Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Flavor Flaaaaaav!

Halloween is tomorrow. Still stumped on what to dress as? Need some inspiration? Well, I don't exactly have costume ideas, but I do have some cakes that we "dressed up"...feel free to use one for your last minute costume. 

At the ICC, we were assigned to create a "Russian Doll" Cake, also known as know, those hollowed out dolls that open up and fits inside itself, each one smaller than the next. They come in various colors and designs. Hey, maybe you can dress up as a Babushka! 

For our cakes, we had to use the basic shape of a Babushka, but could choose any theme or "costume" to dress them in. Some of my classmates stuck with a traditional Babushka, others chose celebrity figures. Originally, I was going to create a maneki neko because I just love them so much! But it seemed too simple; I opted to go a different direction...something more challenging perhaps controversial, definitely brow raising.
I chose to do our favorite Public Enemy...FLAVOR FLAV! Yeah boyyyyy!!!
This cake exercise was to teach us stacking and carving cakes. I wanted to challenge myself creatively because in reality, who would ever order a Flavor Flav cake? It is however an attention grabber. It was a time to explore possibilities that are not always available to me in the real world of cake design, out of left field, non-traditional...and if it didn't go well it's one is paying me for this, so why not have fun with it? I seized this opportunity as a creative thinker. 
This is the template we used for the basic babushka shape.
The steps that came after stacking, carving, and frosting went to fast that I didn't have a chance to snap any pics of each step. So here's a list of what each component is made of. 

I hope this inspired you for tomorrow's Halloween festivities! If not, I hope it at least inspired you in the possibilities of cake design! 

~Abs of Cakes~

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Dedicated to New York City and our childhood

Let the one week countdown begin.

Sadly, my time in the east coast is coming to an end. I've had the opportunity that many people don't get a chance to a "New York" lifestyle. I will forever have an appreciation and love for the people that live here. Although I will never claim to be a New Yorker, a piece of me will always take pride in New York...the people, the FOOD, the subways, taxis, bridges, the fire escapes, brownstones, architecture, tall buildings, the hidden gems, the art, music, fashion, the squirrels, , even the rats and obnoxious bipolar weather, the noises, the parks, the entertainment, the history, their resilience. This City is truly amazing.

One of the last cakes we did at ICC was a "topsy turvy" groom's cake. We could choose any theme to inspire us. A few did sports themes, others did hobbies. I chose a childhood classic....the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or TMNT. As an 80s baby and a 90s kid, I grew up with the world's most fearsome fighting team as did all of my peers. The theme was perfect...It combines nostalgia with touches of NYC.

This became my absolute favorite cake that I created in school. I wish I could've taken it back to California with me.
Preliminary sketch

Since the Ninja Turtles live in the sewers of New York, an NYC manhole cover was a must. I started out with creating the base. I airbrushed some black onto grey fondant to add a depth and griminess.

What's the Ninja Turtles' favorite food? PIZZA of course! This is one thing I will really miss about this city...a nice fat slice of thin New York style pizza. I know the real deal doesn't compare to the one I created out of fondant, but I tried. I went with a classic pepperoni pizza. Petal dust was brushed on for some out-of-the-oven color.
Something that will never get old to me is the New York skyline. It can be viewed up close or from miles away. It is ever changing depending where you view it and when. It is romantic and raw, static and dynamic. It has different personalities from day to night. It's part of NY's identity. It HAD to be part of this cake. 
These photos were taken by me from my classmate's apartment on the 45th Floor of the Silver Towers in Hells Kitchen. Thank you Carolina for opening up your home and sharing with us this spectacular view!
I was very pleased with how this part of the cake turned out. There are numerous ways you can create a skyline onto a cake. At first I thought about making a flat silhouette or outline, but with some suggestions from Chef Toni, I created something with a little more depth. Using parchment paper, I sketched a generic NY skyline to go around the top tier of the cake as a template and stencil. By temporarily adhering it to the cake, I used an airbrush with white coloring to spray the the negative space (or sky) giving it a faded appearance while the buildings remained dark. After removing the parchment skyline, I was then able to add details like the windows to the individual buildings. 

Of course no TMNT cake is complete without the heroes in a halfshell. Their weapons and different color masks and belts are what differentiates each one. You have Donatello and his bo staff sporting purple, Raphael and his sais in red, Leonardo with his katanas in blue, and Michelangelo with his nanchakus wearing orange. 

Donatello and his bo staff
Raphael and his sais
Michelangelo with his nanchakus
Leonardo with his twin katanas
I couldn't forget about the ooze! I mean, isn't that what turns these teenage turtles into mutants? To make the ooze, I combined some green and yellow food coloring with piping gel, then went crazy! Not was strategically piped onto the cake. Be careful! This stuff gets sticky!

With all these components put together, you get my favorite cake! 

If I had more time, I would have added Splinter to the cake, the turtles' rat sensai. I had my share of city rat experiences, so it would've been an ode to my time out here. The part that I will not miss, and will never forget.

I'm just a California girl who has a crush on New York. We had a six month love affair, but that was it, just an affair. I knew it wasn't gonna last long, so I made sure to get all that I could out of my limited time here. I will always rep the West Coast and LA will always be considered home, but I'm forever grateful for what this City has taught me. Thank you, New York for being an endless source of inspiration.

~Abs of Cakes~

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