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Season 4 - Episode 2

Italian Engagement

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Italian Engagement

Amanda and Chris are such an awesome couple! I first met them through Gina of Shi Shi events when she brought them in for a cake tasting for 2 cakes – their wedding cake, and a cake for an engagement party.  I could tell they were so in love, and I found it awesome that Chris was so into the cake design with Amanda!  The engagement cake was to be for 50-60 of their family and friends. While they were tasting the cake, they were talking about one of the cake fillings reminding them of gelato they tasted in Italy. I found out that Chris proposed to Amanda in Italy, and thought that was so romantic! That instantly made me think that the engagement party cake should be all about their time in Italy, what they experienced there, and represent the actual engagement aspect of the trip, since Chris put so much time and effort in planning it for Amanda. They traveled around Italy, sight-seeing and visiting the colosseum and leaning tower of Piza, eating all the food – fresh baked breads, cheeses, olives and grapes. They visited wineries and had some of the best wine they have ever had. Towards the end of the trip, Chris proposed on a roof top overlooking a lemon tree orchard, and Amanda remembered the scent of lemons in the air when she said “I Do!”

All of these elements made me think of a really amazing sculpted cake featuring the lemons, the wine, the ring box, the gelato….and yes, a structural detail of the Leaning Tower of Piza. I wanted to challenge ourselves with this cake. Being artists, I knew we could figure this out somehow, and that structure would be the biggest challenge. When I suggested all of this to them, they seemed really excited, but also seemed skeptical that we could create a large scale Tower of Piza out of cake. I reassured them we could handle it, and set off to chat with Matt and Lauren on how we were going to get this done.

Matt and Lauren looked at me like I was crazy when I presented the sketch to them (Matt especially). This was already a crazy week for Lauren and myself for wedding cakes, so adding this engagement cake meant that Matt was going to have to be in charge of this project. Oh boy.

Matt has only decorated cakes for a few years, but is a trained artist, and has a Masters in sculpture.  He is usually the one who helps us when we have these crazy sculpted cakes, but this would be the first time he was put in charge without much help from myself and Lauren. He accepted the challenge, and began to work on building the structure for the tower, and various items on the cake.

He decided to use rice cereal treats to make the tower instead of cake. Rice cereal treats are lightweight and easily carved to create dimensional shapes, so he just had to come up with some type of central pole to attach to the cake base. When he made the first attempt to position the pole on the board for the tower, I pointed out that it was leaning the wrong way. This was a pretty important element on the cake, so he needed to fix it. I was getting frustrated since I knew this set us behind on a cake that was already a time-consumer. He went back down to the basement, and fixed the pole, but now it felt unstable, as the hardware had stripped the wood where he initially had placed the pole. Lauren and I started to feel some anxiety, but he reassured us it would be fine, and we had to believe him.  We were too busy with our cakes, so we had no choice but to let him do his thing.

As time went by, I kept noticing how little was being put together for this cake. The base fondant of the wine box, bottle and board had been completed, but no detail yet. By Friday afternoon, when the cake should have been 75% completed, it was only at about 30% complete. He asked if any of our employees could help him put some of the details together, and I suggested Renee. She is one of our cake artists, and we put her in charge of helping with details such as sculpting grapes, painting the lemons and working on the wine box. Lauren and I had to leave for a delivery, and wouldn’t be back until after 7pm. We knew that we would have to kick into gear and help him when we got back from our delivery, even though we would be exhausted from the long drive and tough week.

We got back from the delivery after 7pm, and literally hid in the coffee shop for about a half hour, so that none of the camera or production crew could find us. We needed a break! We drank some hot cocoa, and got our energy back. It was time to help Matt. It was time to BUST THIS CAKE OUT!!!!

Matt was airbrushing the wine bottle and individual details of the cake, and they were starting to look awesome. We decided to attack the tower, and started putting fondant on all of the layers that would be stacked up on the pole. We assembled the tower, and then started putting all the detail on each segment. Lauren piped away while I switched gears and started working on the wine box.

It was past 10pm, and we still had a lot to do. We were getting loopy and cranky. Somehow, right around 11:00 we got our second wind, and started to assemble all of the individual elements on the cake board. The cake came to life!! It looked awesome. From the lemons, to the wine bottle, to the actual tower that was still standing, this was one of the coolest cakes we ever made.

The next day, we got the cake loaded in the Jeep for the delivery, and I accidentally hit one of the fragile grape leaves and it shattered. Not a good way to start out on this delivery. Luckily, we had extra, so when we arrived, we would have to hurry up and fix what I broke.

We got to the restaurant, and had to carry the cake through a  full restaurant of people with narrow spaces between the chairs and tables. It was super heavy, and I felt as though my arms were going to give the entire time! We got it set up, fixed the leaf and it was glorious. I couldn’t wait for Chris and Amanda to see it.

They arrived to a room full of their family and friends, and walked up to the cake. They looked so happy! It was cool to see their reaction because usually we drop the cake off and leave, but they wanted us to stay.  I was so glad this cake was done, and that it turned out amazing for a fabulous couple!

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