Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Final Weeks at the French Pastry School

Sadly, l'Art du Gateau is finished. The last few weeks were a whirlwind, with a major sculpture project, planning of our final cakes, and preparing for graduation. Here are the photos of the fruits of our labor. Above is a little brush embroidery project that I did. Brush embroidery is a piping and painting technique that has a texture resembling stitches.

Our sculpted cake project was another design by chef instructor Scott Green. I affectionately call it the "orphan cake," because I read the trunk as more of a suitcase than a toy chest. The cake employed most of the techniques we learned throughout the semester, including airbrushing, pastillage, pulled and blown sugar, and on and on. Because there were so many components, we worked in partners and still finished barely in time. The cake was supported by a structure of flanges and PVC piping, and although not required, we decided to tilt our boat in mid-squall position to test the limits of our structure. Honestly, it was not as sound as we had hoped and we lost the mast halfway out the door.

For the sweet 16 project we again worked with partners but created our own designs. My partner, Heather, was an Egypt enthusiast and dreamed up the theme of Cleopatra's sweet 16. We wanted to tie in components that would appeal to a present day 16 year old, so we dolled up the gumpaste sphynx and painted hieroglyphics of manicures in the palace and shopping sprees at Neiman Marcus.

These last photos are of my final project. The criteria was to make a winter wedding cake that included a monogram and a gumpaste floral arrangement. I chose to do an Inuit themed cake using images inspired by Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak. I love her use of bold shapes and vibrant colors that still carry the chill of winter.

Each side of the cake featured a hand-cut and dusted sugar animal, including a fish, two birds, and two polar bears. The boarders were patterns taken from Inuit anoraks and the bottom tier had bas-relief flowers inspired by Ashevak's work. The cake topper was a bouquet of hand-modeled gumpaste pine cones and berries.

My next adventure will be creating cakes with Chicago's Take the Cake!