Monday, December 15, 2008

Learning Hebrew

This week, in between Christmas parties, wrist exercises, and skating with Vancouver 2010 Olympic mascots, I managed to complete a colourful baby block themed cake for Bailey Rose, the newest addition to my friends Erik and Paige's family. You may recall that big sister Maya just recently celebrated a birthday too.

The cake was for the traditional Jewish naming ceremony which meant that in addition to her secular name Bailey, her Hebrew name was to be included on the baby blocks. Luckily, I was given a brief gentile Kindergarten level introduction to the Hebrew alphabet, learning that words in Hebrew are written from right to left. Because Bailey's Hebrew name actually only has five letters instead of six, a yellow heart was inserted and is not a Hebrew letter!

Each block was a 4 inch cube composed of chocolate cake and either vanilla mousseline or mocha mousseline. I was debating whether to cover each cube with rolled fondant or to make pastillage tiles and decided on the latter because I wanted to achieve a more solid appearance and the drying time needed for pastillage before assembly was actually advantageous for my work flow. Each tile was caulked together using royal icing and was so effective that during the cake cutting, most blocks remained intact after being lifted off the cake cube.

It was a big bustling party, centered around a beautiful Jewish tradition where the newborn is passed from the oldest generations through to the parents and the derivation of Bailey Rose's name was explained. For me, it was an opportunity to test my self-confidence amid a houseful of friendly strangers who perhaps knew of my previous life in ophthalmology. Confirmation of my unusual career switch was akin to revealing an urban legend to be actually true, "that doctor who became a pastry chef".

The cake was very well received (especially my excellent Hebrew letters) and one nice man even joked that he liked my cake so much he wanted to convert me to Judaism! Unfortunately, eight years of Sunday School and an unshakable love of Chinese BBQ pork would prevent this from happening. Although, I was most impressed by the massive 3 feet long challah which was so soft and delicious and perfectly braided. Mazel tov מזל טוב‎ !!


My Sweet & Saucy said...

Love the cake!

Cannelle Et Vanille said...


Anonymous said...

Wow, that cake looks incredible! I agree with the party-goers, your hebrew letters are exquisite.

Just for my own curiosity, do you have a recipe for pastillage tiles or fondant that doesn't involve gelatin? I've been dying to experiment with the medium but my family keeps kosher dietary laws :-/

Charmaine said...

Thanks! No, unfortunately my rolled fondant and pastillage recipes both use gelatin. This did factor into my choice of pastillage, since I realized that the pastillage tiles would be removed before cutting and service to the guests. Perhaps you can use chocolate modelling paste or marzipan for your kosher cake decoration instead? Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed your Hebrew lesson! You did such a great job on those letters and blocks.

Anonymous said...

You are truly so talented! The cake is amazing, and I wish you could make us one for our little man! You could have quite the business in the community!!! Can't take the MD out of you though; as you labelled the pics "anterior" and "posterior" view!!! Happy Holidays! Sylvia

Kathleen Bade said...

I don't bake.

Doesn't mean I don't admire those who do. Your work is fantastic.

Photography is good too~