sugar-sculpture

3

My contribution for Hannibal’s 4th birthday/submission for baking competition.

The bottom tier is a chocolate cake with coffee mousse, raspberry, and Bavarian cream fillings. The top tier is a lavender butter cake with a honey buttercream filling. The entire cake is covered in vanilla buttercream frosting and splattered with a homemade raspberry jam. The roses and re-creation of Hannibal’s bronze elk centerpiece are hand-crafted from sugar (well, isomalt). The cake is also adorned with lilies, rose leaves, pheasant feathers, and a peacock feather. Hannibal and Will Pop! figures posed for scale (and for cute)

instagram

by jasonmarkangels on Instagram!

4

I recently got a chance to try sugar sculpting with my partner, @fury-of-rome, for a competition.
The first two pictures show what we were originally going for. When we started trying to attach the pieces, though, things started melting and shattering. We were both sleep deprived and sore from working the night before, and things didn’t go according to plan, but we managed to put something together to show the judges.
I’d like to try working with sugar again sometime, but I probably won’t want to enter any sugar sculpting competitions for a while.

instagram

by sugarworksco on Instagram!

3

Today marks the 70th anniversary of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.

On November 20, 1947, Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) was wed to His Royal Highness Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, at Westminster Abbey in London. England was still recovering from the physical devastation and economic effects of World War II, and the Princess had to set aside her ration cards in order to buy the material for her gown, designed by Norman Hartnell. The nine foot tall, 500-pound wedding cake reflected the significance of the event with four tiers of sculptured sugar made by McVitie and Price, Ltd., from ingredients given as a wedding present by the Australian Girl Guides. The Duke used his Mountbatten sword to cut the cake during the wedding reception. Pieces of cake were later given as gifts to friends and British schoolchildren.

One such gift was sent to Eleanor Roosevelt soon after the Royal wedding. This piece of chocolate wedding cake arrived in a white box with silver-tone embossed lettering on the top that reads, “BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 20TH NOVEMBER 1947.” A card enclosed inside the box reads, “With the Best Wishes of Their Royal Highnesses The Princess Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh.”

While Mrs. Roosevelt was unable to attend the wedding, she did sent along a gift for the happy couple. Her correspondence files contain this note from Princess Elizabeth thanking Mrs. Roosevelt for her gift of bath towels.

mstgkitten  asked:

Hey... sooo... what's your feeling on two mainstays of baking; fondant and royal icing, and, how do you feel about cake wars and the travesties... er "cakes" they make? :)

I feel like this is going to sound hilarious and probably start some kind of fight but I wish they’d use more marzipan. Like if I could say ONE THING about this question: Marzipan.

But fortunately I can say more than one thing! 

So this is two questions, but they’re linked, which makes it a bit more complex. I don’t have a problem per se with fondant or with cake-wars style shows, but more with the attitudes towards them.

Fondant I’m actually fine with in small doses, though as I said above I wish they’d use marzipan instead because it’s a similar texture and usefulness but has a bit more soft mouthfeel and flavor to it (though some people super-hate it which, okay, calm your pants, nobody’s gonna stuff marzipan down your throat). Marzipan is expensive, however, so I see why they don’t use it more. I have no feelings on royal icing one way or another – isn’t it basically sugar glue? Or am I mixing it up with something else? 

I think the problem comes in when we place more emphasis on aesthetic than on flavor and edibility. And the problem isn’t the act of emphasizing aesthetic, the problem is that we’re still calling it a cake as if it’s edible, which really a lot of them barely are. Fondant sculpture is still an art and a valid art, but I wish we could separate out “sculpture with food” from “cooking artistically” because the further we move into sculpture with food the less edible it becomes, partly by necessity.

There is a skill to making food aesthetically pleasing. But it has limits, and to push past those limits, a sacrifice has to be made, and usually what is sacrificed is edibility. So I’m less impressed with cakes that rely heavily on fondant to make themselves beautiful, because I know that the essence of the food, its edibility, has been compromised. I would rather see a less impressive cake that is still 100% edible, and while I don’t much care for Great British Bake Off, that is one thing I find admirable about the show, that edibility is always considered a factor; the goal they strive for is a marriage of beauty and taste. Often on Cake Wars, it’s pure aesthetic, and you don’t see anyone eat the cake. You could take Cake Wars and give them styrofoam cake molds for all the focus that’s put on that part of the competition. Which is fine, but it means they’re not cake wars, they’re decorating wars. 

So when I see those super-fancy fondant-decorated cakes, I think, well, that’s a nice sculpture. It is a sculpture, made with a difficult-to-work-with substance, and that deserves to have its merit acknowledged – but it is still a sculpture to me, not a food, so the “AND it’s EDIBLE!” factor isn’t there, which makes it a bit less special. And even with marzipan I would feel that way, because marzipan sculpture is delicious in bite-sizes, but it’s too much in like, a sculpture of a tree atop a cake. The only real difference between those decorations and the molded plastic Iron Man on top of your kid’s Avengers birthday cake is that the tree took more time and artistry to formulate. It’s still essentially inedible, there for the look of the thing. 

