Take a plain white layer cake.
Now decorate it in a way that will make your guests gasp in awe when you bring it to the table -- but without spending a fortune, without any fancy ingredients, and in no more than an hour.
That's the challenge we gave four pastry chefs in the second of our Extreme Makeover series.
In the first challenge, we asked four chefs to transform a ho-hum takeout chicken dinner into something more sexy and tempting.
This time around, we took the dessert equivalent of a blank canvas -- a white frosted cake that busy people could make themselves or pick up for about $8 from the supermarket -- and asked four cake experts to turn it into a masterpiece using simple ingredients and quick, easy decorating techniques that anyone could do.
The four we chose represent a range of experience: two restaurant pastry chefs, a pastry instructor at a local university and a wedding cake baker who works out of his home.
Each was presented with a seven-inch, round, two-layer white cake frosted with plain white icing from the Giant supermarket in the Franklin Farm Shopping Center in Herndon. (A scratch or mix cake could also be used.)
The pastry pros were also given identical bags of cake-decorating ingredients purchased at three supermarkets, which included: a rainbow's worth of sprinkles; squeeze tubes of frosting; bars of dark and white chocolate and bags of chocolate chips; fresh berries; coconut; nuts; cookies; and small candies.
Using only a few of these ingredients, but in very creative ways, each of our decorators came up with a unique, show-stopping dessert.
We think the results are stunning.
For how they did it, see Pages 4-5.