Tuesday, July 8, 2008

project wedding cake: ta-da!

cake, smallcake top, small

[Previous Project Wedding Cake episodes: An Introduction, Mango Curd, The Cake is Baked and Swiss Buttercream]

Oh, I’m sorry. Were you looking for me? Was I supposed to tell you something? It’s just that I left this wedding at 5 p.m. on a Sunday so exhausted, I’m pretty sure I stormed home in my 3-inch gold heels, promptly fell asleep on the sofa and didn’t wake up until 8 this morning.

But here I am, all caffeinated and human again! And look! Someone took some pictures of the wedding cake. (What, you expect me to remember the camera? I thought remembering all three cake tiers and some offset spatulas was enough!) And, lo, we had a wonderful time and the cake was great and there are smiles all around.

And the rest is history.

cutting the cakecake, plated, small

Wait, you want more details? Well then here’s my attempt at a run-down that you can feel free to skip if the details of cake assembly rightfully bore you.

Since we last spoke:

  • A few days into this project, Torrie, a blogger, photographer and pastry chef who used to work for a caterer where her specialty was wedding cakes emailed me and offered her assistance if I ran into trouble and needed someone to talk me through it over the phone. Ha! I was like “phone, schmone. I mean, I know you just moved to a new house three weeks ago and have a one-year old to chase after, but don’t you want to drop everything and ice some cakes in your flawless style for me so that I can take all the credit?” Astoundingly, she agreed.
  • Torrie joined me for a few hours on Saturday and together (I’m lying, she did everything) we doweled, masked and iced the bottom tier. She took off and I did the top two, and stowed them in the fridge. Then I looked at the kitchen floor and asked Alex if we could get the cleaning lady to come back, oh, 72 hours after her last visit. It’s Tuesday, and the grimy floor and I are still awaiting his response.
  • Sunday morning at 7:45 a.m. we put each cake in a box with the lid cut off, carefully laid them in the back seat of the borrowed car (towels make an excellent leveling device, as car seats are naturally angled back) and drove the .25 miles to the restaurant at a snail’s pace. I had also packed a bag that included a turntable, icing knives in different sizes and angles, four bags of frosting, two with different size tips, some damp towels in a zip-loc, scissors and a long serrated knife we could use to separate the boards. And the kitchen sink, because you just never know.
  • From there, it was fairly easy. We plopped the cakes on top of each other, I filled in the gaps with a little frosting, piped the border pearls, the decoration (I was going for this, and almost got it right–maybe next time!) and then iced the board (a Torrie trick I liked). We cascaded some orchids down the side and arranged some on top. And then we went home and showered. Thank god.

cake boards were the wrong size, of coursechocolate fillingmasking the buttercreamtorrie did this one

The hardest parts:

  • The math: People, Alex and I have done so much math in the last months, our brains are still hurting from the squeeze. And we like math! Seriously, kids (are there kids out there?) do your math homework. It might be the only thing you need as an adult. Um, if you need to scale pastry recipes.
  • The tiny kitchen with one counter and no dishwasher: Look, I don’t like to complain. I love our tiny kitchen with the skylight. I wouldn’t trade it for a bigger one (well, unless it had a Viking range, in which case all bets are off. I’m sure you understand.). But I can see why cakes like these are generally made in professional kitchens, or at least large suburban ones. Each 12-inch cake layer was from a separate batch of batter (because uh, my KitchenAid doesn’t hold 21 cups!). Every cake layer was baked separately. We had to nix a 14-inch base because the pan didn’t fit in our oven (not that we needed it anyway). You know, stuff like that. But heck, if I can pull it off, anyone can so be ye not intimidated! Just plan for everything.
  • And this thing, too: Seeing as this is not one of those blogs where every single detail of my life gets transcribed for Internet eternity, I didn’t really get into this as it happened but now think, “why the heck not?!” You see, three weeks before the wedding? I quit my job! And two weeks after that, started the contract work that is taking up most of those hours I used to spend in a flourescent-lit cube, dreaming of a different gig. I know what you’re thinking: how wonderful! You’re a freelancer! You had so much extra time to put into this project! Here, let me send you lots of kick-ass freelance assignments at two dollars a word! But in actuality, it was like the perfect storm, starting a new gig right in the middle of that mega-project. The good news, however, is that with this new arrangement I should theoretically have more time to put into this site.

piping the pearlspiping the design

And now I must shower these people with praise:

  • When Elise read that I was undertaking this project, she called me on the phone and told me all about the wedding cake she helped a friend bake and assemble last year–a project so huge, she has yet to blog it! It was great to hear someone else’s tips and tricks, and the photos she shared were stunning. (I think we should all root her on to publish her story already!)
  • Shuna–the sweetheart that this Eggbeater is–picked up the phone and called me this week to explain to me in great detail how to get the mango curd to set and was a total lifesaver.
  • Torrie, for all of the help I listed above, and a buttercream recipe to boot! She rocks.
  • You! Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm for this project. Would you believe I even considered not sharing this? It was too… absurd. But you all saved me more than once, with your advice and hints and cheering. Give yourselves a big hug.

orchids, everywhere

Finally, to answer the question I know you’re going to ask: Yes, yes I would do it again. [And yes, that’s Alex you hear sobbing in the background.] But no, I am not going into the wedding cake making business. I am not insane, I just love my friends and when people are trying to pull together a wedding on a limited budget and are asked to shell out $700 and more for a cake that is categorically underwhelming, it upsets me. I can fix that. Plus, it’s so much more fun than buying a set of china that probably won’t even come out when you visit them!

Note: The top four photos in this post were taken by our friend and wedding photographer extraordinaire, Elizabeth Bick.


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