I guess what I’m saying is that I think we need to – and I think we will, within a few years – acknowledge that fondant (and some forms of sugar sculpture) are an artistic medium, a somewhat transient artistic medium, and that they should be treated as such rather than being viewed as food as well. I think we will start seeing more focus on the artistry of making beautiful food that remains entirely edible, or more accurately, entirely desirably edible. I hope so, anyway.

But honestly I’m not gonna crank about it. Life’s too short to be that mad about fondant. (Or marzipan.) (Now I want marzipan.)

I am a nerd who loves both world-building and historical cooking, and well…I’ve been kinda thinking about this a lot recently. Amid all of the talk of Unbreakable Oaths and Everlasting Darknesses and death and tragedy and war that is the Silmarillion there is, understandably, not much room to talk about what everyone ate. In The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit you get a pretty good idea of what Hobbit meals are like after all, with all those mentions of strawberries and fried fish and taters. Things we’re told Sam and Frodo miss on their journey to Mt. Doom, things integrally woven into a hobbits way of life and culture because of their love of simple, good things, like a wonderful meal. And well, it’s not just for hobbits that food is an important aspect of culture, I mean *everybody* eats, and I won’t stand for the idea that an elf can live on Lembas alone. So yeah, like I said, I’ve been thinking about this kind of thing a lot lately. So! Some Elvish food headcanons for your reading pleasure:

  • Among the older generations of elves, Finwë, Olwë, Ingwë, Miríel, and that lot, yeah it’d be rare to see them even touching a tomato or potato.  Okay, so basically everything that lives and grows on Middle Earth and the continents beyond (and some things that don’t) can be found on Valinor, right? And Middle Earth and Beleriand are supposed to be an alternate pre-history  (or rather, lost history?) version of England, therefore you’ve got tomato and potato plants growing in Yavanna’s gardens but nothing of the sort to be found around Cuivienen…except for deadly nightshade. And while I’m sure those first elves to walk upon Valinor’s shores received all the assurances from the Valar that “no, we are not trying to feed you poison, you won’t die from eating that thing” they could ask for, that visceral association they’ve grown up with since childhood still holds strong. In the generations that have grown up in Valinor, where the idea of death feels far off and alien to most, let alone the specifics of it like poisoning this isn’t nearly as big an issue.
  • I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about Elvish farmers and gardeners bringing seeds back with them to Beleriand, and how exactly potato plants ended up in Middle Earth and eventually in Samwise Gamgee’s stew pot
  • The Teleri eat Garum. Okay so with how much access the elves of Valinor have to basically…whatever they need, I tend to view the foodways of Valinor to be more closely related to those big globe-spanning Empires of the Ancient world and Medieval trade centers where you’re getting these things coming in from all over and…well yeah. So, basically the Teleri being a sea-dwelling folk are kinda like those old Mediterranean cultures like Greece or Ancient Rome in my mind. Annd yeah, obviously they eat a lot of other things as well (excellent wines, fantastic produce, and many other creative and delicious ways to prepare seafood being just some of the things Telerin cuisine is known for) but the fermented fish-head sauce is the one that sticks in everyone’s mind, annoying as that may be. (and Well…it does tend to be used like salt among the Teleri and just go in *everything*)
  • Noldorin feasts are *AMAZING.* Alright, so the Medieval feast was pretty much made for spectacle. It was an opportunity for a King to show off his wealth, and for a cook to show of their skill. Sugar and marzipan sculpture; peacocks and swans roasted and then resewn back into their skins – feathers and all – before being brought to the table to be served; live blackbirds baked into pies…yeah, this kind of thing was just as much about the show as the food. And you *know* the Noldor would do this. Hell, you *know* the Noldor, being the craftsmen that they are, being the kind of people who throw themselves into everything they do,  and who value artistry above all, and who have this pride and this need to just show off would turn all of this up to 11 just because they could. And they make it all taste great too. Basically, all of the best parties are at Finwë’s house. Well, the best catered ones, at any rate
  • Speaking of Noldorin craftsman, cooking is regurded as an art among the Noldor, and there is infact a  space located among Aulë’s mansions for Noldorin cooks and chefs to discuss and preserve craft knowledge as there is for all other craftsmen. As much as you can hear the clang of the hammer against steel or the chisel against stone in the smithy and the masons’ wokshops, if you go out to the bustling rooms just near Yavanna’s gardens you can smell the air thick with the scents of cinamon, nutmeg and grains of paradise, roasting meats and baking pies.
  • The Noldor basically run on coffee. Because of course they do