Les Paul, the guitar legend who created the prototype for the first solid-body electric guitar, died today at the age of 94. Though he was perhaps best known for his guitars, Paul was one of the greatest jazz guitar pickers of his time.
The only appropriate tribute to such a legend, it seems, is to turn up the Les Paul tunes and bake an electric guitar cake.
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The story of who actually "invented" the electric guitar is complicated. Fortunately, making a guitar cake is not. The easiest route for an elementary level cake composer is to buy an electric guitar cake pan. But the detailed instructions for icing the perfect Fender from the cake decorating company Wilton are, unsurprisingly, complicated. Not to mention the pantry full of Wilton pastry tips and artist's eye for design required. Covering the whole thing in red icing and giving it a few white streaks à la Eddie Van Halen seems like an easier, and more fitting, Les Paul tribute.
For those without the kitchen cabinet space - or need - for one more silly cake pan there's always the classic cut-out method, something the master of improvising would surely approve (Paul laid a phonograph needle on the strings of his acoustic guitar to amp up the sound in the 1920's).
If you've tossed those childhood birthday cake cookbooks, this Betty Crocker video is a great step-by-step for how to slice a sheet cake into a guitar shape. It's also ridiculously easy to decorate. Just slather different colors of icing on the body and neck of the guitar and add a few black licorice guitar strings and gumdrop tuning pegs.
There's always, of course, the easy cupcake route. But taking the time to assemble an old-school cake seems a more fitting toast to the life of Les Paul. The man opened the door to Rock and Roll, for goodness sake. The least we can do is spare him from cupcakes.