Creating This 750-Pound Giant Was a Piece of Cake
By Cherie Huntington
Special to American Forces Press Service
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., April 1, 2002 Families of the sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt had a lot to celebrate at the homecoming reception March 27, and the Naval Air Station Oceana Commissary made sure the celebration cake approached aircraft-carrier size.
The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier arrived home at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., March 27. Roosevelt's air elements, based at Oceana, returned the day before. The battle group had been relieved of duties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on March 6.
A giant homecoming cake made by the Naval Air Station Oceana Commissary contract baker sits in the store display area nearly finished. A top tier shaped like an aircraft carrier still needs to be added. The 750-pound cake, with a footprint of 36 square feet, would feed about 2,500 people. It was made for the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and their families, who celebrated the ship's return to homeport, Naval Station Norfolk, Va., March 27, 2002, from Operation Enduring Freedom. DoD photo.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The homecoming called for extraordinary efforts, inspiring a cake to feed nearly 2,500 people. "We at Oceana Commissary wanted to welcome Roosevelt home in a big way," said store director Hazel Ennis. "We've never attempted a cake of this size, which we figure would be valued at around $2,500."
Ennis, who served on Roosevelt's welcome home committee, said the cake represents new frontiers in baking for the store's contract bakery, Military Deli and Bakery Services Oceana.
"The cake was more than 12 feet long and three feet wide," she said. "It had three tiers plus an edible aircraft carrier layer on top. It took three people about eight hours to ice and decorate it."
The 750-pound creation contained 51 large sheet cakes, with each tier made up of cakes stacked two deep. The bottom layer was chocolate to feed about 1,000 people. The second was yellow cake for 800. The third tier and aircraft carrier top were made of white cake to feed a total of 650.
Iced red and royal blue frosting was applied as "bunting" around the cake, along with sugar roses and the phrase, "Welcome Home: One Ship; Many Heroes." White chocolate tinted light gray and molded into aircraft and helicopters graced the cake. Colorful Navy emblems were made of edible sugar paper.
Project manager was Trisha Lyn McKinney, bakery manager at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. Oceana bakery supervisor Darcy Gollob and two of her cake decorators, Marilyn Frey and Laila Hesley, worked on the project. Bakery manager Maggie Makinson from Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., also assisted.
Until this creation, McKinney's biggest cake was one for 1,600 guests at a Marine Corps ball last November. She said the Roosevelt project took more than 400 pounds of cake and 300 pounds of butter cream to finish. Decorating took place in the commissary display area so shopper could watch. She said the best compliment she received came from an admiring customer.
"He said, 'That's a cake worthy of a carrier,'" McKinney said. "That really made me proud."
(Cherie Huntington works in the Defense Commissary Agency's Eastern Region Public Affairs Office, Virginia Beach, Va.)