Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Not Quite Ultimate Enough Cake

Hello Everybody!

Sorry it took so long to get this post up. Took a long time to load all of these photos!

As you all know, we did not win our episode of Ultimate Cake Off, but we are very proud of our cake, especially in light of all the problems we had in our kitchen that day, which were all true, BTW. No made up drama there. Unfortunately.

Here is my incredible team left to right:

Wendy Baiamonte.... my best friend, an incredible cake artist, the unsung hero of SugarEd since day one, my rock. She kept me calm and grounded during the preparation phase, and never tired of me obsessing over elements, ideas, potential problems and the rest. There is no way I could have done this without her. During the contest, she was the steady force at my side the whole time, driving me on, doing anything I asked, working her butt off. She talked me off the panic ledge a couple of times that day too. They don't make 'em no better than her, I tell you.

Adele Lind Nichols.... my very good buddy from Colorado. She was one of Rebecca Sutterby's assistants last season with me and Becky. She was in charge of all the poured sugar work. And she hand painted that incredible floral plaque on the front of the cake. More on that later. She too listened to every thought and worry I had during the whole process. She is a wonderfully talented, funny, and gorgeous lady.

Becky Willard....... is from Kansas and also assisted Rebecca last season. She was our silent but deadly secret weapon. She keeps her head down, quietly moving from task to task around the kitchen, doing whatever needs to be done with grace and poise. I hate that they barely showed her on the show, because she did just as much work as the rest of us, and was just as important to the success of our cake as any of us were. She handled the gumpaste rose work, the scroll pattern, applying jewels, and anything else that needed to done. She has a wonderfully dry sense of humor, and is a complete doll.

There really are not enough words to express how much this was a team effort. Every one on our team was involved in the cake, from the planning phase through the execution. It was very much our cake, not my cake. I wish that came across better on TV.

Here we are after a very long day in front of our cake. We were just happy to have finished it!

This is the blue kitchen on load in day.

Here is the famous clock over a large freezer we could use if needed.

During our 3 day stay there, we saw several other competitors in the lobby of the hotel. We ran into teams shooting before and after us. Every other lead contestant I saw had a 3 ring binder, tabbed, categorized, illustrated and with computer print outs in every section, full of all kinds of top secret notes and sketches. Um, I must either be a total loser or I did not get the binder memo. Because I used a raggedy school notebook I hijacked from my son with a few pages of scribble scratch notes and checklists. Yep folks, this is the master plan we worked from...... Maybe why we did not win? LOL

Remember in a previous post I mentioned how incredibly humid it was in our hotel room? So humid the water was dripping down the inside of the window. We have since drawn the conclusion that this was the catalyst behind the famous "pole won't go into the hole" scene. You know, the bleeping, friggin', me freaking out scene. What must have happened was that the humidity caused our black base boards to swell, making the hole in the middle smaller, causing the pole to not fit. It sure fit fine when we tested it at home! And what is even worse is that it actually happened twice! They only showed it once on the show, but it did happen again later in the day. Wendy saved the day, and me from a panic attack, by coming to my rescue and working her magic.

I do not mean to brag, but I can honestly say that the cake was even prettier in person that in these photos. The colors are not quite true here, and it had more pow, more sparkle, more dimension than the camera can show.

We used a large tapered hex at the base, then alternated tapered round and hexagon tiers with Styrofoam spacers in between the sections.

Adele's sugar beads hung in swags below the hexagon boards in front of the silver separators.

Unfortunately this is the best shot of the topper that I have, and it does not do it justice. We had our arrangement of purple roses in varying shades, and little battery operated lights tucked in the arrangement that created a wonderful glow coming from behind them. The crystal monogram topper caught those lights and twinkled as the whole topper slowly rotated.

Here you can see the poured sugar brooches that were on top of each swag tie. Wendy custom made the molds using Silicone Plastique from actual brooches that I purchased off of eBay. The gem part was purple poured sugar, let to set, and then the rest of the mold was filled with gumpaste, which was painted silver when dry. The gems were not as dark as they look here, they were a true regal purple. This was one of my favorite elements of our cake.

Here are a couple of the purple gumpaste roses. I used this cutter set here to make them. This set has a lot of different sized petal cutters, so I was able to make them in varying sizes for the spaces I needed. I did them in a free form, fantasy rose style. I did not want them too structured or formal, as the couple said they wanted the cake to be a little hip and modern. They started out white and were dusted with African violet, lavender and violet petal dust. Clusters of silver dragees in varying sizes were glued in the middle with piping gel to add to the Hollywood bling factor. I really really loved how they looked.

Here you can see part of the bottom section of our cake. The art deco thingies were made with this Stephen Benison cutter. We lovingly nicknamed them the Benisons. I used purple Satin Ice fondant with a lot of tylose added, and dried them over a curved former, so they would stand away from the cake. After dry, they were dusted with amethyst luster dust. Silver and black dragees were added above them to accentuate them. I really loved this element of our cake too!

