To me, lace is the quintessential girly adornment, the most feminine of fabrics. I’ve said many times (such as here and here) that I’m not much of a girly girl, so it goes without saying that I’m not much into lace. Especially bad lace, whether fabric or fondant. Maybe it’s because all the real lace I have access to in my little town is cheaply made and of poor quality, or maybe it’s because the edible lace I’ve seen looks sort of heavy-handed, lacking the openwork holes that characterize real lace, but until recently I didn’t really use lace much on my cakes. There was one lace, sort of cottony and simple, which I kind of liked–or, I should say, didn’t offend me–and I used it many, many times.
Photo: Stephanie Williams
Photo: Brooke Allison Photo
Photo: Brooke Allison Photo
Photo: Brooke Allison Photo
And then in June, a client requested that I use lace she had purchased on her cake. And I loved it!
So I started looking around, and I found this RVO lace mold. While most lace molds render a heavy-handed look that lacks the delicacy of real lace, the RVO lace mold produces a product that is quite fine looking, with holes!
Then came my edible lace doilies.
And finally, though I’m not sure how it happened, or exactly when, about mid-August I made a formal declaration: I’m officially into lace.
Let me preface this by saying I love my mom. I really do. I love her, and she is awesome and extremely generous. She paid for my college, gave me a big chunk of money for my wedding without any demands or restrictions, helped me buy my first apartment, and always insists on treating when we go out for dinner. That said, she can be incredibly–how to put this–frugal. Growing up, paper towels were mainly for show (“Use a sponge!”). Only the most extreme liquid scenarios warranted the use of a paper towel, and even then only one sheet per use. Ziplock bags were washed, rinsed, dried, and reused. And when, after being used over and over and over again despite their single-use design, they split along the seam, they were taped with masking tape and used again. One time, my mom returned a cantaloupe she had purchased in February to the store because it hadn’t ripened. It was May. And still today it is common to find, upon opening her fridge, a paper thin slice of avocado, clinging lifelessly to the pit and brown on both sides, saved for consumption at a later time. Like I said, my mom is awesome.
Now, I inherited the cheap gene, so when I received a private message from Jackie over at Cake Central with “Interested in getting some free cake decorating supplies?” as the subject line, I knew, without reading any further, that my answer would be an enthusiastic “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
The requirements were simple: They send a new product for me to use and keep. I create a cake using the materials and photograph it. Done deal.
The products I received are called onlays and are by Marvelous Molds. They are somewhere between a cutter and an impression mat, but very different. We conceptualized a design, executed it, hated it, scrapped it, and came up with this. Designing a white-on-white cake was on my list of 2013 design goals, so it worked out perfectly.
I really like the clean look of the squares, but wanted to soften it a little. We added hydrangea pomander balls made of sugar flowers to give the cake a more feminine look.
Here are my answers to interview questions that I submitted along with my photos:
1. What was your initial reaction to the products you were sent?
I was really excited about the onlays. After watching the video, I played around with all of the onlays to get a feel for them and get started thinking about their uses. This is a completely new and different kind of product: it’s neither a mold nor an impression mat, yet serves the function of both.
2. How did you decide on the elements you ended up using?
Of the five onlays, three were chevron. I absolutely love chevron—and the chevron onlays will definitely get a lot of use—but I wanted to challenge myself a bit. Our initial concept used the squares onlay but had random painted scribbles in a pastel palette in some of the squares. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work aesthetically. We ultimately decided to go with a classic yet contemporary white-on-white design.
3. Did you use any specific tools in your final design? In addition to the onlay, we made a hydrangea pomander ball that we created by adhering gumpaste hydrangea petals to a fondant-covered styrofoam ball.
4. What is your favorite thing about this cake (cookie/cupcake)? I love the clean, geometric look of the squares juxtaposed against the feminine, organic flower. I also like that it pushed me creatively, and allowed me to cross “Make white-on-white cake” off my list of 2013 design goals!
5. Any other notes? Thank you for including me on this fun challenge.
Although I’d like to think it’s because I’m just spectacularly talented that I’ve been doing so much print work lately, I know the real reason is my proximity to New York (where many magazine publishers are located) combined with my willingness to deliver a cake for a shoot with very little notice. Most recently I did a shoot with BRIDES Magazine entitled Luxe for Less. The idea was to show two different yet similar cake designs, one of which was more expensive than the other, and provide visuals to explain what caused one cake to be more pricey than the other.
I pitched three concepts. The first was a berries and herbs design that I conceptualized for a different BRIDES shoot last year. They didn’t like it then and I guess they don’t like it now, because it didn’t get selected.
The second concept featured (very poorly drawn) hexagons, which I’m convinced are very trendy right now although I can find no evidence of this. Perhaps it was the ridiculously disproportionate top tier on the Luxe cake (the cake on the right in the sketch below), but they passed on this one too.
For my final design, I chose a gold quatrefoil pattern and paired it with pink sugar flowers. The BRIDES editors made a minor adjustments to the color palette (from gold to yellow), and this one was the keeper.
The cake was featured in the April/May 2013 issue.
I also asked Brooke Sforza to photograph the cakes for me. Here you can vividly see the quatrefoil outline cutouts (made using two custom cutters, both the same shape but in different sizes) and pink sugar ranunculus and hydrangea in the Luxe version.
The quatrefoil in the Less version was made using a single custom cutter, creating a solid cutout, and was paired with pink sugar hydrangea.
These two cakes are among my favorite. Thank you Callan, my wonderful assistant, for all your hard work. And Brooke, you’re a fabulous photographer and friend.
Having a display window means I’m constantly in need of new cake inspiration, so I often head to the local crafts store to look for ideas. When I came across these mini popsicle sticks, I thought they’d make an adorable ice cream pop cake for a summer-themed window.
I turned to Pinterest (of course) for some cute popsicle ideas and found this image from eatdrinkchic.com. I liked how the popsicles are all different.
I also found this image, (whose source I can’t find. I hate when I do that!), which gave me the idea of using sprinkles on some of the pops. (I love sprinkles.)
Believe it or not, I did this cake just for fun. Just for me. A bride in Philadelphia commissioned me to make some sugar succulents for her wedding cake, and I wanted to photograph them before shipping them to her. I thought I’d change things up a bit, veering away from an all-succulent bouquet, and took my inspiration from the images below.
I love the juxtoposition of the green succulents against the brightly colored poppies in the bouquet below below by JL Designs (Photos: Stephanie Williams).
What can I say? I’m just a sucker for bright colors. By Farouche Shop.
I love this one. I tried to so hard find the source, but all I could determine was that it was seen on Style Me Pretty.
I took some artistic liberties, added some raspberries just for the heck of it, and asked Brooke to take photographs. Here’s what I came up with. Enjoy!
I have a file on my desktop entitled “Images for Inspiration”, a collection of random images I find on my forays around the internet. I thought I’d share just a few of them here. Don’t be surprised if you see one of these translated into cake sometime soon.