Cynnabar Tower Cake

April, 1999

This cake was decorated for the dessert revel during the ball at Terpsichore at the Tower V, an annual SCA dance event. The tower is a heraldic symbol of the Barony of Cynnabar, whose arms are displayed on the tower window.

This cake taught me a lesson or two, which are detailed below.

The window and pennant were made ahead of time using the color flow method, in which outlines are flooded with thinned royal icing and allowed to dry.

The cake was made with 7 layers in the following order: 10"bevel 8" 8" 7" 7" 6" 8". Each layer was dowelled, and separated with cardboard trimmed to fit the slope of the walls, and cakes were trimmed for an even taper of the sides. The upper bevel was filled in with icing.

After the cake had been iced smooth and a sharpened dowell driven through the entire cake from the top, a flat spot was carved out (cutting boards as necessary) for the window to fit and crenelations were added to the top of the tower using icing.

Once the smooth icing had set, bricks were piped on using pale grey icing with basketweave tip #45. This was just enough contrast to the white icing for the texture to show up well.

In this picture, a cardboard template substitutes for the window which will be added after the cake has been transported.

A closer view of the brickwork at the top of the cake can be seen below.

A word to the wise. DO NOT try to transport a cake like this. Once I had finished working on it at home, I went to pick it up and discovered that it was far too topheavy to travel well. In fact, it fell over in the car while crawling onto a freeway onramp. The central dowell pulled out of the bottom layer, and the entire rest of the cake fell over sideways. Fortunatly, the top tier and the cardboards between the layers took the brunt of the fall, and the cake was still repairable. While on the shoulder of the onramp, I grabbed an extra cakeboard and lifted onto it the top layer, which had fallen off the cake entirely leaving it's cardboard behind. I used the dowell and lower cardboard to lift the rest of the cake back where it belonged, and with the upper layer gone it was now stable enough to survive the rest of the trip without further damage.

One I arrived at the site, I managed to get the tiers which had fallen correctly centered, and pretty close to exactly upright again, returned and repaired the fallen top tier (reconstructing one crenelation which was completely gone), removed smashed bricks and repiped them, and so forth, until the cake again looked like a castle, albeit one which had been around for a few years and had a few repairs. (Fortunatly, it is much easier to patch repair a surface with bricks than one iced smooth).

I then added the window and pennant, and piped the grass and ivy for a nice finishing touch. The cake recieved raves, both for looks and taste, despite it's somewhat tumultuous journey.

Were I to do this cake again, I would wait until I arrived at the event site to add the top tier or two.

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