Here you can see the lights shining behind the flowers. That did not show up on TV at all. You can also get a glimpse of the little gumpaste charms we had on wires. They represented the couple's mutual interests. We had footballs, cooking utensils, that movie clacker thingy (when they say action!), and movie reels. They were so cute! I purchased wine glass charms to make the custom molds with. They were molded of gumpaste and painted with silver luster dust.

Here is the bottom section. Black fondant drapes and ropes with huge sugar brooches at the joins. Clusters of flowers here and there....

None of the pictures are showing the faux finish very well, but it was really visible and pretty in person. Wendy did a great job doing this; she had the perfect touch with the paint brush. After the cakes were fondanted, she used Luck's airbrush shimmer color in pearl, with a squirt of silver, full strength. And she stippled the whole cake with a fluffy brush. It gave it great subtle dimension. It was a very classy sophisticated look, a lot like marble. It had just a tad of shimmer to it, but did not overpower the rest of the cake. Lagniappe: it totally hid flaws in the fondant, amazingly well! I might faux every fondant cake from now on!

This is not a great photo, but you can see our little silver charms in the flowers.

Can you tell that this one is cooking utensils?

And here is the amazing floral plaque that Adele hand painted to match the bride's invitations. They came out and threw this surprise element at us in the last few hours of the show, and we were really really behind schedule. We spent a few minutes brainstorming, and then I said to forget about it for now. It was more important to finish the cake, and then we would worry about the plaque. Somewhere in those last couple of hours Adele snuck away and used the black fondant and white chocolate we had on hand to hand paint this masterpiece. It was truly incredible! And it really did look like it was meant to be part of the original design. She really knocked it out of the park with this one.

Here you can see the sugar beads hanging in front of the separators. The seperators were Styrofoam that we covered in white fondant, used the line impression mat on, and then airbrushed silver. An easy technique that gave a nice graphic and bold backdrop for the beads and flowers.

See the little football in the flowers? We also threw a few black Sworovski crystals in there too for good measure. The beads were oblong, made from black poured sugar using custom made molds that Adele made before the show.

Another picture of the bottom section. The scroll work was done with the cutter sets sold here and here.

Nice shot of the scrolls, flowers and Benisons.

This is a poor shot of the Benisons close up.

This is the larger sugar brooch we used at the bottom. Wendy made the silicone molds from a humongous brooch I got on Ebay. Again, they were not this dark in person. They were a beautiful shade of purple and shiny. (Tip: rub them with spray Pam and they stay shiny.)

This is a little more true to the color purple, but still a bit darker than in person.

After the judging they sit us in these chairs to participate in witty banter while the judges deliberate. Let me just take this moment to say that all three teams left the best of friends. We all got along wonderfully, hung out and laughed together. There were no hard feelings between any of us for any of the events of the show. I was mad at Jan for sitting me out the 2nd time for about 3 minutes, and then we were joking and kidding each other right afterwards. But they did not show that on the show.

The aftermath.

More aftermath.

Yikes. Did we do that?

Here are the teams hanging out while the leads went in for judgement. Can't you just feel the animosity between them all? :)

What was left after they dismanted it all.

In the garbage. I am glad I was not there for this part. :(

After all was said and done, and all the obstacles we had in our kithen that day, I am immensely proud of the cake we produced. It may not be the one the bride picked, but that is OK. We accomplished what we went to do, it was a big challenge, and we did it! I am incredibly proud of my team mates, and our beautiful creation.

Thank you all for the outpouring of support and encouragement after the show. It means more to me than you could ever know!

I look forward to seeing all of you talented peeps when it is your turn!

Happy caking!



TASMITH said...

I still lovet his cake - its amazing!! Thanks for sharing!

team yankstah babe said...

Dats how Yats roll baby! So proud of you all

faithy, the baker said...

I think the cake was beautiful! Love all the intricate detailings! Absolutely stunning!

Desert Rose said...

OMG!!! AMAZING you and your team ROCKED!!!
Ms Sharon..I am speechless,this cake is STUNNINGLY beautiful.And you guys did AMAZING!!!
you should be VERY proud of yourself and your team.
- H

The Lil Cakehouse said...

Love it even more now!! It was my favorite cake that day, and seeing all the elements I didn't see on the day of the show makes it EVEN better!! I love the little charms!!!!! Your team did awesome!!

Elaine said...

This cake is beautiful!!! Ya'll did a fantastic job!!! Thanks for sharing these pictures and giving more insight on the behind the scene moments!

Rita said...

Oh...It "WAS" Ultimate enough! I still want you to do a DVD on how to make all of these cool things that you just talked about in your post. I need the visuals! I love your dvd's!
Rita-Greer, SC

Adele Lind-Nichols said...

Awwww... I still absolutely, positively LOVE our cake. I think it's gorgeous- and each and every one of us had a major part in it. Pretty amazing experience with my friends! I won't ever do anything with TLC again, but given the chance to work with Sharon, Becky and Wendy- bring it on! Sharon was a great leader, and Wendy and Becky are fabulous team mates!

Adele Lind-Nichols said...

