Saturday, 12 January 2013

Putting an edible photo on a cake

Last June, I went to the Basque territory with my friend Petra. After gorging ourselves on tapas and cava in San Sebastian, we went to Bilbao for more tapas some culture and visited the Guggenheim.
Here we are in front of Jeff Koon’s Puppy.
My sister said we look like a couple (we’re not, if any fellas are interested).
It happened that I was in luck and there was an exhibition on that I could understand: David Hockney’s The Bigger Picture – paintings of trees in Yorkshire.

As I wandered about looking at the grouped canvases that together made one huge painting, I started thinking about cake (this often happens). Specifically, whether it would be possible to create one large image on a grid of individual cakes. I searched for an occasion and an image to try the experiment. I didn’t have to search far – I was two weeks away from my 40th birthday and had commissioned a family portrait by Kim Haskins.
The children I forgot to have
Key to the project was getting a large print of the image on sugar paper. I highly recommend Eat Your Photo, who print and post good quality images quickly and at a very reasonable price. They were extremely helpful in getting the right size for the image – I wanted it 15 inches square, which meant printing the image in 4 separate parts. They matched it perfectly.

I bought 25 three inch square cake boards and cut two layers of vanilla sponge slightly smaller than the board, allowing for the 8mm that the sugarpaste would add to the size. Then I simply had to sandwich the two layers together with raspberry jam and buttercream, crumb coat the cake (also known as “dirty icing”, which makes me snigger every time), chill the cakes and cover them with sugarpaste. Twenty five times. What could be more fun on your birthday?

Once all the cakes were iced, I cut the image into 25 three inch square pieces and attached them to the cakes with a tiny bit of edible glue. As the image was already on four separate sheets, some of the cakes had two or even four pieces of sugar paper to attach – you can see the joins on Mia’s face.

If you’re attempting this, try to keep all the pieces in order or at least have a copy of the original to hand, or else you end up with a rapidly disintegrating jigsaw. Sugar paper is delicate – if you have trouble detaching it from its backing, pop it in the freezer for a couple of minutes to dry it out.

The result was a very large cake – here is a photo of the cake next to the painting, and a photo of William next to the painting to give you an idea of scale. Bear in mind he’s a big lad who weighs nearly 6 kg.

Personally I’d struggle to eat a 15 inch square cake on my own but I’d accidentally arranged a party so I had plenty of people to take the cake off my hands. By the end of the night, I only had half a dozen little cakes left. I could manage those on my own.

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