You may already know, but if not, I am about to save you years of agony like I have endured. It seems that food is the most difficult thing in the world to photograph. More difficult than beautiful women, babies or animals. the ingredients melt under the lights. The pouf goes woof in a matter of seconds. The jam stops oozing and starts to gurgle. The crystallized sugar begins to sweat and get wet and lumpy. The food has no sparkle. If you printed pictures of the way it really photographs, no one would buy a cookbook every again. Obviously this is no way to run a food business, so the cookbook editors of the food world united and began to cheat on the preparation of the food so it would photograph better. It started with shaving cream instead of whipped cream, they dip fruits and vegetables in oil so they’d sparkle as we imagine they did while still attached to the tree or stalk where they came from. They used marker pens to colour up so-so looking foods or they went entirely to plaster of paris so they wouldn’t have to bother with the real thing at all. Have you ever been to a bakery and taken a good hard look at the 5 tier wedding cake they have on display? the one with the bride and groom on the top with the buttercream roses? Well, guess what, folks- that’s a fake cake.
but it sells cakes. And the food tricks sell the books and magazines they are supposed to sell. And the only time it hurts is when you stand at home, making recipe after recipe, getting more and more frustrated because you can’t duplicate the picture.
I’d like to think that cake shops have a little more integrity than that nowadays and as I stroll through the streets of Melbourne I am pleasantly surprised. In my wanderings i come across a quaint cake shop nestled away in Melbourne’s streets called Amarantos Cakes, If you are familiar with their work then you will know there is no sneaky camera tricks going on here, just the most beautiful cakes melbourne has to offer. The attention to detail and designs are nothing short of spectacular. So we are going to try to reproduce one of the designs we saw that day with the following recipe and hopefully we can achieve the same level of expertise! It might take a few goes so don’t lose heart.
- 225 grams semi sweet chocolate
- 250 grams sifted plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 110 grams of shortening
- 225 grams of sugar
- 3 egg whites, unbeaten
- 220ml milk
- 1 1/4 tsp vanilla
Cut each small square of chocolate into 4-6 pieces. Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt and sift together three times. Cream shortening thoroughly, add sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each. Add flour, alternately with milk, a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Add vanilla.
Grease two 20cm tins, lined with waxed paper, and grease again. Pour about one sixth of chopped chocolate over each lot. Repeat ending with chocolate. Bake in a moderate oven 190ºC for 30 minutes or until done.
Ice with your favourite icing, decorating with shredded coconut or any garnish you desire (As we are trying to reproduce an Amarantos Cakes design, we are going to use marzipan). For cupcakes, add chocolate to mix with vanilla. Bake in greased cupcake pans in moderate oven 190ºC for 20 minutes, or until done.