... I wonder if I'm praying to Sweet Jesus in the picture of us in the Green kitchen while you were facing the judges?? Kinda looks like I am!

Tiffany Nash said...

First - I LOVE purple! My favorite color. Second - Excellent execution! Amazing! Yeah Teambito!

chris said...

Thank you so much for sharing that. I never get to see enough of any of the cakes on the show, and yours was such a treat to behold!

Sherry said...

I really enjoyed reading about the pics and what took place. That is truly a masterpiece! Congrats on the team's personal success - this was an extremely elegant work of art!

Lisa Mann said...

It's exquisite. There's no other word.

I'm lifting my bleepin' martini in the air and toasting TEAMBITO!!!!!!!!

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

Wow this cake is truly a masterpiece!! It looks amazing! Thank you for the detailed decription + pics! Really gives us a feeling of being there to see it :D

Showersfamily said...

Wow. Your cake was just incredible. I watched the show and thought that your team's cake was the most beautiful and elegant cake. I'm sorry that you didn't win. I do have to ask, though, why the cake ended up in the garbage. Couldn't it have been given to someone. That would have made me sick to my stomach after such hard work. I agree with "Rita" that we need a DVD on all these techniques you mentioned.

kimbosue said...

Awesome! The brooches were perfect!

my stay-at-home-momma drama said...

Sharon, I found your website by accident one day while looking for children's cake ideas for my kids. I was instantly hooked on your flawless cakes and incredible use of colors. I just ordered one of your DVDs and can't wait for it to arrive. I watched you on Ultimate Cake-Off and was so impressed with your final design. In my opinion, you should have won with that gorgeous cake! I can't wait to see what you do next. You are such an inspiration and my ultimate CAKE IDOL. (Hey, they should create that show :)

Anonymous said...

My all time favorite cake of the night! Thank you for all of the details - just wonderful!!! Roberta

Valerie said...

Beautiful! I didn't see that episode but your cake sure looks like a winner to me! :) Was the cake thrown away afterwards??

Karolyn said...

So they throw away the cakes that didn't win? That's hard to see! You'll get 'em next time.

Vicki said...

Thank you Sharon for sharing all of the details! LOVE your cake! :)

Anonymous said...

I think you did a wonderful job!! I thought you had it hands down on winning. I really loved your cake. Thank you for sharing.

Gabby said...

It was a spectacular cake! The trash picture is kind of sad.

Amanda said...


Anonymous said...

Fabulous, elegant cake Sharon!Thanks for the post. I usually don't get to see the show as I live in the UK but I happened to be in Savannah and caught it on TV. I thought the details on your cake were absolutely beautiful!

Bryna said...

That was breathtaking... 1st Place Winner in my book!

And really, no one gets to eat the cake? That's annoying.

MeiLi's Adoption Journey said...

Wow I can't beieve they just threw away the cake. Couldn't they donate it to a nursing home or something. I can't imagine watching my cake just get dumped like that.

Well I think you should have won!

WendyB said...

ditto Adele, It was a great team experience. As for the cake being thrown away you have to remember it was baked a very long time for stability and then shipped across the country, in and out of coolers and freezers and quite a few days old. It was not suitable to be eaten in my opinion. We also had to disassemble it to get the support systems out to be shipped back for Sharon. PLus, we had to clean up our mess ya know.

Faye said...

WOW!!!! Your cake was truly a masterpiece. All of you did fantastic!! I agree, you should do a DVD for all your intricate details. I would have been proud to have worn the brooches as real jewelery, awesome!! You guys did not lose, I think the bride did by not chosing ya'll's cake. Again I say WOW! Super job! Faye

texgrammy1 said...

You just reinforced my thought that your team shoul have won. We (the audience) don't ever get to see that much of the cakes. Fancy that and it is a cake show!!! I am so glad you posted and showed us all the pictures. I would have cried to see it go into the trash. Wow, that sucks!!!

Adele said...

With all these DVD requests on how to do this cake, I think that SugarEd ought to fly the team to New Orleans so we can all EAT and drink, Yat style! Opps, I mean, so that we can make a DVD ;) Now that would be LAGNIAPPE!

Aidan's Daddy said...

I noticed that they never touched on the little details during the show, unlike what they did for the winner.

Personally, this looks beautiful and classy ... 100% old-school Hollywood.

Anonymous said...

Sharon, I’ve waited to comment on your team’s TLC performance until the dust settled, because I wanted to comment about the CAKE and the EFFORT only! On the cake…I am so glad you posted the pictures because I never realized 90% of these details were even on the cake! The lights, the faux treatment, the charms, etc., etc. were really lost on TV, and I’m so glad you pointed them out. On the effort…none of us will ever be able to know or comprehend the dedication, work, and tears that went into this creation. However, I think what is most important is that no matter what obstacles got in your way, you beat them…together!

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luvthatsugarart said...

Thanks for all the effort to load the photos for us and make commentary. Ahhh, slurp, slurp. The viewing pleasure is delightful. What a marvelous job of design and execution!

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