Sugar Stories: Cakes and Happiness!
I later learned that the ACTUAL theme of the DHS picnic was travel- or international destinations, and because the head of S&T was such a horror nut, he chose Transylvania as a means of playing off of the Dracula connotations- a sneaky way to turn a work party about travel into a Halloween fest- touche Sir!
I honestly spent a good bit of time just groaning- Gothic themes, when you make elegant floral wedding cakes, is well, a challenge. I don't like to make cakes that stray too far outside of my aesthetic because then people see those cakes, and they want to order those cakes- and then I have to make more of them! Since the cake was being offered by me as a freebie- I decided I was going to stay true to myself and design an elegant, floral, gothic Transylvania-esque cake for the party.
The now infamous Gothic cake served at the DHS annual picnic.
I did a bit of Pinterest searching and before long I stumbled across the work of another designer, who I happen to know: Tamara Wourtesen. Tamara is owner of Sweetlakes Cakes and her specialty is designing, Victorian Gothic cakes featuring black, purple and red color palettes, and lots of steam-punk style details. Her cakes were the exact style I was hoping to achieve and so they served as a loose inspiration for the design.
I hate making lace, so I purchased some ready-made edible sugar lace, in black, from Amazon, and I was absolutely thrilled with it! I'll probably never make my own sugar lace again! I created some sugar flowers using Satin Ice gum paste and dusted them with Roxy and Rich edible petal dusts in shades of red, purple and black, adding some metallic shading to the flowers to give them that aged, Gothic look.
A piece of cake!
Happiness comes in all forms- like this red velvet, fondant covered one!
To give the cake the appearance of lace, I rolled the black fondant over a lace mat, which added a beautiful impression and then paneled the cake with the fondant. I then adhered and rolled some edible lace directly into some black fondant, and created swags to go around the bottom tiers. Finally, I added some pearl swags and some brooch details to finish the design.
The pièce de résistance was a little top hat cake topper, that I made by carving some Styrofoam and covering with chocolate and sugar paste, and decorating to look like an elegant top hat. I was really thrilled with the cake and my hubby very happily took it into work the next day for the picnic.
I've discovered that taking a professionally made cake into a DHS office causes quite a stir. Some could not believe the cake was real (until it was cut and served). A lot of people, had never seen a cake like this up close and personal before- certainly not in an office setting. When I called my husband to see if everyone had enjoyed the cake, his co-worker Bill asked to speak to me. He said, "what you have done with this beautiful cake is brightened the lives of hundreds of people. It has brought us all a little happiness and given us something to admire and talk about, and you should have heard how many people came in to ooh and ahh and take pictures. And, the taste- it followed the design, it tasted as good as it looked!"
It's nice to hear feedback, especially from men who are generally less gushy about things like cakes- but it also solidified the reason I make cakes like this- because it turns "just cake" into a whole experience. A sensory experience- it brings joy and happiness, it gives people something to talk about, and text about and share on Facebook and Instagram and other social media platforms. It makes an event something truly special. A regular old work picnic became a DC social event- because of a cake. My cake was shared in the DHS newsletter! Two things that I can be sure of: I will definitely be asked to make another cake next year, and no one is ever going to forget the day they rocked up to work and were served a slice of red velvet cake from a beautiful, tiered, elegant, Gothic, floral Rebekah Naomi Cake Design Cake!