Mount Desert Island took 500 million years to make. The ingredients that formed it include molten rock, glacial ice and the natural forces of uplift and erosion.

Ryan Phillips’ version has taken about two weeks. His island is made of 30 vanilla sheet cakes, Rice Krispies, 50 pounds of buttercream frosting and 40 pounds of fondant.

Phillips, executive chef of Bar Harbor Resorts, and his pastry team have been hard at work – during the busiest part of the tourist season – creating an edible version of the island to celebrate Acadia National Park’s 100 birthday.

The 8-foot by 4-foot creation, being billed as “Bar Harbor’s biggest cake,” will be cut Thursday evening at a private gathering for guests of several Bar Harbor Resorts properties – Harborside Hotel, West Street Hotel, The Bar Harbor Regency and the Bar Harbor Club.

A chef works on details for a giant cake celebrating Acadia National Park's 100th anniversary. Photo by Mike Perlman

A chef works on details for a giant cake celebrating Acadia National Park’s 100th anniversary. Photo by Mike Perlman

A naturalist and Acadia park rangers will be on hand to talk about the park with kids.

“We really wanted to be part of the whole park celebration. That’s the whole reason people come up here,” Phillips said. “We wanted to be part of the community and do something to acknowledge the 100 anniversary.”

Designing the cake, he said, has been a “learning experience.” Neither he nor his staff had ever before made something so big.

“We do all sorts of different desserts, but it’s usually in the other direction,” he said. “Everything has shrunken down nowadays into a small scale. That’s what everyone wants – desserts shrunken down into one or two bites.

Not only will the island cake include landmarks such as lakes and ponds, the town of Bar Harbor, and of course Acadia National Park, it will show the actual geographic elevations of mountains and valleys.

Two layers of vanilla sheet cake will serve as both the base for "Bar Harbor's biggest cake" and as the Atlantic Ocean. Photo by Mike Perlman

Two layers of vanilla sheet cake will serve as both the base for “Bar Harbor’s biggest cake” and as the Atlantic Ocean. Photo by Mike Perlman

The baking team used topographic maps to figure out just how high Cadillac Mountain and other geographic features should be, then sculpted the hills and valleys out of a Rice Krispies mix that will be covered in fondant.

These elements will be laid upon two layers of vanilla sheet cake that will serve as both a base and as the Atlantic Ocean.

The cake base, baked and frozen last week, was made with 60 pounds of flour, 50 pounds of sugar, 300 eggs and 20 pounds of butter.

“We looked at the project and said, ‘Hey, what can we do that would be something that people would be wowed by?’ ” Phillips said.

Emily Kennedy has been working on sculptured pieces and figurines for two weeks. She has made a whale watch boat, humpback whales, lighthouses, outer islands and puffins.

All the elements will be assembled on Wednesday.

Phillips said finally cutting into his team’s island masterpiece on Thursday will be “gratifying” after all the long hours they’ve spent on the project inbetween making desserts for five restaurants and for summer banquets.

“It will be a relief,” he said.


Correction: A photo caption with this story was revised at 12:04 p.m., Aug. 24, 2016, to correctly spell Zack Brinker’s name.