Estella Banks
Chief Creative Officer & Founder
Independent Stampin' Up! Demonstrator
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(714) 264-0026

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Day Creativity, Science and Food Science Converged

My daughter had a science project due today.  Her assignment was to create a model of an animal or plant cell.  When she  told me that she wanted to make a cake like the ones she has seen on Cake Boss, my first reaction was "No way! That's just too much..." And then I stopped myself in mid-sentence.  I was going to say, "That's too much work," and then I reminded myself that my core value is to nurture creativity and how in the world could I live with myself if I didn't do that with my own daughter!? So the process of creating a cell model in an edible form began.

Saturday evening, we hit Michael's to pick up some pre-made fondant. We had already attempted to make fondant and quickly learned that we have a ways to go to perfect the fondant-making.  We also picked up some gel colorant for the icing and fondant. My daughter wanted to use candy to represent the various parts of the cell, so we headed over to Sweet Factory on Sunday.  This assignment really tapped into various parts of her brain!  She had to decide which candy best represented the nucleus, mitochondria, lysosomes, etc.  I had the privilege of learning right alongside her.

The next challenge was finding the right cake recipe. The cake needed to be dense enough to withstand the carving that she planned to do since the likelihood of finding a 3D cell-shaped cake pan 5 days before her project due date was not realistic.  I searched online and found an awesome recipe on Cake Central. She and I mixed up the first batch on Sunday night. The cake itself is delicious and I can just imagine the combinations and permutations that one can cook up by changing the cake mix and pudding! I made the next batch on Monday night so that she could move on to the next step: dirty icing.

Then we had to find a recipe for the buttercream frosting that is used to "dirty ice" the cake.  Dirty Icing is basically the process of covering the cake to contain the crumbs so that the fondant can be applied to the cake. Since this whole project was inspired by Buddy Valastro of Cake Boss, of course I had to look for his recipe.  The recipe I found on ABC's Good Morning America site was easy and tasty!

On Tuesday evening, we discovered the "joys" of dirty icing... boy, was that process an eye opener!  There must be some trade secrets that the Cake Boss team has not revealed on camera because the dirty icing was a beautifully fun mess!  My daughter, however, was determined and made it happen!

The near final step was to prepare and apply the fondant.  My daughter wanted the fondant to be kelly green since she had decided to model a plant cell.  She had to knead that fondant for quite some time and I relieved her once so she could regain her strength.  She added the gel icing color and kneaded some more.  Finally she was ready to roll out the fondant and finalize the model.  She managed to roll out the fondant into a slab large enough to fit her cake, which had been baked in a 13" x 9" pan.  Despite her best effort, she had to create patches to cover the areas that were "naked."  As I watched her work, I just felt proud of her and all that she had learned and was learning through this project.

Viola! The finished product.
The finishing touch was to place the candy representations of the cell parts onto the cake. She consulted various resources, including her textbook and other images that had inspired her along the way.  As you can see from the image, the end result was pretty amazing.  As we drove to school this morning, she reflected on the experience and came to the conclusion that she probably wouldn't take up cake making as a career.  We both had a lot of fun and learned a bit about cake making, cell science and most importantly, about each other. 

My lessons in this project were the importance of walking the talk and supporting my daughter's learning in a way that inspires her.  I have no doubt that this will be one of her fond and long-lasting memories.

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Estella Banks

Chief Creative Officer
Inspiring, Nurturing, Sharing Creativity

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