Monday, 9 May 2011

Cloisonné Cake Decoration

Cloisonné is a jewellery-making technique used by the Anglo-Saxons (among others).  Small cut garnets, pieces of crystal, shell and coloured glass were laid on a gold backing, and walled around with gold to create geometric designs.  As a fun evening activity for some fellow medievalists, and a celebration for a succesful day's outing, we raided the Home Baking aisle of the local sainsbury's and made our own 'circular brooch cake'.  These directions assume that you already have a cake ready to be decorated; it could be any typical flavour, but shouldn't be likely to be overwhelmed by the taste of the jelly diamonds and other decorations.

Cloisonné Cake Decoration
You Will Need:  Small bowl, teaspoon, butter/palette knife, patience, dexterity, inspirational brooch image

cake, completely cooled and plated flat-side uppermost
icing sugar
juice half a lemon
yellow food colouring
'golden' marzipan
packet(s) jelly diamonds
packet candied cherries
(mixed peel, candied ginger, angelica and silver balls could also be used)

1) Mix the icing sugar, colouring and lemon juice to make a relatively thick, blonde icing.  Spread it over the cake in a thin layer.
2) Sort the jelly diamonds into colours and work out how you will arrange the design to be most like your inspirational picture.  Roll pieces of the marzipan into very thin worms and wrap them around the edges of the jelly diamonds.  Pinch the diamonds to affix the marzipan firmly and point up the corners.
3) Do the same with the cherries or pieces of cherries if you don't have enough 'garnet' jelly diamonds.
4) Place the 'jewels' onto the cake, working from the centre outwards and using more icing if necessary.
5) Surround features of the design with longer worms.  In the gaps between the main features twist more marzipan worms together into helices and curl artistically.  If arsed/have room, make one big worm all the way round the edge.

Happily, a cake so decorated will also look beautiful when sliced as the designs aren't ruined when the cake is cut.

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