Sunday, January 05, 2014

Twelfth night, king cake and 3D printing

Most people don't know that Christmas is actually a period of twelve days. The only remnant of this in our culture is the carol "The twelve days of Christmas." The aforementioned days of Christmas in the song are the twelve days between the birth of Christ (Christmas, December 25) and the coming of the Magi (Epiphany, January 6). What better way to celebrate this at a twelfth night party on the tenth night than with king cake, or in our case, king cupcakes. What I did not realize until I researched for this blog is that Mardi Gras begins on Epiphany and ends on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Now that we have the liturgical roots handled, let's deal with how I made these cupcakes. [I should point out that the idea for the party and the cupcakes was Ann's idea... I just executed it and added the 3D printing into the mix.]

  • The cupcake recipe comes from King Arthur Flour. The recipe was very easy and the cupcakes came out great. Even though it's not a yeast dough, it was quick to prepare. And it gave me another place to use my favorite baking seasonings, Fiori di Sicilia.
  • The cupcakes looked great with the yellow, purple and gold sugars, but I was looking for a way to make it a bit more special. It turns out that I have a plastic manufacturing machine in my garage. I have a Makerbot Replicator 2 in my garage, and I'd given thought to how manufacturing fundamentally changes when you have the local means of production, as well as 6 different colors of plastic including yellow and purple. I went to Thingiverse and did a search on "crowns" and found a size ten crown ring. I scaled this up 20% for men, made a model for six of them and produced them in purple on the printer. I then produced another six for the women and smaller fingers at normal size in yellow. They were a hit at the party and I did have to give a tour to the garage to see the printer in action. This is the kind of item that you'd never go to a store to buy. But it becomes possible when you control the means of production and designs like this are openly shared and licensed.
Everyone enjoyed the cupcakes, and we checked to make sure that people were wearing their rings at church on Sunday morning.


At 5:37 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Such a great job, Charlie. The cupcakes and crown rings came out beautiful. We always celebrate the full 12 days of the Christmas season, too. I may have to copy Ann's idea for next year and hire you to make the crowns! Happy Epiphany and 2014.



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