Saturday, September 4, 2010's a cake!

June brings many birthdays for my family and friends, but somehow I managed to only have to make one birthday cake. This was my first carved cake, and I had a lot of fun with it.

My cousin is a cellist, and I have wanted to make her a cello cake for a very long time now. For her birthday in June, I decided to try it. I had been planning it in my head since April, and I asked her what she wanted for her cake. Her only request was that the icing be chocolate with orange flavoring. This was a first for me, but I was up for the challenge!

I made a 9"x13" pound cake and froze it in the pan for 2 days. On the morning of the soiree I took the cake out of the freezer. Using a permanent marker on waxed paper, I traced the shape of the body of a cello to fit within the parameters of the cake. I then used a large knife to gently carve around the pattern, which I had cut out and secured atop the cake with toothpicks. The carving went very smoothly, with very few crumbs and no crumbling of the cake. I used the excess pieces of cake to fashion the scroll of the cello.

I had been thinking about the design of the cake for quite some time, and I decided that the fingerboard, bridge, and tailpiece were going to be made from a shortbread type cookie. Again, using the waxed paper method against the body of the cello cake for scale, I formed the cookie pieces of the other parts of the cello; the tailpiece and fingerboard were in chocolate, and the bridge in vanilla. Once the cookies were baked, I cut very tiny slots in the top of the bridge piece so that I could secure the strings.

The icing turned out spectacular. I used my standard butter cream icing, adding dutch processed chocolate and a bit of orange extract. To get a more wooden color to the icing, I added a bit of orange food coloring. I frosted the body of the cake with the base icing, and added black store bought icing to the mix for the scroll. I then piped lines in the scroll bit to give it more depth.

For the pegs, I piped the shape of the peg in chocolate, forming a small lollipop by adding a miniature dowel rod (reminiscent of a toothpick, but sturdier) and let them set; I then stuck them in the sides of the scroll.

The tricky part was the strings. I decided to use a very thin jeweler's wire, with the end wrapped around and taped to a mini dowel rod and inserted at the top end of the tailpiece. The wire was then inserted in the slot on the bridge and stretched across the body and fingerboard, and laid gently, though tightly, on the scroll.

I think my favorite part was the peg. This is the quintessential part of the cello: the part that separates it visually from other stringed instruments. I used half of a pretzel rod, which I dipped in chocolate, and then inserted it into the very bottom of the cake.

The piping on the top of the cake was simple enough. I piped the f holes in black icing, and I outlined the body in chocolate. Overall, I was very pleased with my work.

And now, for the pictures!

It's been 5 months...

and I'm still alive! This is just a short update, with a few fun posts to follow immediately.

So what's new in the live of this girl?

- I'm a member of the Philadelphia Singers, the official singing group of the Philadelphia Orchestra. How cool is that?

- I started my own Etsy shop. You can find me here. Everything is custom made, so if you're interested, ask!

- I got a big girl job. I'm working in Center City, and thus exploring various eateries. I am absolutely loving the Reading Terminal Market. It's a foodie's playground!

It's been fun, these past few months. And now, how about some baked goods?