First I researched about Gian Lorenzo Bernini and read about him as much as I could. Apparently he was the founder of Baroque art which I’ve been attracted to all my life and I never knew about him.
I also found there is a great connection between Baroque and evergreen classic cake decorating styles. When I look at all the creations that he’s achieved, it is hard to believe that it can all fit into one man's lifetime. So I was actually already attracted to his incredible magical artistry before I saw the picture you choose for inspiration. Once I looked again at the picture there were very clear elements to pick up. Clean cut marble work in a variety of tones, golden ornaments, Louis curly hair and most importantly that his cape could be easily extended for drape work.
I spend a lot of time to examining the photo and find the individual elements that would be available. Then I make a list of all these elements without going into a final design. This list is not only to determine the elements but to also decide on a priority of usage. Then I highlight the things that I don't want to miss. Finally, before take off, is to do a couple of A4 size scribbles of the design without being too fussy. In this stage I have to think about how to give justice to to the artist with respect. I love doing cakes with realism without making too many improvisations. The source of information was already so rich and uniquely taste full so it was just the matter of choosing the elements and arranging them around till I found a good silhouette. I decided to combine soft and hard textures. Soft is the cape going around the cake but not just hugging, more like floating with wind to create as much of a soft feeling as possible. The hard component would be the marble blocks with sharp edges which will be the cake part itself.
Up until this point, there was only the sketch but the plan was not really there yet. I believe there is a distinguishable difference between a sketch and a plan. One gives the look, and the other is the pathway to follow. So first step after making the conceptual sketch is to make a more precise drawing right down to the smallest details. On this blueprint, I used all the components that were on the list. A square board in burgundy color with enough space around it, 3 different coloured curved and straight marble work, heavy gold color carton pierre as a frame between tiers, composition of gold armors and weapons on both sides, Louis on the top with his famous curly hair or we can call it peruque, then finally, his flying cape as drape work for a finishing touch.
When an actual sized blueprint is ready, that is the moment I can officially say I know what to do. I work very closely to the plan and I take all my measurements from it and now it’s time to make another comprehensive list of individual components that fall into 3 different categories;
- Blocks of cakes.
- Number of decorations subcategorized by different material, techniques and colors.
- Construction parts and methods.
I chose a square shape for the bottom tier and a “squarish” pear shape for other 2 tiers. Instead of rolling out some fondant and covering each tier like we usually do, I rolled the fondant for each side separately after making the marbling effect and let the fondant dry on the table for a while. Then I cut and stuck the fondant on each side individually with a bit of an overhang. I then cut the overhanging fondant with a blade. This results in a very sharp and realistic marble edge. I would like to give credit to Vizyon Rolled Fondant which I am proudly endorsing for it’s slow drying characteristics.
For the gold ornamental arrangements I needed to have nonporous surface to make the gold shine better so modelling chocolate was the best choice for that. To make the arrangement look complicated, I add simple floating stripes here and there to represent belts of armor.
I try to use only simple objects to make my tutorials more achievable with everyday things that are always around us.
3 mm craft wire was the solution to hold the cape in the air and after I was satisfied with the flow I had to use only additional small stripes to cover visible wires. To create the curly hair using modelling chocolate, I made individual locks of hair with both sides tapered to make oblong shapes which I then indented parallel lines on it with sharp knife.
Of course there are usually always unforeseen things that need to be changed or compromised but as I mentioned above, because I spend so much time on the sketching, drawing and planning stage, it helps me to predict any possible issues and make the changes during the planning stage and not while making the cake. A bit like a pilot would create a flight plan and not need to make changes in course during the flight.
Usually the more time you spend planning, the less time you spend adjusting or compromising and if need be, any changes are very minimal.
Every cake is a project that needs to be managed. We as cake decorators have to think like project managers. Lining up tasks with a schedule is vital. Every pastry chef would develop their own principles throughout the years. I’ve certainly gathered my own throughout the last 40 plus years. One of them being…”Do things first, what you need last.”. I would like to thank Cake Central Magazine for giving me this opportunity for such an enjoyable inspiration. I am thoroughly honored to be part of this theme event. The full length tutorial on how to create this cake, is approximately 3 hours long and will available for purchase at YenersWay.com
GORGEOUS, GORGEOUS!!. A truly gifted artist by any means. I'm just a "domestic baker", but my thoughts and ideas are very similar to this unbelievable thinker and master of this SUPERB MASTERPIECE. How long did this project take? What type of cake was this? I'm always intrigue of master artistry bakers in how they perceive their canvas of art.
Thank you for posting this.