I have always had a passion for flowers. Just like my parents, we spend a lot of time in our garden, planting a huge variety of flowers for every season. There are different sections - areas just to create color, others specifically for cutting and arranging in vases in our home. Intensely perfumed roses and freesias, a rainbow of colourful tulips and dahlias, the prettiest collection hydrangeas in a varying ombre of pinks, blues, lavender, green and white. It’s amazing how every bouquet and arrangement can be so different - smell, color, texture, shape. It’s always great inspiration for my cakes, and I’ve always got at least one arrangement from my garden in the house at all times.
This cake started as an idea in my head because of the flowers in my garden. Spring was in full bloom, and the colours outside my window were so vivid. There were the most delicate pale pink and bright pink cosmos, yellow freesia, raspberry red roses, red, green and white striped parrot tulips. The hydrangea were just budding, and we have a plant with the most incredible periwinkle blue berry-type flowers - I don’t know what the name is, but I’ve never seen it anywhere else!
I wanted to recreate this beautiful bouquet of colourful flowers for my cake, so I set about making sugar roses, parrot tulips, cosmos, freesia, hydrangea and berries. With a little petal dust, the sugar flowers came to life, and I was ready to add them to my cake.
Ever inspired by fashion, I wanted to create a texture for this cake to replicate a lightweight, delicate fabric. I rolled out gum paste to flower-petal thinness, then hand-painted and pleated each section (which takes a lot of patience!) and applied them seamlessly to the top and bottom tiers.
For a touch of decadence, I added a 24k edible gold leaf tier (which, by the way, is pretty tricky to do - you can’t have even the slightest of breezes or the gold leaf sheets will just waft away!) and a hand-painted watercolour tier (in reference to the amazing sunsets we get on the coast of the Sintra mountains).
Still thinking about this cake one year later, I went to my favourite Lisbon designer’s atelier, Storytailors, and asked them to help me come up with a unique concept: a chef’s coat dress, using this cake as the inspiration. I wanted something professional and chic that I could deliver my cakes in, that could then easily be transformed into a couture dress that I could wear as a guest to the party.
To help express the style I was hoping to transform my cake into for the fabric to João and Luis at Storytailors, I came across Tulipina - if you don’t already know Kiana’s site and work, you should. It’s AMAZING. The colors, the feeling of each image is just beautiful.
They made a sketch for the style of the dress, and then we overlaid images to see how a pattern would work. Then we went back and forth with multiple variations of my cake, distorted in photoshop, until we agreed on a pattern that was visually intriguing and that could work in the context of fabric/fashion.
The final result was the most beautiful reversible couture silk dress, one side in the most midnight of blues with vintage black Portuguese lace panels in small sections across the dress and chef coat jacket; the other side with a blush buttercream background and my vibrant sugar flowers in almost impressionistic fashion cascading across the dress.
Every cake tells a story. And this one’s mine.
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