Dawn Parrott is a Certified Pastry Chef from Houston, Texas, best known for her royal icing work but also highly skilled at fondant, chocolate and sugar. She is originally from Newfoundland, Canada, a region reachable only by boat or plane where icebergs are present in the month of July. She has been decorating cakes steadily over the past 11 years, but her interest was sparked a few years prior when she began learning from books and magazines. Her formal education in pastry and bread took place at the nearby Le Notre Culinary School, where she just recently taught her own students.
Just this past October, Dawn took 1st runner up at the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show hosted by Kerry Vincent. Her cake theme was from the ballet Le Corsaire, French for pirate ship. The center tier features filigree made on flower formers and collars to combine all the forms together. There are over 300 miniature roses with the smallest being smaller than her pinky nail and the largest smaller than her thumb nail. The pirate ship was formed with rice krispie treats and the sides made from pastillage.
Here is a close-up view of the pirate ship:
Notice how Dawn even finished the bottom of the cake board with piped details!
Here's what Dawn had to say about her cake decorating experience:
What was the most difficult challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Being left-handed. Following every technique and flip-flopping it in your head so it makes sense to you.
What would you still like to accomplish?
I just want to be able to continue teaching.
What is something that few people know about you?
My mother had a ceramics business, so I grew up doing ceramics. I can’t stand it now, but I enjoy cross-stiching, crocheting, basically any type of hand craft.
My cake designs are driven by architecture. When I went to France and other places in Europe, I just looked at everything like it was cake. I design my cakes like buildings with clean lines and no front or back.
I come from a family of 9 kids which made me tough. I was the baby and got pushed and shoved which made me develop a thicker skin. It also gave me the drive to keep going.
I almost died at the age of 15. I was the one of the first reported cases of bacterial meningitis in North America. My brother took me to the hospital and the doctor thought I was on drugs and sent me home. The next day, I was worse and my doctor came to the house and gave me a shot. I ended up back in the hospital when I didn’t get any better. The doctor did a spinal tap and my spinal fluid looked like milk – it’s supposed to be clear. For 3 days, my body rejected the medication and the doctor told my mother that if I didn’t show any improvements in the next hour, I would have about 3 hours to live. I woke up and got out of the hospital a week later but the left side of my face was paralyzed for a month.
How has this effected who you are today?
It gives you the drive that you don’t know what’s going to happen; to live life to the fullest. Don’t be so afraid. You don’t know if you never try.
Do you have any tips for people struggling with royal icing?
How much icing is in the bag? Nine times out of ten, there is too much icing. The icing should fit in the palm of your hand.
Check the consistency: you need to match the consistency of the icing with your hand pressure. If you don’t have a strong hand, you may need thinner icing, but royal icing that is too thin will be runny.
When doing scrollwork, moving your hands faster than the icing comes out of the tube causes problem. If someone is piping a scroll too quickly, the icing won’t curve to the shape.
Here are some of Dawn’s other noteworthy cakes:
|Filigree pumpkin. All royal icing, done in the Filigree Unstructured dvd. Hand drawn pattern.|
Oriental Stringwork Christmas Cake
Oriental Stringwork DVD
|Filigree Christmas Tree|
|Baby shower cake. Dawn made the bassinet out of a 50/50 fondant gumpaste mix. Only cutter used was for the lace accent on the top hood. Hand painting with royal icing birds. Bridgeless stringwork in two layers.
|This is from Oklahoma Sugar Art Show, a few years ago. It was Sea and Shore, Dawn's inspiration was Brighton's Palace in England. This is probably her favorite cake ever. The coral reef took over a full week. No tools used except toothpicks, pizza cutter and petal dusts. The windows on the top layer in the pieces that come off the sides are gelatin. That was the first time she ever used it and loved it. There are so many techniques to describe, it would take forever. She still has this cake.|
|This is the cake based on Mt. St. Michel in France. With the exception of the fleur del lis, everything on this cake was piped by hand, drawn out and cut by hand.No cutters at all. This cake is just about 4 feet tall.|
|Here is a good shot of some of the filigree projects you can find on both her filigree dvd's. The egg is structured filigree and The pumpkin is on the unstructured dvd. The box is something I designed and is a class I teach.|
|Filigree piped tree and the oriental Christmas cake. Another of Dawn's all time favorites. This is a real cake. The tree is piped royal icing, the collar was a 50/50 mix with royal icing piped inside.
|Chocolate box Dawn taught at culinary school. All chocolate, no molds used.|
|Pastillage showpiece. All hand cut and airbrushed.|
|Close up of tree and collar.|
Be sure to check out all of Dawn Parrott's dvds for sale at her website.
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