Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Photo Shoot~Chocolate Cake

My son has been begging me to make a cake. I finally succumbed to his wishes and of course a photo shoot occurred before he came home from school to eat it.

I had just gotten these vintage straws in the mail from ebay and had an idea for them in the shot. However as with most photo shoots the plans did evolve into something different. I found some other props at my favorite store anthropologie and I went in a slightly different direction. I love combining new items with vintage.

thinking about props-getting ideas

Every shoot is a little bit unique but what stays the same is the focus and that is the subject. In this case the cake. I made the cake using a recipe I make quite often. This one is from the Food Network website by Pamela Anderson (not of baywatch). Usually I frost it with a chocolate buttercream however today to save some time I used the bakers one bowl recipe I got while working at kraft. It is very quick and surprisingly good. Albeit on the sweet side.

After the cake was done and frosted. I get my scene set. For me creating a world out of what I see in the viewfinder is play time. All that matters is what is in my frame. The first thing I decide upon is the look. When I get a vision in my head I start with a background. In this case the old wood I found was perfect. These were actually old shutters that had some rot. I turned them over and viola beautiful barnwood.  The plate on which to put the cake I loved with it’s handmade look, scalloped edges and muted color.  On the wood however it did not pop so I added a white plate underneath for separation. The recipe book worked great with the vintage straws because the colors were coordinated but subtle. Too me it had a homey feel.

When I shoot using natural light the goal is to find the best light. Not the brightest light but the softest most flattering light. The light will change drastically so working quickly is what I must do. This could be a detriment however I think it is a plus. You have to think fast and you don’t have time to second guess. The worst that can happen is that you don’t like the end result and then you reshoot the next day. This does not happen often.

view from the top

So I found the light in the north lighted window of my kitchen which was spectacular. It started changing quickly due to daylights savings. I moved to a big window in the front with the sun very low. I was shooting on the floor and decided to lay down to get this shot which I absolutely love. As I was laying down I pointed the camera up and the sun was peering over my wood backdrop. It created the effect you see.

Rays of sunlight 

As my new photography friend Kevin said in an email to me. Breaking the rules (ie: shooting into the sun) can yield great results. Always be critical of what others tell you and ultimately judge for yourself. Don't desire to be liked or admired and don't allow your integrity to be compromised.

This I believe to be true and for such a young guy to know this already. Wow!
He is a very good photographer who I am sure will have great success.

So I shot my chocolate cake, broke some rules, made my son happy and had fun. Life is good. 

The End

Oh I almost forgot the recipes...

A Chocolate Cake That's Got It All-Pam Anderson

Butter or shortening, for coating pans
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 Tbsps cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cups unsweetened cocoa, preferably dutch process
1 tsp instant coffee
3/4 cups boiling water
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 lg egg whites, at room temperature
14 Tbsps unsalted butter, melted but not hot

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9 inch pans and dust with flour. I always use a parchment round in the bottom. This cake is super moist and will stick.

Whisk sugar,flour,cornstarch,baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

Place coffee and cocoa in a medium bowl. Whisk in 3/4 cups boiling water to form a smooth paste. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. Set aside.

With a hand mixer in a medium bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Without cleaning beaters, mix melted butter into dry ingredients until mixture is smooth. Immediately add cocoa mixture and beat until batter is smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully fold egg whites into batter until just incorporated.

Divide batter evenly between pans and bake until a skewer inserted into center comes out with wet crumbs, 30-35 mintues. Remove from oven and let pans cool on wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert each cake onto a plate. Frost when cooled.

Bakers One Bowl Frosting

4 squares bakers unsweetened chocolate
1 pkg (16 oz) powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsps vanilla
1/3 cup milk

They microwave but I use a double boiler to melt the chocolate. Add sugar, butter and vanilla. Gradually add milk and beat constantly on LOW speed until well blended. Easy.


  1. I love Pam (If you're referring to Pam of Three Many Cooks), she is one of my food blog interviews coming in January and this cake looks delicious. And I heartily agree, break those rules, go with the unexpected. Thats what keeps it creative and fun.

  2. Hey Heidi thanks for the comment. I think that is the same Pam Anderson. I like her recipes a lot. Did not know she had a blog. Thanks for letting me know.