dani’s cake portfolio



Filed under: birthday,corporate — dani @ 11:17 pm

This cake was made for JJ Albanese Concrete Company’s ‘Founder’s Day – Beginning of Fiscal Year Party’ in conjunction with the President’s, John Albanese, 60th birthday on June 02, 2008.

Design It is quite fitting to have a concrete cake for a concrete company, don’t you think? Before I even had time to think of anything, Blake came up with the initial design concept for a concrete slab. Together we morphed the concept into a concrete column in addition to a concrete slab complete with broom finish and rebar!!!

Cake Famous “Chocolate Blackout Cake”

Filling Tart raspberry Italian meringue buttercream

Icing Vanilla Italian Meringue buttercream, colored gray to match concrete. Plain or vanilla Italian meringue buttercream is actually pale yellow in color, not white like you would think. I added black food coloring, expecting to get grey, but it turned out bright lavender. This was not a complication I had anticipated. I asked Blake if he thought that they would notice if the concrete was purple…? While Blake was researching on the internet how to make gray, I took small buttercream samples and proceeded to add various colors to see what happened. Red, blue and orange did not work, but green did. Adding dark green would give me dark gray and adding light green would give me light gray. At the same time, Blake discovered that mixing colors on the opposite sides of the color wheel make gray. I guess we learn something every day, right?

Decoration I wanted the cake to look like real concrete, all edible except for the metal decking base. I used my favorite AutoCAD program to layout the design, finalize proportions and the final size. The concrete slab ended up being 16″ x16″ x5″ high from the top of the decking flute, the metal decking was 24″ square and the concrete column was made from two 5″ high, 8″ square stacked cakes. The BASE was made from real steel decking cut to size from an Albanese jobsite. Blake deburred the edges and washed it to make sure it was as clean as possible even though the cake would be separated from the decking by a thick cardboard layer the same size of the cake. Styrofoam blocks were glued to the decking to help support the edges and to form a barrier for the frosting that extended to the decking on all sides. The sugar REBAR were made by forming gumpaste into the shape of rebar using a food grade silicone mold. First the gumpaste was colored dark gray with food coloring and the mold was pre-dusted with moonstone luster dust to get that shiny metal look. Then the gumpaste was rolled out to about 3/4″ diameter tubes and pressed into the mold until no extra gumpaste seeped out when squeezed shut. The sugar rebar were unmolded and stuck onto bamboo skewers which helped support the heavy gumpaste sticking out of the cake. The hardest part was making the rebar mold itself. I was able to acquired a few pieces of various sized rebar from my jobsite where I work. Blake cut off 12″ long pieces with a hack saw and then ground off the burrs, dirt and rust with a metal brush piece fitted on a drill. We washed the rebar and then proceeded to make the molds – which wasn’t as easy as the instructions implied. Also, this was my first time making a mold, though I had read about it on several cake websites. There are two parts, one white and one pink, that are mixed together and then cure/harden to form the mold. The instructions said that we had 20 minutes to work with it once the two parts were mixed to a uniform light pink color, but we really only had about 5 minutes before the silicone began to set! Additionally, the instructions said to spray the object to be molded with vegetable oil. This only made the molding process worse because the rebar is very stiff while the silicone was very soft and rubbery which made the silicone gape away from the rebar. I think the vegetable oil idea would have worked better if I was trying to mold lace or some other flexible, porous material. However, we managed to get one decent mold for the large rebar, but the mold for the smaller rebar (that was to be the column tie) completely failed. We had to work with just the one rebar mold because the silicone kit is expensive (around $35 for enough to mold a 7″x7″x1/2″ flat object) and I only bought one kit expecting it to be as easy as the instructions claimed. Plan ‘B’ would have been to use black licorice which sort-of have a rebar look to them, but luckily we didn’t have to do that. The company LOGO PLAQUE is entirely edible! The yellow background, bulldog face and black ‘Joseph J. Albanese’ letters were all made separately and then glued together with icing to create a more 3-D look. I adjusted a JPG file of the company logo in Photoshop to fit just the right proportions, printed it out and used this to trace the design in color flow. I first made the yellow base and let dry overnight and then used a #9 tip to make the brown border and let dry several hours. Meanwhile, I traced the bulldog with a #1 tip using black color flow. I then filled in with thinned tan color flow icing for the head and brown for the hat and let dry over night. The next day I piped in thinned white color flow icing for the eyes and teeth and red for the collar. I used a pin to create the ‘JA’ logo on the hat with color flow icing. I tried a yellow food color pen, but the brown background was too dark and it absorbed all the yellow color. However, I did use a black food coloring pen to create the black shadows on the bulldog face, his black pupils and also for the words ‘Concrete Construction’ on the yellow background. The red ‘D.O.G.‘ letters were also made using color flow icing. I used MS Word to find a font that matched as closely as possible to their logo and then printed it out at a size proportional to the sides of the cake, but not too big as to distract from the logo plaque. I then traced the outline with a #2 tip and filled in with thinned color flow icing.

Thanks Many thanks to Leslie Cusimano, the HR director at JJ Albanese (who used to work at Steinberg Architects), who acquired the metal decking base for me. She had quite a challenge to get a piece of decking cut to just the right size. Special thanks to the field guy who went out of his way to actually fabricate the piece of decking. The decking added just the right touch of reality and the cake would have been drab without it. Also, mil gracias a Blake for all his support and help as always. This cake doesn’t look that complicated, even to me, and I underestimated the amount of time it would take to complete it. The cake was due on a workday Monday for a noon-time BBQ and Blake and I didn’t go to sleep on Sunday until 5:00am. We then got up at 9:00am and proceeded to finalize the stacking and the last layer of buttercream. We arrived on-site at 11:30 am and finished the assembly at 12:00 noon sharp – just in the nick of time ! Blake and I both had to rearrange our work schedule to deliver this cake on time.