Wait, I ess-plain. No. There is too much. I sum up. As Chef herself said, "these cakes are not supposed to be pretty."
Our four-sided cake project is sort of a crash course/practical exam in different cake decorating techniques. Chef showed us each of the different required components one after another, and then we were expected to do them on our individual hunk o’ styrofoam (that’s right, it’s not only ugly on the outside... this cake is ugly on the inside, too!). With several different required media and elements, we basically had to do each side of the cake in a completely different style.
As for the color scheme (I called it my "Edgar Allen Poe Memorial Cake,") we had to make the rolled fondant that’s covering the styrofoam cake on our own, but then for the rolled fondant elements such as the swag and drapes, we had to use whatever leftover bits of fondant we could find in the "leftover bits of fondant bucket." I decided to do another assignment first (making buds for gum paste flowers), so by the time I got to the bucket, the only colors left were neon red, leprechaun green and black. The choice was obvious.
Here’s a shot of our (mostly) finished cakes (a few of my classmates didn’t finish theirs, tsk tsk) that shows how, despite its macabre appearance, my cake had one of the more restrained color combinations:
Just to recap the required elements: I marbled the white fondant with some violet gel coloring to get the marble effect, which was my favorite part of the cake. Enrobing the cake in rolled fondant was one of the things we had to do... and doesn’t "enrobing" sound ever so much cooler than "coverin’"?
Next came the royal icing agitas... we had to do a large lace point design that stood up from the cake and "had air around it" (the standing butterfly) and one royal icing runout design (the puffy butterfly on top of the cake) plus one side of royal icing ropes (not shown, on the back), one side of small lace point designs and one side of royal icing extensions. I combined my small lace point and extension elements on the left side of the cake as shown by using the lace points as the anchor for the extensions (which was allowed).
We also had to do a royal icing shell border along the bottom of one side, which is on the back (not shown, but pretty decent).
Royal icing is a maddening thing, as it has to be thin enough to be all purdy-like, but still thick enough to stick where you want it. While fighting my way through it, I was scolded by Chef for falling behind and working too slowly. I made the mistake of trying to explain myself, which got the "Thou Shalt Not Question Chef" look of withering and loss of Daily Performance Points Towards My Final Grade. Oh well. What I knew, and Chef did not, was that rolled fondant to me is just like marzipan. And I know my marzipan. I wasn’t worried about that portion of the project; it was the royal icing that was vexing me, so I was taking my time with it.
Here’s another ghastly view:
The decorative fondant requirements were one rope and one textured border, drape and swags with decorative thingies of our choice to hide the edges. I went for little black roses. It just seemed right. The final element was to use a silicone press of some kind. I was having some trouble with the black fondant because, to get it that dark, you need to add a lot of coloring agent, which makes the fondant softer. I knew it would just get stuck in a lace pattern press, so I grabbed a simple leaf. It was unshapeable due to the softness of the fondant, but its lifeless, rumpled form on top of the cake somehow goes with my funereal color scheme.
When I finished right on time (and ahead of a few classmates, one of whom never completed hers... so there), Chef seemed pleased and called my roses "darling," so I guess I’m back in her good graces. She’s still my favorite non-German-speaking chef, anyway.
We have two more cake projects to go: one two-person wedding cake and one "individual" three layer cake. All I’ll say for now about my individual cake project is that I am very, very, very excited about it, and that, when I showed her the sketches for it, Chef’s comment was "I’m looking forward to seeing that one," sort of in the same tone people use when they admit they only watch car racing for the crashes.
The two-person wedding cake is going to be very cool. Legolas and I decided to work together again. Chef initially picked an ultra-femme dainty cake for us that was all royal icing lace points and other fiddly delicate stuff, and added that it had to be pastel colors.
"The two of you are real color fiends, so I’m going to have to restrain you," she said. (By the way, in the group cake photo above, Legolas’ cake is the lurid red and blue one on the right end... color fiends indeed!)
We were submissive. We nodded along. I didn’t give a crap about the color, quite frankly, I was dreading all that royal icing. Shudder.
After lunch, she called the two of us back up and said she’d reconsidered our assignment and was giving us a different cake. That was cool because the whole idea of the cake project is to do something according to "the customer’s preference," not your own, but I think she saw our hearts sink ever so slightly when she showed us that first dainty-paintsy cake.
So our new cake is a crazy, bold, graphic design of interlocking and overlapping fondant circles with a cascade of roses down one side.
Oh, and not one stitch of royal icing. Wheeee!