Happy November (almost)! Since discovering the gorgeous work of Lori Hutchinson (The Caketress), I’ve been fascinated with the concept of “couture cakes,” which means using couture gowns as inspiration for cake design. When I saw that she was teaching a course on Haute Couture Cakes at Bonnie Gordon School in Toronto, where I have taken all of my previous cake courses, I signed up right away. Although there are, and have been, other cake designers who incorporate couture-type details into their cakes, it seems that The Caketress has become synonymous with this type of design, and I’m sure no one would argue that she owns this style. So much so, that students travel from all over the world, literally, to take instruction from her. Lucky me lives only45 minutes away!
Lori, The Caketress, and she was so inspiring and helpful. The vibe in this class was highly creative-yet-casual, and I felt that made it really easy to open up, ask any question whatsoever, and just have fun. I’m speaking from my perspective, but I would bet the other girls would agree. For such an accomplished artist, Lori is so warm and down-to-earth. I have so much respect for her and her work. Here are some of the highlights from my time in class:
On Saturday morning we pretty much dove right into learning and watching Lori demonstrate some of her favourite techniques (above), including several types of pleating, ruffling, draping, and more. Although we each brought our sketched cake designs based on couture gown inspiration, we tweaked and altered our cake designs after learning some new techniques. Now it was time to start working on our cakes…
This is Kate, and she came in from London, Ontario for the class. Here she is working on one of her wedding cake designs–let me say, this girl does beautiful work and is super speedy. She completed two cakes to our one, well, actually, everyone else’s one and my half of one, but we’ll get to that . . .
And…voila! I’m not sure I was even done drinking my morning coffee when I turned around and Kate has whipped this up: a gorgeous pleated 3-tier wedding cake. I love the pearl medallion she created and added as a final design detail. Go Kate!
This is the cake Kate created on the first day of class, perfectly pearled and ruffled. Gorgeous.
This couture wedding cake is Alice’s creation. Alice sat beside me for the two days, and it was so great chatting with her. Alice recently finished schooling at Le Cordon Bleu in California, and she flew in from L.A. for this class. She really incorporated so many of the techniques we were taught into this elegant cake.
Here’s a side-view Rafia’s feminine ruffle cake. I personally really loved the little touch-of-Tiffany she added with the robin’s-egg-blue rosette and cake board. The hints of gold with the use of the dragees placed whimsically on the top tier really create such interest. I haven’t known Rafia long, but I can tell you this cake is so her! She’s lovely and feminine, and was so sweet to chat with.
This is Sujin. She traveled all the way from Korea for this and two other classes at the school that week. She had a translator and friend, Esther (who was so friendly and entertaining, I might add), accompany her for the first day to assist with language, but I have a feeling that Sujin’s instincts, undivided attention to Lori’s technique demonstrations, and her quiet intensity during class served her perfectly well.
Here is Sujin’s completed wedding cake. She used a Korean couture bridal gown as inspiration, which really makes this cake stand out to me. She’s clearly an amazing artist, and although we weren’t able to really talk to each other, it was easy to see she’s also such a wonderful person. Who knows, maybe she’ll come back from Korea to Bonnie Gordon School again. It was great to meet her.
Well, we’ve established that all of my classmates designed and created amazing cakes by the end of the 2-day course. Thing is, I actually ran out of time and didn’t complete my cake during class, but after returning home I revamped my cake and completed it (finally!) closer to my original design. I think I may have designed something a wee bit too time-consuming for the weekend course, but that’s okay. I spent some time changing what I did and was able to really focus on figuring out how to achieve what I wanted. I based my cake design on a gown by my favourite designer (and my wedding dress designer too!), Monique Lhuillier. Oh, if I could have a wedding do-over, this would be the dress! Here’s a quick shot of what I went into class with:
I did this sketch based on the photo of the dress–an amazing pleated, ruched, rosetted ball gown. As you can see in the group shot above, I ended up only having time for a few of the roses and then I did a light pink draped detail on the top tier. The reason I changed it afterwards, is because I really wanted to challenge myself with a more structured-style pleating and layering on the top tier, just as my sketch suggests.
Here’s a photo of my cake in progress…
And here’s my finished cake. I ended up putting my time into layering varying size fabric-inspired rosettes around the cake and creating a ruffled wrap for interest and more structure. It’s a slight departure from my initial sketch, but I find that happens sometimes, and the design can just take its own shape as I go along. The best cakes can happen this way!
Here’s a detail shot of the ruffled fabric-like brooch detail and the pleating I did on the top tier, inspired by the bodice of the gown. This cake was definitely a change from my typical style, but couture cake techniques are so inspiring, and I learned a lot.
Working with Lori, and the whole gang in this class, was so much fun. I look so forward to using the couture techniques on future designs–the possibilities are endless!
Thanks so much for stopping by. xo