Imagine a large passenger ship something on the scale of the Titanic, but more Art Deco than victorian inside. “Waterfall” style built-in woodwork (rounded corners and edges), high ceilings, and copper and brass details to finish off the look.
click for larger view
This is the interior of the Royal Salon aboard the Queen Mary, docked in Long Beach Harbor since 1967. It’s also the setting for this week’s wedding cake table designed for Margie and Morgen, two architects from New York.
The Royal Salon has a lovely built-in buffet with a copper back and half-moon shape across the front. It served as the perfect space for the six cake set up Margie requested: All in vintage style, made with buttercream but for one. The center cutting cake (pictured at left) would be decorated with fondant tiers and delicate ruffles.
Margie had little ribbon flags made with various ribbons in her colors, seafoam and coral, and sent them to me to insert in the tops of the cakes. For her central cake, she had a very special paper flag made: It’s been calligraphed with “Margie & Morgen.” (click the picture for a closer view).
The flavor for this one was a fresh almond cake layered with Pistachio icing. An upscale and beautiful choice for Margie and Morgen to feed eachother for pictures.
Alongside the main ruffle cake is a version of the currently popular Frill cake, seen just to the left and back a little. I first saw this design in Martha Stewart, and it’s beautiful done in vintage pastels like yellow or pink, or white as in this photo (the dark room makes it look a tad yellow, but all cakes were white
This one was a carrot cake, a flavor popular with guests young and old.
Under a glass cloche, a round buttercream cake decorated with simple coral sugar buttons is elevated from just a cake to a precious object. Fun to make and sweet to look at, this cake was a sweet lemon cake (flavored only with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest), iced with vanilla bean icing.
Below you’ll see that on the far right end of the buffet we placed a cake covered top to bottom with sweet buttercream rosettes, and situated it next to the cake that, around the bakery, came to be known as the “Tiki Hut.” Vertical fluting on the sides and top angle of the Tiki Hut cake created a great structural statement among the softer cakes surrounding it, and placing it under a second cloche added balance to the larger one over the button cake. The rose cake was our Pink Velvet iced with Three-berry icing, and the Tiki Hut was a small carrot cake, the bride and groom’s favorite flavor.
Last, but not least, is our sixth cake below, a sweet stack of lemon cake and vanilla bean icing featuring simple Swiss dots on the bottom tier. As any cake-maker will tell you, Swiss dots appear simple and easy, but in fact take a lot of measuring and a steady hand. The eye seeks order, and if one dot is even 1/4 inch off its mark, the pattern appears off and the effect is ruined. And this table is not about odd patterns: It’s about order and grace. The beauty of math.
Adorable calligraphy and intricate letterpress of the main flag by Betsy Dunlap and Blackbird Letterpress, respectively. The flowers were done by Rebecca of Holly Flora who had beautiful dahlias, roses and more to dress the bases of the cake stands as well as the whole room. Thanks Rebecca, for the gorgeous finishing touches to the cake table, and to Margie and Morgen: Congratulations!!
“Andrea, do you realize how long it’s been since you’ve done a post? I’ve been looking at these last two on flowers for about a month now. Show me the cake!”
Yes, I know. I’ve been neglectful! But I do have something pretty to show you (albeit, not a cake this time around):
Carondelet House entrance and its amazing painted, vaulted ceilings.
It’s Carondelet House. For those of you from Los Angeles, you have likely heard of the in-demand venue spaces called the Smog Shoppe and Marvimon. These locations specialize in featuring recyclable materials and eco-friendly plantings to enhance the open plans at both locations for maximum beauty, modernity, and hip factor. The latest addition to this family of locations is The Carondelet, so named for the street address, 627 Carondelet St.
Main room, set for dining.
When I first saw the property, it was for delivery of a large wedding cake for a photoshoot styled by Amber Gustafson of Amber Events. A few weeks prior I’d met the catering manager of Tres LA Catering who happens to manage the company out of the second floor of The Carondelet and was happy to reconnect with her at the shoot.
Cozy alcove complete with fireplace and club chairs.
We set up time to do a tasting and spent an afternoon tasting cake and talking about the importance of fresh ingredients, responsive client service, and a hot pair of high heels er, beautiful visual design. Ahem. Yes. Anyway, that meeting went well and I am very pleased to announce that Superfine is now a Preferred Vendor at the Carondelet House. It’s a very exciting honor for us, and we look forward to a long and happy relationship with Melissa, Steven, and the rest of the impeccable crew at Tres LA and The Carondelet.
Two weeks ago we were honored to be asked to be a part of Unveiled: The Bridal Event held in Canon Gardens, just next to the Montage Beverly Hills. This outdoor couture event was a fantastic way to see the best of what Southern California vendors have to offer discerning brides.
Superfine contributed the above Mocha cake trio, featuring three shades and flavors of fondant — right to left, we have a chocolate fondant, white chocolate, followed by mocha fondant on the far right. Each cake features a variety of styles of sugar “fabric” flowers, gold buttons, and a couple of ribbons featuring secret love notes taken directly from the actual notes of the bride and groom that inspired this trio.
