Gardening with Cakes

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I remember writing in an email to my clients some time ago about how much I enjoy watching the cake decorating shows on television.  So, as you can imagine, it was thrilling to see the cakes featured at this year’s flower show in Boston at the Seaport World Trade Center. 

Titled “The Garden of Cakes“, their display featured amazing cakes decorated by 16 businesses throughout Massachusettes and New Hampshire.  For the first time, I took more photos of cakes than plants at a garden show.  I joked to my friend that cake decorating may be my third career someday.  

From watering cans to tasty looking roses and orchids, it was incredible to see the talents of these decorators’ spectacular inspirations.  I certainly didn’t have these choices for wedding cakes back in the 1990’s.  Today’s brides are lucky indeed.  These displays made me want to throw a garden party just to have an excuse to order one of them. 

Cake decorating reminds me a bit of the process one may go through when creating gardens or designing landscapes.  It involves a phase of inspiration to create a vision first.  On the television shows like ‘Cake Boss’ or ‘Food Network’s Extreme Cake Challenges’, the cake designers will sketch an idea for their design based on a theme.  Follows is their experience involved from knowing which materials and ingredients work best, the talent and skill needed to create blown sugars and working with fondant, and then the cakes, sometimes towering 6 to 10 feet high, have to be moved to a judging area without toppling over!  All happening within a set amount of hours and sometimes it is so rushed at the end, everyone gets nervous but has to keep their cool.  Many times the cake decorators have to make adjustments to their plans on the spot.  This is very similar to the garden design process.  It has been completely thought out and designed, yet nature may impose a change on the spot when you begin planting, so you make adjustments and that is okay. 

The other amazing part of seeing these cakes at the Boston flower show was each was uniquely different.  This holds true for designers of gardens and landscapes too.  No one garden design is ever exactly the same for each designer or gardener has their own style, preference, and knowledge base for plants – and that makes designing fun and challenging. 

One of my favorite cakes was a design that featured moss balls (made with frosting of course) that were supporting the individual cake tiers.  The moss looked extremely real, and in the gardening world, moss seems big this year.  I’m seeing it sold more often in live form but also faux form on stones and pots for decorating up items.  In fact, later I came across the cutest handpinched pottery and moss balls (shown on the left) created by Cleve Hayes of Puddingstone Farm that specializes in handmade terracota pottery at a plant nursery items in Lawton, MI.  I was trying to get the best photos possible, but the lighting at the show is always difficult for me to manage since I’m just an amateur photographer with a digital camera (so click on the photo to enlarge it if you need to on my blog pages for a bigger, closer view of photos). 

There were other cakes that had garden flowers painted on the fondant or frosting areas with paint brushes.  These designers are not only great with techniques, but they are artists!  One can only admire their efforts as we fooled into believing some of the flowers are real on the cake!  The orchids in particular were so realistic that eventually eating them seems like it would be a crime for they were so pretty.

Perhaps trying to build a garden that looks like a cake would take this to a whole concept to new level of challenges – something for next year’s show?! 

Here’s a listing of the websites and see more photos below this list:

www.theartisankitchen.com; www.bumblebeecakes.com; www.cakeperiod.com; www.cakes4occasions.com; www.cakestoremember.biz; www.wwwisp.com/cakelady; www.jacquespastries.com; www.montilios.com; www.pepperscatering.com; www.rochebros.com; www.scrumptions.com; www.seaportboston.com; www.eatwicked.com; www.sweetcupscakes.com; www.sweetlifeconfections.com; www.tastefullywright.com

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