Perhaps you’re familiar with Brides Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful Cakes issue. Perhaps, like me, you’ve studied it for hours on end, wondered at the cakes’ perfection, marveled at the design concepts, and perused the artists’ websites.
Or maybe that’s just me.
It’s not that I didn’t dare to dream of someday being in it. It’s that it never even occurred to me to dare to dream it. Then I got an email from the editor of Brides, asking me to submit sketches for the issue, and a dream I didn’t even know I had was suddenly within reach.
The editor outlined the in-depth selection process in the email: Submit sketches–as many as you wish–that reflect new and unique techniques and designs. If the sketch is accepted for the semi-finals, the artist submits an 8″ by 8″ sugar tile sample to demonstrate the technique. After the sugar tiles are reviewed, the artists are notified whether their cake is accepted for the photo shoot for the magazine. Even at this stage there is no guarantee, the email warned: design execution issues, acts of nature, or damage in shipping can all render the final product unphotographable.
I got right to work.
I consulted my inspiration file, my mom, and my husband, and created four designs. Of course anything can be drawn on paper, but actually making it out of fondant can be a challenge, so I had to sketch designs I could actually execute. (I didn’t, but that’s another story.)
I submitted my sketches and waited. And waited. Finally, I got the email: they liked two of my designs. They wanted to see one exactly the way I drew it, and for the other they wanted to see two variations (one the way I sketched it and another that combined an element from a third sketch).
I created my sugar tiles and, after allowing ample drying time, shipped them off to New York. Some more waiting and then another email. They liked one of the sugar tiles, the one with the variation from another sketch, and wanted to shoot the cake for the issue. My cake design made it to the finals!
So, next week, I leave for New York with my cake and deliver it to their studio.
Meanwhile, here are two of my designs that didn’t make it. For each sketch, I created a board with a brief explanation of the design and inspiration.
Here, I used a ruffled shower curtain and pillow for inspiration. I liked the colors in the shower curtain (on the left) but wanted it pleated like the pillow (on the right). The sketch looked better in my imagination than in real life, and I wasn’t surprised they didn’t like it.
The next design, one of the two accepted to the semi-finals, was very Martha Stewart inspired, and I used her muted tones for the color palette (which is where I think I went wrong).
Here’s the sketch. Although at first glance you think “I’ve seen that before,” you’ve seen it out of paper and never out of fondant.
Barring natural disasters or extreme bad luck, you will see my cake in the September issue of Brides. Even if my cake doesn’t make it to the magazine…Forget that. My cake better make it to the magazine, but I’ll let you know.