Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hello Gatsby


When the Evil Cake Genius was but a wee Cake Minion, her family would trek back to the East Coast to visit the grandparents once a year.  And a trek, it was.  18 hours in a car in the time before personal DVD Players (who am I kidding, even before VCR's) hand-held video games, iPods, iPads, iAnything...with three other siblings and two stressed out parents.  There are only so many times you can play eye spy, and midway through Ohio, you realize that you aren't going to get those last 35 US state license plates to check off your License Plate List game (apparently most Hawaiians and Californians are smart enough to keep out of the midwest).  Overall, it was a study in patience that I wouldn't wish on any kid, or parent for that matter.  There were two things that made this ride bearable to Mini ECG.  First, there would be Dunny's Pizza when we arrived in Reading, PA...pizza unlike any you could find in the limited Pizza desert that was Wisconsin in the early 1970's and Second, a walk over to see my Grandpa at work.  My Grandpa was a Pharmacist.  Those of you who didn't grow up in the '70's may not understand this.  But those of us who did can still smell the sweet mix of plastic prescription bottles, greeting card paper and candy that was a Pharmacy in the 1970's.  Before big box stores, the corner Pharmacy was a spot to pick up your prescription, along with a few necessities and impulse buys.  It was where greeting cards were king, and little trinkets and tchotchkes made up the Royal Court.  I would often score a new coloring book and a handful of Penny Candy when visiting my Grandpa, but the real score was in the corner display.  That's where SHE lived. 

Hello Kitty.  The cat herself, poised on a four sided rotating Point of Purchase display full of miniature toys, notepads, lip balms, stickers and other items completely foreign in value to anyone but a seven year old girl.  Fortunately, The Evil Cake Genius was just that.

As the years passed, so did my voracity for those little treasures.  But the lure of the Kitty never fully left me.  Even as an adult, I'd find myself drawn to the Sanrio displays when shopping for a birthday present for any of my nieces or nephews, just to revisit the glory of tiny little diaries and mini pencils to write in them that only a very coordinated elf could functionally use.

I'm not entirely sure when, but at some point in my adult life, word got out about my obsession with The Kitty.  Simultaneously, or so it seemed, Miss Kitty sold out.  She moved from her corner in the drug store to the mainstream.  And the market was flooded with Hello Kitty....well...everything.  I have since been showered with gifts ranging from fuzzy slippers to gym bags, cell phone cases, blankets, t-shirts, even my nightstand lamp dons that cat.  You can get a Hello Kitty Microwave, bathroom and bedroom decor, bicycle, and even things that I can't mention here, but let's just say you'd have to be over 18 and a little...a lot...weird in your amorous tastes to buy.

Now, truly....what the hell does any of this have to do with wedding cakes?  Patience, grasshoppers.

There is a certain feeling that I got when my special little white cat became the media slut that she now is.  A mixed bag of elation that I can go to the gym with a Hello Kitty water bottle, and disdain for all of the Hello Kitty Posers that have emerged.  After all, "she was MINE FIRST".  I liked her before you could find her little white face on everything from Fruit Snacks to Steering wheel covers.  And now all of these people have jumped on my Kitty Bandwagon.

Enter Connie and Kelly.  A sophisticated, established couple getting married at one of my favorite venues in Minneapolis.  Not only my favorite venue, but my favorite room of that venue.  The Calhoun Beach Club's Solarium.  The first time I saw this room, I was transported back to 1925 and east about 1800 miles.  It was straight out of The Great Gatsby.  That Perfect white trimmed room with french doors leading onto a stone balcony, and palm trees...as decor.  Real Palm Trees...inside.  It was Opulent without a stitch of pretense.  I have always felt like Daisy looking around that room for...him...the moment I cross its thresh-hold.

I met with Connie and the Coordinators from Style Architects to discuss the cake and stationery for the event.  We all agreed that the room had to be considered in the design, and I couldn't help but bring up my Gatsby take on the room.  Connie agreed, and before I knew it, we were designing the cake and stationery around the most beautiful Art Deco Chandelier Pattern that I had found a few months prior.  I had been waiting for the right client, the right venue, and the right time...and this was it! 

We laid out the invitations with the pattern across the top edge.  Letterpressed and backed in a Gunmetal Grey liner.  The programs, menu cards, place cards, etc. would follow suit...as would the cake.  We split the pattern up over three of the tiers and tied in the fourth with details from Connie's incredible Monique L'huillier gown which, by the way, also incorporated the diamond drop patterns in the stationery art.  And all was aligning perfectly.

Photos by Laura Ivanova Photography


And then it happened.  A couple of months before the wedding, I started to see a surge in Art Deco design.  Everywhere.  From print to fashion, the 1920's was making a comeback.  And one night, while snuggled up with a bowl of popcorn watching The Amazing Race with The Captain, I found out why.  There he was in all his movie star glory...Leonardo Di Caprio...cast as the man himself...The Great Gatsby.  And I felt that same pang of resentment. My hand dropped down into my Hello Kitty Popcorn Bowl with disgust.  Hollywood.  Hollywood would corrupt my perfect Art Deco dream wedding.  Within two months, you'd be able to buy Kleenex designer boxes with Art Deco geometric patterns.  And I would look like a lemming.  No Fair!  Total BS!!  Didn't they know that Gatsby was mine?

I kept my disgust to myself, and stayed the course.  The wedding day came, and the cake was one of the most striking cakes I have made to this date.

The room looked stunning, the bride, sophisticated and beautiful...and the groom...when he looked at her, you knew she was his "Daisy".  And suddenly, I didn't care.  I didn't care that Hollywood had claimed my inspiration.  That more weddings to follow would have an Art Deco inspiration, or that "it was MINE FIRST".   I realized that maybe when the rest of the world catches onto something you've loved for a long time, you should be happy.  Happy to share something wonderful with everyone else for a while.  And when the fad passes, and everyone moves onto Art Nouveau and My Little Pony instead of Art Deco and Hello Kitty, I'll love them just the same.

Decorator's Notes:

Connie and Kelly's cake was truly one of the most elegant cakes I've ever made.  Just like any great cake, it had its challenges.  Being the perfectionist that I am, I couldn't bear the thought of free-hand piping what was meant to be a precise, geometric pattern.  So, the Evil Cake Genius decided to lay out custom stencils for three of the  tiers.  

The top and bottom tiers were 6" tall, and we wanted the wrap around chandelier pattern to stand out,  so we made that tier a "Supertorte"...our term for what others may call a "double barrel" tier.  Basically, two standard-height tiers, stacked with dowels and a separator plate, but then frosted and fondanted as one tier.  We love the elongated look.

You can find the Wrap Around Stencil HERE

You can find the Top Tier Stencil HERE

You can Find the Bottom Tier Stencil HERE

The stencils kept the precision of the design, and allowed us to embellish between diamond patterns with edible pearls and some hand-piping.  The flower topper was meant to be sculptural rather than organic, so we used the flower template that we designed for our Evil Cake Genius "Vow Flower" and actually had the pleasure of following one of our own Tutorials while making it (happy to report...it's a great tutorial).

The Vow Flower Mesh Stencil Set and Tutorial are available HERE

4 comments:

Wedding Websites said...

Wow..!! Amazing Photographic.. Congrats..





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Shayne said...

Stunning wedding! And the cake looks totally divine. Thanks so much for sharing the stencil. Shayne

IBU PUSPITA said...
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mark lawrence said...

Oh wow, this wedding cake is looking so charming. In our bohemian wedding that was held at one of best Los angeles wedding venues we also had beautiful lace cake for our special day. Our ceremony had superb decorations done by professional decorator.