painting cakes

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While I’ve always loved cake decorating, my interest in baking is rooted in my desire to make things taste good. This blog has evolved into a creative outlet for my photography and writing, but at its core is a chronicle of the recipes I’ve spent years testing, developing, and perfecting.

Over the past few months, however, I’ve shifted my focus away from the flavor-oriented end of baking. I’ve reached a point where I can make a bomb ass chocolate cake with my eyes closed; now, I want to take time to figure out my own personal decorating style, while still ensuring that the product itself is delicious.

I think there’s a misconception that high end cake decorating entails fondant and dragées and other decorations that are technically edible but always end up getting left on the plate. Don’t get me wrong, fondant is great — if you want a cake to look like an anatomically correct heart, for instance, it’s the way to go — but when it comes to something like a wedding cake, I don’t think you should have to compromise flavor for appearance. Instead of a tiered cake covered in fondant and sprayed with edible gold paint, why not have a buttercream portrait of the bride and groom?

I’ve been icing famous paintings onto sheet cakes partially because I want to challenge my own artistic ability, but also because I want to prove that a novelty cake can be beautiful and still taste amazing.

The swirly, Post-Impressionist style of The Starry Night and The Scream lends itself incredibly well to buttercream decorating; all I had to do was dye the frosting, stick it in some ziplock bags, snip the corners off, and pipe away. The Old Guitarist was a bit trickier. I used an offset spatula to frost the background, chilled it, then used a paintbrush to replicate the man in the painting with layers of buttercream. I created the self-portrait using a combination of these methods.

People have said that these cakes are too pretty to eat, but I like that they have a function beyond just something to gawk at. I’m not interested in preserving them for hundreds of years behind bulletproof glass; I’ll leave that to artists who use oil paint as their medium.

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