Van Gogh Inspired Halloween Cake
With Halloween season not too far away, cakes, cookies and cupcakes decorated as pumpkins, monsters and bats are on every store shelf. However, taking an artistic approach to creating a Halloween masterpiece is an idea that few people explore.
When choosing how to decorate a seasonal treat, as an artist, I always turn to my favorite paintings. For Halloween, I bake various goodies for different events. Since most schools do not observe Halloween, but instead a fall festival, it’s an easy choice to decorate a cake that resembles Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
As an artist, I do not pride myself in my home cooking techniques and ability to bake from scratch. I use a cake-in-a-box and no one is the wiser. I always read the boxes and other ingredients to make sure that nothing I am using contains peanuts; nuts cause a serious reaction in those who are allergic. The shopping list includes: boxed cake mix (don’t forget the necessary ingredients from the back of the box), blue food coloring, yellow food coloring, red food coloring, two tubs of white icing, black gel icing and baker’s chocolate chips (optional). Everything should be available at your local supermarket.
Once you have your two layer cake baked per the instructions on the box, the fun begins! As my cake is cooling, I start mixing colors. It is best to have a picture of Starry Night to be your decoration and color guide. Images are readily available on the Internet. Divide one tub of the white icing in half into separate containers. In one container, mix the blue icing. I have found that it takes one whole tube of blue food coloring to achieve the dark blue necessary for Starry Night.
In the next container, mix the yellow food coloring. Remember that it is easier to start off lighter and get darker. Once your yellow has reached a rich primary yellow, add the red a drop at a time in order to achieve an orange color.
Assemble and ice your cake layers with the white icing leaving the top bare. The top is where you will “paint” your masterpiece. Use the blue icing to completely ice the top of the cake.
Once you have iced the top of the cake, you are ready to begin creating the elements from the painting. With the black gel icing, “paint” a tree like the one in the painting. This is easy to create because it consists of triangles. Draw the large triangle first and then draw two smaller triangles in the form of branches. Fill in the tree with the black gel icing with a butter knife. Van Gogh used a blunt paint brush in order to paint Starry Night and the butter knife works just the same. Don’t be afraid to blend with your fingers if necessary.
The last step is to create the stars. This is tricky because the blue icing will to blend with the orange icing. Don’t worry! Notice how the colors blend in Van Gogh’s painting – it is the same technique. I like to use the back of a spoon to apply the stars and the moon. With the back of the spoon, scoop out some icing and put a dollop on the top of the cake in the blue area. Using the back of the spoon spread the icing around in a circular motion. Create the stars in the same manner, except smaller. Continue until you have achieved your desired amount of stars. I chose eleven stars.
Finally, add the chocolate chips to give the tree a knotted appearance. Your edible work of art is finished. You have created a haunted masterpiece that will certainly be a conversation starter!