Besides all of the other cool things I got to do in Chef David Brown’s class, I also entered the Student ACF (American Culinary Federation) Competition. I entered the wedding cake category and submitted an art nouveau inspired cake inspired by the amazing stained glass of that art era. To date it is the biggest cakes I’ve ever made and could have fed about 175 people. An even bigger challenge was that everything, except for the wooden dowels supporting the inside of the cake, was made of edible materials.
Even the white and blue art nouveau panels are made of sugar. The white is made of a sugar clay known as pastillage, a material that isn’t used so much in the modern world anymore. Some of it I cut, dried, and sanded into art deco designs. While in other instances I hand-made embossing tools to stamp in custom design into the pastillage. The blue, is actually poured isomalt sugar, the same sugar used to make pulled sugar designs. I learned that blue is the hardest color to get because if cooked too long the sugar begins to caramelize creating a greenish color. Therefore to get a true blue color the sugar needs to be cooked to the right temperature. Pretty neat, eh? And because of it’s glass like nature, the light was able to pour through the blue sugar panels making a really beautiful effect.
The coolest thing about this cake was that everything I did, I did for the first time. This was my first time using pastillage, gumpaste, royal icing, isomalt sugar, and fondant. I learned tons of new skills, some under the guidance of Chef David Brown and others self taught like making gum paste flowers. I also learned to use an industrial roller, my new most favorite machine in the world, to roll my fondant. I now dream of owning my own industrial roller machine, in addition to a 20 quart mixer.
And just as cool as learning all these new skills, I got a gold medal and a scholarship for my cake entry. 🙂