Sesquicentennial Cake a Labor of Love - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Sesquicentennial Cake a Labor of Love

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CHARLESTON, WV -

Sara Lane isn't the typical woman enduring her final months of pregnancy during the summer season.

The Cross Lanes woman has spent more than 300 hours this past month crafting a very special cake – and she doesn't even like cake.

The West Virginia Sesquicentennial celebration is big, and what would a 150th birthday be without a big cake?

"We wanted to do something big, since this is such a major milestone in West Virginia – something memorable, something people would talk about for years," explained West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission Executive Director Chelsea Ruby. "The challenge was something memorable, huge and edible and that would look nice for three days."

The Sesquicentennial cake will be a replica of the Capitol Complex in Charleston, measuring 8 feet long and about 40 inches tall to the tip of the Capitol. The building structure was made out of foam by father and son David and Darren Husband who work at the Culture Center.

The building was transported in pieces to Lane who has been crafting the excruciatingly detailed decorations in fondant – about 900 pounds of it, to be exact.

Ruby explained that Lane has done work for events at the Governor's Mansion in the past and has donated all of her labor for the project. The Sesquicentennial Commission paid her for the materials.

The lawn of the Capitol will be the edible section of the cake, and they're planning for more than 15,000 slices to be given away June 20-22. To be sure it's fresh and tasty, Ruby said, the lawn will be replaced each day.

"It's a way to have this beautiful Capitol in the background that looks like cake, and we can still give away cake that tastes good," she said.

It's a lot more simply said than done.

Lane once operated a bakery but has cut back to only doing a limited number of wedding cakes and community interest cakes, such as the 100th anniversary of the American Cancer Society.

"It is a great honor to be a part of the celebration," Lane said. "It has also been a privilege to work with artists from the cultural center like David and Darren Husband.

"They have real talent and have been a vital part of the project."

Lane said there is pressure to deliver the kind of cake the public will expect, but she said that challenge invigorates her creativity.

"My favorite part is the way the project has changed my perception of the Capitol," she said. "I studied the Capitol architecture as a history major and have been in and around it many times.

"However, to study the detail of every corner, every symbol, every shape – and their significance – has changed the way I look at the Capitol. It is truly an awe-inspiring structure."

Her husband is Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha, and the couple has a 16-year-old daughter along with a son about to start grade school and another son who is still a toddler. They are expecting a baby girl in September. She said the hardest part of the project has been juggling all their family commitments, but the family discussed the cake before she agreed to it.

"In the end, we all agreed that I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to be part of a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of West Virginia, her history and her people," she said.

This is the biggest single project she's created, but she has worked on several wedding weekends with numerous cakes requiring step ladders, hammers and chop saws to create eight tiers.

"I don't like cake and never really liked it," she said. "When I pick a small, exclusive number of artistically challenging projects, I am filled with imagination and drive to push my boundaries."

For a full schedule of Sesquicentennial events, visit wv150.com