Oh, I had such fond memories of the Cake Bake & Sweets show in Sydney that lasted from 21 to 23 March. But for me, it was largely an enormous and stressful affair as two months ago before the show, I decided to enter the Australian Cake Decorating Championships (ACDC)!
The ACDC had three categories: wedding cakes, novelty cakes, and sugar art. The theme for the wedding cake competition was spring; novelty cake was ‘mystical magic’; and sugar art was ‘nature’s best’. I never had any experience with a wedding cake, and so I was dying to show off whatever skills I know off on the best wedding cake I could produce.
My initial thought of the entry piece was to have lots of flowers, a tree bark, a gazebo with bride and groom – and that’s a game! Yet, as the weeks went by, I started to doubt my idea on the cake. Wouldn’t everyone have the same thought on that, given it’s a spring cake? Somehow, I decided to look East. I have been watching a Chinese drama, and I wondered what a Chinese-themed wedding cake would look like. I deliberated with friends on my new idea on the cake, and they agreed that I should go ahead with it. It would be the one entry that would stand out from the others. As Miss Housemate said, the best artists in the music industry don’t comply with the mainstream music but rather have original concepts on their songs. Which is what I aspire to be – an original cake designer!
To start my design, I needed some inspiration. I had an initial vision of the Chinese traditional wedding attire for both the bride and groom, but I didn’t think it would resonate well with people who would be looking at the cake. Hence I picked a more contemporary version, and what better than to reach out to my dear friend in Hong Kong. I visited Hong Kong in summer last year not only to enjoy the sights and sounds, but also to attend my friend’s wedding. Isabella has kindly offered me some pictures of her wedding gown, known as the “kua” in Cantonese.
Using her “kua” as my source of inspiration, I started on the figurines first. As I was going to carry it to Sydney, I needed the figurines to be lighter in weight, and I chose to use styrofoam to build the foundation of the figurines. To enhance the effect of the clothing used on the figurines, I used an impression mat to create floral effects on both the bride and groom’s clothing. The next step is to add luster to the clothing – as you can see, my friend’s “kua” has a lot of intricate detail to it, and my aim is to achieve a similar look, if not identical to it.
The bride’s outfit took me forever, especially with a fine paintbrush to accentuate the details of the impression mat and extra embellishments to it. Once both they were done, I made their heads, and added more details to their collars. Done!
Next up was to make the peonies. After some research, I ended up following Shawna McGreevy’s tutorial on how to make peonies.
Her tutorial was so easy to follow, and here are my little lovelies!
Next up was the cherry blossoms, in which I used some with plunger cutters and some using a tutorial from Kaysie Lackey’s. My favourite part of making flowers generally is to be able to add colour or shimmer to enhance the look of the flowers. What a world of differece once it all comes together!
What would a Chinese wedding be without the double happiness symbol? o
I traced it out on some red gumpaste and painted a gold luster. It wasn’t how I wanted it to be represented but it didn’t work, and so the simple design of the symbol worked perfectly.
It was my first time making modeling chocolate, and using a recipe from Craftsy, I was happy with how it turned out. Two days after, I started to work on it to create tree branches where my blossoms would be, and this is a mock up of how my cake will be.
Sadly, logistics issues of bringing the cake to Sydney was a horrible ordeal. As I had tiers in two boxes, I had to check in one and I get to keep the second box in the cabin with me. The one that had to be checked in suffered extensive damage – the tree branches broke into pieces, some cherry blossoms broke, fondant was cracking at the bottom of the tiers. Could you imagine my face when I looked in the box in horror, and I had to rush it to the Sydney Showgrounds to submit my entry. My cake could be partially saved, and I had submitted the cake in for judging. I felt really awful about the entry, but in the three days of the show, I have received very glowing reviews about it. It may not have won the ACDC championship, but it made my trip to Sydney all the more memorable this time. 🙂