Posted in Food, Photography Art, Stories Around the World

Shape in Style

“Life is a cake and love is the icing on top of it. Without love, it becomes difficult to swallow life.” Mehek Bassi

Accompanying my cousin to the bakery was an enlightening event yesterday. With the twins birthday approaching in two weeks time, it was time for the placing the order for the cake. Like all to-be-four year old minds, they had very specific ideas for their cake; from the “Cars” based theme to the Disney’s “Frozen” theme, the possibility of getting one big cake design was the heart of the discussion with the main baker.

While waiting, scanning through the cake design books and available cakes on display was a feast for the artistic eye. While my childhood consisted mostly of cream with icing birthday cakes, these days fondant designed and themed cakes are the rage. Today, the early methods akin to construction of a structure by cutting shapes out of cake and piecing them together have been superseded by preformed character based designs and the shaping of cakes out of fondant and different forms of marzipan. From fondant (sugar paste or ready roll icing), royal icing, marzipan, modeling chocolate, gum paste and latest of few, edible ink printing, the design over cake has been transformed greatly.

Cake decorating had originated in Europe around the 17th century. With the production of baking powder and temperature controlled ovens (1840s), baking cakes became easy and the presentation more elaborate. The exact origins of cake decorating was believed to from a French bakery (1840s) when prices were increased on their cakes as the latter were decorated. With decorative shapes, cakes were adorned with icing, formed into patterns, flowers and food colouring was used to accent the frosting or layers of cake. Over the years depending on the occasions, cake decorating styles have been enhanced along with the ornamentation being more artistic.

These days even homemade cakes are being embellished with something simple as powdered icing, chocolate layer with sprinkles or the good old coloured icing. With the numerous designs and models of 2-D or 3-D made, no wonder that cake shows and related artistry are the all time rage not just for the special occasions or celebrations but also for avid dessertarian, dessert chefs or simply for the love of baking and art. 

“Whether you’re a bride or a birthday boy, your options are much the same. Cake comes in chocolate, yellow, or white. Frosting comes in chocolate or vanilla buttercream, or you can opt for whipped cream. Fillings are either chocolate or vanilla custard, fresh bananas, or strawberries or raspberries in season. For birthday cakes, you can have either flowers or balloons in your choice of colors. For wedding cakes, you can add either fondant or marzipan covering, or either smooth or basket-weave buttercream, in white or ivory, with either pearl-like dots or ribbony swags made of frosting, and fondant faux flowers are extra.” Stacey Ballis ( author of Wedding Girl)