Our contributor, Erica OBrien, owner of Erica OBrien Cake Design, is back for the next post in our Trending series. Erica is helping us translate today’s top trends in fashion, design, art and everyday life into fabulous cake designs. Watch each month as she goes from inspiration on Pinterest to cake concept and then the final cake design. Today is all about dramatically dark designs!
I wanted this cake to be a celebration of the bounty of Thanksgiving, my absolute favorite holiday. For the design, I was inspired by still life photography and painting. I find the trend in food photography towards deeper, darker tones really unexpected and intriguing. I love the dramatic effect created by darker lighting, backdrops, plating, and styling seen on food blogs and in food magazines.
To capture the mood of a still life, I needed to cover the cake in a dark base that would lend depth and drama to the design. I’m amazed at how a photo or painting of a single piece of fruit can evoke so much emotion, and I knew a light or pastel color palette simply wouldn’t work. I covered the cake in chocolate fondant, which is a dream to work with and gives a flawless finish. The color was deep and rich, but the cake lacked texture and movement, and didn’t lend the moodiness I was looking for. I also wanted the finish to be a more literal interpretation of the inspiration and have a painted, rather than a smooth, exterior.
To achieve a rich, painterly look, I brushed warm ganache on the fondant in random directions using a food-use only paintbrush. Once dry, I added a second coating in areas that needed more texture.
For the embellishments, we created a bevy of jewel-toned décor including pomegranates, pears, and pumpkins made out of modeling chocolate (my new favorite medium). Berries, roses, ranunculus, cherry blossoms, succulents, eucalyptus, sage leaves and pinecones were made out of gum paste. For the arrangement, I threw restraint out the window and went for a more-is-more approach as an homage to Thanksgiving. My assistant eventually forbade me from adding even a single additional berry.
In the end, the painted ganache gave the cake exactly the look I was going for, and I was quite pleased with the results. There is so much you could do with this technique. I hope you give it a try!
Find more cake recipes, cupcake recipes and tutorials in our Fall Baking Gallery!