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Monday, April 20, 2015

Culinary School - Sessions 97 - 99: Wedding Cake Days 1 - 3

Culinary School: Sessions 97 - 99 (04.17.15)

Wedding Cake Days 1 - 3

It's finally here...

...the culinary school project I have been dreading since my informational tour over half a year ago.

Why the fear?

When a project spans so many classes and requires so much planning and exacting detail in execution, the potential to fail spectacularly is very real.

And yet, three sessions later, everything continues to progress right on schedule. 

The cake just needs to survive one more day... and how could anything possibly go wrong when stacking multiple layers, right?

As a form of added motivation for achieving perfection, after the cakes are presented for evaluation, they will be packaged up and donated to a local food rescue program in New York City. So all of that work will go to a good cause!

Wedding Cake Board and Second Tier in Process

- Ingredients Running Tally -

Ingredients used to date (04.17.15):
  • Flour: 25,625g
  • Eggs: 17,100g (342x)
  • Sugar: 36,600g
  • Butter: 18,135g
  • Milk/Cream: 17,575g
  • Chocolate: 9,000g (since 01.12.15)

    - The Project -


    The Wedding Cake Project

    1. Students will have four days to complete the project
    2. All project work and decorations must be completed during class hours
    3. Design, detailed color diagram and itinerary must be approved by the Chef Instructor
    4. Design must include three tiers measuring at least 3", 6" and 9" wide
    5. Each tier must have three layers of cake and filling
    6. Materials for decorative recipes will be provided as needed based on approved designs

    The selected theme is "Modern".

    To guide designs, the class was provided with some details regarding the fictitious couple and their reception, which will take place at the Museum of Modern Art (yeah... right!)

    My three-tiered design assumed a black & white palette, a very popular choice across the class. The only color is in a bouquet of Sugar Paste Flowers made for the cake topper. 

    Since decoration is the focus, the cake itself is very simple: a Vanilla High Ratio Cake with a Vanilla Swiss Buttercream Frosting. 
    Wedding Cake Diagram

    Wedding Cake Mise en Place

    Mixing Wedding Cake

    Sheet Trays of White High Ratio Cake for Wedding Cake

    Assembling the Wedding Cake Layers

    Coating the Wedding Cake Top Tier in Buttercream

    Bottom Tier: All about the base...

    The Bottom Tier and Cake Board reflect "Minimalism". The entire design is limited to black and white bands of fondant. The challenge in execution was applying the bands with pin-point precision. Any skew up or down would completely destroy the effect. That precision wasn't easy when working with nearly three-foot long strips of fondant (the length needed to circle a 9" wide cake). If there were ever a time I wish I had a third hand, this was it!

    Wedding Cake Third Tier in Process

    Wedding Cake Board in Process

    Wedding Cake Board and Second Tier in Process

    Second Tier: Stuck in the middle...

    The Middle Tier is a nod to a more classic look. Using different sized dots punched from rolled sheets of black fondant, the circles were applied to the cake in a pattern meant to mimic the bride's jewelry (some more of those fictitious details provided to guide the design!)

    Punching out the dots was a time consuming process. Pastry tips proved to be the best cutter for the job. However, getting clean, uniform cuts proved to be a challenge. Given the soft and pliable nature of fresh fondant, it was necessary to let the pieces air dry for a couple hours before attempting to remove them from the work bench.

    Fondant Dots for Wedding Cake Second Tier

    Fondant Circles for Wedding Cake Second Tier

    Wedding Cake Second Tier in Process

    Top Tier: Sparkle, sparkle... 

    Building from the Pointillism look from the second tier, the top tier of the wedding cake will be covered with a series of dots made from an entirely different medium: gelatin sequins. 

    The edible (but flavorless) sequins are made by gently melting sheets of bloomed gelatin with black gel paste and luster dust. The resulting liquid is then piped into tiny drops on a Silpat and left to dry overnight. While the gelatin initially forms round balls, it will flatten into sequins as the water content evaporates. 

    Gelatin 'Sequins" for Wedding Cake First Tier

    Cake Topper: A touch of color

    The cake will be topped with a small boutique of orange, yellow and red lilies made from Sugar Paste. To keep with the art theme, the lilies are painted to have a watercolor appearance. 

    Sugar Paste Lilies in Process

    Sugar Paste Lilies with Watercolor Painting in Process

    Sugar Paste Lilies with Watercolor Painting in Process

    Next - Session 100: Wedding Cake Day 4

    Previous - Session 96: Mystery Cake Project

    Take a look at the full syllabus

    Questions? Comments? Send me an email or leave a comment.
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