The note on the smallest cake (above) says “I’ll love you forever.” If you look closely at the chocolate cake, you’ll see a little ribbon on the ledge. That one says “You’re the bomb, babe.” Secret notes like this help personalize a cake the way nothing else can.
Presented along with our cake was a tasting-cake version of our Opera cake. Each slice was made with almond cake stacked with French mocha buttercream, then iced with chocolate ganache and topped with a thin sheet of 23-karat gold.
I wound the show down with friends and champagne on the adjacent Bouchon patio where we could watch the crowd mill about as the sun set. Some high points of the day included seeing friends at 100 Layer Cake, Green Wedding Shoes, Bouchon Bakery, the Montage (met and chatted with Richard Ruskell, current contestant and all-around upstanding chef at the Montage currently competing on Last Cake Standing for Food Network), and Margaret Rowe Couture Vintage Jewelry.
This Thursday I’ll be flying to Savannah, GA to meet a man I’ve wanted to meet for some time now: Ron Ben-Israel. He is known in the cake world and NYC event scene as a premiere cake maker and sugar flower sculptor, and backs up that reputation with a constant stream of amazing cakes, appearances in fashion magazines, and on the arm of Martha Stewart at so many industry shindigs.
Ron trained as a ballet dancer early in his life, but soon realized that it’s not a career you can easily continue into your mid- and later-life. He’s a natural artist, and decided to hone his sculpting and baking skills by training with the best teachers he could find. After educating himself, he spent years innovating his own style of flower making and building his cake atelier business in SoHo, NYC.
We’ll spend three days together at Minette Rushing’s Custom Cakes location in Savannah while he teaches us the intricacies of making sweet peas, gardenias, roses, peonies, and more. I’m thrilled to be going, and can’t wait to start adding these flowers to future cakes!
If you’d like to see Ron in action, take a look at this great interview I found of him on YouTube:
I love doing cake tables. Most brides come to me with ideas for lovely, modern stacked cakes which make up about 80% of my work, but then there are the brides who prefer something more deconstructed and playful, like a table full of cakes in related but different styles. This set was created for an NYC bride getting married in Los Angeles in August (click for a more detailed picture):
She sent me a couple of inspiration photos, her save-the-dates and invitations, a link to her wedding website, and more. All that collateral material around the event helped me visualize the sense she was going for, and I came up with many cakes in different styles for her to choose from. She chose seven of the 10 above — can you guess which ones?
I have another bride coming up in April who wanted a slightly more formal set of five, coordinated by color and shape:
My love of architecture frequently fuels at least one design element in my sketches, and the gold sugar bands in the set above were directly inspired by my photographs of the gold crown moulding taken during a walk-through of the venue, Castle Green in Pasadena. The sugar moulding will be replicated with various tools and molds then painted with 24K gold to get just the right look.
Thought the mouldings vary from room to room, these can be seen in the room that will actually hold the cake set, so the cake will look right at home.
I’ve also got a few trios on the books, but will save those for another post (maybe with the finished product?)
Oh, one last thing: A big shout out and thank you to Joy Cho of the Oh Joy! design blog for featuring us last week! She and her blog have appeared in Lucky, Forbes, Time and more for her design expertise. Known as the hipper Martha Stewart, Joy reigns supreme in the design blogosphere. Thanks so much, Joy!
Frozen one-year old cake? On your anniversary? What are you celebrating — the cold, hard, stale journey of your first year of wedded bliss?! Nooo…. Freezing the top tier of a wedding cake is a tradition that started over 200 years ago, at the beginning of the 19th century. Back then, weddings and childbirth were closely tied events, each expected to happen within 12 months.
Wedding cake top-tiers were originally preserved to eat at the impending christening. Since then the two events have become unlinked, but the question still comes up during tastings with brides: Do we save the top tier? We vote No.
Any baked good begins staling the second it cools. Left exposed at room temperature, the staling is fastest. In the fridge, wrapped up, it’s a little slower, and yes, in the freezer it stales at its slowest rate. However, it still dehydrates — cake left in a freezer for a month or two is dry and tough. After a year, well, it’s better used as a weapon than a celebratory centerpiece for your anniversary.
We encourage brides *not* to save the top tier, but instead offer a 6″ fresh-baked replica of their top tier for their one-year anniversary. Life’s too short to eat frozen year-old cake! Do yourself a favor, don’t freeze the top tier, always eat fresh cake, have more room in your freezer over the coming year, and get something delicious and beautiful on your one-year anniversary.
Friends don’t let friends freeze cake. Keep it fresh and sweet — like your marriage!
Tell us your thoughts: Did you freeze your cake? What was your experience?
Recently Steph Fowler of Steph Fowler Photography called us asking for a dreamy cake at an engagement shoot in a local public garden. The style was to be a little Alice in Wonderland meets Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’ve had a very large cake design along those lines in my head for a while now, so I thought I’d use the opportunity (and Steph’s very trusting attitude with the design) to try my hand at sculpting a couple of dragonflies and playing around with my new airbrush. Above is the resulting cake.
