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Mario Romani Gianpaolo Panizzolo, authors of the book “Sweet Airbrush”, present Venice Cake

The authors of the book “Sweet Airbrush”, Gian Paolo Panizzolo and Mario Romani, are back to give readers inspiration on how to make a two tier cake, where the conception is strictly combined with airbrushing and the development of the cake is a union between modelling and airbrush painting. The cake is dedicated to the city of Venice, famous in every latitude for its works of art and destination for tourists and lovers from all over the world. For this reason it has been conceived as two heart-shaped layers, a larger one and a smaller one placed on top. The work was divided into three parts: the preparation of the cakes and the air brushings, and the finishing with the decorations, the masks and inserts.

After having prepared the heart-shaped cake to our liking, place it on a plastic base (a polystyrene one can be used as an alternative) with the same shape. Then using butter cream, make it perfectly smooth, until it becomes one. Leave in the fridge for approx. 1 hour. Then cover with white rolled fondant sugarpaste to a thickness of approx. 3 mm. The placing of the two cakes is carried out by using plastic plates and straws.

The subjects to be represented on the cake are taken from photos and illustrations of Venice. First of all, make stencils out of transparent acetate sheets, through which you can air brush directly onto the cake: the skyline of the city at sunset, Rialto Bridge, a typical lamp post, a carnival mask. The acetate sheets are cut with an electric scalpel, with the aid of a sheet of glass in order to trace out the printed subjects without ruining them when cutting the acetate (photo 1).
Before starting work, plan everything, designing the arrangement of the various subjects for the cake on a piece of paper, for the first and second layer, so nothing is improvised and the various elements are distributed with balance and compositional skill. Start to work on the larger heart, the inferior one (photos 2-3). First of all work with a shaded egg-yellow background on the bottom part of the heart, and then add bright red (photo 4) freehand and sketch the clouds at sunset and the flame red of the sun, which will appear after, behind the silhouette of the buildings. At this point, using the stencil prepared earlier and a chocolate brown colour, air brush the outline of the buildings which standout on the background, shading the edges, both left and right (photo 5). Turning the stencil used for the outline of the buildings upside down, simulate the reflection of the buildings in the water, using the same brown colour, making streaks to represent the ripples on the water (photo 6), and then use the yellow and red to complete the reflection of the sunset in the water (photo 7).
On the side of the lower layer, next to the sunset in Venice, foresee a typical sugarpaste mask, lying on its side. In order to increase the realism of the application design eyes directly on the side of the cake, in such a way that they can be seen through the holes in the mask, which will be applied over them. Shade the contour of the eyes with black, then use a round stencil to delineate the iris and with an even smaller stencil the pupils (photo 8). A small stroke on the paste with the scalpel removes the pigment, which represents the light in the eyes, after that shade using a little orange and chocolate brown mixed together, to simulate the colour of skin (photo 9).

For the mask in relief, print an image and cut it out. Using this as a template, cut out the shape, including the holes for the eyes, with a scalpel from a piece of sugar paste. With the airbrush and black food colouring, simulate the three dimensional shape of the mask, trying to shade with a light grey to create shadows and leaving the illuminated areas white (photo 10). Shade the inside of the eyes with a greater intensity to hide the thickness of the paste. Then use a doily for the lace shadow on the mask (photo 11), attach to the cake using icing, being careful to place it exactly in correspondence to the eyes (photo 12).
To complete the placing of the mask in relief, airbrush the side of the cake with black to the left of the mask and shade slightly along the contours, in order to simulate the shadow that it casts on the surface of the cake. Lengthen the pier underneath the mask, where there is placed a stencil in the form of a lamp post, and colour it black (photo 13). Shade around the lamp post with a brilliant red and the yellow, leaving a lighter area around the lamps, to simulate the light coming from them.
At this point, use a heart-shaped template, the same size as the smaller cake and place it on the larger cake, airbrushing it with light blue (so as to have the exact reference for the reflection in the water of the Rialto Bridge) and then with violet-blue, going up from the black on the sides and also in some areas of the sunset (for example, near the lamp post) in order to darken the reflections and turn them violet.
On the surface of the bigger heart, with an acetate stencil which has been cut out using the inseparable electric cutter, airbrush the light-dark of the waves on the water and create this effect around the base of the small heart (photo 14).
Before starting to work on the smaller heart, place it temporarily on top of the larger one, so as to pinpoint exactly where to simulate the area of the reflection of the bridge, made freehand with the airbrush using a light grey on the water (photo 15). Then place it on a raised base to airbrush on the side, using the stencil of the bridge prepared earlier. To keep the acetate stencil in place, cut a long strip of acetate, attaching it to the right of the stencil with a piece of tape, taking it round the edge of the cake and fixing it, so that it is pulled tight, to the left of the stencil. Airbrush with a light grey, darkening the areas in shade.
At this point position the smaller heart on top of the other one, lining up the reflection on the water to the profile of the bridge (photo 16). Complete the reflection of the bridge on the water freehand, adding a little quantity of light blue to the sky of the smaller heart.

The mask is to be positioned on the second heart: cover a plastic mold for venetian masks in white chocolate (sugarpaste can also be used). Crystallize the chocolate, then remove the mask from the mold and prepare a metallic pink colouring for the base, using azo-free opaque colours for chocolate. Airbrush the inside of the folds with violet, to highlight the volume of the indentations and make the effect more realistic (photo 17). For the texture, place a lace material on the mask and airbrush in azo-free gold for chocolate (photo 18). The feathers are made using a mold for leaves, then worked on a rubber mat with a specific tool for the veins and the crimping on the edge. Attach the feathers on the back of the mask, after airbrushing them with the brilliant pink and shaded with azo-free silver, and then finish the edges with a sac à poche.

Using a mold for carnations, cut ten petals and work them using the specific tool for creating an irregular edge. Compose the flower using a round pan (photo 19). Airbrush with an opaque azo-free dark purple, leaving it one whole day to dry. For the feathers around the mask in relief, work as for the mask, after attach the flower and the feathers to the cake with a thick royal icing. One last spray of azo-free silver with the airbrush gives it all an elegant  pearlescent effect.
For this cake the following have been used: water-soluble colours and opaque azo-free colours for chocolate by Dekoris; sugarpaste by Laped; compressor and airbrushes supplied by Werther International, molds, cake pans and modeling instruments by Martellato.

Mario Romani and Gian Paolo Panizzolo
Photo Lucio Linguanotto




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