Cake decorating gets a new look


And then there is always Martha. Popping her homey head up anywhere some crafty, decorative art form demands perfection, Ms. Stewart, among others, has penned a delightful book on that most elegant of cake decorating forms, the wedding cake. The local library offers a dozen similar books, all illustrating that beyond the whimsy of a cake decorated to look like the Eiffel Tower, or an intricately beaded handbag, lies a stunningly elegant art world that would 'cause the great masters to ooh and ahhh.

The cake decorating craze is not limited solely to television or special events. Cake decorating courses are now being offered, and attended, locally as well. College and university sponsored community education courses offer them, as do craft-shops such as Michael's. There are usually no requirements for admission beyond an enrollment fee, and it is all done in good fun (not for grades or credit).

I'm fortunate enough to teach such a class, and can personally attest to the rise in popular interest about this art form. I can also speak from experience and say that the precision and attention to detail, while productive of stress at times, offers a great "time-out" from one's daily worries and concerns, as one focuses one's complete attention on the task at hand: producing a stunning, and delicious looking, artfully decorated cake. I have also learned that you will only make friends producing, and sharing, the gift of a beautifully decorated cake.

When Ian Finn is not decorating cakes, he is sharing his secrets gleaned from years in the food business.

 With the rise of all-things-cooking has come a slew of television shows, celebrity chefs, designer cookbooks, and yes, that one-time silly-frillyness formerly relegated to weddings and 3rd grade birthday parties: cake decorating. The cake decorating movement, in line with the new consciousness about cooking (see: slow food, organic food, food competitions, gourmet food, Top Chef, and more), is breaking boundaries and setting new artistic standards as the general public gets excited about everything food-related. Programs such as The Food Network's Ace of Cakes highlight the possibilities (due in large parts to the liberal use of rolled icing, or fondant) that cake bakers, caterers, and decorators have these days. And possibilities are in abundance! The imagination is truly the only limiting factor as cakes take the shape of buildings, airplanes, dirt-bike racing courses, designer purses, and more.

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