Let Them Eat Cake

    I recently celebrated my birthday with a black cake. A pitch black, dark as midnight cake! On top of the cake was a doll dressed all in black with blue, yellow and pink ruffles down the front of her dress. Apart from the actual doll itself, the dress and the cake were all edible. This magnificent creation was reminiscent of one of my childhood Barbie doll cakes. These doll cakes are still popular today with little girls. However, as much as I would like to remain a little girl, I have since upgraded thanks to my cake making friend to a black gothic cake. My friend, the pastry chef, who really is not a pastry chef, but, a registered dietitian by trade, has a passion for making cakes in her spare time. Jo Jo’s creations are more than amateurish and in part due to her diligence and time honoured practice makes perfect approach. [photo:1349594898651]These special designer cakes are all the rage these days. Just turn on the television and you are inundated with cooking shows about cakes, cupcakes, designer cakes, cakes that move and cakes that topple after you move them. It seems there is a huge and growing market for these one of a kind specialty designer cakes. I recently had a chance to speak to a pastry chef in Hong Kong who specializes in made to order, one of kind cakes. Patsy Chang Lau first became interested in baking when she found time on her hands once her daughter started school. Patsy started taking Miniature Polymer Clay classes which is a non-edible clay substance. From there she moved on to learning Fondant and Sugar paste designs. Fondant, depending on the usage, is mainly made of sugar and water and is used to make decorations or coat a cake. Patsy tells me that there really is no difference between polymer and sugar paste except you cannot eat the former. Four years of classes later the rest is cake making history for the very much in demand Patsy in Hong Kong. One of Patsy’s cakes usually takes about seven days from beginning to the finished product. The number of people consuming the cake determines the size, this is followed by design. Once client and pastry chef have reached an agreement on the design, Patsy will make the Fondant and sugar paste decorations as these need time to dry overnight. The cake is baked the night before delivery and assembled the morning of. The cakes can be chocolate, cookies n’ cream, lemon, red-velvet, butter pound or pistachio, you name it. Patsy can work with most reasonable cake requests; however, she draws the line at ice-cream cakes. She usually refers these customers to the local ice cream shop. [photo:1349595139392][photo:1349595383652] Just like those reality TV shows, Patsy has had her fair share of disaster. She recounts the time she made a beautiful three layer cake in pink with fantasy flowers and butterflies. She thought it would be a good idea to chill the cake a little before delivery by placing it in the fridge. This turned out to be a big mistake, as all the fondant flowers and butterflies melted. Apparently, rule number one, never refrigerate fondant. Fondant can only be stored in cool temperature and not in the refrigerator. Fortunately, as with all expert chefs and pastry chefs, Patsy had prepared many extra flowers and butterflies and was able to rectify the problem before delivery.