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Cake challenge: Humidity and those mother-in-laws

Cassie Pence

1. Why wedding cakes?I started out as a graffiti artist, and after getting arrested one time too many, I switched to metal sculpture. Welding was fun, but it didn’t pay the bills. When I went to culinary school at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) in Napa Valley, we started decorating cakes, and I found I had a knack for it. It wasn’t too hard to make that leap from metal to sugar.2. What was the most eccentric design you have ever been requested to make for a wedding cake?

I had a photographer in Philadelphia want me to make 50 individual cakes and hang them from the ceiling of his studio, which was 40 feet high. I had to use a cherry picker.3. How does the craft change when you are performing on stage in front of people, like you will for the Wedding Cake Competition?Well, I’m also in a rock band, so I am very used to performing. I guess you tend to exaggerate your movements a little and maybe ham it up sometimes, but essentially you do the same stuff. A cake is a cake, be it for a wedding party or gastronomical tourists.

4. If you win, what will you do with the $10,000 cash purse?I am trying to build a humidity controlled environment in my studio for special projects, it would sure help there, also, we have a complete fabrication shop with all the tools you would expect to find in a carpenter’s shop. I love power tools and you can never have too many.5. What is your favorite flavor for a wedding cake and why?



We have 60 flavors or so, some are traditional, like white chocolate raspberry or lemon curd and blueberry, and some are more out there, like peanut butter and jelly, s’mores, Thai iced coffee, pistachio cardamom and peanut butter cup. I guess it just depends on who your crowd is, if they are conservative or more adventurous.6. What is the toughest element to work with and why?Humidity and mother-in-laws: Sugar is “hydroscopic” meaning that it sucks the moisture out of the air, so if you have really delicate decorations on a humid day, things can start to sag and wilt. You don’t have that problem in the mountains, but Baltimore is basically a filled-in swamp, and it gets mighty humid sometimes. It also means you can’t refrigerate your cakes once they are decorated, the moisture will condense on the cake once it is removed from the fridge, and then your colors will run and your decorations will collapse, so you have to work with flavors that won’t spoil too quickly.Duff Goldman can be reached at http://www.charmcitycakes.com


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