Monday, May 07, 2007

Happy 1st Birthday, Chaeli Jayne!

Antonia and I would like to extend our best birthday wishes to little Chaeli Jayne and her proud parents, Patty and Sean, by offering a glimpse of the cake created for her on the occasion of her birth one year ago.

(The theme of the cake was a celebration of the Jersey Shore, complete with paintings of four of the many lighthouses which dot the shore. The new baby arrives in a sugar sailboat festooned with a sugar sail bearing a painted scallop shell. A tern keeps her company on the bow of the boat while sugar pillows and blankets keep her compfy and toasty. Sugar shells, molded from real sea shells and starfish, interspersed with sugar roses, anchor the corners of the shimmering, sea-blue, fondant-covered cake. Each cake side features a painted sugar plaque of a Jersey Shore lighthouse. Photo number six is the yellow and black Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City. Since it is located in the midst of a group of apartment houses, I chose to paint it surrounded by the ever-present phragmites on our coastal shore. Photo number seven is the red and white Barnegat Lighthouse on Long Beach Island. Number eight is the top of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse while number nine is the Twin Lights or Navesink Lighthouse of Highlands.)


Friday, May 04, 2007

OSSAS 2006 Wedding Cake Competition on The Food Network

For those of you interested in the 2006 Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show, The Food Network is airing its annual special this week. The first showing was this past Wednesday night, but there will be repeat performances on Saturday, May 5, 2:00 PM EST and Sunday, May 6, 5:00 PM EST.

I managed to catch several glimpses of my cake display (mostly the table) as well as one quick shot of myself looking (ever so insouciantly) into the camera while an adjoining cake artist was being interviewed.

For a refresher look at my entry, check out the 2006 archive for October on the right side of the blog


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Church of St. Mary, Mother of God

This is a replica of the front of my architectural-jewel-of-a-church, St. Mary, Mother of God, executed in sugarpaste. It was the prime feature of the back of the RCIA cake. The original church has beautiful dormer windows on either side. It was built in 1900 and boasts magnificent Tiffany stained glass windows. Much to Antonia's delight, the main window is a representation of St. Cecilia. Perhaps when time allows, I will complete the back of the church and paint in the windows on my sugar replica.


Sweet and Blessed Inspiration

I have reshot the sugar decorations from the RCIA cake for better viewing.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the cake, for which I created these sugar decorations, was made for the RCIA at the Easter Vigil in my church. RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. It includes adult converts to the Catholic faith as well as those who have not completed the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation. My niece, Antonia, was to receive her Confirmation as part of the Rite and I was her sponsor. Her chosen Confirmation name is Cecilia, the patron Saint of Music. We have spent a good part of the past year in Sunday morning classes and have participated in numerous special Masses and events. This has been a very important time for both Antonia and myself in our spiritual growth. And it has been my great honor to be able to contribute my talents to celebrate this momentous event. And we are both deeply grateful to those members of our parish who made it all possible, especially our pastor, Msgr. Walsh, our director, Sister Gloria, our wonderful hospitality team, especially Carol and Karin, and our prayer partners.

The culmination of the RCIA initiation was the absolutely gorgeous and moving Easter Vigil Mass. From the lighting of the bonfire, to the sea of lit candles in a chasm of darkness, to the extended readings from Genesis and Exodus, to the first ringing of bells since Ash Wednesday while the lights slowly began to illuminate the hall, to the baptism of our elect, the spiritual rituals of Our Church moved me deeply.

And I felt truly inspired and blessed in my sugar work. The Sacraments of Holy Communion, Confirmation and Baptism are represented, respectively, by a 24K gilded chalice complete with a representation of the Host with rays of light, Communion Wine, and a Cross, a dove representing the Holy Spirit with seven flames representing the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and stylized flowing water with gilded fish. The gumpaste flowers are Madonna Lilies (Lilium candidum) and Lilies of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) with leaves, thirty of each. I chose these flowers because they represent Mary, the patroness of our parish church as well my own patron Saint. Although they look very much like Easter Lilies (Lilium longiflorum) they are not quite the same. For one, the trumpets are much shorter. At the back of the cake is a representation of our church and will be discussed in the next post. And I almost forgot the sheath of wheat next to the chalice.

