The long awaited night finally arrived! The Saint Francis Foundation hosts a big Oscar Night event at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco and I provided 220 hand-painted Oscar shaped cookies along with an Oscar cake large enough to serve 100. The votes have been tallied and my creations won Best Dessert of the Night!
My client's parents were celebrating their 50th anniversary in the family cabin located on Lake Tahoe. The cabin had been the epicenter of so many of their fond memories it seemed only logical that it be the theme of the cake.
The sketch was simple but in the final product, I added in some fun details - a skier in the Northern mountain range, A-frame cabins (in the Incline Village area), a covered bridge, sailboat, black bear, lots of rocks, Tahoe Tessie (the legendary lake monster) and a hunk of green rock candy to represent Emerald Bay.
The wake off the motor boat (sculpted from clay and painted to look like the family boat - a nice little keepsake for when the cake was consumed) formed a subtle but sweet heart with the anniversary message spelled out inside.
Spy vs. Spy was always one of my favorite strips from Mad Magazine so this project really took me back. The client needed a cake for her book club meeting; they were reading "A Spy Among Friends" and this seemed entirely apropos!
I used a new medium this time around - sugar sheets from Wilton. They worked well for this project though not without a few challenges.
Here are my initial sketches, the two design options proposed to the client and the final product.
The Monte Rio Community Variety Show began in 1911 for the Russian River communities and to raise money for local causes. The show was originally performed at St. Catherine Church and today the annual event is held on the banks of the Russian River at the beautiful Monte Rio Amphitheater. The event is organized by Community volunteers, who also sell the tickets and refreshments. This year I was able to donate iced cookies shaped like two of Monte Rio's most prominent icons - the welcome sign and the pink elephant sign. I'm really happy with how they turned out!
Every year for the past 105 years, Monte Rio has had an annual water parade on the river. This year my neighbors and I decided we were going to participate. I designed the float and built the structure and then everyone joined in to do the paper mache-ing and painting. We had a great time and won second place!
So why am I posting this project on my baking blog? Well, designing and building a parade float is not unlike building one of my cakes. I just didn't have to worry about whether or not it was going to taste good. Oh, and it was quite a bit bigger and needed a much larger workspace. Otherwise, I had to think about the design, not only in terms of what it was going to look like but also how it was going to be transported, how it would stay intact on the river, how it was going to be accessorized and how it was going to be illuminated. I also had to have a tight schedule for the work since I was only going to be working on it on the weekends.
Next year, I'm planning to promote my business. Can't wait to get started on that float!
I was going through my storage closet the other day and found a stack of sketchbooks with a good number of the designs I've come up with for cakes and cookies over the past 10+ years. As I flipped through the books I realized how much fun I had coming up with the designs and then working with my clients to fine-tune the details until we came up with the perfect cake or cookie for their special event.
In my day-to-day (non-baking) life I'm a process junkie. I love to see the progression of a project - how it evolves from the initial concepts through the final delivery, and I realized these books allowed me to relive each of my baking projects, both smooth and not-so-smooth.
I hope you get some enjoyment (and maybe a few ideas) as you scroll through the years with me.