Once again, I’ve entered a cake competition. But this time, I’m glad that I didn’t have to carry this piece onto a plane and worry about it being destroyed in transit. All I had to do was to transport it into my car and take a forty minute drive to Caulfield Racecourse, where the Cakeriffic expo will be held for the second time, drop my cake and make any last-minute fixes, and head home.
The Cakeriffic Contemporary Cake Decorating Competition for the beginner’s category had a theme of “100 Years of Red Cross”. I instantly shied away from the theme because I had no idea on how to approach the theme. But I warmed up to it and realised that I needed a creative challenge, and so I decided to sign up for the competition, to which they changed the conditions afterwards that it does not have to be true to the theme.
Where do I start?
I needed “Pinspiration” – Pinterest was not of great source to me, in fact I still don’t quite know how to fully utilise Pinterest properly, so any suggestions welcomed! I used Uncle Google to search for images and ideas. The Australian Red Cross had a website celebrating their centenary, and it provided a history of their past achievements since World War I. After a few hours and weeks of browsing through, I have my mood board if you would call it that!
And the result? Ta-daa!
The Australian Red Cross has so much to tell over the last 100 years that I wanted to include as much as I can. I knew immediately that I could not possibly achieve it with a round cake, and a square cake would allow me to provide me with more surface area to work with.
As if four inches of height isn’t a nightmare to cover for a square cake usually, I opted for an eight inch tall cake, which made matters worse. As a general rule for covering cakes with fondant, you would roll out fondant to the exact width and length of the cake so you know you have enough covering the whole cake. In this case, I was
very extremely silly enough to bother trying when I knew it would have been a monumental task and the fondant will rip. And it did, twice. I ended up cursing in my head, having a oh-my-god-why-did-I-even-think-of-doing-such-an-impossible-task moment. With minimal resistance, I covered the cake with fondant panels where I cover the cakes with panels cut to size. Much easier, less stressful, and I get my sharp edges.
I wanted two side panels of the cake to have lettering. One of them would be titled 100 years of the Australian Red Cross, and the other opposite side of the cake would have the seven principles that Red Cross operates by. If I thought Clixstix alphabet cutters were a nightmare, I have yet to meet my worst enemy. I had trouble with my new FMM Tappit alphabet cutters because I broke off the letter “n” from the strip (my brute force did not help at all!), and that meant trying to get “n” out was not easy. And it’s not even a week old!!! I could not use “u” and have invert it because it didn’t look right. But I’ve come to learn that the fondant must be rolled out thinly, and when I mean thin, I mean reeeeeeeeaaal thin. And the acupuncture needle is your best friend. Next was to attach the letters onto the cake which meant that I had to make sure they are arranged on a straight line. In doing so, a lot of masking tape was used and rulers were used.
As for the other two, I changed a lot of the design over the weeks. As much as I wanted to use the airbrush to draw and create a lot of designs, I chose to have more words, but hand-painted onto the cake to give it a more organic look. I included a few other decorative themes like the First Aid Kit logo, the blood shaped like a tear drop for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, and the membership pin that was once used for the recruitment of new members in the 50’s I believe. One panel was to document the first 50 years of Red Cross, and the opposite panel was the 50 years thereafter.
To tie all the panels together, I found this design by Anthony Grima, from Anthony Grima Designs who came up with this really modern and graphic design as part of Red Cross’s Workplace Giving Program. I loved the idea of leaves on branches intertwined to form a network, which I thought would work well in connecting all the panels together. I drew inspiration with the colour scheme, and some leaves were painted.
As for the toppers? That was from a photo of volunteers who formed a giant red cross and red crescent at the Sydney Opera House – grand idea, and I replaced it with little blossoms instead. The effect came out beautiful, but I would have attached the blossoms before they became rock hard in hindsight.
Lastly, what cake will be without a teddy bear? This teddy bear was based on Trauma Teddies that I learned were given to little kiddies during traumatic events, and I had a colleague bring a collection of her children’s teddies for me to look at. This was made based on one of them, and would you imagine that a teddy bear should be the easiest to execute – uh uh. I struggled trying to make it cute. But I do think my little bear is very cute too, do you agree?
It was such a journey and it made me appreciate all the hard work and effort the Red Cross has brought to this country. And I had a drive to capture all that history onto a cake as such, I hope everyone liked it at the show. And I hope the Australian Red Cross notices this cake too!