Here in sunny California, 4th grade means learning California history, and a big part of that history is the California Missions. The 21 missions dotting the state, up and down the El Camino Real, were all built between 1769 and 1798, and represent (for good and/or ill) the spread of European (especially Spanish) culture in the west of the United States. The one project nearly every Californian 4th grader has to complete is building a model of one of the missions. This standard has by itself created a small industry. The missions produce educational materials specifically focused on meeting the 4th grade standards, and there are a number of California Mission model kits available for sale in hobby stores and online. However, many schools (including my sons’ own school) are now eschewing the kits, and asking that the student create their models from scratch.
My oldest son was about to go through this only-in-California right of passage, and we were brainstorming how to produce his mission model when inspiration struck. He is a cooking geek. At the time, we were just as likely to find him watching Food Network as cartoons on any given day, and some of his most prized birthday and Christmas presents over the years had been high-quality skillets and cooking knives. And one of our favorite shows to watch together as a family was Ace of Cakes.
You can probably see where this is going.
Four pound cakes, seven batches of Rice Krispy treats, and a pound of fondant later, a masterpiece was born.
[Note: This post is sponsored by the Kenmore PRO line of appliances. I am a Kenmore product ambassador, helping to promote their excellent offerings. This post is intended as a preview for a series of sponsored pieces coming in the near future where I’ll share fun, geeky baking projects for the family, all made with a new Kenmore oven.]
We won’t keep you in suspense if you just want to see the final product. So here, for comparison, is an illustration from the Mission’s website, next to the finished project:
The cake is the one on the right.
The basic construction includes pound cakes for the body of the church, and Rice Krispy treats for the bell tower, buildings around the courtyard, and other details. Pretty much everything is covered in fondant, a dough-like substance that can be rolled out thin, and stretched over the parts. Plus, all the faux terra-cotta roof tiles are also made from cut fondant.
We started by mixing and baking the major structural elements. [In this case, the Kenmore PRO oven would have been a vast improvement over our old double-ovens in use at the time.The oven uses sensors to drive a powerful convection element and accurately controls two fans to transfer heat to the food, saving time by significantly reducing the preheating. The Kenmore PRO line brings professional-level cooking into your home at great value, helping to elevate your cooking.]
Next, we rolled out some fondant, and cut out all the pieces we’d need for roof tiles.
We then took the tile pieces and some of the RK treats to our local bakery, Amia Bakery in Fremont, CA, where they let my son use their airbrush to color them.
Finally, with everything ready, it was time for assembly:
And here’s a good luck at the final product:
Thanks to Kenmore and their PRO line of appliances for sponsoring GeekDad.
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