A towering symbol of love

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By Michelle Anne P. Soliman, Reporter

A HAND-MADE wedding dress of intricate lace accented with tiny pearls and over a thousand flowers, and a plunging neckline, might just be the dress a bride could wish for for her big day. That wedding dress recently became a reality but no bride could wear it as it was actually a wedding cake.

The tradition of the wedding cake dates back to medieval Europe when couples were challenged to kiss atop cake stacks to signify their marriage’s prosperity. At today’s wedding receptions, the slicing of the cake is the first activity the couple performs together, symbolizing their union. It is also meant to signify good fortune.

The Peninsula Manila invited Bruneian cake designer Faridah Yussof to create a seven-foot wedding gown cake to serve as the centerpiece of the “Weddings at The Pen 2018” wedding fair which was held on June 9.

A day prior the wedding fair and 11 hours before the mounting of the exhibit, BusinessWorld met with Ms. Yussof to talk about the project as she calmly continued finishing the details, despite working a day behind schedule. Her secret ingredients? Passion and patience.

Ms. Yussof recalled that her desire to bake cakes began in 1986 when she thought of making one for her twin daughters’ first birthday. “For my first cake I carved two ducks swimming in a pond and I realized I really loved doing cakes.”

She studied at the Wilton School of Cake Decorating in Illinois in 1999, followed by courses in the United Kingdom and Australia, but it was only in 2006 that she decided to sell her cakes.

Despite the growing trend of using artificial (inedible) cakes for special occasions, Ms. Yussof pushes for the use of baked cakes. “It’s your day. It’s your wedding. Why don’t you give it (the cake) to charity or enjoy [it] with guests. I have no idea why they (couples) think it’s a waste,” adding that she finds it difficult to work on artificial cakes since the styrofoam needed to create one in Brunei is sourced from outside the country. “When I mold (a real cake), it’s very easy to handle.”

Ms. Yussof was surprised when she was invited to design a seven-foot cake for The Pen’s wedding fair. Since she believes in investing in experiences, she took them up on the offer. “The challenges and the opportunity, you cannot repeat again — that’s why I agreed,” she said.

The seven-foot butter-and-chocolate-flavored wedding gown cake took 936 man hours to finish.

Ms. Yussof and her team sought the help of students from the Academy of Pastry and Bakery Arts Philippines in Makati City and ask them to bake the actual cake. Afterwards, Ms. Yussof’s team worked for 12 hours stacking and shaping the cake, as well as filling in the ganache. The following day entailed placing the fondant over the cake prior to working on the dress patterns.

The 1.5-foot torso (which can be mistaken for a dress mannequin at first glance) was baked on a molding tray and used one kilogram (kg) of chocolate ganache, three kilos of fondant, 2.5 kg of cocoa pops, and 2,000 sugar flowers. The 5.5-foot skirt has 252 layers of butter cake, 300 kg of chocolate ganache, 60 kg of fondant, and 19,500 inches of sugar lace.

The cake weighs 500 lbs.

The team members molded the sugar petals and fine lace, while Ms. Yussof put them in place on the cake’s tulle netting, deciding on the spot where to position the sugar crafts to accomplish her desired pattern.

“I don’t believe that [anything is] difficult,” Ms. Yussof said about challenges in baking. “I believe in troubleshooting and managing, if there is a problem in baking. I enjoy the challenges. It always makes me grow. Sometimes, I’m surprised with myself that I managed to solve the problem.”

For more information, visit www.cakesbyfaridah.com and @cakesbyfaridah on Instagram; or e-mail cakesbyfaridah@gmail.com or saffroncafe@gmail.com.