I've been sitting on this post for awhile now. It started as a fun inspirational exercise in the lull following wedding season, and then the holidays hit and it moved to the bloggy back-burner. It seems fitting to be pulling it back out again now, at the onset of a new year, with big aspirations and a boatload of appreciation for the past year of meeting many of the other amazing, creative women that inspire me on a daily basis.
Every fall I donate a number of cakes during what I've taken to calling "charity banquet season", when seemingly all of the organizations that host annual galas try to squeeze their event in between summer madness and holiday festivities. Around here, nearly every one of these events includes a "dessert dash" where guests collectively bid on donated desserts for their table to share after dinner.
It's a great way to give back to the community in the form of cake, and I always love projects with complete creative freedom. This year, I decided to turn all of these dessert dash cakes into a creative project: a series of cakes all inspired by the work of some of my favorite local artisans.
It really was a combination of all of my favorite things: giving back to organizations that do so much for our local community, supporting other women entrepreneurs, pushing my creative boundaries and trying new techniques.
Charity benefit: Humane Society of Whatcom County
Flavors: gluten-free brown butter cake with caramel apple filling
I picked LMinspired as the first inspiration because it embodies many of the same styles I love in cake designs: classic, natural, elegant and perfectly rough around the edges. Lauren's jewelry pushed me to play with texture in new ways, which is slowly becoming my new obsession with cake designs. This layered buttercream technique is one you'll definitely be seeing more of from me-- in fact I already did another version in cake #3!
Charity benefit: Whatcom Women in Business
Flavors: gluten-free brown butter cake, slow-roasted blueberries, goat cheese and honey frosting
Inspiration: Art by Ciara
Adapting Ciara's art into a cake pushed me to do more of a literal translation than any of the other cakes. I definitely learned that if I'm going to do more ink-and-pen style cakes (which I'd definitely love to!), I really need to get a finer tipped paintbrush. The watercolor backdrop was comfortably familiar, but working with Ciara's color palette pulled me a bit outside of my greys-and-neutrals comfort zone.
With this project, I think I learned the most about working with activated charcoal as a black food coloring. Getting the perfect consistency for painting lines without clumping or dripping took some trial and error, but definitely became much easier when I switched from mixing the charcoal with water to Everclear-- the fast evaporation of alcohol keeps the lines cleaner.
Charity benefit: Northwest Therapeutic Riding Center
Flavors: matcha green tea cake with chocolate buttercream
Inspiration: Some Girl's Pottery
Aside from loving all of the texture found in ceramic art, Dyana once made my all-time favorite coffee cup, and it seemed only right to honor it in cake form. I was excited to play around more with layered buttercream in different ways, as well as using stencils in cake design. I hand-cut the geese design with an exacto knife, and will definitely need to find a better way before diving into more stenciled designs!
Charity benefit: Blue Skies for Children
Flavors: brown butter & caramel apple
Inspiration: Pozie by Natalie
When I set out on this project, I knew that Natalie's floral artistry had to be on the list. While her work does constantly inspire me, it's really the tenacity and dedication she brings to her work that I admire most. I was lucky to find some of the same dahlia varieties from Wild Rye Farm for this cake, and absolutely loved how the hand-painted ferns work as a backdrop to the recreate the lusciousness of an intimate forest wedding.
Charity Benefit: Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services of Whatcom County
Flavors: parsnip, cardamom, candied ginger with cream cheese Italian buttercream
Inspiration: Frankie & Maude
The mother-daughter team behind Frankie & Maude make absolutely stunning wedding gowns, with an impeccable combination of lush fabrics, timeless silhouettes, and vintage inspiration. Their classic designs were more of a challenge to interpret into a cake design, and this one ended up feeling the most like a "mood-piece" and less of a literal translation. I wanted to capture the texture of that sanded satin skirt with the subtle blush and ivory layered buttercream, and pulled a very 70s inspired flower from the lace pattern as inspiration for the minimalist piping under the orchids.
The gorgeous dress photo was shot by Solovey.inc for their most recent line.
Between wedding cakes, baking production, and humble gardening ambitions, there's constant experimentation, growth, and a never-ending learning curve. Follow along to see what I'm up to.