Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Far East Fusion

This past week, one of my closest friends gave me one of the biggest challenges of my caking career thus far.  Not so much from a construction point of view, but rather, a design request unlike any other.

Her husband was turning 40 and she asked that the surprise cake incorporate many of his favorite things.  Here's the list...speaks Japanese and loves the culture, plays acoustic guitar, fishes, fave band is the Black Crows.  Holy cake...where to begin?

Well, the guitar part seemed to be the easiest, I was pretty sure that I could create one of fondant and modeling chocolate...and of course, I had to find a way to include Japanese writing.  I then started to peruse various images online...starting with Japanese landscapes and ending with Japanese fish tattoos.  Things were starting to take shape in my head and I became excited to try a couple of new techniques.

The top was a 6" round, onto which I used a transfer technique to hand-paint a fish from a tattoo design that I found.  I traced the fish onto parchment using a food safe pencil, gently held the parchment against the dried fondant, and retraced the back of the image. The fish outline was faintly transferred onto the surface of the cake, where I then went over it with food coloring and a very fine-tipped brush.

I then found the Japanese lettering for "Happy Birthday" and painted that vertically in 3 places.  Last was the black crow (shown in the last photo) and the guitar on top, sitting amongst a spray of Cherry Blossoms. The guitar is 100% edible, except the strings, which are made of fishing line.

For the bottom, I wanted to create a Japanese landscape and was very excited to try an airbrush technique on the fondant.  I covered the 8" tier in yellow fondant, then cut a circle of parchment to act as the sun.  I used shortening to attach the sun template and then lightly sprayed with red and orange edible paint to create a twilight effect.  Once dried, I removed the parchment to reveal the yellow sun.  I then drew some templates and cut some chocolate images to create Mt. Fuji and several pagodas, which I highlighted with white food coloring and silver Lustre Dust.  All of this was applied to the cake and then I drew Cherry Blossom branches using an edible pen.  Those were topped with delicate flowers.  I love the scene that these elements created and feel that the airbrush effect makes it look like so much more than a cake.

Marilyn says that the birthday boy and guests loved the result and were so touched by all of the personal references.  They also loved the White Almond Sour Cream cake with Vanilla Buttercream, always a crowd favorite.

Thank you, Marilyn...my dear friend!  Can't wait for you to assign me my next cake adventure!

Confectionately yours!

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