Like a strong majority of southern women, I love collecting blue and white china – my favorite being blue and white ginger jar vases. Needless to say, when I met Leslie Chalfont, who owns Giddy Paperie and I saw her illustrations, I immediately became obsessed with her work! My favorite piece of hers is her annual calendar, where she illustrates a beautiful seasonal tablescape featuring—you guessed it—a variety of ginger jars! This past year, I had the idea to start replicating ginger jars into cakes, and when I needed some inspiration for a new design, I headed straight to Leslie’s calendar for some ideas.
Her illustration for the month of June was perfect—ginger jar bowls and vases with lemons as the seasonal element; it was honestly like my dream summer tablescape coming to life. The moment I saw it I thought, “that would make an amazing cake”. And because I was making this cake in June, it was a great representation of the season with summer citrus. I also absolutely LOVE making any kind of food cake (my lowcountry boil and breakfast tray cakes are still in the all-time favorites category for me!), so lemons were such a fun thing to try.
It was really important for me for this cake to be made to-scale size-wise, so the first thing I did was figure out how big the lemons were going to be, then plan out how many I wanted to show stacked on top of the cake, then plan out the base size from there. The base ended up being constructed of 4 layers of lemon cake, topped with vanilla buttercream and then covered in fondant. The lemons were all individual lemon cakes (18 total!), topped with vanilla buttercream and modeling chocolate. I thought it would be so fun for each part guest to be able to just pick their own lemon from the top, then have the cake base for additional cake servings, so I wanted to make sure all the lemons were actual cake and not just added decorative elements.
Man do I love details. They are always my favorite part of any cake I make. To start, I wanted the lemons to look as real as possible, so I spent a good amount of time sculpting and painting the details on each one. I am so in love with how they turned out! Seriously, food cakes are my favorite. The next, and most time-consuming part, was to hand-paint the “vase” portion with blue food coloring to mirror an actual antique ginger jar. What I love so much about blue and white antique pieces is that the designs are so unique to the pieces, and very rarely do you have a design that is identical from one piece to the next. So with this cake, I took inspiration from a few different pieces I had in my house, as well as a few different pieces I found online (thank you for the inspiration, Enchanted Home!). And while painting these types of cakes is very tedious work, I get so much enjoyment from it that I could be sitting for hours and don’t even realize how much time has passed by. I just love it! Now, on to plan my next ginger jar cake design…