On the Cake Made Set

Dawn Parrott on the set of CakeMade.com

The Howcast Production of Piping, Stenciling & Filigree by Dawn Parrott

Four floors up from a Brooklyn street under construction and within a building that creaked with age, the Howcast production team set up to film a video featuring Dawn Parrott in the kitchen of a sprawling flat. The sophisticated video and audio equipment greatly contrasted the surroundings which bestowed charm and comfort to the set.

howcast video location

CakeMade.com is a brand new website offering video instruction by well-known cake decorators. As an offshoot of Howcast.com, Cake Made has an edge when it comes to instructional video production. Years of making many of the world's most-watched how-to videos -- 2.5 billion views and counting -- have taught them the importance of high-quality production. They pride themselves in intuitive site design and have worked hard to ensure the viewer experience on Cake Made is seamless and enjoyable. They are very selective when it comes to content, their aim being to stay ahead of the trends and to feature what the cake artists’ fans most want to see and the cake styles and techniques people most want to learn.

And So the Preparation Begins…

In one corner of the room, makeup artist Brittney Rose   who appeared in the movie Wolves of Wall Street with Leonardo Di Caprio does Dawn’s hair and makeup under the dim lighting. The windows are all covered with black garbage bags so the only lighting on the set is the lighting cast by the set lights for the four cameras in the kitchen area.

Dawn Parrott and Brittney Rose

Dawn’s assistant makes the royal icing for the day’s filming, which entails piping a filigree topper for the cake she’s made the day before.

I joined the crew for the second day of filming and sat at a 20 foot long table covered on one end with camera equipment, a mix master, coffee and donuts.

cake made video shoot scene

There are an impressive number of lights and cameras covering every possible angle. Various royal icing piping and filigree techniques Dawn is well known for are demonstrated in the creation of a turquoise and white cake featuring piped filigree panels airbrushed in gold and topped with a monogram topper.

howcast video production crew

Just before filming began, Production Director, Heather Menecucci guides the crew through camera positioning for the best view of Dawn and her props. Everyone must shut off their cell phones in preparation for filming.

howcast video production crew

And So the Fun Begins…

Despite Dawn’s nerves, she teaches like a pro in front of the camera, leaving no long silent periods. Every moment is filled with helpful tips to overcome obstacles and ensure success. Dawn knows the challenges students face when piping filigree for the first time and she points out all the precautions to take in order to create a strong filigree piece and handle it with care to minimize breakage.

Dawn Parrott filming for CakeMade

But, breakage does occasionally happen, even to the best of the best. There were some breakages throughout the day. On the cab ride over from the hotel, the royal icing letter “L” I was carrying cracked and the corner of one of the filigree panels broke, but that gave Dawn the opportunity to discuss how to do a repair. It’s also the reason Dawn always recommends making extras. Filigree work is delicate and can break if there’s a weak spot or if it’s accidentally bumped.

Dawn Parrott piping on a cake

Having witnessed these breakages, everyone exhales in unison when Dawn releases the royal icing tiara from the plastic sheet. Dawn doesn’t worry about breakage, “it’s only sugar,” she says with a smile. But everyone on the set is worried every time she handles a delicate icing piece. Once the tiara is airbrushed in gold, the sighs turn to oohs and ahhs and everyone closes in to the counter for a peek.

When you see how beautiful the delicate filigree makes Dawn’s cake, there’s no doubt it’s technique you’ll want to learn.

filigree cake by Dawn Parrott

We broke for a Mexican lunch with upbeat music and Dawn’s jokes, but during filming, we all had to stay still. The wooden floor creaked with every step. The cranes digging up the street outside added to the challenge.  Yet, the Howcast crew handles the noise like pros and you’d never know what a crew faces on the set when you see the end result.

close-up of filigree piping detail

Today’s video is one of six now available at Cake Made, a brand new website owned by parent company Howcast offering full length how to videos in cake decorating.  “Piping, Stenciling & Filigree” is now live on CakeMade.com where you can watch it online at any time and post any questions you have in the forum where Dawn is available to respond. Having witnessed the creation of this awesome cake in person, I know you'll be impressed with the valuable techniques you'll learn.

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