Conquering the Dome

St. Paul's Cathedral Cake

Shortly after facing the dilemma of how to create a dome for my Blue Mosque Architectural Dessert Masterpiece, I saw an gingerbread creation of Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral which used rice crispy treats to form the shape of the domes of this cathedral.  I held onto this idea for almost a year in preparation for my Third Annual Architectural Dessert Masterpiece.

St Paul's Dome  St Paul's Cathedral

For this one, presented and eaten December 2012, I chose St. Paul’s Cathedral.  First, because it has the perfect dome for trying the rice crispy method.  Second, because St. Paul’s was a significant part of my trip to London earlier in the year.  I experienced a wonderful view of the City despite minor issues with heights and major issues with claustrophobia.  I successfully climbed to the top of St. Paul’s (at least as high as they allow tourists to go) and made it back down again.  The first flights of stairs to come back down were particularly challenging as they were very narrow and steep with very short ceilings–it reminded me of the first and last time I went caving as part of a school trip in 8th grade, where I somehow managed to crawl through impossibly small places.  The praise of my teacher, Mr. Wolfe, from that occasion was essential in helping me make it down the stairs at St. Paul’s.  Thanks, Mr. Wolfe, you were my hero this time!!

Top of the Dome Looking Down

In making my St. Paul’s Cathedral Architectural Dessert Masterpiece, the design was influenced by the memory of how long it took to create the Gingerbread Blue Mosque.  I determined to take a quicker route this time around by baking sheet cakes and cutting them out in the shape of St. Paul’s.  Again, I referred to my textbook from my Western Architecture course (see Parthenon Cake post) to determine what the appropriate proportions were in cutting out the shape of the Cathedral.  To approximate the proportions in height, I made a double layer cake, plus additional layers at the towers and dome.

Aerial St. Paul's Cathedral Cake

The dome was made using the rice crispy treat method, which ended up being much more challenging than I anticipated due to the stickiness of rice crispy treats.  It did not work to try and shape the dome in my hands.  I ended up using wax paper to form the shape, but found the rice crispies still stuck to the wax paper, but not as badly as to my hands.  Then, I frosted the whole creation, using chocolate frosting as an accent color to suggest the different color of the domes (including those on the front towers) from the rest of the building.  I also used the chocolate frosting to indicate the break in design from the lower and upper portions of the exterior walls.  Chocolate Crunch Bells were used for the small domes on the front towers.

This one was easy to cut like a normal cake for eating and tasted quite good.

Millennium Bridge

The Millennium Bridge is the first of two pedestrian bridges that cross the Thames.  The second, the Jubilee Bridge (click to see post), opened 3 years later in 2003.  While the Millennium Bridge is sadly only one color, I think it was probably the most photogenic bridge I walked in London.  Although I like the picture above less for the bridge and more for the buildings behind it, which show the city’s transition from a time when church steeples were the tallest thing around to today when that honor belongs to the skyscrapers.

The location of the bridge was very good.  It leads directly to St. Paul’s Cathedral.  In some ways I am surprised that it wasn’t until 2000 that a bridge was built at this location.  (I picked up some souvenir maps while in London depicting the city in 1520, 1666, 1843 and 1902 and none have a bridge or even ferry boat at this location.)  On the other hand, the other side of the bridge connects to the Tate Modern, which didn’t open as the international modern and contemporary art museum until 2000.  Before then the site was a power plant from 1947 until 1981 when it became redundant and closed, remaining vacant until the Tate took it.

The views from the Millennium Bridge show two things of interest related to the other city bridges.  First, upriver is a view of the first rail station to span the Thames and the longest solar bridge in the world (see July 31 post).  Downriver, the Tower Bridge, which I believe is the most iconic London bridge, comes into view for the first time.

 

I started this post by claiming that the Millennium Bridge was the most photogenic of the London bridges.  The views of it above are pretty interesting, but the best shot was the one I took from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral looking down.

Vauxhall Bridge

I must say that London has the most interesting and varied color schemes for its bridges of any city I have yet visited.  In Pittsburgh, for instance, the bridges that have color use only one (and that tends to be yellow).  All the examples I can think of for bridges in other US cities follow a similar color design as Pittsburgh, though not in yellow.  On the other hand, London’s Vauxhall Bridge presents yet another tri-color design scheme different from the three bridges I’ve already posted about and from the nine more to come.

Upriver from the bridge, the smoke stacks of the Battersea Power Station (see June 18 post) are still in view.  In the other direction, classic, old London architecture appears, after the views from the bridges upriver were dominated by modern architecture (when I say modern architecture I include anything from the Modern Movement beginning roughly in the 1920s through contemporary architecture).

       

More interesting than the color scheme of this bridge was the sculpture.  Vauxhall Bridge has five arches; there are four statues on each side of the bridge, one in-between each arch.  Each statue obviously represented what I guessed to be some form of art or industry.  The one holding the model of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the one with the scythe were easy to identify as Architecture and Agriculture respectively.  I could not immediately determine the symbolism of several of the others including the one holding the urn.  Fortunately, we have the internet, which has given me the official representation for each statue.  In order they are: Government, Education, Fine Art, Science/Astronomy, Agriculture, Architecture, Engineering, and Pottery.

               

               

For more information about Vauxhall Bridge including pictures and quotes about the previous bridge on this site, I found this website interesting.