Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Black Chandelier

I had been worried. As the night wore on, the crowd had gotten bigger and yet, somehow friendlier. Everyone was just a little bit... different. From each other certainly, but not nearly as much as they were from the rest of the world. It was a little disconcerting. I knew a lot of the people in the crowd. Heck, I knew half the band, and we had a lot of mutual friends there. One of them, Mike was currently pushing our way through the crowd in front of me, while his wife Juliann trailed behind me. As I carried the cake between them, I was reminded of the scene in the movies where the camera follows a celebrity's bodyguard through a crowd, carving a path through the throngs of people who gladly move aside as soon as they see who they're moving for.

We got to the table and Mike pushed his way across the room to get my backpack as somebody else cleared a space on the table. I set the cake on the table, and then had Mike pick it up again as I fished two handtowels out of my bag to set under the cake stand to stabilize it. Juliann handed me the chandelier that she had been carrying and I carefully placed it on top of the cake. The band played on, oblivious to the arrival of the cake. Gradually, the attention of the crowd shifted back to the music as Ziggy Stardust and Barracuda drifted from the toy instruments to our ears. The set ended, and Jared Gold, band memeber of the Misfit Toys and owner and head designer of The Black Chandelier thanked everyone for their applause and announced that there should be a cake there shortly. He was immediately answered with shouts of, "it's already here!"

Jared hadn't seen the cake yet, and he rushed over to look at it. I knew it had imperfections. To me, it had so many that I had lost count. What is it about baking that turns pastry chefs into such perfectionists? I had to constantly remind myself that the imperfections were small and inconsequential. If Jared noticed any, he didn't give any indication, and he certainly didn't seem to mind. In fact, he was blown away. The design wasn't all mine. In fact, most of it was Susan's. But I'd had my input too. We'd tried to make the cake represent Jared and the Black Chandelier as closely as possible, and I think we managed to pull it off. Mike tried to snap at least one photo of both Jared and I next to the cake, and I kept stupidly looking away from the camera.

The cake was three tiers, and hexagonal. I didn't realize at the time why Susan suggested a hexagon, but when I was stamping the gold honeycombs onto the sides of the cake, I eventually figured it out. The sides that didn't have honeycombs had drawings from Alice in Wonderland stamped in black with a little bit of gold. Victorian images were Susan's idea, and the Alice in Wonderland stamps were my idea. The pink ribbon around the base of each layer was Susan's idea, as was the black icing trim. She had suggested the outside of the cake (underneath the stamps and the icing) should be white, but the honey that I added to the fondant and the buttercream had turned them a nice shade of cream. The cake inside was pink, with fresh strawberries mixed in to match the honey theme. And to top it all off was a faux-3D chandelier piped out in dark chocolate.

I'd been snacking on strawberry cake scraps and honey buttercream and fondant for a week, and I was pretty burned out on the flavor of everything. But I was told several times through the night that the cake was getting rave reviews from everyone. Susan told me that it tasted like strawberry ice cream. A few people came back for seconds. I already knew Jared to be quite the cake afficionado, and he reportedly told somebody that, "this guy isn't messing around, he's serious!" I told him that he was more than welcome to take the leftovers home, and that he could just give the cake base to Susan to give back to me, as soon as he was done with it. I also made a point of giving the chocolate chandelier to him, and he started asking me how best to store it. Apparently he thought it was too nice to eat.

I've already posted the recipe to the strawberry cake, and I will be posting a tutorial for the entire Black Chandelier cake shortly. It was a fun ride, and hopefully I did a good enough job for Jared to invite me back for the grand opening party of the next Black Chandelier.


  1. That is a very nice and interesting cake. Bravo!

  2. Nice Cake, Joseph.

    My wife, after reading your blog, had me record Ace of Cakes this week.

    Interesting show, but is every cake they do rolled fondant?

    I liked the hair on the Highland Bull, though.

    Here's a cake my sister made yesterday for my daughter's birthday -- simpler but still fun:



  3. ryan: Not every cake used rolled fondant, but the vast majority do.


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