|The Edible Topper|
Now I know that some of your are thinking that classical composers and musical instruments are ill-fitting for such an assignment--child's theme cake; but don't the interests of children expand beyond characters on animated television shows? I must confess, when we were initially given the assignment I immediately thought of "Bob the Builder," my nephews' favorite show; but for this cake I wanted to make something that reflected one aspect of my childhood. I can remember spending countless hours as a six-year-old pounding on the 88 black and white keys of my family baby grand piano. So there it was, the inspiration for my cake.
The Cake: We made a chocolate butter cake and spread rich ganache in between the four layers before icing a thin coating of Swiss chocolate buttercream around the entire cake. Before placing all of the decorative elements, we covered the entire thing with rolled chocolate fondant.
Pastillage: I had never used let alone heard of pastillage until we were given this assignment. For those of you who have no idea what it is, think Altoid mints without the minty flavor. We mixed the pastillage dough and rolled it out to about 1/8 of an inch thick. From there, we cut our desired shapes and left them alone to dry and harden. For the cake, I made an oval for my composer's portrait and a six-inch circle for the base of the decorative elements.
Cocoa Painting: Thinking back to my childhood piano books, they always had old portraits of the famous composers. Although Rachmaninoff is my favorite composer (I can spend hours playing his music), I decided to paint Frederic Chopin on the basis that he is more well known and the more attractive choice between the two composers. Painting with a mixture of cocoa butter and cocoa powder was rather tricky. The portrait was 2 x 2 1/2 inches small so it was difficult to make very intricate details even with a fine brush. The cocoa hardens and doesn't work as pleasantly as watercolor. I also painted the circular pastillage piece going for a wooden floor look--similar to the floors at a concert or recital hall.
3D Object: I didn't know whether I could actually mold a piano completely out of chocolate (in fact I was encouraged not to by my instructor), but I knew I wanted to try. It was fun to build and manipulate the clay-like material into something recognizable. Molding chocolate works much like clay but temperature plays a significant role on the pliability of the chocolate making it more difficult to handle. I hollowed out the inside and filled it with a layer of edible gold. I added gold details on the inside of the cover, the stand, the hinges, and the pedals. The keyboard was furnished out of gumpaste and the keys were painted with a deep eggplant petal dust I had left over from Penny's wedding. My absolute favorite part of the entire cake would have to be the accompanying piano bench piece. I made a cushion on top with faux cloth gathering at the buttons. Definitely the most adorable part.
Borders: I kept the borders simple to hold true to the overall minimalist elegance of the cake. I added a simple ganache beaded border around the wooden floor and painted gold dots to tie in with the gold on the piano and on the portrait's frame. I also added gold detailing to the bottom but nothing too fancy to distract from the velvety smooth look of the chocolate fondant.
This was definitely not my favorite creation, but I learned so much in the process of using materials I've never used before and pushing myself to new and more difficult endeavors.
|Ritzy Recital Cake|