there.  The German cakes are different than ours--not as sweet, for one thing--so the Americans flocked to me and I was often overwhelmed with orders, which I baked in our tiny apartment kitchen.  Later, when we moved to Japan and the children were small, I baked for the military people again.  Here are a few of them:

I thought I was going to talk about my bags today--well, maybe tomorrow!  Thanks for reading this!

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