“That Rose Looks So Real!” – “No, it’s Surreal.”

How does Salvador Dalí start his day?

With a big bowl of surreal.

I’m sorry, I saw it on the internet and I couldn’t resist.

Ok, back to the cake! This one, called “Meditative Rose,” by Salvador Dalí, is the 8th in my series of Art cakes, each representing both a different art style/era, as well as a different cake medium. Here is my attempt at Surrealism, using gum paste for the rose.

STEP 1: Create Rose
Since this rose was so big, I didn’t use the formal “rose cutter,” which is available at your local crafting store. 🙂 I just cut pieces out of gum paste, softened the edges, and stuck the pieces on.

how to make gum paste rose I used balled up pieces of wax paper in between the petals. Cut out a petal, stick it on, put some wax paper around it while it hardens, repeat.

step by step gum paste roseSTEP 2: Paint background.
Using gel food colors mixed with clear vanilla extract- paint away! These meditative rose painting on cake with food coloring vanilla extractcolors are very tricky and don’t act like real color, so beware. For example- when brown is mixed with the vanilla, its base color becomes green. And black’s is purple. So- mixing these colors together becomes a little tricky. That’s why my version of this painting is much more vivid than Dalí’s- I had trouble softening the colors, especially the blue, and basically just used the blue straight from the tube. My apologies to Dalí! 🙂

Here are some step-by-step photos of the background painting process:

step by step meditative rose dali painting on a cake gum paste rose food coloring Comparison of the two paintings side by side. My little food coloring brushes didn’t allow for long strokes, so the background is pretty choppy compared to his:

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Here’s a super-zoomed-in pic of the bottom of the painting. Like I’ve said before- it’s impossible to add white. So in this case, to make those highlights on the two people, to make the path on the right, and to make the little village in the distance, I just used a sharp tool and scraped off the color. White fondant underneath: viola!

close up of bottom of meditative rose painting on a cakeThe rose really jumps off the page! It reminded me of a Harry Potter photo that comes to life! 🙂     meditative rose painting on a cake with gum paste roseDo you like art? Take a peek at the other art cakes I’ve made here, in timeline order:
Michelangelo’s Pieta, sculpted with modeling chocolate
Leonardo da Vinci’s Self Portrait, painted with food coloring
Monet’s Haystack, Nerds candy
Monet’s Sunset in Venice, royal icing
Cezanne’s Still Life with Apples, apple peels
Van Gogh’s Starry Night, buttercream frosting
Ansel Adams’ Moon and Half Dome, chocolate shavings

meditative rose dali painting on a cake food coloring gum pasteHave other art ideas? Leave them in the comments below!

Fondant and Chocolate and Icing, Oh My! Creating a Wizard of Oz Cake

Last November, I attended the “America’s Baking and Sweets” show here in Illinois. It was an amazing show with vendors galore, beautifully-made competition cakes, and of course Duff, their keynote speaker. (This is also where I first heard of Icing Smiles, and amazing organization you can read about here.) I told myself that someday I would enter a cake in that competition, and so when this year’s show rolled around, I decided to make good on that promise.

The theme of the show was, “Wizard of Oz.” Naturally, during the entire process of creating this cake, the lyrics to the many songs were floating around my head. As much of this cake construction took place during the wee hours of the night, I naturally began to adjust the lyrics to fit my sleep-deprived circumstance. I offer below my favorite selections:

At the beginning of the process:
“I’m Off to Make the Cake Now” (We’re Off to See the Wizard)
I’m off to make the cake now, a cake of the Wizard of Oz.
It’s time to try and show what I’ve got, if ever a time there was.
If ever a time, it’s now, oh heck- No matter I’m busy and swamped and a wreck,
A wreck, a wreck, a wreck, a wreck, a wwwrrrreeeecccckkkkkk….
I hope I can finish this long, long trek!

Partway in, beginning to feel apprehensive about next week’s deadlines:
“Somewhere In the Near Future”
Somewhere in the near future, next Thurs-day.
There’s a deadline I’m dreading, my least favorite day.
Somewhere in the near future, grades are due.
I sure hope I can finish, I’ve only done a few.
Someday I won’t procrastinate, despite the projects on my plate, oh, maybe!
I’ll finish with some extra time, and then relax and feel sublime, oh, won’t I feel free…
Somewhere in the near future, next Thurs-day.
There’s a deadline I’m dreading, my least favorite day.
If happy teachers finish first, it can’t be too hard!
Why, oh, why, can’t I?!!?!

Midnight the night before the deadline:
“If I Only Had a Brain”
I don’t know what I was thinking, eyes now tired and unblinking,
If I only had a brain. (do do, do do do do do.)
I signed up to make this cake, but it sure takes so long to make-
If I only had a brain.

Three a.m. before the deadline:
“Ding Dong the Cake is Done”
Ding dong the cake is done, it weighs a ton, I hope I’ve won.
Ding dong the wicked cake is done!
Wake up you sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed! ( <– that line is applicable so I’ve left it)
Ding dong the wicked cake is done!

The cake was completed in multiple stages, beginning with the modeling chocolate faces. Modeling chocolate is one of my favorite mediums to work with- so pliable! Each face took a few hours to make.

modeling chocolate face of scarecrow wizard of ozmodeling chocolate face of lion wizard of ozmodeling chocolate face of dorothy wizard of oz

The faces were each finished with a little highlighting with luster dust. Check out the difference here in the lion’s face- the left side has no dust, but the right side does. It just highlights the shadows and makes it come alive, doesn’t it?lion with and without luster dust

After the fagum paste poppies cake how to makeces were done, I went to work on the flowers. I had to improvise on making poppies- each flower petal has an attached wire, which was taped around the black center. Each petal had to dry in the white flower formers (pictured on left). The center of each petal was painted black.

