Monday, July 20, 2009

Reaching new heights

Giraffe cake

It has been a challenge to do anything in my narrow kitchen lately because there is a large 4-drawer lateral filing cabinet smack in the middle of it. No, I typically do not file my documents in the kitchen but because of the ongoing saga that is our hardwood floor installation, cake making has been even more formidable than usual. Despite these circumstances, it was hard to refuse a request for a giraffe baby shower cake because of its cuteness potential and my determination to make a really tall cake.

Giraffe cake - head closeup

Luckily, the giraffe requested did not need to be standing (which would have been a big problem since carpentry is not my forte). Instead, a sitting giraffe munching on leaves was definitely doable in my hands since I prefer to use as few non-edible structural elements as possible in my cakes. Wood just isn't that tasty.

Giraffe cake - leaf closeup

The body of the giraffe was constructed as a three-tier chocolate cake with chocolate mousseline (top tier 4" round, bottom two tiers 6" rounds). After stacking, the shape was carved and masked with buttercream. Meanwhile, the head and skinny legs were made of Rice Krispie treats. Everything was eventually covered in rolled fondant and hand painted to resemble giraffe print.

Giraffe cake - right tilt

Ultimately, the giraffe was at least 18" tall, although I neglected to measure the actual final height and only remember that it barely cleared the top of my fridge. My favourite details are the giraffe's ears and the leafy branch. I did not envy Sam who was charged with transporting the cake a fair distance to a warm and sunny outdoor luncheon nowhere near a refrigerator. So far, I have not received any reports of a cake disaster so I assume that all went well. Congratulations Krystal and Yannick!

Addendum: After sitting in the hot sun for several hours, eventual demise ensued as heat-induced decapitation did occur.

28 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

I am BEYOND impressed!!

Lori said...

This is amazing. I love his little eyes. They are perfect and your painting job is just amazing. Beautiful, just beautiful.

Rose @ Bite Me Kitchen said...

OMG! That cake is the epitome of cuteness! Well done... I am in awe!

tastestopping said...

This is adorable. Even better, adorable and edible. You have quite a talent for capturing spirit in all of the cakes I've seen so far on your site. Is it appropriate for an adult to ask for a giraffe cake for her birthday?

Anyway, I found you through TasteSpotting and am writing to invite you to visit my new site (below), which is devoted to publishing photos that are rejected from TS and FG. It’s a lot of fun! I hope you will swing by and look around.

Best,
Casey
Editor
www.tastestopping.wordpress.com

kar said...

This is so adorable! I'm in awe of your skill!

Mrs. Mordecai said...

Wow.

Fahrenheit 350° said...

I just found your blog via Foodgawker, and that giraffe is enough to make me gawk! Stupendous! How excited are you that you created that!

rlbates said...

Could I be your assistant? :)

Charmaine said...

Dr. Bates: Sure! Your surgical skills would be invaluable. Maybe do some flap surgery with rolled fondant...:)

T. said...

WOW. Just...WOW. You are amazingly talented!

Amber said...

i love this cake to death!! It would have been perfect for my nephews baby shower

momwithastethoscope said...

Just found your blog & looking forward to learning more about your journey from MD to Pastry Chef. Makes me wish I had more time to pursue my creative side!

kiss my spatula said...

wow wow wow - your talent is unreal. i would never eat that giraffe cake if it was given to me. i would just save it forever! you are truly inspiring!

Stacy said...

This is seriously the cutest thing I have EVER seen!!! Absolutely amazing job! Your work is outstanding!!! I was a little saddened to hear about his final fate in the sun.....

Thanks for sharing!!!

Caylen said...

That is the most adorable thing! You are so talented! Do you use homemade fondant? And how did you make the ears and branch?? :)

Drvance19 said...

Can I ask a question? I have just started making cakes and working with fondant. I want to make my daughter's first birthday cake so I had to jump right into the fondant and what not, since my focus has been on the decoration I haven't spent much time on the cake itself. I've just been using boxed mixes so that I could get right to the decorating. I've watched the cake shows on tv and the cakes seem much more dense which I think would help with the sculpted cakes. Cakes I've had a weddings are also much more dense than a cake mix. Can you provide any insight on this, I really want to do a sculpted cake and would appreciate any help.

eatnabout said...

Omg that is the cutest cake ever. You are so talented. This is probably your best work yet!

Charmaine said...

Caylen: Thanks! Yes, I do use home made fondant. For the ears and branches, I used my fondant with a little tylose powder kneaded in (will dry harder, like gumpaste). They were all shaped about 5 days ahead of time (to allow for drying) with toothpicks inserted. Then during the final assembly, the toothpicks were inserted into the giraffe's head and secured with royal icing, if needed.

Drvance19: Instead of using box mixes, I would recommend that you find some good basic recipes for cake with enough structure to allow for stacking and sculpting. Also remember that as you build upwards, past 3.5 to 4" height, you need to divide the height into tiers using supportive cake boards and dowels. Personally, I bake sheet cake which I then cut out to make the appropriate sized layers rather than baking a cake in a pan and then slicing layers. It's simply how I've been trained but I am certain that everyone has their own preferred techniques. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

hi charmaine!
what a welcome greets us as we enter your pastry world. E mentioned that we should view when we had the chance and it was definitely worth it!
woo's of wpg
(p.s. we're coming to YVR. do you have time to visit? check the email)

Mimeemz said...

Hi Charmaine

I was wondering if you know anything about culinary schools in Europe..? Ive been trying to do some research and have come up with the more well-known ones like cordon bleu and ENSP but I was wondering if you know of any decent ones that arent too crazily famous/expensive if tht makes sense or if its possible..? I just want to get some proper training at a good school without shelling out a fortune for the education :)
p.s I love your blog, thanks soo much for sharing!!! :D

Thanks again!

Charmaine said...

Mimeemz: Unfortunately, I have no clue about pastry schools in Europe! I wish that I did and could go myself! Would love to do a stage at least. Perhaps you should ask Fanny @ foodbeam who has first hand experience...:)

Mimeemz said...

thanks Charmaine :)

Coco, not as in Chanel :) said...

Adorable!!! I love it.

Anonymous said...

Uhm...You're definitely making me JEALOUS!!! I wish I have the artful fingers and hands like yours!!!!

amanda said...

this cake is amazing - you've definitely found your niche!

Kris said...

WHY do you have to live in CANADA??? I NEED to have that giraffe cake for a friend of mine. Do you think you could take a vacation to Maryland and make one for her???
FANTASTIC job!!

Karen said...

This is fantastic. My husband makes cakes so I had to show this to him since I love giraffes. We have used different candies on top to make different things, but never though to cover them with icing to be part of the 'cake'. We have always just carved out the cake to the shape we wanted. Thanks for the idea with the rice krispie treats!!

Kasey Shaffer said...

How did you anchor the head onto the body? Absolutely love this cake!