This is my Leonid Afremov inspired cake, based off his painting "Italy - Harbor". I have always loved impressionist painters, especially at their peak around 1880. My favorite impressionist paintings are of course Van Gogh, but I have a great love for Leonid Afremov's beautiful colorful and rich paintings. It's so wonderful that I live in the same time line as such an amazing artist. The colours in is painting burst with inspiration; his palette, focuses on blues and oranges much as mine do. He is a true inspiration, as his work, just like other impressionists is so unique. I'm not sure what he may think of my "Cake Media" version, but I hope he takes it as a compliment. In the pictures are my cake of course, but also the original by Leonid Afremov. When I saw Instructables running a Cake Contest, I knew I had to enter. If I win, very cool, as the prizes will further my dreams of an art career, but even if I don't; my drama club is the real winner in all of this, as they just devoured the cake!
The cake itself is similar to a pound cake, which makes for a nice flavor, crumb and easy carvability, "not exactly any cake molds around in this shape". The icing is a simple delicious vanilla frosting. The fondant was a pre-made product made by Wilton. This was my first time using fondant, so I thought it would be best to go with a pre-made product the first time around. The food colouring was also by Wilton, they are gel based, and as vibrant as oil paints. The forest in back was chocolate melted and cast onto parchment paper, worked like a charm. The "cake" board was a clean piece of plywood, while the back drop was an artist canvas. The canvas was essentially the only non-edible part of the cake as I used acrylics.
This cake let me combine my 3 favorite things; photography, art and food. I was so happy with how the cake turned out. It became this amazing edible clay like 3D model. The carving of the cake, forming of fondant and painting the icing was a joyful process. One of those whistle while you work tasks, it made me smile like a Cheshire cat while doing it. After taking many pictures I brought it to my high school drama club where it was enjoyed by all. Watching them eat it and the pleasure it brought to there faces was like making it all over again. I hope you enjoy the cake as much as I did making it, and make sure to watch the time lapse of me doing the fondant and painting. We rigged a old iPhone to a selfie stick suspended from the ceiling.
Also, remember to vote in the cake contest.
You can find his paintings here; I spent an hour looking through over 80 long pages of art pictures to finally find the name of his painting.: http://leonidafremov.deviantart.com/art/Italy-Har...
Step 1: Recipe
The secret to a perfectly decorated cake is a great recipe and lots of eggs.
Makes 4 round 9-inch cakes
- 5 cups all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup tapioca starch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cup margarine or softened butter
- 5 cups granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 14 large eggs
- 2 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons of rum extract
- 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
what you will need for decorating:
- 2 boxes of Wilton ready to use fondant
- 1350 grams of frosting (5.7 cups)
- 2 cups of chocolate melted
- Food coloring gels (red, yellow, orange, brown, dark blue, light blue, and black)
- a small bottle of vodka (to thin color gels)
- three or more clean paint brushes of different sizes
- bamboo skewers
- a sharp serrated knife
- a butter knife
- a wooden board
- a canvas or background and some blue and white paint
Step 2: Lets Make a Cake
I recommend making half of the batter at a time as your bowls might overflow and the mixture can be harder to mix.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- In a large sized bowl, whisk together your flour, tapioca starch, nutmeg(optional), cinnamon(optional) and salt. Set to the side for later.
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream the margarine and sugar for 3 minutes on high-medium speed until mixed and fluffy. Stir in vanilla extract and rum extract(optional).
- Stop your mixer and start adding your eggs one at a time, mixing in between adding each egg. take a moment to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula if needed.
- Add half of you dry mixture into the wet mixture; mix on a low speed. Mix half of the milk into your batter; mix again on a low speed. Add your flour mixture and the remaining milk and blend until the batter is fully combined and smooth.
- Repeat process for second half of the cake batter.
Step 3: Pour It
Adjust an oven rack in the middle position. Heavily butter the sides, and line the bottoms of 4 9-inch cake pans with circles of parchment paper.
Divide your batter between your 4 buttered cake pans. Put in the heated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Make sure to insert a toothpick in the center of the cake to check if your cakes are done, the tooth pick should come out clean. Take cakes out of the oven, let cool for 3 minutes then secure a cooling rack over top of your cake pan and turn over and put cakes into the freezer for 1 hour, than take out and place in a large bag and put back in the freezer overnight.
Step 4: Layer Up
- Get you wooden board and take the cakes out of the freezer and place on your board.
- Take a serrated knife and even out the top of your cakes to you have a flat surface, repeat for the other cakes.
- Add a layer of frosting between each layer of cake and stack.
