Monday, September 14, 2015

Gorgeous Cakes
This past Saturday, I threw a birthday party for my son.  The highlight for me was his birthday cake - a buttercream football field complete with green turf; and a Pittsburgh Steelers football helmet made of sugar gumpaste.  My son quipped that the bakers got it wrong….the Steelers logo should only be on one side of the helmet unlike other American football teams.

3-dimensional celebration cakes are a big business.  Google my name 'Sharon Wee' and chances are, you will encounter the more famous Sharon Wee - the cake decorator based in Australia, with a cookbook to boot.

In my mother's time, her Malay/Arab friends were renowned for their decorated cakes, especially the tiered marzipan wedding cake which they would make for their relatives' weddings.  One particular wedding featured a long banquet table showcasing several creations.  The cake which always stood out for me was a fondant rotary telephone.  So fascinated, I then often gazed at my sister's book which had colorful pictures of similar cakes.

From Cupcake Cafe, popular with the publishing crowd. 
Now, I am tempted to sign up for a cake decorating course.  New York has its fair share of talented bakers and cake artists.  A favorite for me is the floral cake - nothing more brilliant than a bouquet of beautifully-sculpted, colorful yet creamy flowers hiding a delicious chocolate cake.

Many years ago,  I sought an emerging cake artist to customize a pug dog for my friend's 30th birthday.  Her respiratory illness meant that she could not own her dream dog, so I came up with the idea of an edible version.  After much discussion with the artist over cake flavors and fillings, plus color photos of cute pug dogs for reference, the artist priced out the cake at US$650.  I almost gagged and blurted out, "What??  How much is a real dog?"  The artist took great pains to explain the number of days it would take to craft the floppy ears and curly tail, not forgetting the spray paint of the tan and black coat.  I gave in.  The dog cake made my friend's night and was mentioned in the eulogy for her three months later.  A small price to pay for a friend's eternal happiness.  The cake artist has gone on to become very successful.

A few of my friends in Singapore have now taken up this cake decorating hobby seriously - one has even gone into business.  Check out Serendipity Cakes by Yvonne Chan.
How lovely.  If this is a way to light up any child's face, this painstaking passion brings tremendous joy to the baker as well.

Recommended books:

1. 'Bake and Decorate' by Fiona Cairns
2. Le Cordon Bleu Dessert Techniques
3. 'The Art of the Cake' by Mich Turner


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