Today we are dissecting Louis Vuitton Hand bag cake by ~Dragonsanddaffodils
First off, please introduce yourself?
Hi, My name is Rhianydd Easton, from Wales in the UK. I am a 37 year old Mum of two beautiful boys and wife of nearly 17 years to my hubbie Kevin. We have all been practising Taekwondo together for the last year and a half.
I have been running my own cake decorating business since July 1999, so I am just about to celebrate the 10th birthday of the business! I suppose I have made around 1300 wedding cakes and about the same number of birthday cakes too over the years. You could say cake decorating is an obsession that can't be cured! But lately I have discovered another obsession in drawing........so now I have to fit them both in!
Please explain what we are viewing.
This is a culinary art deviation, a dessert sponge my friend ordered. It is a fairly large 3D novelty cake carved in the shape of a Luis Vuitton hand bag.
Can you describe for a layman how its made?
The cake was carved from 2 x 12" square sponge cakes (each sponge approximately 2" deep), starting with a rectangle 12" x 6", then adding ever decreasing rectangles of cake until you reach the top. The cake was sandwiched with chocolate buttercream, then carved freehand following a picture of the handbag. In order to fix the chocolate sugarpaste coating, I first gave it a coating of chocolate buttercream which acted as the adhesive.
The chocolate sugarpaste is great because you can create folds and creases to replicate material, and by polishing it with the fleshy part of the palm of your hand, you make it look more like leather.
The details on the bag were freehand painted with edible gold lustre mixed with a strong alcohol and painted on with a paintbrush. The straps are just ordinary sugarpaste (rolled fondant) shaped and textured.
What tools did you use?
I used fairly standard cake decorating equipment:
* A long serrated bread knife to carve the cake without ripping it up;
* a long palette knife to get a smoother finish to the buttercream undercoat,
* a small sharp knife for details and paintbrushes for the decoration.
Then a range of slightly more specialist cake tools for the modelling work:
* A dresden (a double ended tool with curved pointed ends for marking in lines);
* A scribe (like a metal cocktail stick) for "writing" the engraved plates;
* A stitch wheel (leaves stitch-like marks indented in the sugarpaste when it is rolled over).
However the best tools for any sculpting requirements are your hands, you can do a suprising amount relying on such obvious things as your fingertips for indentations; the side of your little finger smoothed along the cakes for larger indentations (like the dents in a pumpkin), the fleshy thumb section of your hand to smooth the icing etc etc.
What was your inspiration in creating this?
Not much inspiration required! My friend asked me to create this cake for her Mum and gave me a 3" x 2" small pic she had printed off the internet she had found to copy. [link]
She didn't know what it was going to look like when finished, no idea of size or anything, just her usual comment of "I trust you Rhianydd" (she has had quite a few cakes! ) I did end up doing more research thought because the picture was so small, I needed to see what the badge and the padlock looked like because I knew she would be pleased if they were made in sugar.
How long time did it take you to make this?
I could only allow a day for the cake as we had quite a few wedding cakes booked for that week, so I had to do Ruby's cake when the wedding cakes were all done, so I started when I got to work about 10am and my husband picked me up at 9pm..........but I wasn't finished, so (bless him!) he ended up cleaning up the workshop for a couple of hours till I finished close to 11pm.
I ate while I worked. I do remember that painting the details took about 3 hours.
Did you run into anything unexpected while creating?
Not so much unexpected, but I knew the stability was going to be a big issue.
Sponge cake doesn't like being stacked tall, and I knew Ruby wasn't keen on marzipan (almond paste) which is usually used as an undercoat, so I could do nothing more than cover it all in one and try not to crush the cake with the 3kg of chocolate sugarpaste it took to cover it.
I was amazed it worked!
It was only as I was trying to neatly smooth the paste that I decided to add the creases of fabric on the ends, so that ended up working out better than expected. Luckily!!
I did decide to have the handles folded down rather than standing erect as we live in a hilly area, and the handles on this bag are rather long. I didn't fancy their chances if they were made of icing.
Are you happy with the result?
I was sort of pleased when it was finished, but I kept wishing I had made a stencil for the painted details instead. Okay, it would have been easier time wise, but I also think it would have been neater. I also could have made them smaller to match the bag a little better.
I don't like any of my cakes when they are finished, so that was quite a revelation for me. I still look at it and wish certain bits were neater, I always do with every cake I'm afraid.
Where have you learnt your skills in this area?
I was self taught. Wanted a birthday cake for my son nearly 13 years ago, and didn't see anything suitable, so decided to try and make one myself. I only went on some courses 5 years later when I was approached by the local college to teach. Although I loved my two years spent one afternoon a week in Neath college with Janet Side, I wish they had been earlier in my career.
You have a lot of self doubt when you teach yourself, but then I also think that makes you work harder because you feel you have a lot to prove, especially to other sugarcrafters. It is really odd now, because I regularly demonstrate to other sugarcraft tutors and have even been part of the team assessing quite well known demonstrators abilities for the British Sugarcraft Guild! Spooky!
Do you take your own photos? Any tips you want to share for presenting your work?
Yes. With cakes I am particularly pleased with, they get popped in the light box! It is a white "tent" that I bought on the internet from a photography company, I also bought photographers lights too. Makes a big difference. Sadly, this cake was just "snapped" on the worktop in my studio! I never thought it would turn out so well, or I think I would have set up the box.
Natural daylight is best if you haven't got any photographic specialist equipment. You can't beat it. Also a nice clean background that doesn't detract from your cake, eg nice fabric or unroll a roll of complimentary wallpaper. (Of course, if it is a cake, what better advert for your customers than a clean worktop!)
What is the best tip you can give to others wanting to test this craft/material/technique?
Honestly? A huge amount of obsession and the patience to practise again and again.
I am a very impatient person and always expect to be able to do something straight away, but I am also stubborn, so will keep trying so that it doesn't beat me.
I think you also have to be a perfectionist. I can't begin to count the number of times that I have taken apart a cake and re-iced it, no matter how late it is, or if you have to work all night to get a good result. It is not worth your reputation to put a scruffy cake on the table at a wedding or party.
I do prefer to do a lot of my work by eye, I don't use templates often, but if any of my staff make one of the cakes, I insist they work from a template I have made........and stick to it! Not fair on the customer if it is not exactly as they ordered, and they do notice the difference.
Neatness in cakes is definitely the key. A beautiful design is nothing without a good finish.
Buy a polystyrene cake dummy and just ice it again and again. The practise is always worth it.
One of my cake heroes is a Scottish Gentleman called Eddie Spence. I think he must have been piping for 60+ years, but he still pipes "Happy Birthday" every single day. If that is what he feels even he needs to do, I will happily keep practising!
Are you selling your work?
Not this particular cake! That was just for Ruby, but I have my own cake business Dragons & Daffodils Cakes [link] specialise in wedding cakes - that is where the obsession started, but I also produce all sorts of celebrations cakes.
Teaching is also a huge part of it now. I am a demonstrator and member of the Demonstrator Training Team for the British Sugarcraft Guild and their aims and objectives is to "promote and stimulate interest in sugarcraft, share knowledge, develop talent, improve standards", I firmly believe that, and my biggest pleasure with cakes comes from watching my students faces when they see their finished creation. [link]
Thank you ~Dragonsanddaffodils for participating and taking the time to answer my question!
I'd love to recive suggestions for next "victim" to interview! Note me with a link to the deviation you'd like to know more about and I'll contact the deviant.
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