From Sketch to Cake #3—Cake3
We’ve had a bit of glam and romance with our first two cakes adorned with fancy ruffles, lace, and jewels. Now, it’s time to mix it up with a little bit of modern. Or in this case, a lot of modern. There’s no single definition for what makes a cake modern, it’s mostly just certain stylistic points. And what are those points, you ask? Ta Da! Here’s your answer:
- Patterns. Patterns are HUGE for modern cakes. For a while, the concept was mostly about a linear design; but now, you can throw just about any shape onto a cake (or any type of fabric for that matter) and as long as it’s in a pattern, you’ve got a modern look.
- Varying heights. Changing the height of cake tiers (which usually range from 4-4.5” tall) adds to a cake’s overall visual stimulation. Albeit, not always for the better if the design does not call for it. But for the sake of a modern look, tall tiers and short squat tiers can truly add depth and dimension that could otherwise get lost, especially when using a pattern.
- Color. While it’s true that there are plenty of white or monotone modern cakes, the majority of them have an extensive color palette.
As you can see in the first photograph of this new display cake, affectionately entitled Cake3, I used all three points in the list for my original design concept.
As often happens with display cakes, during the creating process I changed a few elements of the design. My original sketch included a linear pattern underneath the squares, but unfortunately the look I was trying to achieve was not coming through. In the end, the cake didn’t need two patterns so I let it go and focused on the squares you could see and not anything underneath. The tricky part about repetitive patterns is no matter their actual shape, they’ve got to be in a straight line—whether it’s vertical, horizontal, or diagonal. To help with this, we use what’s called the “wax paper transfer method,” made popular by Jessica Harris of Jessicakes. For this method, the square pattern is printed and then overset with wax paper. The fondant squares stick to the wax paper with a little bit of shortening and their backs are painted with a frosting. The wax paper is then lifted up and placed to the side of the cake. With a little bit of gentle rubbing, the fondant squares are secured and the wax paper is peeled away.
It’s pretty clear from the photo that Cake3 has all sorts of different height tiers. In fact, the only “normal” tier is at the bottom. I also wanted to create a tall, skinny cake because, 1. It’s more of a modern look, and 2. We’ve never done it before. So this display moves from a 5” cake sitting 3” tall, to a 6” x 8”, 7” x 2”, and 8” x 4”—every tier being different, creating greater visual appeal. When it comes to some modern designs, it’s helpful to have that taller tier which then becomes a large blank canvas for patterns. As in this cake, the smaller tiers can remain undecorated so as to not take away from the drama of the pattern.
Let’s talk color. Modern cakes can give us designers the freedom to play with color in a way that a traditional “romantic” cake would not. Don’t get me wrong; there are always exceptions on both ends of the spectrum. Usually, modern styles will tend to blend bold and subtle colors, perhaps dark and light, or maybe even jewel tones with pastel. I wanted deep, rich color hues so I opted for black, emerald green, and a regal purple with some major pops of gold. However, to tone it down some, and add a little brightness, I threw in some white. This combination really draws your eye to the white and gold while letting the black be the backdrop.
What about extra embellishments? Obviously, these modern flowers aren’t real or meant to look real. They’re simple gumpaste petals put together to create a visual pop. My sketch only had the gold flower on the bottom, but once the cake was completed we decided that the top part looked unfinished, and opted for another smaller flower—white, for a little brightness. We also changed the cake drum, which was small and white in my sketch, to a larger gold drum to pull in more color and also to create a more visually stable base. Even subtle changes like these can really make or break a cake and turn it into something that people can’t take their eyes off of.
Thank you to Hannah Metler for the beautiful photos!