Step 5: Shaping a City
Make sure to have a painting reference and check regularly while you're cutting your cake.
Use a paint brush and frosting to line areas where buildings will be, so you have an idea of where and how you want to cut your cake. start by cutting a crescent on the top this will be added next to the bottom on the left side of the cake, then start cutting out areas to create the illusion of tall buildings and shorter buildings with slanted roofs. Try to save all the pieces intact, attaching them as buildings on top and on the bottom side of the cake.
Step 6: Crumb Layer
Start spreading a crumb layer of frosting on your cake, then using frosting to attach the side crest, and cut to blend into the the whole cake. Then start adding the rest of your miscellaneous buildings, Finishing with a layer of frosting over the added buildings.
Step 7: Knead, Roll, Over
- Knead your fondant until smooth and malleable, to the point where it wont rip or crack.
- Roll the fondant using a rolling pin or a sanded 1 inch dowel, switching rolling from different sides until the fondant is 1/8 inch thin.
- Put the dowel in the middle of the fondant and put half of it over, bring it up and carefully place it over top of the cake.
Step 8: Fondant It
Slowly start shaping and the fitting the fondant to the angles and buildings going from the top down with your fingers. Make indents with a bamboo stick to give the illusion of lines and spaces, and details. Use a chopstick end to press lightly windows and to the sides.
Cut away extra fondant and roll it out to make roofs and chimneys. Cut the roofs and trees to size with those you want to cover and use a small amount of water to attach. Poke spaces in roofs for where you want chimneys, make small rectangles and make the bottoms like little vampire teeth. Stick the end of a bamboo stick into the stop and place the cone end into the holes you made for the chimneys.
Now the tricky part, you have to make the top of the tower, get a large piece of fondant and shape it into a cube then cut out a "+" so there are a small squared column on each corner. Now using a small amounts of water attach the tower top and smooth out the edges gently with a butter knife.
Step 9: Lets Paint
Get out your food color gels, paint brushes a palette, scrap pieces of left over fondant for testing colors, and a bottle of vodka.
For each color you will about 2 teaspoon or more of vodka, mix your gels with you vodka and get painting.
I recommend painting from the top down and starting with warm colors first as blue is harder to turn back from and the majority of the paint is warm colors for the city. Once you are done warm colors starting adding blue buildings a few in the middle and most on the right side.
After the dyes are dry, start adding darker shades for detail as brush stroke bricks, windows, and edges.
Paint the trees blue, then add strokes of yellow to make green, and use little bits of the excess green to create hanging moss on some of the buildings and hills leading to the back.
Lastly, add any shadows with brown or black, diluted for extra effect in the illusion alley ways, and paint the back a light green from the leading off hills.
Step 10: Paint the Board
Now that you have finished painting the cake, you have to paint the board with blue frosting.
You will need to mix blue food gel with white frosting until a royal ocean blue shade. Apply this frosting to the board leaving a circle around most of the cake. In the circle you will need to put white frosting, than color a reflection lightly on top of this. Blend this, and wait until dry.
Now apply more white frosting, and paint the reflection more loosely with warm colors, leaving white speckle areas and room for blue dye. Blend the white edges next to blue with more blue food colouring. Now use dark blue and little bits of black to create impressionist columns scattered from the front.
Step 11: Chocolate Trees
Measure the back for how large you want your tree line, and then trace out on parchment paper.
Originally I tried using fondant, but it wasn't working, so instead my dad came up with the idea to make a chocolate tree line.
What you need, is to shape a piece of card board with the curve of the cake.. Use a chocolate filled syringe or piping like applicator to pipe out the chocolate following the trace on the parchment paper on top of the cardboard. I back-filled the area using almost 2 cups of melted chocolate. Fill in the tree line and place in the freezer for an hour. Take out of the freezer and attach it to the back of the cake by leaning it against the cake.
Step 12: Canvasing
Get yourself a large medium canvas for the background, and paint with dark blues using large brush strokes starting from the top. Add little bits of white to your blue paint, getting lighter as you paint down to a lighter blue and until you have a gradient.
Step 13: Final Product
Now that you're done every piece, place them all together, and now you have your very own 3D model of a beautiful one of a kind 2D Afremov inspired painting. Its like an edible clay model of a town. This cake is perfect for a gallery opening, a birthday, a celebration, or for me, an awesome present for my old high school drama club that I visited for the first time since last year, when I finished school.
Check out the bloopers for goofy photos of my friends covered and eating cake and a dinosaur that might have attacked the city.
Step 14: Bloopers