Monday, April 27, 2015

A Taste of Summer

Like everyone else in Bozeman the topic of weather has dominated my conversations for some weeks now. I’m not generally one to dwell on such mundane topics, but if you’ve been living in Montana as long as I have the weather right now is something to be talked about. With the temperature hovering around 50 degrees it feels like spring out there, and it’s the middle of February!

Last week I got an order for a painted birthday cake, the receiver of which loves wildflowers, lemon, and raspberries. Typically I would find this combination a bit strange in the middle of February (typically the coldest, iciest, dreariest month of the year) but I must say the bright tangy flavors of lemon and raspberry accompanied by the warm sunny memories that wild flowers illicit seemed fitting and somehow inspired. At least I was inspired! I set to work baking a fluffy lemon cake filled with Raspberry Jam and topped with a light almond buttercream.

I knew I wanted the raspberries to really pop, and so I decided to use Roots Kitchen and Cannery’s locally made Raspberry Vanilla Jam for my filling. Paired with the fresh lemon cake and almond buttercream it was sure to strike a bright summery note! Once my cake was filled, and frosted I set to work in covering it with fondant.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Fondant, allow me to talk briefly about my feelings on this, often overused, ingredient. Fondant is comprised of sugar, oil, and typically a binding agent to give it a dough like consistency. It may be flavored with extracts, colored, rolled, and molded to cover cakes and create voluminous decorative elements.

My artistic background, which led me to become a full time pastry baker, included several years studying ceramics and as such I feel very at home as I knead, roll, and manipulate fondant. The characteristics are very similar to that of clay, and the capabilities are likewise expansive. But I’ll be honest: I don’t love the flavor. It’s not bad, it’s really just sweet and while you can flavor it with extracts, you’re still just putting some flavor on a bunch of sugar. Despite sugar being a principle component of my work, I do not love overly sweet desserts. I find them cloying, and distracting. Flavor is very important to me and as such fondant is typically not something I gravitate towards.

However there are exceptions, chief among them fondant for the sake of painting. There really is no substitute to my knowledge. I am eager to experiment with painting on marzipan but the texture of marzipan, while similar, is not nearly as smooth, and of course it contains almonds and is unsuitable for anyone with nut allergies. Fondant provides a polished and velvety canvas and is therefore ideal when painting a cake. It is impossible to “watercolor” paint on buttercream, though I have had success with a heavier “Bob Ross style” painting technique.

For painting delicate and whimsical wildflowers fondant is the ticket. All of this is to say that you will rarely hear me propose fondant, but if you are ordering a cake from me that requires a fondant outer layer you can rest easy knowing that what is trapped inside will be delicious and full of flavor, for what is a beautiful cake if it does not taste divine!

I always sink into a sort of trance while painting cakes, where a feeling of quite solitude and peace washes over me. I am easily influenced by subject matter, so painting wildflowers was an utter joy. I daydreamed about long hikes through canyons laden with cheery and vibrant flowers, a fragrant and colorful confetti I am all too eager to see and smell again. Painting this cake, with the sun shining in through the kitchen window deceived my mind and body into believing it was actually summer! For that I should like to thank the client who ordered this cake. Thanks Diane!

As I write this there is a thin dusting of snow on the ground, and the cold clutches of winter seem to tighten around this little mountain town yet again. My mind knows this is a necessary weather shift, but my heart is aching again for those warm prismatic days of summer where wildflowers grow rampant and weddings pepper my calendar. I work in the industry of love, and I love the work I do. You might say I’m living the dream, one cake at a time.

Article by Jasmine Snyder,
Article by Jasmine Snyder,
Owner, Baker and Artist at Whipped
501 Bond Street
Bozeman MT  59715

Photography by Amelia Anne Photography

1 comment:

  1. A lovely little piece that makes me equal parts hungry for cake and excited for summer. I like your philosophy on flavor and sweetness - I'll keep you in mind next time I need a cake in Bozeman!