I made this cake as one of my contributions to a collaborative art project called Losing Altitude. It's an art book featuring the works of over 50 artists, all depicting endangered birds.
For my culinary art contribution I picked the Tasmanian masked owl (Tyto novaehollandiae spp. castanops
). This species is the largest of our four species of masked owl. Habitat loss is of particular concern for these guys as they den in tree hollows. It can take 150-400 years for a tree to form a hollow large enough for the owl (and all large species of raptors and arboreal mammals) meaning the conservation of old growth forest is critical. If you've had your eye on Australia lately, you'll know our government is trying to delist some of Tasmanians old growth forest from its World Heritage Listing so they can log it. Head on over to my blog
to read an extended rant about this, and how you can do something about it.
As for the cake, I usually don't include anything inedible in my cakes, but birds kind of necessitate it. It's comprised of a base cake, a wire frame, a rice crispy platform near the base of the tail and carved chocolate cake above. That was all slathered in chocolate ganache before applying the feathers.
The feathers were weeks of work. Each feather was hand cut, embossed then painted by hand. I don't know how many hundreds [maybe thousands] of feathers are in it, but making them all consumed my life. I made them as anatomically correct as possible, ensuring the flight feathers were appropriately asymmetrical.
Loads more photos and details at my blog
Here's the other piece I contributed to Losing Altitude:
Check out the group
to see what the other artists made for the book.
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