Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Threadcakes '09: A City Built on R n' R

So this is my second and last entry into the Threadcakes competition and has been a month in the planning and a few days in the making. There's only a week left and there are already 400+ entries and some awesome ones at that. I would not want to be a judge for this, I can't imagine picking the best ones. This entry isn't up quite yet in their gallery, but here is lots of photo documentation and the whole story behind it:

So first there was the hit song: We Built this City [on Rock and Roll] by Jefferson Starship.

The song actually reached #1 on the Billboard Charts in 1985 but for some reason I still don't understand, it was voted the #1 on VH1's Top 50 Worst Songs Ever a few years ago. You can judge for yourself.

Then came the Threadless t-shirt.

Someone was very clever to point out the obvious oversight, if a city were really to be built upon rock 'n roll. It's a funny shirt [one of which I own] and of course, based on a great 80s song.

So when it came to making a cake, I drew inspiration from the song + music video, the t-shirt, and my growing knowledge of cakery. I decided to do a 2-tier cake where the top is the 'city' as represented by a skyline, the bottom is 'rock 'n roll' as represented by a rock concert crowd of some sorts, and the whole thing is a topsy-turvy cake - making it appear structually unsound.

I had Google Image searched for some images to help me on my mission. I ended working from images of the New York skyline for the top cake, though looking back - the song is all about San Francisco - it's even in the music video - so I actually should have done that with the Golden Gate Bridge silhouette, but oh well. And my crowd isn't quite as rockin' as I had hoped but you get the idea:

So I gathered all my supplies, baked the cakes [3 x 8" red velvet for the bottom, 3 x 6" dark chocolate for the top]:

Mixed up and colored several pounds of buttercream frosting:

Started layering: cake-frosting-cake-frosting-cake-cut at a slant-dowels-cake-frosting-cake-frosting-cake-cut at a slant-prep the whole thing.

A brief overview of topsy turvy cakes [also called 'Wonky' cakes or 'Mad Hatter' cakes - the cakes look like the shape of his hat] is that you stack up 2-3 cakes, then you cut the top one at an angle but also cut a smaller circle so that the next tier will actually sit flat [and on dowels]. Plus you can carve away at the lower parts of each tier to increase the distortion. It's all about illusion. I probably could have exaggerated the slants a bit more, but this was the first time I had tried this personally so now I know.

Then came time for the surface treatment. The top was going to be an evening sky background for the skyline so I mixed up some lavender-blue-dark blue, spread it on by gradually mixing the colors for a gradient effect [it's like painting], then hot knifed so it would be blended and smooth. Did the same for the bottom with yellow, gold, and orange.

Time to add the details:

Piped on the skyline, filled with icing, and smoothed:

Added the "crowd" [though some look more like aliens than human beings] and "stage equipment" to the bottom tier.

 Of course, the whole process as a series:

Final step was to add the text from the shirt to bring it all together. I'm slowly mastering my icing writing and it was a challenge to mimic the font, but here are some final shots:

an almost-360 view:

Some last parting shots:

and thanks to everyone who helped in the making and eating:

The Giblers were in town for the week from Texas so we made a whole day out of the cake-making extravaganze. While I worked on this cake, Carma and Grace tackled making a Texas cake from 2 marbled round cakes. They got to learn about assembling the cake, prepping, icing, and working with fondant [covering the cake and doing cut-outs]. I don't have any of their process pictures [and there are many] but here's the final cake:

Looks cute and tastes delicious!

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