Comic Book Superheroes Latest Cake Decorating Trend

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

From cartoons to cakes.

Here at Bologna's International Cake Show - named "Lost in Sugarland" - the most famous Disney movies characters are taking shape from gum paste.

Aladdin and Princess Jasmine stand on their magic carpet in front of the "One Thousand and One Nights" palace.

Birds in flight hold the veil of Cinderella, sitting in a carriage with her prince.

No-matter how small, all details have been created by designers with the utmost care.

Now in it's third year, thousands of visitors are crowding into the international fair to view the various sweet creations.

Elsewhere, with rotating trays, air puffs, led lights and music - electric cakes are at the forefront of cake design today.

Rosaria Conforti, a beginner in cake design, took one month to make this electric cake inspired by super hero Wonder Woman.

Despite being new to the craft, Conforti says she's definitely caught the cake designing bug: "I would go to bed with a ball of sugar paste, I can't help myself. In the evening (after dinner), I cannot wait to clear the table and start creating again."

During the Cake Show - organised by Maison Madeleine, who specialise in sugar-crafting equipment - international cake designers are giving practical demonstrations to beginners in classroom sessions.

The American "Queen of Frill" Maggie Austin is demonstrating her innovative technique which has made her famous all over the world.

Having been a ballerina since she was four-years-old, Austin was forced to end her career in 2006 when she suffered an injury while dancing with the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago.

But, having attended a pastry school program, Austin discovered a new devotion in life.

Austin's kitchen has now become her studio where she can elaborate and reinvent designs with patience and attention to detail.

This frilling technique seems to mimic the multiple layers of ballet tutus from her dancing past.

"I don't think I was directly inspired by the 'tutu' but, as a former ballet dancer, I am sure that I was indirectly inspired by the tutu I suppose, but all kind of textiles fabrics are inspiration to me," says Austin.

These frills are created using a fresh and modern technique by the former ballerina, who uses roller pins to create the intricate designs.

Having found her calling in cake design, Austin says she's made peace with her past: "No regrets about my past, I had a wonderful but short career and it's always something that will be close to my heart, but I am also extremely grateful that I have another opportunity to express my artistic creativity."

As with last year's show, one of the most popular courses is run by British cake designer and author Alan Dunn, who is well known for his life-like sugar flowers.

Dunn says there are numerous top trends in cake design at the moment: "Top trends, there are many of them. The flower's a constant and there seems to be a re-interest in very floral cakes, but also frills. Maggie Austin from Washington D.C. sort of reinvented the frills and I see everybody's copying it, which is funny for me cause I first saw frills back in the sort of the mid-nineteen eighties in England. But it's good to see that's making a comeback. I guess the minute a lot of that sort of vintage, shabby chic style as well, who knows where it will all go?"

In Italy, the sugar art craze has grown in the last three years with lots of interest being created by successful American television programs which focus on cake decorating.

The "Lost in Sugarland" competition and the laborious creations here on display demonstrate how professional cake designers are becoming across the country.

This area - dedicated to Marvel comics - shows cake creations like this Chrysler Building-shaped cake with Marvel comic book heroes climbing the sides.

Award-winning master pastry chef Eric Lanlard is also here in Bologna.

Having created a wedding cake for Madonna and Guy Ritchie, a first birthday cake for Brooklyn Beckham and also baked for the Queen Mother when she turned 101-years-old, Lanlard has gained a reputation as a pastry chef for the stars.

Lanlard says he has recently gained another VIP client: "Another customer who loves baking and loves cooking is Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga is fanatic about baking and making cakes, when she's in London she always orders some cakes from us and she knows what she wants because she knows a cake, she knows exactly what she wants inside the cakes, which is great."

The master pastry chef says singer Lady Gaga is so passionate about cakes that one day she may change her career: "If tomorrow she (Lady Gaga) stops singing, she will become a cake maker. That's what she said."

Bologna's International Cake Show ran from 15-17 November 2013.

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