Our little family at St. Athanasius American Coptic Orthodox Church of Orlando moved to a new home this weekend. No, not the picture above but maybe someday. The picture above is that of the Coptic Cathedral of Saint Shenouda in Hurghada, Egypt. But this is the church I sought to replicate in cake. As usual, my goals were too lofty so it was a month of much trial and error. And, as usual, I tried too many new techniques and mediums. So, let me just say now that I hate pastillage and will never deviate from modeling chocolate again. As you can see, the arch above did not make it onto the cake below. More on how much I hate pastillage later.

RKT covered in white chocolate
Painted with copper lustre dust and fondant cross inserted with florist wire

I. Domes

Pretty smooth journey making these domes. I used a 4″ hemisphere cake pan to make the larger one. I lined it with saran wrap and formed the RKT in it first then when it was hardened I lined it with saran wrap again, filled it with melted white chocolate and pushed the formed dome in to coat it all with chocolate. Then, when that was hardened, I covered with fondant and painted it with copper lustre dust and vodka. The smaller domes were made with 2″ styrofoam balls. Super easy.

Towers covered with white chocolate after being formed in a cake pan

II. Towers

The towers were 10 inches tall and 2 inches square. I built them out of RKT in a 10 ” square cake pan very much the same way I formed the main dome. After I coated them with white chocolate I panel wrapped them in fondant and cut out the windows with templates I had made. The window “panes” were painted with pearl lustre and vodka to give them a window-like sheen.

III. Edifice

I had planned on adding an arch to the edifice as in the picture of the cathedral above but that didn’t work out. I decided to try pastillage even though I had ever used it before and, although it was not difficult to make, it was very fragile. I tried twice to cut a long strip and dry it on the side of an 8″ cake pan but it broke the minute I tried to transfer it. I have had more success with modeling chocolate structures in the past so will probably stick with that in the future. The icon of St. Athanasius is an edible image that I had made at D&G Occasions in Orlando. The doors were made with a small wood grain impression mat like this one.

IV. Stained Glass Windows

This was the most gratifying part of the whole process. And the stained glass windows made it on the cake quite by accident. My original plan was to cut out the crosses from the windows using a stencil but I was having such a hard time with soft fondant that I had to abandon the idea. And in a moment of desperation I found a cross cookie cutter that I had allowed my son to buy from a cake decorating sale just to appease him and I had my Eureka moment. I cut out the crosses and attached them to the windows. I then piped the outline of the windows and the stained glass pieces with black RI. I then mixed some different colors in with piping gel and voila! Time consuming but worth the effort.

V. The Sign

The placard in the front was made with a piece of pastillage I had left over cut into the size of a business card. I made the stencil with my Cricut machine. I initially tried airbrushing it which did not turn out well and eventually settled on stenciling it with royal icing. Later I thought I should have used mesh (tulle) over the stencil for a sharper outcome but this was the last thing I did and I was exhausted.

VI. The Color:

The Church got some depth of color with tan airbrushing per the suggestion of DH. This is his claim to fame.

VII. The Board:

I’m in love with these footed MDF boards by Avare. They are solid and so easy to pick up. They do not move in my car at all and can be reused. Just use Elmer’s or wood glue to secure your cardboard cake board to the MDF.

VIII. The Bishop.

IX. The Blueprints

X. The Specs

Serves 100

Approximate cost to produce: $175

Three half sheet vegan chocolate cakes (2 inch depth)

3.3 kg FondX ivory fondant

black fondant

brown fondant

wood grain impression mat

600 g RKT

3/4 lb white chocolate

4.76 Kg vegan dark chocolate ganache

bright copper lustre dust

pearl lustre dust

15.7″x 23″ Avare mdf board

1/2 sheet cake board

tylose powder

5 oz piping gel

red, blue, green, yellow, orange gel colors

black royal icing

brown and white airbrush colors

stencil sheet

2″ foam ball

3″ edible image

florist wire

half sheet cake pan(s)

4″ hemisphere cake pan

10″ square cake pan

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