A long time ago (not really), in a galaxy far, far away (Boston), attendees to the Arisia sci-fi convention got revenge on the Evil Empire by tearing into a life-size Stormtrooper cake.
Though geek-inspired cakes aren't new, we imagine creating a 6-foot, 300-pound sugary replica of a Stormtrooper wasn't an easy task, so we had to find out more.
Crave caught up with Amanda Oakleaf, founder and co-owner of Amanda Oakleaf Cakes, to ask about the highs and lows of building the Stormtrooper dessert. (Seriously, where does one even start?)
Oakleaf started her cake business in 2008 in her one-bedroom apartment and has since expanded to a storefront in Winthrop, Mass., where she also sells cupcakes, cheesecakes, and other baked goods, in addition to the shop's main gig of making custom and wedding cakes.
Oakleaf and her talented crew spent two weeks on the cake, and well, we'd say the end result was pretty scrumptious. Read on to see how it all came together.
Q: What was the most challenging part about making the Stormtrooper cake?
Oakleaf: Making it taste delicious. The cake would have been much less challenging had we not strived so hard to make it taste as good as all of our more expensive wedding cakes. As a general rule, the better something tastes the harder it is to work with from an artistic perspective, but we made sure that every last piece was up to our very high standards of being light, fluffy, moist, and delectable.
Q: In your blog, you mention that you had to come up with new cake-making methods for the piece? Can you elaborate?
Oakleaf: One of the biggest challenges with this cake, and the reason you haven't seen too many sculpted humanoid-style cakes is because it requires a person to use very long stretches of vertically placed fondant, which is nearly impossible to keep attached to the cake.
In most situations, the fondant simply falls off to reveal a naked Stormtrooper or whatever else you are decorating. What we did is to invent a new way to go about decorating the cake in segmented sections as to enable the fondant to stretch longer over wide vertical runs in the legs and torso.
Q: What was the process for creating this cake?
Oakleaf: You start with the structure. We knew from the beginning that we would have a very limited amount of time and space with which to assemble the piece on-site, and therefore the cake had to be made in a fashion that would allow it to be easily segmented and assembled on-site. We used iron pipes because they were both sturdy and allowed us to easily screw and overlap them to put the cake together on-site.
Q: Is this the largest cake you guys have made?
Oakleaf: Yes. The next largest was a 5-foot-tall Dora the Explorer cake we made for the Food Network Challenge TV show.
Q: What kind of cake was the Stormtrooper cake?
Oakleaf: The cake itself was a yellow cake with vanilla Italian meringue buttercream and a homemade marshmallow fondant. Each serving of cake had three layers of cake and two layers of filling just as if it were a wedding cake.
Also worth noting is our fondant, which is a homemade marshmallow based fondant that actually tastes good, like a big marshmallow covering the cake. We meant it when we said that every last piece was edible. Unlike the store-bought variety, people actually really enjoy eating our fondant.
Q: What was the reaction from the convention organizers and attendees?
Oakleaf: Everyone was thrilled! Although the security people got a little nervous when they saw over 600 people in line to get a slice!
Q: Are you a "Star Wars" fan? If so, who's is your favorite character?
Oakleaf: Yes. Once you spend several weeks making something, you can never not notice it again. So in that respect, I think we have a thing for Stormtroopers now.
Q: Have you seen a increase in requests for "Star Wars" or geeky cakes since the Stormtrooper cake?
Oakleaf: Yes, we've already been asked to do another one. We'll have to see if it's in their budget, though, as it's a rather expensive thing to have us dedicate our entire bakery to a single cake for two weeks.
Q: What's the next big challenge/project for Amanda Oakleaf Cakes?
Oakleaf: It'd be really cool to make a few life-size (or larger than life-size) dwarves or maybe a Gandalf for Peter Jackson's upcoming "Hobbit" movie. Tell someone to have him call us!