Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rapunzel & Architecture

It is the sweetest thing ever (pun intended on the use of sweet because....well this is about cakes) - Dave watches Alton Brown videos about cake stuff. I am not sure if he is doing this because I out loud say, "Why does that happen?" when some cake related thing occurs ........ or if it is because I try to explain something about a cake related thing and Dave doesn't get what I am saying and wants to hear an experts take........or if it is because really he has always like Alton Brown - which I shouldn't overlook - he has watched Alton on Food Network for years - but now he is looking up cake stuff and watching on the computer so I am totally taking it to be a sweet support to my cake dealings.

How is this related to the mess of stacked cake above? Well he was watching an Alton Brown episode about whipping eggs or something and there was a question/answer thing happening and he made the statement that many cake designers have an architecture background. Usually I can zone out what Dave is watching........because unlike the kids when they watch videos (like Annoying Orange) on the computer.....I don't make him put on earphones. This statement by Mr. Brown caught my attention - because in High School I studied drafting and architecture.......and then in my first year in college I continued my studies. Many of you know that following that first year I switched schools and eventually attended many colleges before earning my bachelors and masters in social work and counseling related fields - not architecture. Still.......I do have an architecture/design background of sorts. So this statement was kinda cool.

See Mr. Jackson........apparently I am using my years of architecture after all - just in cake building. Kudos to you for making me so good at it all.

Now the first picture is of a budding tower. And I didn't just stack those cakes up and hope for the best. That would have been ridiculously not smart.

This is the beginning of the roof top of the tower. The original cake I found on line had a roof just like this. But this looked pretty.........well..........boring and like a hat that I made in kindergarten with construction paper.
In fact if you turn it upside down you will see that it basically is the hat I made in Kindergarten. I took a piece of poster board - created a cone - lined that with plastic wrap so the fondant didn't adhere to the cone - then I put a base on the cone so that the weight of the fondant didn't pop it (I'm a mother - I worry about everything).

Then to make the cone head roof look a little nicer I put shingles on. This is my first shingle making and while I did really well, they are by far not at all uniform........of course if I think about it do you think the elves who were making the shingles in the forest for the magical tower that Rapunzel would live in made them all uniform? No probably not. Besides they were using wood - which is probably way easier then fondant. Elves have such an easy life. All they mostly make are cookies and shingles.

Now .......this is really the only architecturally structural picture I took. I knew that if I left the stacked cakes without a base support I would be crying the next day. So I put 3 very long dowel rods into the cake. Unfortunately one of the dowel rods went in at a slight angle. Personally I began freaking out as soon as I realized that to take it out and replace it might mean to cause holes that would cause cracks.

My husbands advice was that I was worrying about nothing that needed to be worried about. It would all be fine. Move forward and let it go.

My focus was to drive him berserk. "Can you come here and look at this?"......"What do you think does it look like it shifted?"......"Do you think it will hold?"......."How about now has it shifted now?"......each question came with his having to bend over and peer at the cake (or pretend to in order to appease me) as I turned the cake swirling around thing (you store may call it something else if you go to purchase one of these).

Once it seemed Dave had enough of this I left him alone.........for a bit at least.......and moved onto the next thing.

The landscape. I iced the landscape to include a river. Can you see the river?

As I was putting the landscape to the side to dry before putting fondant on it my 5 year old came in and said, "Maudy that is way too bumpy to be smooth." I said, "It is going to be a valley with a river in it. Can you see the river?"........he looked at me like I had lost my mind. Nodded his head and smiled at me like he was afraid to tell me he didn't think it did. And walked away.

I can see the river........can you see the river?

Then I iced the outside of the tower. A nice gray mortar kind of a color. And Dave and I did another round of "Can you come here and look at this?"......"What do you think does it look like it shifted?"......"Do you think it will hold?"......."How about now has it shifted now?"......

Then I began placing the rocks on the tower. Added a few windows that Rapunzel would have swung open if she were planning to throw her locks out to Finn to climb.......and did another round of Does this look leany to you Dave? Dave was getting quite tired of this game, but he was playing it really well by continuously stating, "No it is going to be fine." "It looks great.".......but he didn't want to play anymore and left - then luckily my friend, Sheri, showed up to drop her son off for a sleepover. Unfortunately for me though.....when I asked her "Does this look leany to you?" she said, "Yes."

So I spent the rest of my night LOOKING at the tower.....over and over and over and over. I was so paranoid about the cake leaning into breakage that the side I thought was leaning I put a towel under the cake swirling thing to make sure it started leaning straight - because things can lean back to straight right? In my head at least........hey no one ever said I was a GREAT Architecture student (but I was - right Mr. Jackson?).

While waiting for my tower to fall over I went back to the valley. Put a nice layer of fondant over the top......pretty right? Then started to fill in the river........My five year old started to see it.

Add in a few boulders around the river - some grass - a few pine trees........a lizard - rather I believe he is a chameleon.
Then a few flowers scattered all about............. After that I called it a night. Tried not to think about the tower that I had propped to lean straight in the china hutch and played with the kids.

The next day we took the entire collection of cake pieces - and two cookies - to the party.

These are views of the car ride to the Birthday Girls house. I thought that the view from this angle was kinda cool. What I did was place the tower on the cake and then pushed the remaining portion of the dowel rods into the base cake. There was also a cake board at the bottom of the tower that had hole punches matching the top of the tower - so there was a foundation at the top and bottom that kept the dowel rods from shifting much.

Although in my head the whole thing was about to fall at any moment. Poor Dave driving the van........

Once we got to the party I put the roof on the tower - placed the figures they had given me to use on the cake........and all was right with the world.

The cookies were Shortbread........I was trying to think of a way to get the Birthday Girls name and message onto the cake and also incorporate the crown that Finn had stolen and was a pivotal point for the characters. Plus everyone loves a cookie right?

So in the end Dave was right (please don't tell him I typed that). The tower was fine. I worried for nothing. But hey, I'm a mother - I worry.

This cake was Chocolate with Vanilla Buttercream and White with Vanilla Buttercream.......Vanilla Fondant and Shortbread cookies with Royal Icing. The pictures of the final cake could have been better, but honestly - I was so crazy nervous putting it together I am just happy I remembered to TAKE a picture!


Jenny Gerstner said...

I think you outdid yourself with this one. I am in awe!! Great job!

mjblaze said...

you continue to amaze me, my friend!

Kathy said...

I love this!

The Gray's Kitchen said...

That's it--you are no longer my friend. My self-esteem can't take it ;).
Seriously, though, this is simply lovely. You have vision, my friend, and a very understanding husband. What more could you ask?

Kylie R said...

I read all of this with an humorous understanding! I feel so relieved that I am not the only one who obsesses about every little detail when cake making for others! I think the cake looks brilliant!! But I also understand exactly what you were going through! :)

Rumiana said...

Oh my God, Great Cake !!!

What I like the most?? The stones in the tower, and the landscape, BEAUTIFULL

bakerzdad said...

Love your tower, it's funny because m wife is and architect and I have bachelor degree in interior design and I happened to know a great cake artist in UK her name is Michelle Wibowo and she has bachelor degree in architect too....I think it's kinda make sense.