dani’s cake portfolio


LITTLE SHOP OF steinberg May 15, 2008

Filed under: character,charity,flowers, plants — dani @ 12:00 pm

Watch out, it might bite !! This cake was made for the Annual International Interior Design Association (IIDA) ‘Culinary Challenge’ charity event to benefit Heifer International on May 15, 2008 in Milpitas, CA. We won the “people’s choice” award which was a trio of rabbits to be given to a family in a developing nation.

Design This cake was designed by the Interiors Group from Steinberg Architects where I work. This year IIDA actually had a theme that wasn’t just the charity organization itself, which was “Take a Bite Out Of World Hunger”. The cake we did for last year’s event was a perfect fit for the theme this year, but of course we couldn’t do the same thing twice !!! So, we decided not to take the theme quite so literally. One team member, Lisa (who has a background in theater productions), came up with the idea of the plant called Audre II from Little Shop of Horrors helping to end world hunger. We came up with several other ideas that might have fit the theme a little closer, but they were all too similar in nature to last year’s design and none seemed as fun or interesting as the colorful Audre II !!! Albiet a bit stressfull, this cake was a ton of fun to design and definitely a challenge to make. During the course of making this cake, specifically Audre’s head, I realized that the sculpting portion of my brain is not as developed as the color and contrast part of my brain. I really struggled to figure out a solution for creating Audre’s head. As compared to my other cakes where I knew instantly how to make it and could definitely see the final result in my mind, I could do neither for this cake. I literally created Audre’s head bit by bit as I went and it eventually evolved into the what you see here.

Cake Chocolate blackout cake was a fitting representation of the soil inside the flower pot and under the grass.

Filling Bittersweet chocolate Italian meringue buttercream and gummi worms for additional earthy effect.

Icing Italian meringue buttercream: vanilla for the grass and chocolate for the flower pot.

Decoration All the colors that you see in this cake were hand mixed using various food colors, just like an artist would mix paint for a canvas, to specifically match a paint swatch color palate selected by team member Shannon to create the most dramatic effect. HEAD OF AUDRE II – At first, I didn’t actually know how I was going to make the head. I literally walked the halls of Michael’s Craft Store looking for a solution. I eventually found a styrofoam egg that was just about the shape I was looking for. Audre’s head evolved over 6 days and each day brought new ideas for the next step. I first cut the egg in half using a saw and then stuck a sharpened dowel through the two halves so that they were positioned with the back as a hinge point and the mouth open. I then stuck the dowel into another block of styrofoam to hold it up and just stared at it… willing more ideas to come to mind. I wasn’t quite sure what to do next, but the next day I applied a thin layer of royal icing all over the styrofoam with another layer of red gumpaste for the mouth and yellow for the head. I was somewhat disappointed with the results as it looked like an oblong version of pacman. Blake suggested giving it some veins to give it a more organic look that would mimic both a leaf and a living creature. So I piped on various diameter widths of royal icing “veins” over the yellow gumpaste in a wiggly leaf-like pattern. The next day I applied another thin layer of yellow fondant (more elastic than gumpaste) and pressed it in around the “veins” for a disturbingly life-like look. I also applied the red lips and gums to let dry over night. It was finally starting to come together and I could breathe a sigh of relief !!! I was a bit stressed before because the head would be the main focal point of this cake. If it didn’t look just right, the whole cake would be a disaster and all my time wasted. The next challenge for the head was the hinge point because the two halves were not really connected and still looked like two halves of a now evil pacman. As I was falling asleep that night, I suddenly thought of an excellent solution!! The next day I made large green leaves pressed into a resin mold to give them veins and applied them to the back of Audre II’s head to hide the gaping hinge point. This worked perfectly and made the head feel more connected to the rest of the plant. The following day I secured the beautiful purple gumpaste tongue (something you’d see from the band KISS) in place with royal icing colored to match the mouth and also applied the tan spots. On the final day, I applied the white royal icing teeth which contrasted nicely with the red, yellow and green and gave it the final realistic touch. I was so pleased with the results that I even danced a little jig !!! LEAVES & TENDRILS – I set up a little afternoon workshop in the office and the interiors team learned to color gumpaste and to made the leaves and tendrils. The leaves were made by Lisa and Erin using a resin leaf mold to cut the leaf sharpen and make the veins. The tendrils were made by Tina who rolled out the gumpaste, stuck a toothpick in the end and wound it around lollipop sticks to form the curly ends. LETTERS – Shannon came up with the clever title “Little Shop of Steinberg” by combining the name of the theater/movie production and that of our company. I typed the words on the computer using similar fonts to match the theater production title, our company logo as well as the Heifer International logo. I then overlaid the print-outs with cellophane and outlined the letters with stiff color flow icing and filled in with thinned icing. I purposefully chose to color the Heifer International title white to match their logo, but also to contrast with the green grass and draw the eye to the whole purpose of the cake. I also chose to color the title of the cake “Little Shop of Steinberg” yellow to match Audre’s head, but also so that it wouldn’t contrast too much with the brown flower pot and thus detract from the Heifer International words. The Hunger sign was made by cutting out a flattened bit of gum paste and using a round tip to cut out holes to make the teeth marks. After it was dry I piped on the word ‘HUNGER’ with royal icing.

Thanks Special thanks to the Interiors Team at Steinberg Architects for the ultimate theme and cake design and for coming up with creative ideas. Tina, Erin and Lisa were instrumental in creating the colorful leaves and tendril details and Shannon for creating the color palate and who also helped set up the cake at the venue. Also many thanks to Blake for helping me work through the creation of Audre’s head, for other helpful design suggestions, for helping to set up the cake and for taking great photos.