The stamens were made of black thread that was taped around the black gum paste bud. Poppies were then inserted into the cake with straws. Voila!

Once the faces were set on the cake, I used white modeling chocolate to make a rainbow going around the entire cake. The modelingfondant rainbow in stages chocolate was covered in frosting and then a piece of white fondant was laid atop so it was smooth. I then used gel food coloring to paint the fondant rainbow. You can see the progression here on the right:

 

 

 

The final step was to cut out letters using gum paste. I cut out two of each letter, and then used gum glue adhesive (gum paste mixed with water) to stick them together, with a toothpick in between. That way I could stick them into the fondant rainbow and they would stand up. The letters were then painted with silver pearl dust so they had a nice sheen.

gum paste letters for cakeHere is a close up of each face:
wizard of oz cake character faces made of modeling chocolateThe final result:

wizard of oz cake dorothy scarecrow lion tin manI’m sorry to say that I lost the competition, but there were a lot of really cool cakes there! And there’s always next year! 🙂

Improvising with a Musical Cake

See what I did there?

But clever play-on-words aside, this cake truly was an exercise in improvisation. Last weekend, I sat down, table loaded with gum paste and iPad loaded with Netflix episodes. I tinted the gum paste but suddenly came to the quite tardy conclusion that I had forgotten all but one of my flower tools at home. Sighing, I weighed my options: go back and get them (nope, too lazy), go buy new ones (nope, too cheap), or just.. make something up. Yes, yes, that’s it!

I did have the large and small rose petal cutters, and I did have the shaping foam. (Whew!) But after making several roses, I knew I needed some bigger flowers. I looked at some photos of flowers, remembered some types I had seen on cakes before, and attempted to use a spatula to cut some interesting petal shapes. Improvising again, I was forced to wait until they dried so that I could attach the wires onto the back. Moral of the story: double check your materials list before leaving home!

various gum paste flowersAnother tool I didn’t have was my set of flower formers, which are small white cups that allow you to dry your flower so that it has a shape, as opposed to laying flat. So my homemade flower formers consisted of cling wrap rubber banded lightly across a cup. I left it loose so that the weight of the gum paste would weigh down the flower, creating that “cup” shape I was after.

gum paste flowers dryingI wasn’t too happy with the way these flowers turned out. Despite my best intentions, they were relatively flat. And the color was flat, too. So I mixed a little teal gel coloring with some lemon extract (or you could use vanilla- or vodka! You just need clear alcohol!). I painted the extract onto the edges of the petals in an attempt to give it a little more life:
teal gum paste flowers with and without shadingFor the layer of piano keys, I covered the cake in white fondant first, and then added white strips, and then black strips after that:

piano cake I was honored to create this cake for a benefit for a beloved high school teacher and his family. Many of his past students are gathering today for a day of sharing music and offering encouragement to the family. There will be raffles as well as items up for silent and live auction. Should you be interested in helping the family cover medical costs for the triple transplant, as well as various costs associated with travel to and from the transplant site, please check out their site and make a donation!

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/jules-needs-a-stomach-intestines-pancreas-too-/172967

teal gum paste flowers music cake close up teal gum paste flowerteal gum paste flowers music cake sideways

Gum paste flowers and… straws!

Finally: gum paste flowers!

I have been waiting and waiting until I could learn how to make these! I loved the first three cake-decorating courses, but I couldn’t WAIT for the last one! I just think these  flowers look so realistic. Everything on the flowers is edible except for the wire stems and the stamens. Pretty neat!

The process of making the flowers is fairly time-consuming, but worth it, in my opinion! The more time you take on the flowers, the better they will look in the end. Spend the time to mix appropriate colors, roll the petals thin, and take care how you lay them out to dry. This will give them life and movement!

If you’re interested in learning how to make these flowers, check out a local craft store near you- they often offer beginning cake decorating classes.

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Now, the cake does look kinda cool– unless, of course, you see it from the backside… yikes.

*Must… improve… cake… design…*

Once I made the flowers, I didn’t really know what to do with them! We didn’t use them in a cake during my final course, so I didn’t exactly know how to use them. My instructor said that they sell tubes that you can insert into cakes and put the flowers into (presumably because the wiring and floral tape is not food safe). But since I was in an experimental and money-conscious mood, I decided to use straws. I have no idea if this is the right technique, but it seemed to work okay at that moment!

…But then you have a cake full of straws… right?

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HELPFUL HINT: Use luster dust around the edges of the petals and leaves for a realistic look!

In this photo below, I used a mixture of orange fondant and gum paste to create the rose. Once the rose was dried (at least a day or two later!), I smudged some luster dust on my finger and dusted the edges to create some dimension.What a difference!

Thanks for reading! Do you have any advice about how to use gum paste flowers in an actual cake? Please leave a comment below if you can help! What am I missing? Or do cakes with flowers also come punctuated with holes? 🙂

White gum paste roses

Gum gum paste roses smallpaste roses are a time intensive process, but in the end, they look so delicate and beautiful!

It takes a few days to create these, because the buds need to harden. You simply take a small amount of gum paste, shape it into a teardrop shape, stick it on the end of a piece of spaghetti, and let it dry. (The flowers pictured here were created using the Wilton method.)

The flowers on the right are Day 2, when I’ve added another layer of petals. Adding one more layer (below) creates a large and open blossom.

gum paste roses medium

Here’s a question I have- once you’re ready to use the flowers, do you just stick the piece of spaghetti in the cake?! That’s what I did! Once it’s time to eat, you pull them out? How weird is that! Please comment below if you have a suggestion!

gum paste flower cake 

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