Throwback to when my culinary school exam was to make a fairy tale themed cake. It was the final project of level two and the first of the four projects that counted towards the final pastry project award. When I did this all I saw was the flaw (her face was a bit creepy, her hair was messy, the pastillage tube wasn’t quite tubular, the treat boxes were slightly wonky) but now I just look and think, ‘wow, I can’t believe I made that!’ I guess that’s what being out of culinary school for nearly 5 years will do to you.
First let me say, pastillage is easy enough to make but not easy to work with. We didn’t really get practice time to work with pastillage before we had to start on the cake stand–the final project for Level 2–so it was very intimidating. I did’t like going into an exam never having worked with the main material we had to use. Ah well. At least the class picked a really fun–albeit overly specific–topic: fairy tales that involve food. This narrowed it down to about ten stories to base our cakes off of. I picked Rapunzel, because I thought it leant itself nicely to a cake stand. I should point out that I picked Rapunzel not Rapunzel-as-portrayed-in-the-movie-Tangled, so it doesn’t have quite the whimsy of a part wattle and daube tower with a shingled roof…instead it’s a proper stone tower.
I figured the stand and the cake would be the tower, Rapunzel could have a ‘window’ in the tower to let her hair down out of, and the base of the tower would be the witch’s vegetable garden (complete with marzipan vegetables, keep out signs, and a black cat) that Rapunzel’s father steals from (yes, I know that the garden isn’t really at the base of the tower; it wouldn’t be a very good hidden tower if anyone could just wander up to it, but you get the point.) We also had to make ‘favor boxes’ completely out of pastillage. I decided they they would have little marzipan radishes (admittedly I made them look a bit like turnips) as handles.
By the way, the cake isn’t real cake…it’s a styrofoam cake dummy. That gave us much more time to make the stand, plus it was easier to cover with fondant than a real cake.
I digress, to make the stone pattern and the writing on the pastillage keep out signs, I thinned gel food coloring with a bit of clear liquor (vodka is the best to use, but we didn’t have that, so I ended up using framboise because it smells nice) and painted with it on the already molded and hardened pastillage tower and the covered cake. I made the vegetables, the cat, and Rapunzel (hair and all) out of marzipan. I colored some of the marzipan with gel food coloring mixed into the dough before I molded it and some with an airbrush after the shapes we already formed, depending on the colors and look I wanted. I stuck all the pastillage pieces together with melted isomalt–more on that another time. I also used it to glue the radish handles to the box lids and Rapunzel to her fondant window and the window to the tower. I attached the marzipan vegetables and cat to the base with a bit of green royal icing piped with a grass tip since they didn’t need to be as securely fastened.
All in all, my tower could have been a bit more cylindrical and favor boxes could have come out smoother looking, but I’m really happy with how my marzipan work came out and I love how the whole thing looks.