It’s been over a week since Cake International 2012 at the NEC, and a whole week since I had the pleasure of taking part in my shoot with Adam from arj-photo.co.uk so today, I thought I would share the inspiration behind my design.
I initially had an idea that I would like to create a modern cake influenced by a long since passed era, something really quirky and unusual with interesting shapes and gold detailing (I’m a little bit obsessed with metallic cakes so I knew I wanted to incorporate gold into my design). I couldn’t get the hilarious (although probably not for the average person at the time) Prince Regent out of my head so in the end, I decided to run with it. And so the concept for my Regency Period cake was born.
My first task was to put together an inspiration board. What key elements would make the cake “Regency”? The Brighton Pavilion is probably the most striking and famous reminder of the prince’s lavish lifestyle and complete insanity at times, but is also an absolutely breathtaking piece of architectural art. My cake had to be based around this!
I love the shape of the roofs (I want to say “rooves” as that’s how I would pronounce it but apparently no, this is the more common spelling…), the lattice work and the overall soft, rounded look, interspersed with columns and angular details. I also love the way several artists captured the essence of the building using classic Brighton-esque pastel colours, which gave me an idea for the route I wanted to take with my cake. The ceiling is out of this world so I knew elements of that would need to feature, and finally, I didn’t feel that a Regency Period cake would be complete without a nod towards furniture and decor of the time. All sounding a bit weird? Yeah, I did think I had gone a little crazy on this one but I hoped that the final cake would be a lot more about pretty and a lot less about strange than it is maybe currently sounding.
This is my sketch of my design. It’s a little rushed as I didn’t have much time. Business comes first and my wedding season lasted until November so I really was planning my Cake International entry in those small intervals between cake and sleep 😉
Then came the fun part, splitting it into its component tiers and ordering the bespoke bases! There is something so fresh, clean and satisfying about an un-iced dummy cake. I decided to keep the top and bottom tiers quite simple and mould the shaped details myself (something which I would come to regret with the top tier), so this is what my fake cake looked like underneath: a squashed sphere top, two single height tiers, a half height tier under the dome and a height and a half for the main body of the cake, to really accentuate the central motif and allow plenty of height for the piped chandeliers.
Fast forward a good few weeks (maybe make that a couple of months?) and I finally started work on adding the detail. Here are a few cheeky work in progress shots:
Cue my annoyance at moulding the shape of the top tier myself, rather than ordering it in, as the marzipan peak wasn’t dead centre so meant that the dome was slightly off balance. This wouldn’t have been a problem had the dome been made from real cake, but as dummy tiers are so light, it was like a giant Weeble. I set and reset it but even when I thought I’d got it, it dried in place at an angle. I actually saw the judges marking me down on this point. Inevitable but so frustrating as I could have avoided it!
And so onto the detail. This, like so many of my cakes, made you feel like you had almost finished but actually, it’s the little details that soak up days of time. I worked all day and yet it didn’t appear to have changed very much…however, it’s the little details that get you the marks in the competition, and make for an interesting design as the closer you get, the more you see, so totally worth doing.
I was particularly proud of the stripes on the “chaise longue”. The soft pastels really worked together and made the base tier look very cakey and chunky, but when I added the very fine ivory beading between each stripe, the whole thing just came together. Well worth doing! Excuse the dust, that’s what three days sat in an events hall does to you!
I used the same technique in a chunkier line and with a paler ivory shade for the latticework. However, after I had finished, it felt like something was missing…until my other half suggested that the little beads be filled with even smaller lilac beads to bring a hint of the pastel colour scheme into this tier. they may be small but they made all the difference!
What I did get good marks for were my ruffled roses. I love creating an almost torn tissue effect on my petals, something a bit different and very romantic for a wedding cake, I think. These white roses filled the underneath of the chaise longue, all the way around, just leaving space for the legs and feet to show.
The gold is a mixture of darker and lighter lustre dusts, which I made into thick paints to create a textured, antique look.
The judges love a bit of piping and as this was the perfect technique to create the look of a grand yet delicate chandelier, I decided to include some. The very simple white on ivory fern-like leaves actually kept me awake at night and sulking all day on the Friday, but although I am no Eddie Spence by any means, I think I blew such a small component out of all proportion. That’s the stress of the competition for ya!
Just to tie all of the details together, I put some ruffled rose petals around the base of the dome, and added some tiny piped pearls to accentuate some of the other details.
So there we have it, my Regency wedding cake design! Many thanks again to Adam for his beautiful photography. I hope you enjoyed reading about the inspiration behind possibly the most unusual cake I have ever made.
Until next time,
Adam Johnson is the fabulous photographer behind www.arj-photo.co.uk, whom I have worked with on many occasions and can’t recommend enough. Love that guy!