Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Chattanooga Competition Cake in Detail

I have talked about the Formal Affair cake competition, and last time I discussed the bridal show and my encounter with Duff Goldman.  But I wanted to take another post to go into some detail about the cake we put on the table and some of the things we learned while doing the cake.  This is another long post and you can see much bigger pictures of each image by clicking on it.

Let's talk flavors first.  I almost never talk about the flavor of the cake or the icings, as most time it doesn't affect the look of the cakes.  But the competition was based on taste too.  I wanted to do something unique, and it very well may have backfired on me.  I chose to make the cake a banana cake with a salted caramel filling and my vanilla house buttercream.  Chad and I both thought it was delicious, in fact we ate it for most of the week.

OK, on to the cake.  With the exception of the very top of the Aquarium tier, everything on this cake was edible.  Only cake, fondant, and modeling chocolate.  We didn't even use any rice crispy treats, but we did use just a few small edible images.

Bottom Tier

Since this cake was suppose to be a Chattanooga Themed Groom's cake, we decided to make the cake about places that our fictional groom likes to visit.  So we decided to make it about the places in Chattanooga that WE like to visit.  The bottom tier was a 16" square cake that represented downtown Chattanooga.  Our initial plan was to make this bottom tier one business, but we wanted our cake to be decorated and pretty on all sides.  So we took on the job of making a separate business on each side of this tier.  And here they are in no particular order:
Clumpies Ice Cream
Clumpies Ice Cream has some of the best Ice cream in Chattanooga.  We cut the logo out of modeling chocolate and made the ice cream scoops by actually scooping out modeling chocolate with a mini scoop.

The Comedy Catch
We have seen SO many great acts at the Comedy Catch that we thought it would just be un-Chattanooga-like to omit it.  Although once I started making it, I realized there weren't a lot of "accessories" I could make to go with it.  I molded the comedy masks out of modeling chocolate, as well as the logo.  The awning was made using fondant with tylose.  I had real intentions of making a microphone stand, but I ran out of time.

The Terminal Brewhouse
The Terminal Brewhouse is just a stone's throw away from the Chattanooga Choo Choo.  We have dropped in many a Saturday afternoon to have lunch after delivering cakes.  They have great beer, even better food and they're one of those rare companies that don't take themselves too seriously.  Their menu is filled with humorous bits that on first glance you might not even notice. The accessories were all made from modeling chocolate, and so was the logo, except for the name (we used an edible image for the "THE" and "BREWHOUSE" lettering.

Chattanooga's Julie Darling Donuts
CJDD is probably the newest business on this cake, but in a very short time they have won our sweet-loving hearts.  They make some of the BEST donuts.  Anytime we go near there, Chaddy wants to stop for a pancakes and bacon donut.  I made all of the donuts and accessories from modeling chocolate, fondant, and icing and piping gel (for the fillings).  I initially hand-painted the Julie Darling heart, but the white-on-red was the only thing that looked bad, so after this picture was taken we printed the whole heart with wording as an edible image.

TIER 2 & 3

Lupi's Pizza and UTC Mocs
I wanted a short tier on my cake and an extra tall one.  Why not put them together?  The pizza tier represents our favorite pizza place in Chattanooga, Lupi's.  Lupis is another place where you can go and have fun.  There are action figures glued to the walls, Christmas lights used to make tree sculptures, and they're always cranking some eclectic tunes.  The pan is cake airbrushed silver and the pizza is fondant that I dry brushed to give that hearth baked look.  One cool technique here was that I froze and grated fondant to make cheese.  I wasn't entirely happy with it, so Chaddy suggested I take the blow torch to it.  Amazingly enough, it melted and browned, just like real cheese!

The next tier I wanted really tall, but I also wanted more of a traditional "cake" shape.  Now I realize that the corset shape is not the most traditional, and still carved, but I liked the look.  We cut the harlequin shapes out of modeling chocolate and we used the Cricut to cut out the UTC Mocs logos.  Chad worked on the graphics files and cut the logos.  It took him 2 nights to put them together, but they were extremely detailed and clean.


Krystal Burger
They're hot, small, and square - it's the delicious Krystal burger.  And since they're headquartered  in Chattanooga, how could we NOT include them?  The box and the logo are modeling chocolate and the burger is cake covered in fondant and again dry brushed with various colored dusts to give that baked look.  Even though we wound up cutting some of the "burger" off for the aquarium to sit on, we made it as a standalone cake so we could get some really good pictures of it.


The Tennessee Aquarium
The Tennessee Aquarium is one of the most recognizable buildings in Chattanooga.  We pulled multiple pictures off the Internet and even scouted the location and took our own pictures to make sure we had just the right angles.  The walls are painted modeling chocolate, but the logos are edible images.  The roof, oh that roof!  I thought about using isomalt, but I was really worried about the weight and the fragility of it.  The actual roof has a grid pattern to it, so I decided to use gelatin sheets instead.  I made a wire frame and used tylose glue to adhere the panels to the wire frame.  The sheets were very brittle, but a short stay in the cooler softened them enough to make them pliable without getting too gummy.

If you have any questions, please leave me a comment and I will comment back with the answer.  Check back on Friday when I blog about our first Icing Smiles cake!!


  1. Jen, the cake you made for the competition was just amazing. I can not imagine all the work that you put on it, the details and colors are perfect. When I saw the full cake I was wondering if it was real or you used dummy cakes. My question is, what did you do with all the cake after the competition?

  2. @Kathia, Thanks for your comments! The rules stated it had to be all cake/edible material. Many of the businesses on the cake wanted their respective tiers and the rest I gave away to the security and event staff.

  3. Jenniffer, holy smokes - love it. not only would grooms want to chow down on this but i would too -- totally into the square shaped burger! nice work on all the details!

  4. Amazing detail - a lot of thought was put into this cake. You must've dreamed about it so many nights!

  5. Thanks for the comments everyone! Even though we didn't win, we had a very good time working on it.
    @lyndsay - Krystals in the South are similar to White Castles in the north.
    @Juanita - Thank you, that means so much, especially coming from you. Whether you call them dreams or nightmares, we did put a lot of thought into the cake's design.


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