Edible Art History
The brief for this cake was that Millie was eighteen in a few days time and was off to study art history. Rather than mix up lots of art themes, I decided to pick one artwork, Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.
My intention was never for the cake to be a novelty ‘vase’ cake but just a suggestion of the painting, in the form of my hand drawn style cakes that I have been making recently.
After printing out a copy of the artwork at the size I was going to draw it at, I cut out the flower elements that I was going to use, and used them as templates to cut out the shapes on thinly rolled out white sugarpaste that had been mixed with tylose powder to make modelling paste. These shapes were then laid on a flat surface and left to harden overnight.
The next day, using black food colouring paste (Sugarflair – liquorice), diluted with a little food grade ethanol (Culpitt – Dipping Solution), I painted the black outline detail of the flowers onto the dried modelling paste pieces, left to dry for 30 mins and then diluted some dust colour with dipping solution (Squires Kitchen – Dust food colours) to get a thin watercolour type paint consistency, and painted it gently over the top.
The cake was a chocolate sponge, made in four, 6″ shallow sandwich cake tins, (recipe: 250g butter, 250g caster sugar, 200g self raising flour, 50g cocoa powder and 5 eggs), mixed in a free standing mixer by the all-in-one method and then the batter divided equally between the four tins) They were cooked at 120 fan for 30-40 mins.
I made vanilla buttercream, using 200g butter and 200g icing sugar, and filled and covered the layers with the buttercream ‘crumb coat’ to make a tall 4 layer cake and refrigerated it to let the buttercream harden before making another yellow coloured vanilla buttercream using 150g butter, 150g icing sugar and yellow food colour gel. (Rainbow Dust Pro gel). I spread this over the cake and used a metal side scraper to remove excess and achieve a smoothish finish over the sides and the top.
To make the chocolate drip, I melted 150g chocolate drops until a nice smooth, not overly runny, consistency and poured this over the top of the cake, and using a spoon pushed the chocolate over the edge in places to let it run down the side and form the drips.
Whilst the chocolate on the top of the cake was still drying, I then arranged the painted flowers, pushing them into the chocolate a little to hold them in place.