Sunday, June 26, 2011

108 update from our guest blogger Amanda!

Friday marked the half way point in my 2 week stay at Planet Cake completing the final 4 courses in my Masters, and also my completion of one of the most fascinating cakes in the whole basics series… the Tapered Squares and Spheres cake. I have always wondered how on earth this cake was done – is it really possible to construct a cake with the biggest tier at the top and smallest at the bottom? With no centre dowel?? I just couldn’t get my head around it. Wouldn’t it just topple over?? Well no… and yes. But more on that later.

I have to preface this whole blog by saying that this course has never actually been taught at Planet Cake before. So we were the human guinea pigs. Suffice to say Anna Maria was more nervous than us. Could we stick to the time line? Would our cakes align? Would our designs work? Could we assemble these cakes without them toppling over??

The most challenging part of this cake was the carving and ganaching of each tier. There is no room for error in ensuring that each tier aligns perfectly to the one below. At this point I’d just like to apologise to my high school maths teacher as it turns out that yes, I should have been paying attention, because yes, angles, gradient, algebra and the square root of pie are useful in real life, and really would have come in handy while carving this geometric puzzle of a cake! We had to have every measurement correct down to the last millimeter or it just wouldn’t work.

As I mentioned in my last blog, the most exciting part of advanced courses is having the freedom to design your own cake and effectively choosing what skills you want to learn. However you actually have the opportunity to learn endless techniques because everyone’s design is different and the teacher demo’s every skill for everyone to watch. I was absolutely blown away by the creativity of everyone’s design and could not wait for day 3 to seem them all come together.

Do things go wrong?? So glad you asked. On day 2 I somehow managed to flick a huge blob of brown colouring onto intern Shell’s beautifully covered white cake. I was waiting for her to call sabotage, as Anna Maria quite calmly whisked the cake away and washed it. Yes, you can a wash a cake. Great learning outcome. Ahem, yes, of course, I meant for that to happen.

But undoubtedly the most dramatic moment of this whole course happened in the last hour of our last day, as our assembled 3 day masterpieces were all lined up for the class photo. We were all gazing at our works of art in absolute amazement, when one of my fellow student’s cakes slowly started toppling backwards into my cake! There were gasps and screams and a massive scramble to the table to try and catch the falling tiers, but it was too late. Amazingly, my cake was the only one damaged and I was devastated, but I put on my bravest face, pulled up my big girl pants and just smiled. These things happen in the cake world and I knew it was only a matter of time before it happened to me. Luckily this cake wasn’t set to go anywhere so it didn’t matter that it was damaged.

The cake toppled because it had not been set up properly. It was stressed to us how important it was to have everything correct for this cake, and this is why. One measurement slightly out and the whole cake can crumble. On the bright side, the fact that my cake had been hit by another cake and didn’t crumble, is testimony to how stable the cake can be if done correctly. Luckily the lovely Shell was able to lend a hand to fix the damage on my cake and it was almost as good as new again. Almost.

Till next time!


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