A gentleman came up to me and placed an order for a chocolate cake. He wanted it to be a birthday cake decorated for Halloween with the colors orange, red, and green, and to add Oreos and strawberries to the mix.
Sometimes, I wonder if I can design something good when a patron gives me odd combinations for colors, flavors, and decorations―even if it is for a holiday such as Halloween. With no pictures to use as a reference, I had twenty minutes to pull something aesthetically pleasing out of my skull. The greatest challenge here was determining how to make the colors orange, green, and red work with the black Halloween decorations and brown Oreos.
HOW TO PLAN A CAKE WITH ODD COLORS
If you are new to cake decorating and want to try something ambitious, I highly recommend getting a color wheel and looking up color palettes or color schemes. A color wheel is a graphic organizer that displays several colors and hues within the context of primary colors, secondary colors, and tertiary colors. Primary colors are the base set of colors that cannot be created, but are mixed to create everything else on the spectrum. They are red, yellow, and blue. Secondary colors are a set of colors created by mixing any two of the primary colors. Red and yellow make orange; red and blue make purple. Yellow and blue make green. Tertiary colors consist of mixing any secondary color with a primary color. For example, green and yellow make yellow green; orange and red make red orange; green and blue make blue green.
A color palette or color scheme is a grouping of specific colors that can be used to create stylistic appeal. Examples of color groupings are found in the paint sections of hardware stores, but you can easily find color schemes on the internet. Color schemes can be organized based on theme (Halloween, Christmas, Summer, etc.) or by the type of colors: warm, cool, pastel, or contrasting. Warm colors typically have yellow, red, and orange notes and inspire feelings of warmth. Cool colors typically have green, blue, and purple notes and are often neutral in tone. Pastel colors consist of any color that is light and not as intense. Contrasting colors, also known as complementary colors, consist of colors from the opposite side of the color wheel. For example, red and green are opposite on a color wheel, as is orange and blue. When these colors are mixed, they create neutral tones such as browns and greys.
If you’re wondering about whether or not black and white are colors, black is the absence of color and white is the blending of all colors (at least, when it comes to light). If you mix food colors and paints together, you will not get white. You will get grey; this is because you are mixing pigments.
BACK TO THE HALLOWEEN CAKE
Unless you’re well versed in how primary, secondary, and tertiary colors work, it can be daunting to get a cake order with colors that usually do not go well together. For Halloween cakes in particular, try Googling Halloween color palettes under images, and you will find various wonderful color schemes to use as reference for decorating a Halloween cake.
What are the typical Halloween colors? Orange and black are the traditional colors. Green and purple are used as accents for the orange and black. My customer wanted red instead of purple.
While thinking about how I should mix green, red, orange, and brown Oreos with strawberries, I decided that a good route to take was to make the cake as minimalistic as I could to accommodate for the loud colors. This meant passing on decorative side trims that would make the cake far too busy. I also decided to choose the most important Halloween colors to make the majority of the statement: orange and black. The Oreos, I figured, were dark enough to be mistaken for black, especially if combined with bright orange, so I decided to sneak black into the cake design. It would work, considering the Halloween toppers were black as well! Red and green would make up the accent colors.
Holiday cakes, you might say, are meant to be “busy”, but I prefer to make a Holiday cake that is still pleasing to the eyes.
I first iced the entire quarter sheet chocolate cake with a smooth later of white buttercream. Using an airbrush, I created visual interest by brushing the top of the cake with a small amount of red, and layering orange over it to create a gradient effect. Notice how most of the top of the cake is orange.
Since I passed on side trims, I airbrushed the sides of the cake black so that the eyes can focus on the top of the cake. To create a “creepy” effect, I dyed some vanilla glaze lime green and dripped it along the edges of the cake. The green drip is complementary to the red airbrush and strawberries.
When the lime green drip was set, I drew matching buttercream spider webs with a #4 tip, covered the top edges of the cake with orange rosettes using a #852 cupcake tip, and piped the bottom shell boarder in red with a #17 tip.
I dipped four strawberries in Marzetti Strawberry Glaze and placed one on each corner of the cake. I then placed Oreos evenly between the strawberries. To finish the cake, I added pumpkin, spider and bat cake picks. I wrote the message in the same lime green buttercream as the spider webs.
When I was finished, I was very happy with the results, considering the Color Tetris I had to do in my head. I was satisfied with how well the Oreos worked even though they were brown; they were dark enough to appear nearly black against the neon orange rosettes, and the red and green are not so distracting that they take away from the primary Halloween colors.
When my patron came to pick up the cake, he loved it! It is always wonderful when a cake exceeds a patron’s expectations!
- DecoPac Premium Gel Colors
- DecoPac Premium Airbrush Colors
- Assorted Halloween Cupcake Picks and Rings
- #852 Ateco tip
- #17 Ateco tip
- #4 Ateco tip
- Marzetti Glaze for Strawberries
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