Tori's Cake
One of Eric’s lab mates, Tori, just defended her Master’s the­sis Mon­day after­noon. She was ner­vous. We were ner­vous for her, but tried not to show it and told her repeat­edly she’d do well. She didn’t think she was ready, but she was. Her pre­sen­ta­tion went very well and she passed the ques­tions of her com­mit­tee. Now she is on her way to a great, new job at Woods Hole Oceano­graphic Insti­tu­tion.

As part of the cel­e­bra­tion, I baked her a cake and dec­o­rated it to reflect her research. Tori used the DIDSON, a dual fre­quency sonar sys­tem, to eval­u­ate fish pre­da­tion behav­ior in Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanc­tu­ary. That’s the black box to the far left of the cake. The rest of the cake is what she would have been col­lect­ing data about under­wa­ter. We decided that would be eas­ier to depict than try­ing to rep­re­sent one of the sonar return images.

On Sun­day I baked the cake and Eric drew tem­plates of the ani­mals he wanted on it. I espe­cially needed him to do the diver. I just can’t draw peo­ple yet. We had pre­vi­ously looked in sev­eral stores for marzi­pan. That was rolled out and then the tem­plates were used to cut out the shapes Mon­day morn­ing. I then used food col­or­ing to “paint” the shapes and a dab of icing to “glue” them to the cake. From left to right they are a diver, DIDSON unit, bar­racuda, log­ger­head sea tur­tle, and a scamp grouper. The pur­ple sponges, yel­low fin­ger sponges, and red fan coral were marzi­pan I dyed with food col­or­ing and formed into the needed shapes, much like I did for Johann’s 9th birth­day party cup­cakes.

I put on a school of Swedish fish as a joke, since it’s one of the favorite snacks of every­one at the uni­ver­sity. There is also a nurse shark gummi at the bot­tom of the cake. When I was look­ing for ocean-themed candy at the store, I was very dis­ap­pointed to only find those two can­dies. The bub­bles are sugar pearls. The sand is ground hazel­nuts. The rest is icing and sand­ing sugar. The cake was fun to make and Tori loved it. She not only wanted a pic­ture of it before it was cut, but she also asked to have her pic­ture taken while hold­ing the cake. She said it was the nicest thing any­one has ever done for her. I was sur­prised by that. That def­i­nitely made the effort it took to make it worthwhile.