As for the cakes, there were four different kinds: The largest of the cakes was a 16 in. Diva Cake (see the Sweet Harvest, Nov. 2006, post for a detailed description). A 12 in. Meyer Lemon Vodka Cake with Meyer Lemon filling and Meyer Lemon buttercream came next. The next tier was a 6 in., fondant covered styrofoam dummy used only to lend design integrity to the tiered cake. The top cake was the 8 in. Southern Delight cake consisting of a Hummingbird Cake with fresh bananas, fresh pineapple, pecans and a touch of cinnamon with a filling of rum soaked Bananas Foster and Praline and a brown sugar buttercream. There was also a 12 in. cake, not part of the the tiered cake, made of dense almond cake, filled with kumquat conserve, and layered with a yolk buttercream. All cakes were coved in a lemon flavored rolled fondant except the almond cake which was covered in marzipan.

Finally, I wish to dedicate my sugar work to my niece and Diva Delights partner, Antonia Maria Cecilia Rosenberger with all my love, best wishes and congratulations on her full entrance into Our Community of Faith. And I wish to thank our friends Terry and John for their constant moral and spiritual support.


Monday, April 09, 2007

HE IS RISEN! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

A Blessed and Happy Easter to all my friends and bloggers! I am posting a sampling of the pictures of the cake made in honor of the RCIA at my parish church of St. Mary and served at the post Easter Vigil buffet. Tomorrow there will be additional pictures with commentary.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Diva Speaks...

Hi everybody! This is the "silent partner" in this venture. While Delights is on hiatus, you might want to visit my music education website called The Music Classroom. It's a comprehensive compilation of educational resources for the teacher and student.

The website also features my musical bio and repertoire to help those in search of a vocalist for that special occasion. The site has recently been re-vamped by the "not-so-silent partner" in the signature design style that Delights created for me. If you're so inclined, please leave a comment here or e-mail me at the address listed on the website.


Lenten Hiatus

I'm giving up blogging for Lent...Actually, a major project will keep me too occupied until Easter to post. And of course working on the Oklahoma Sugar Show pieces will become a top priority. Perhaps the St. Patrick's Day reprieve will allow my posting something appropriate to that celebration.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

More Mardi Gras Madness

As promised, the star of the day, the King Cake, makes its appearance surrounded by the acoutrements of the day (executed in sugar, of course). The Diva (Antonia) wanted y'all to know that SHE made the purple and gold sugar beads and strung them. She now claims she's ready for the Oklahoma Sugar Show.

The cake is fairly traditional; mine has a cream cheese filling with chopped pecans, orange and lemon zest and a touch of cinnamon (Vietnamese is my favorite). For those of you who've never had the pleasure of the King Cake experience, it is not unlike a yeast coffee ring, with or without a filling (fruit, marzipan, cream cheese, etc.). I play with the ingredients for each year's King Cake and this year's was particularly tasty (Remember, the first cake was consumed on Sunday). The harlequin diamonds of purple, green and gold on top of the cake are a thinned royal icing liberally sprinkled with colored sanding sugars. Usually, I don't make such a fuss about decorating the top of the cake; a drizzle of confectioners sugar glaze followed by a sprinkling of sanding sugars in the traditional colors in wide bands is the extent of my decorating. However, this cake had to be a bit more photogenic so out came the piping bag and royal icing. The Sugar Mask was described in yesterday's post.

The true pleasure of the King Cake is not in its taste or even its appearance. It is quite ordinary in the first and gaudy in the second. It's pleasure is in the celebration of tradition, and a religious one at that, not the Bacchanalian one we've come to associate with the celebration of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) in New Orleans. The name is derived from the Three Kings (Wise Men, Magi) whose journey in search of the infant Jesus is celebrated on January 6th, the traditional day of the Epiphany of Our Lord. It marks the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of the Carnival season culminating in the frenzied celebrations of Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday and the fasting and abstinence of Lent.

Although the King Cake dates back to 12th Century France (the Galette de Roi of France is a more elegant pastry affair with an almond pastry cream filling traditionally served on 12th Night-the evening before Epiphany), its incarnation in Louisiana is steeped in the rich culture and tradition of that region. The official colors of Mardi Gras which decorate the cake were first chosen in 1837 and symbolize justice (purple), faith (green) and power (gold). A small figure of a baby, representing the Baby Jesus, is usually inserted into the cake; the one whose piece of cake contains the baby has to throw the next party or make the next King Cake. This goes on all through the Carnival season with King Cakes being consumed daily. This of course does not apply to me; whether or not I get the baby, I still have to make the next King Cake. Usually I provide some kind of prize for the lucky finder of the baby.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

Mardi Gras Mask, with feathers and ribbons, in sugarpaste. Sparkly stuff on the mask is Moondust. Never again! Everything within five feet of the work area was sparkling (like Tinkerbell gone berserk).

