A 1.5m-long wedding cake? Oversize foodscapes are going to great lengths

UNITED STATES – After months of brainstorming how to have the most delicious wedding cake possible, Ms Rachel Karten and Roxanne Rosensteel, a pastry chef based in Santa Barbara, California, concluded that only one kind of wedding cake could fit the bill – a big sheet cake.

The original plan was to have four of them, but when Ms Karten, the former head of social media at Bon Appetit, saw the 0.9m-long cake at designer Sandy Liang’s wedding in June, she asked Rosensteel if it might be possible to combine four sheet cakes into one.

It was. Rosensteel baked an olive oil chiffon and plum jam cake, topped with burnt honey buttercream and delicate purple gomphrena blooms that measured just over 1.37m – a size dictated by the width of Rosensteel’s car. (Other bakers may travel with the cake in parts and put it together on-site.)

The mega cake was momentous for reasons beyond its size. It was part of an emerging trend of extremely long cakes popping up around the world. But they are alike only in their oversized proportions.

Bakers are putting their spin on large-format desserts to produce cakes of all forms and flavours, and for all occasions.

Zelikha Dinga, a chef based in Paris, baked a 1.5m-long semi-circlular cake for stylist and model Shawn Lakin’s wedding to Mr Matt Spector in Michigan in September.

That same month, Blanca Miro Scrimieri, a content creator and influencer, celebrated her birthday with a more than 1.5m-long Brazo Gitano, a Spanish cake roll, baked by Pastry Gas in Barcelona.

Julia Gallay of Gallz Provisions in Toronto baked a 2m-long floral slab cake for a pop-up event at a friend’s bar, passing it through a window.

These oversized foodscapes might feel trendy now, but the intersection of large-scale food and art is nothing new. “Food has always been a symbol of wealth and status,” said Professor Geraldine A. Johnson, head of the department of history of art at the University of Oxford in Britain.

“Beginning in the 16th century, there was an increasing fascination among European elites with elaborate banquets that included sculptures made of food,” said Prof Johnson. “At the wedding of Maria de Medici and the French King Henri IV in 1600, the elaborate table decorations included almost life-size gilded sugar sculptures of the bride and groom.”

In a more contemporary context, one could refer to Les Diners De Gala, Spanish artist Salvador Dali’s surrealist cookbook published in 1973, for scenes of sprawling tablescapes and towers of food. And more recently, artist and chef Laila Gohar has been doing large-scale desserts at high-profile events since 2019, including 15m of sweets in 2023 that fed 3,000 people.

Now, as a departure from Covid-19 pandemic-mandated micro-gatherings and individually-wrapped treats, the trend has arrived at weddings, along with oversized charcuterie boards and their newest iteration, butter boards. “This idea of a messier, more communal dessert will probably be something people continue to do,” said Ms Karten, who married Mr Greg Costanzo in September.

Then there is, of course, the social media appeal of these ostentatious offerings. Generally, Ms Karten said, “there’s a pressure with weddings to get attention. More people are attempting to do things or add little touches that might get them noticed online or set a trend”.

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