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The Weather Network
Jul. 18, 2019 | Thursday
Local News
300 slabs come together to form one massive cake
Carol Giang, chef's assistant, Alyanna O'Donnell, who's been helping with the cake, and chef Catherine O'Donnell show some of the Canada Day cake's features. (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

About one-third of the giant Canada Day cake has been already done, says Catherine O’Donnell, chef at Willow Cakes and Pastries.

The bakery has been producing a huge cake for Canada Day for 14 years. Together with apprentices from Niagara College, O’Donnell has been working on weekends and days off to create the cake, which will be paraded through Old Town to Simcoe Park on Monday.

The cake will be baked on Saturday afternoon and will be put together at the bakery starting Sunday morning. The massive cake is assembled on a special cart which is then placed on a trailer provided by the Friends of Fort George and rolled through town. 

Assembling the cake is a feat of culinary expertise and engineering. On Sunday, O’Donnell starts to put the layers together, mixing them with buttercream and maple syrup. The cake will be eight layers high and held together by wooden pegs.

The cake’s top pieces and characters are screwed to the boards. At the park, the feature pieces will be lifted up and displayed on the table in the park so  people can have a better view of the cake. “So people can still look at the characters and see what the theme was,” O’Donnell said.

“If they didn’t get to see the parade, when they come to the park, all these pieces are on the picnic tables so they get an idea of what we were making.”

Because there are 300 slabs of cake, the team has to make sure the layers don’t fall on to each other. Assembling the cake wouldn’t have been possible without the help of David Levesque, a local bed and breakfast owner, who provides structural supports and bases for the cake’s characters.

“One of the things I learned about doing big-shaped cakes: it’s all about the engineering behind the cake,” O’Donnell told The Lake Report. “My end of the creative side really only works if all of those elements (stay together).”

She brings about five knives with her to slice the cake but some people even bring their own knives, which she finds “quite funny.”

Last year it was really hot and some of the characters melted a bit.

“It wasn’t the cake that melted. Because I make a butter cream (icing) of butter, it’s not artificial icing … we were watching pieces of it kind of fall, ” she said.

Luckily, this year’s weather forecast is for temperatures of about 24 C, which is “perfect” weather for the cake as well as for people celebrating outside, said O’Donnell.

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