The Edible Art History Project

Just about everyone you know comes up with a New Year’s resolution, but not everyone keeps that resolution past January. Karen McWilliams, Curator of School and Family Programs, and I are still going strong and it’s August!

In the fall, Karen and I were discussing ideas relating to Pablo Picasso’s Woman in the Studio, which was on loan from the Saint Louis Art Museum. We thought that making a Picasso-inspired dessert for the museum staff would be fun. Unfortunately, we ended up being too busy and missed his birthday.

But this got us thinking… What if we picked one artist per month to make a dessert inspired by the artist’s work? We talked about how we could get together one evening, make the dessert, and bring it to the museum for the staff to enjoy. We thought, “What a fun New Year’s resolution! We will begin in January.”

We started researching artists’ birthdays for each month to come up with ideas. Early on, we decided not to limit ourselves to artists in the museum’s permanent collection. Here are the artists’ birthdays that we have celebrated this year:

January – Jackson Pollock

Jack the Dripper Krispies
February – Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Renoir Rose Cupcakes
March – Piet Mondrian

Mondrian Cookie
April – Leonardo da Vinci

Vitruvian Gingerbread Man
May – Jasper Johns

Target Cake
June – Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Candy Christo
July – Luis Jiménez

This last art-inspired dessert was really fun to create! Assuming people would be very curious as to how we recreated Mesteño as a cake, I wanted to write this blog post. You, too, can make your own edible Mesteño!

Jiménez_Mustang (Mesteño)

1. Go to Amazon to order the perfect horse cake pan for this project. However, you will see that others are available.

2. Although you can use any cake mix, we highly suggest devil’s food cake! And yes, we used a store-bought cake mix…

3. Now whip up your cake batter. If you followed step one and ordered the pan from Amazon, you’ll soon realize that it doesn’t come with the best instructions. Luckily, with our help, you won’t have to make the same mistakes!

4. Thoroughly spray the cake pan before filling. Do not fill the entire cake pan with the batter. We filled it just under half (using about half of the batter). We used the remaining batter for cupcakes, but you could probably get a second horse cake out of it. (I literally laugh out loud every time I say/write horse cake!)

5. Bake for 25 minutes then check your cake. We had to bake it for an additional 3 minutes, so you may need to add some extra time. After 28 minutes, the cake was ready to come out of the oven!

6. Let it cool for 15-20 minutes before removing from the pan. It should come right out! WARNING: Failure to let the cake cool for at least 15 minutes could result in dismemberment.

7. Once it is out of the pan, be patient! You will need to allow it to completely cool before you begin decorating it. (This was difficult for us.)

8. Now for the fun, and challenging, part: decorating. We highly suggest getting premade icing in the tubes. You’ll need the star attachment for the body, the round one for the outline, and the petal one for the mane and tail. Before you decorate the body with blue icing, you’ll want to apply some white icing to the rump with a knife. Then begin decorating the body with blue icing by adding some dots to the rump and covering the main areas of the body. We used black icing for the hoofs, nostril, and the outline. Then we darkened the blue icing, with black and blue food coloring, for the mane and tail. You can decorate it in a variety of ways depending if you look at the Jiménez study for Mesteño, the one at the Denver International Airport, or the lithograph.

9. For the final touch, place a red hot as the mustang’s “glowing” eye. This really brings it all together!

Mesteño Cake

10. Enjoy! Be prepared to impress your family, friends, and co-workers with this fairly easy art-inspired cake! And follow the museum on Pinterest for other “edible art” ideas.

Happy baking!

Jessica Farling
Curator of Academic Programs


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