Early on during the Savannah Food and Wine Festival party at the Georgia Railroad Museum, the most-asked question seemed to be, “Is that a cake?”
The cake’s creator, Davy Crockett Murray of Richmond Hill, didn’t make it easy to deduce for the party’s guests. His creation — a 40-inch-tall chocolate cake with bourbon-chocolate ganache filling — looked exactly like a whiskey barrel, in line with the party’s 1920s speakeasy theme.
Murray, the owner of Coastal Confections, said in an email to the Bryan County News that the crowd was fooled, especially when he placed a
normal-sized, two-tier cake on top. However, the ruse had its drawbacks.
“This actually raised a little problem during the event due to guests coming up and setting things on the barrel, which we had to quickly say, ‘Please no,’” he wrote.
Still, the confusion didn’t take away from the positive attention the cake received. Jesse Blanco, the host of the Savannah culinary TV show “Eat It and Like It,” said the cake was “probably the star of the show,” considering the numerous photos taken of it.
It also was a huge honor for Murray, as it was first time any bakery or any Richmond Hill business had been invited to the festival.
During a phone interview Tuesday with the News, Murray said he was approached about a month ago. He was recommended by Blanco, who was part of the group brainstorming for the festival. The subject of what to make for the party’s dessert came up, Blanco said, and it was decided that something different was needed for this year’s event — something beyond the cupcakes and truffles from previous years.
Blanco remembered Murray from a baking contest last year in Richmond Hill, and the chef popped into his head. Murray was contacted shortly after.
“He couldn’t have said yes more quickly,” Blanco said.
Murray was given 100 percent creative control over the cake, and since the party’s theme was the Prohibition era, he wanted to make a cake centered on booze.
He started baking the cake the Monday before the event. That process required 10 hours by itself. He said he started with four square cakes put together to form one big cake. Then, the corners were cut off to make the barrel shape.
There’s also the cake’s structural engineering to consider. A piece of Masonite board was inserted every 4 inches with wooden pegs to support the weight of the next layer up. And the bottom of the cake had to be hefty in order to handle the weight above it. Murray described it as “like building a skyscraper.”
It took 35 to 40 hours to make the cake, he said.
Then came what Murray said is the toughest part: transporting the cake. He said he can control what goes on in the kitchen and can prepare well for delivery, but it still takes just one driver cutting him off to make things messy. Adding to the degree of difficulty was that the barrel cake — which weighed more than 200 pounds — was top-heavy.
According to the Internet, Murray said, his trip to the Railroad Museum would take about 45 minutes. He left two hours ahead of the event’s 8 p.m. start in order to “take it easy.”
The cake made it to its destination in good shape — and good flavor, apparently. Murray said 500 plates and forks were brought for the party guests to eat pieces of the cake, and they were gone by 10:15 p.m. He said that quite a few people came back and got three or four pieces.
“Beyond all of that — the beauty, the idea, the creativity — it was darn good cake,” Blanco said.
Murray didn’t get much time to rest following his good night. He had three weddings to get cakes to on Saturday. He said when they got done with the party, cake decoration for the other jobs lasted from 8 a.m. Friday until 3 a.m. Saturday.
Such is life when one is the preferred cake decorator by Savannah wedding venues and the featured bakery for Savannah and the surrounding area on top wedding-vendor site WeddingWire.com, among other accolades.
And, of course, he can always say he fooled a lot of the people a lot of the time with a cake.
“Couldn’t ask for a better night,” he said.