I started with a layer of lavender fondant then airbrushed it with violet and silver. This cake is impossibly shimmery in the light, but unfortunately no camera can pick up glitter or shimmer. I’ve tried — it looks like the cake is wet. Ew. I finished the decor with tall grass and leaves, and little silver dots to mimic fireflies or stars. Just tryin’ to keep it classy dreamy.
Though she has a very flexible style, Steph shows off her soft and other-worldly eye for this vintage shoot. This couple is so beautiful among the flowers, tea cakes and amazing stands and containers scattered along the table. The three-tier stands are courtesy of Orange and Blossom‘s High Tea for Alice line available on Etsy. Always charming and perfect.
We can’t wait to see what Steph comes up with next, and thank her for including us in her lovely shoot.
Today I delivered a delicious cake trio and 100 of our Fleur de Sel caramel wedding favors to Kim and Steve’s wedding on the Dandeana yacht in Marina Del Rey. Rain was predicted for today so I brought all kinds of special cake-protection paraphernalia to keep it dry, but miracle-of-miracles, the sun came out in a crystalline PERFECT sky!! I was so happy for the couple that they got this lovely weather.
The trio features housemade ivory fondant decorated with ivory molded sugar lace appliques and hand-painted 18K gold bands. The smallest cake on the left is our North Beach Torte (chocolate cake with cappuccino-tiramisu icing), the center cake is our Citrus (Lemon cake soaked with lemon simple syrup and iced with orange icing), and the cake on the right is our interpretation of the Opera cake (almond cake soaked with a dark rum-coffee simple syrup then iced on top and bottom with French mocha buttercream, then a dark layer of chocolate ganache in the middle).
I love lace on cakes, but wanted to do something less orderly and traditional as you see on most cakes. So I worked with this modern bride to create more free-flowing lace patterns on each cake. On the smallest, there’s a “fan” or arch of lace just on one side of the cake consisting of several different, overlapping lace patterns and pieces.
On the cake on the left (pictured above), I laid together long pieces of lace occasionally accented with tall appliques of lace flowers to echo a kind of wave effect (we were on a boat after all…). The center cake is the star of the show featuring a regular pattern of lace at the bottom only, and thicker gold bands. I knew Kim was ordering this bling’d out topper, so I wanted to make that a focal point by letting it sit atop a less-busy tier.
I’ll leave you with this last detail shot of the smallest cake — so cute! I think it would be great on its own as a birthday cake — let me know if you want one!
It’s funny, sometimes when you toil in relative obscurity doing what you love, trying to do something interesting and original to feed your soul, other people watch. They notice and watch without you knowing. Maybe they lurk a little on your blog, or check your website every so often. Maybe they friend you on Facebook to see what your life is like. I don’t think of it as stalking, it’s more like curiosity. I get it — I do it. And lucky for me at least one influential editor of a national wedding magazine does it too.
I got a call from Editor X a couple of weeks back (I’ll reveal the names when the article publishes — rights issues, doncha know…), saying she’d been looking at my site and was aware of me for some weeks. I was surprised and happy — she had me at Hello. Talk about shock and awe.
She asked if I would create a cake for one of four sets for a magazine shoot on Nov. 10. I had about a week to design and execute the cake, alongside my current client needs for contracts, cake tastings and sketches, but how could I say No? I mean, it’s Editor X. From THAT magazine! I said Yes, had a couple of OMG moments, then set to work.
The theme of my set was “Vintage Glam.” I was assigned to a team that included the best Southern Cali has to offer: Florals by Eddie Zaratsian at Tic-Tock (you might have caught him on “The Arrangement,” a floral design competition show on the Logo Network). My cake was going to sit atop a pearl-encrusted handmade stand by Kathy Jo Peterson at Raise the Cake. Our coordinator, Sheryal Rozzelle of Unique Elegance, has coordinated the weddings of the best and brightest in The OC and beyond. Stationery like menus and table numbers came in from Tifany Wunschl at Gourmet Invitations. The impeccably professional photog team led by Annette Biggers from Triplecord Photography documented it all with flash and flare. Talk about a Dream Team.
Our palette was champagne, ivory, very pale pink, and charcoal gray, with touches of black. Our goal was to glam up the space with sparkle and class, and I think we did a pretty good job of it. Here’s a sneak peek of the bottom of the 5-tier cake I did for the shoot.
Alligator and pearls, silver and champagne. That’s all I’m sayin’. When the magazine publishes, I’ll do another post with pix as rights allow.
It was an incredible amount of work, but everyone’s work hard/play hard attitude got the job done fast and beautifully. Big hugs and many thanks to the Editor, Sheryal, Eddie, Kathy, Tifany, Annette, our model Jaima (hope I’m spelling that right), and Stacey at Hitching Post PR. It was lovely to be included with such a great team, and I look forward to the next time we meet!
Superfine Bakery is an appointment-only couture bakery specializing in custom cakes for clients in the Los Angeles area.
We are inspired by all facets of the baking tradition, but at Superfine we focus on the art of the edible celebration centerpiece. Our aim is to reinterpret and reframe traditional forms to bring modern, luxurious cakes to your event and make your cake as spectacular as the occasion itself.