Oriental Stringwork Chanel Cake

As all of you know by now, in real life I am a dentist. I would love to take cake decorating and baking to the next level but I can’t bring myself to leave my stable job environment. There will be a lot of disappointed people, let’s put it that way. My friend has been encouraging me to try to take measured steps and to nudge me along he commissioned this cake for his girlfriend who adores Chanel.

I love it when nobody dictates what to do or how to do it. That meant that I could do whatever I wanted! After much thought, I decided to bring in a few elements of Chanel’s signature style and make it into a cake – quilting, pearls, black and white, flowers and ribbon.

Chanel Cake

I decided on a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream because let’s be honest here – who doesn’t like chocolate?

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Here is the naked cake covered in buttercream. I apologize for my work in progress pictures – I cannot stop work and take out my DSLR and take perfect shots of my progress. Well, I can but I won’t. Plus, the lighting in my kitchen is non-ideal. You will just have to put up with these photos from my iPhone.

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Quilting of fondant in progress. I used a stitch fondant roller tool to create the effect. The size of the diamonds is an exact copy of the Chanel Classic bag which I had handy. By the way, I have been using The Mat to roll my fondant and it has been a lifesaver!! I am not very strong and rolling fondant takes a lot out of me and I’m really slow at it. The Mat keeps the fondant from drying out and all in all just a great invention!

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Step 1 of oriental stringwork – I started this at 1am in the morning. Everything all fine and dandy at this point when everything is still in one direction!

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Here’s the exciting part – flipping the cake upside down! With a small 6 inch cake that I worked on it was not too difficult. Still a little heart stopping though.

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Oriental stringwork piped the other way. Topped the intersections with edible pearls. Completed at 3am in the morning.

I made a fantasy flower out of black sugarpaste and used pearls as the heart. I also used the pearls (two sizes) to prop it up at an angle so it looked like there was a stack of pearls holding the flower up. I also wrapped a black ribbon around the bottom. And that’s it!

Chanel Cake

I would love to do tutorials for all the techniques used but to be honest there are comprehensive ones in YouTube and in books which I will just link below:

1. Fondant Bow
2. Oriental Stringwork
3. Fondant Quilting
4. Fantasy Flower
5. Chocolate Buttercream Recipe
6. Chocolate Cake Recipe

I spent a ridiculous amount of time on this project but it was worth it. The stringwork was extremely delicate – I absolutely adore royal icing work but I think in the future if the cake has to leave the house it probably shouldn’t have any free standing elements like that. If you accidentally break a couple of pieces don’t fret – what I did was I piped drop strings off the side of a silicone baking pan, waited for them to dry for a couple of hours, took them off very very carefully and attached them to the broken portions. Nobody will know.

Also, the receiver loved the cake so much I received a bouquet of flowers at work the next day! I broke it apart and did a ikebana arrangement out of it:

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Gingerbread Eiffel Tower

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Every year I embark on a gingerbread project and this year I decided to make something a little more complex than the usual house that I churned out every year. After some browsing of what was out there in the internet I decided to take on the Eiffel Tower.

First things first – you need a template. I downloaded one from here. The author of that website made his in 4 pieces but I decided to do mine in 12 by sectioning the Eiffel tower into 3 portions – top, center and bottom. Then, I traced it onto cardboard.

Next, you need to make the gingerbread. I have been using the gingerbread recipe from here for my last few gingerbread houses very successfully – just eliminate the bicarbonate soda from the recipe so that the biscuit does not spread and retains its shape beautifully. You will only need half a recipe to make this gingerbread Eiffel Tower but the excess can always be used to make cookies for eating – I don’t imagine you’d want to eat your tower immediately!

Now, you need to cut out the Eiffel Tower shapes – you will need 4 pieces of the top, 4 pieces of the center and 4 of the bottom – making it a total of 12 pieces. Use your cardboard templates to make sure they are all the same size and go around them with a sharp knife. Bake them off – below is a photograph of my baked pieces.

ImageAfter baking comes the decorating! I used a no.2 round tip and royal icing for all the piping of the decorations. For the design, I copied the template as closely as I could, simplying the really tricky portions. For tips on royal piping, visit Sweetopia – there is a comprehensive and detailed list of tutorials there that you can read up on to learn all the tips and tricks of creating beautiful piped work.

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Then comes the challenging part – the assembly! I highly recommend that you have somebody to help you with this because it is very fiddly. Using royal icing, glue the gingerbread pieces together starting with the bottom layer, leaving it to dry for at least a couple of hours in between the layers. Continue on with the center pieces and lastly, the top. Below are photographs of it halfway through and then me at the final stage, supposedly smiling but the reality is I was holding the entire structure up with my finger inside the Eiffel Tower very gingerly. What do you think of my makeshift scaffolding?

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Finally, I did a shell border around all the seems to hide them and then it was all done! It took me the whole day from start to finish, but the results were worth it. It was not too difficult, just very time consuming – if you have made a gingerbread house before it shouldn’t be difficult at all. Below are photographs of it – Eiffel Tower by Day as well as Night. Hopefully this was helpful if you are looking to embark on this challenge!

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Personalised Gingerbread Hearts

I decided to do more piping on more gingerbread hearts and here’s the results!Image

Gingerbread recipe from here. I omitted the bicarbonate soda to reduce the spreading for a very clean shape.

The piping was done with a Wilton size 2 round tip.