The art of eating

by Lenise Willis

Inlaying stones on a castle wall, local artist Tania McClelland,carefully crafts her creation. Whether building a medievalworld or painting the soft waves of the sea, McClelland takespainstaking effort to make her creations look as real — andtaste as delicious — as possible.

The owner of her at-home bakery, the Mixing Bowl Bakery in HighPoint, McClelland says that cake decorating is just as much of an art aspainting or sculpting.“Like in fi ne art and sculpting, you start with a medium, like a humpof clay, and make a masterpiece,” she says.

“It’s the same way with cakedecorating, except you are working with mediums of ‘sugar’ clay —fondant and gum paste — and a yummy, moist cake.“Cake decorating with fondant and gum paste is slightly more diffi cultthan say, clay or plaster sculptures,” McClelland continues. “It involvesgeometry, symmetry, even distribution of weight, support structures andstability, all while making it easy to cut and serve. All it takes is a humidor hot North Carolina day, and your masterpiece is potentially at harm.”

Because McClelland likes for her creations to look as real as possible, sheuses a lot of textures. But she also makes it a point to create as many edibledesigns as possible and almost never uses a plastic or inedible prop.Her most memorable and rewarding cake experience was creatinga castle birthday cake for a 3-year-old. The cake was constructed of atwo-tier cake covered in purple marble fondant and decorated with ediblehandcrafted butterfl ies that appear to fl utter above and around the cake.

The towers were made from gum paste, chocolate and ice cream cones.“Her mom sent me the cutest picture of [the girl] with her cake andyou should have seen her smile,” McClelland said. “She was so happywith her purple cake. It just made me feel so good.”McClelland says she defi nitely considers herself an artist. Actually, thetalent runs in the family. Her mother and father both paint and her sistersare freelance artists.“There is an art to great tasting desserts as well,” McClelland adds.

“Itcan be tough preparing a design that will still taste great in the end. Cakedecorating, just like any art, has its limitations, especially when you areconcerned about freshness. Instead of a 3-D experience, I call it a 4-Dexperience because not only are you concerned about color, shape andtexture, but there is another factor: taste. What is a great edible work ofart if it doesn’t taste delicious?”McClelland lets her imagination lead her elaborate designs, but it’s herinherited baking skills that let her create such moist specialties as RockinRed Velvet cake, orange chiffon cake, fresh country strawberry cupcakes,lemon bars, muffi ns and chocolate lollipops.

Customers special order their cakes by selecting their fl avor of cake,cupcake or cakepop and pair it with a frosting and fi lling. Frostingchoices include whipped chocolate ganache, chocolate mocha buttercream,buttercream dream, lemon cream cheese and more.Gluten-free alternatives are also available.McClelland says her Rockin Red Velvet Cake is her specialty, andrightfully so, as it was this fl avor that landed her a vendor spot withCastle McCulloch, for whom she’ll make wedding cakes.

“I let them taste the red velvet and they said it was the best they’vehad,” she said.

wanna go?

Mixing Bowl Bakery