Where's the King Cake, you may ask. Consumed. New cake is rising...will be ready for Fat Tuesday and more celebrating. For the Mardi Gras uninitiated, I'll post the meaning of the colors, cake and other symbols, tomorrow.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

For Theresa and John...

...Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Anniversary to my dearest friends! And Happy Valentine's Day to Lovers everywhere...

(A double-decker heart-shaped Brownie cake filled and coated with bittersweet chocolate ganache. The fondant covered, heart-shaped cake and foamcore board, were decorated with scallop crimping, sugar lace pieces, embossed sugar bows and sugar pearls. The Heart is adorned with gumpaste flowers: Roses, Cornflowers and Chinese Jasmine. The lace, bows and pearls were formed with molds and embossers coated with antique silk luster dust then, with the cakeboard and cake top, over-dusted with pearl dust. The heart-shaped cakeboard was trimmed in two ivory lace ribbons.)


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Diva Delightful Birthday Surprise

For my friend Maureen's birthday I created this mini cake wrapped in its own surprise package. The two pale pink fondant covered cake tiers are only 4" and 3" wide, respectively. The roses were formed in sugarpaste using molds as were the two strings of pearls. Both the pearls and flowers were over-dusted with pearl powder. The sugarpaste drapes were first embossed with a raw silk design then also dusted with pearl powder. For the base, I coverd a foamcore round in pink fondant, the raw edge of which was then encircled in two layers of ribbon. A loop of one of the ribbons was attached to the bottom of the foamcore in order to facilitate pulling the cake from its box.

The cake itself is a Marquise au Chocolat or less pretentiously, a flourless chocolate cake. This particular marquise has a hint of raspberry liqueur and would be quite tasty served with a raspberry sauce, a few fresh berries and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. My own particular favorite version was served with a pistachio sauce. Your favorite liqueur and sauce could be substituted, of course (think Kaluha, Kirchwasser, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Orangello, Frangelico, Amaretto, etc).

Although this miniature cake was made for a birthday, it could easily be adapted to suit numerous other special occasions including the bride and groom's take-home-cake with which to commemorate their special day. If styrofoam cake dummies were substituted for the actual cake, a miniature wedding cake replica could be placed under a glass dome or bell and kept indefinitely. And since the trend towards individual cakes has taken the wedding world by storm, an even smaller version of this cake would be appropriate for that particular use. It could also be used as a wedding favor placed in its own custom-designed sugar box (for those with big budgets or generous dads, of course).


Monday, January 29, 2007

Amaryllis by Morning...

This cake was made for the celebration of the birthdays of five Aquarian friends. Each friend had his/her name painted (in aqua and gold)on a sugar placque and attached to a side of the hexagonal, fondant covered cake with the Aquarian symbol finishing off the sixth side. A gold embossed sugarpaste border trimmed the cake. The cake was then mounted on a fondant covered foamcore hexagon which was then mounted on a silver foil covered cake round and finished with an aqua ribbon. Gold embossed sugarpaste diamonds were the decorative touches on the fondant hexagon corners.

The amaryllis plant which sat atop the cake was formed from sugar/gumpaste with the structural help of floral wires, floral tape, a wooden dowel and a styrofoam core for the bulb. The bulb, with inserted amryllis stem, was fastened to a hexagonal shaped piece of fondant covered cardboard. The board was then attached to the top of the cake with a piece of moistened fondant. There were three fully opened flowers and two buds on the sugar amaryllis. The model for the sugar version was the real-life "Scarlet Baby" miniature amaryllis. The "Spanish Moss" surrounding the bulb was made from tinted rice noodles. This very clever technique was borrowed from Maxine Boyinton whose cake using the rice noodles was featured in Kerry Vincent's very beautiful and extremely helpful book, "Romantic Wedding Cakes".

The three-tiered lemon cake was infused with a citron vodka sauce and the filling between the layers was a lemon curd. The recipe for the cake and sauce were also gleaned from Kerry's book. I loved the sauce but found the cake too dry. A good pound cake would have been preferable. The lemon curd was my own and was a tasty touch.