Is it a cake or is it a real architectural model? That was the question on the day of delivery.
Our dream-team was so honored by the city of Elizabeth to create a cake model of their newest accomplishment; the very 1st GREEN LEED GOLD CERTIFIED Residential Affordable Housing Development in the State of New Jersey!!! The Grand Opening of 205 First Street Senior Housing Development was held last week with representatives from the governor’s office as well as the Mayor of Elizabeth, NJ and many others.
Cathy J. Hart, deputy director of Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth (HACE), had the idea to surprise everyone with this cake. She put so much heart into this idea. Cathy sent us images of architectural renderings, along with photos of the mayor of Elizabeth, J. Christian Bollwage and the executive director of HACE , William D. Jones.
On my first conversation with Cathy, she wondered if we could make a cake that was an exact architectural replica. I reassured her by telling her that I had taken a year of architecture design courses in college so, it was our kind of project. While brainstorming, Cathy and I came up the idea to add hand-made gum paste sculptures of Mayor Bollwage and William D. Jones on top of the cake shaking hands. The building was named after the mayor to honor him for all he’s done for the city.
Both Nicole, skilled dream-team assistant, and I were very excited by this cake. We felt like architects; making scaled plans from a 3-D computer rendering. This took a long time to meticulously plan the entire building out. We wouldn’t want windows or doors that were out of proportion to the entire building; it wouldn’t look like the actual building for all those viewing the cake. We were lucky. There were a number of square windows on the building. From measuring the squares and making a key of 1 square = 3/4″ we were able to map out the entire building.
After the plans were made, we drew trees, people and street signs to scale. All of the windows, solar panel shutters, street signs, street lamps, molding details and even a tiny fire hydrant were made of gumpaste ahead of time and laid out to dry. Nicole made tiny gumpaste pedestrians that reminded me of voodoo dolls. They were adorable. The trees were made by drying out green gumpaste, shredding it into pieces, then sticking it onto shapes of green gumpaste with edible glue. Sounds delicious doesn’t it? Well these were not eaten, especially when Cathy chose our most delicious flavor for the building’s interior; Chocolate Bananas Foster. Yum, Yum!!
We like to assemble the cake as late as possible when it has fresh bananas in it. So my team and I assembled everything the evening before. The cake must have weighed around 80-100 pounds. So it was quite a challenge to lift and move. It even took 3 of us to lift this cake and put it on the board. This cake was scaled to serve 150 generous slices. I was so happy to hear from Cathy that it was the best cake she ever tasted!
This type of project is the reason that I love making cakes for the community. We get to share our talent and skill with people that really appreciate how it adds to the importance of their event. Being from a product design background, I really appreciate all that goes into improving the common person’s life and making it better, especially the elderly. This is what the 1st Street building is all about; building affordable housing that is environmentally designed for its affect on residents and the surrounding community. It was truly wonderful to be a part of this event.
*I must add a special thank you to Nicole and Victoria for all your time and effort on this project. Thank you Cathy for allowing us to be a part of your very special event!