The Wedding Cake

Yes, my very first wedding cake. Was I nervous?? Umm.. just a little. Especially since I was under a bit of a time crunch and I didn't have free reign of what the cake was going to look like (which is tough for me since I'm a total control freak). And the bride-to-be, Tiffany, had a specific photo of a cake that she loved and wanted me to duplicate. Once I found that out I was REALLY nervous about it turning out exactly like the picture.

In the original picture it showed gumpaste flowers all around the cake. I, of course, have never taken any cake decorating classes let alone have any clue how to make gumpaste flowers. But I knew it was what she wanted so I made it my determination to learn a new skill so she could have a cake she would love... Welp, here goes nothin'!

Before I continue, I'd like to take a second out to thank my friend Kelly for all of her help on this cake. Without her this cake would have NEVER made it. Seriously... You'll see as this post goes on that we were running really late, but she was there with me every step of the way, helping in any way she could (including keeping me from freaking out as the clock ticked away).

Kelly, I really can't thank you enough. You are just SO awesome! I am so blessed to have you as a friend.

Ok, back to the cake...

So our first task was to tackle the flowers. A few days ahead of time I practiced on a few at home just trying to get a feel for it. The best way to explain gumpaste is that it's a clay-like texture when moist, but dries hard (and fast). So I learned you can't really play with it for too long before it starts drying and cracking. Well after experimenting with a few, I created a template out of cardboard to use when cutting the shapes out of the "dough". We were unable to find a cutter that we liked in the short amount of time we had, so designing my own was really the only option. So the night before the wedding I had alread baked half of the cakes. (And at this point, I should stop and tell you there was originally supposed to be four tiers on the cake, but I'll get to that later.) Basically making a four tier cake requires baking 8 cakes, or 2 cakes for each tier. So when I got to Kelly's house after work on Friday night (since she offered to use her kitchen) we began baking the other half of the cakes and working on the flowers. We were off to a great start. The flowers were coming along as we had formed sort of an assembly line between the two of us. She was cutting, I was molding, then she would switch out the dry ones for the wet ones, and I would poke holes to run the wires through.... it was a pretty efficient little system we had going. However, although we seemed to be working as quick as we possibly could, we were still up until 2 am finishing the flowers. The picture you see here is one I took the next morning and is only a very tiny portion of all the flowers and leaves we did.

Ok.. next morning... back to work. By Saturday morning we had all of the flowers ready to go and all of the cakes were baked and cooled. Time to move on to the filling and icing. Tiffany had chosen a strawberry filling so a few days ahead of time I spent a good hour hulling and washing 16lbs of fresh strawberries. *We realized later that it ended up to be a little bit over-kill and had some filling leftover. I actually ended up over-estimating the amount of filling needed and under-estimating the amount of icing needed. So a few extra trips to the store were necessary. But hey, I never said I was a professional. But just to make a long story short, making pounds and pounds of filling and icing took longer than I had originally anticipated and I began to really stress out as I watched the minutes (and hours) tick by.

At this point I should let you know that while we were in Livermore preparing the cake, the wedding was due to begin at 7:30pm in Riverbank. So I knew I had at least an hour of travel time, not to mention a few extra moments to stack the cake together once I got to the reception. And both the wedding and reception were being held at the same place, so there was no opportunity for me to sneak in unnoticed.

Ok.. back on track...Mintues and hours ticking away.... By this point of my story I can't even reference a time frame for you because its all just a blur now. So to catch you up to speed I'll just let you know that by now we had all of the cakes torted, filled and iced and all the flowers and leaves attached. It was at this point when disaster struck. As you can see in the picture on the right, this was what the cake was supposed to look like when complete. And by now I had the bottom 2 tiers separated from the top to tiers for easy transport. Well..... The 2nd cake from the bottom (I have it circled) decided to start falling apart. I had been watching it and noticed that it had cracked in half at the point where we pushed in the pillars, and it was slowly starting to slide off the edge. And, in a total panic, I came to the conclusion that no matter how much I prayed, it was just NOT going to make it all the way out to Riverbank without completely falling apart. It was then that we just decided to cut our losses and take off that entire layer of cake. So by now I was about ready to just break down a cry. We had been working on it for SO long and to have it fall apart at the last minute was just heartbreaking. But, I sucked it up and continued on. So the plan now was to make it in to a 3 tier cake with no separation in between.

And finally, after hours and hours of work, I was finally leaving the house with what was left of the cake. By now it was already 7:30 and I knew the wedding was just about to start. (My original plan was to get there at 6:30... so yeah, just a tad late) And as Murphy's Law would have it, I hit really bad traffic in Tracy and ended up making a wrong turn once I got in to Riverbank, which only further delayed my arrival. Finally, I got in touch with the groom's mom who helped guide me in. By the time I arrived it was 8:45 and I felt like everyone had just been standing around waiting on me to cut the cake. So as I pulled up I ran in with the cake (literally), stacked up the rest of the layers and ran it outside to the cake table. And just as I was putting the topper on, the bride and groom began to walk over to cut it and luckily I was able to snap one quick shot...Whew! You know, it's amazing how many hours of work are spent creating a cake and it's demolished in a matter of minutes. (maybe I need to take up a new hobby?) But all-in-all I think she was really happy with it and everyone else seemed to like it too. So ta-da! Here it is... the final product:

(the picture isn't all that great, but you get the idea)

I do have to say it was definitely a learning experience for me. And needless to say, by the end of the night I was completely exhausted. It was by far the most work I've ever put in to a cake, and probably the most stress too! But it was absolutely worth it and I look forward to my next project!

Congrats to Tiffany & Peter! May God bless you with a long, happy marriage!


Anonymous said...

I think this is a great way to remember all the fun times & not so fun times you have had making cakes. They keep getting better & better.


Mirra said...

Good words.