To catch you up to speed or jog your memory, I made a wedding cake for 150 people this summer. With few baking skills to claim and an ambitious attitude, I took on this project and it turned out to be quite the undertaking. Without further ado, here is the wedding cake story...
There has never been a situation in my life that I could so easily equate every step to a roller coaster. There were days I was loving life and felt like the wind was in my hair gliding along and there were days where I hit the peak of the largest drop and could feel my stomach move right into my chest. Luckily, it was one of the those roller coasters that was so worth every high and low in the end. And now I will do my best to recount each step of the wedding cake roller coaster.
We can sum up the beginning of this journey with a few short facts.
Fact #1 A coworker asked me to do a wedding cake for a friend of hers.
Why would she ask someone who has never baked a wedding cake?!
Ah, I knew that was what you were thinking. There was not a huge budget for the cake and they wanted something simple. "Simple" was still going to cost them a pretty hefty amount according to the bakeries they had checked. As long as we were on the same page (the page being... I've never done this before but am always up for a challenge), I just couldn't seem to talk myself out of it. I had a moment of weakness and I decided to commit because my non baking self has always had a desire to learn how to ice cakes that look pretty. A basic tiered cake for 150... no biggie, right?
Fact #2 When I would merrily announce to friends and family that I was baking a wedding cake, most conversations boiled down to the question... "are you insane?"
Fact #3 I was pretty busy at work so I decided to wait and give myself 5 weeks to really figure this out.
Fact #4 In the beginning, there were You tube videos and lots of googling. Best tasting wedding cakes... how to ice a cake... how to stack a cake... how to decorate a cake... the list was a little bit all over the place, but there seemed to be a plethora of information on the subject. Truly, I owe the beginning stages of my fears calming to Sandy. She's my hero.
Fact #5 Then came Wilton icing classes at Michaels for 4 Mondays in a row with my friend Katie. We loaded up on supplies and tried to gather a few skills (more on these classes to come). And what do you know, we earned ourselves one of these. Just about the classiest degree I've ever received.
All of these facts (and lots of practice cakes) lead up to the final week and it was time to get my bake on. Don't get me wrong, there were ups and downs getting all of the elements right and so many countless hours making practice cakes, but the end of this story was such a ride in itself we will head to the final week.
There happened to be a small blessing from a past tragedy that would help me make it through this night. Remember the incident last April where my fingers actually got wrapped around an old timey, hand mixer? Well, a very kind party guest gifted my parents a brand new hand mixer with instructions to not let my touch it. I went over to my parent's house first thing the next morning, to find that beautiful brand new mixer just waiting for a job like this.
Besides the minor electrocution and one ruined cake, I had discovered only one major problem left to tackle. I waited till there was one week left to get my larger pans and suddenly I realized my 18-inch round would not quite fit in my oven or freezer. I was too far down the road to change the whole cake dimensions so I knew I must come up with a different plan. As I was lamenting to my coworkers, one life saver, Jan, spoke up and said she had keys to the commercial kitchen at her church. Ah... all is not lost. We devised a plan to bake the 18-incher the Friday before (it would not fit in the freezer so it was going to have to wait till the last minute). And I felt totally back on track... what a relief.
Things seemed to be so great. It was Friday before the big day and I was feeling the highest of highs. I had been crumb coating all day in my pajamas drinking coffee while it poured down rain outside and I was simply in heaven.
I decided to pull myself together around 3 pm to go bake the final and largest cake... the 18 incher. I made six batters and divided into my cake pan and the other half into a huge aluminum pan. I carefully ushered them into my car. I was not going far... who would need to cover this stuff? It will be just fine. As I took off, one batter was resting in the back seat while the other one balanced on the front seat. I took off on top of the world. I was simply having a great little time with this project and I felt like I was perfectly on track. About a mile away from my house, I was cruising down the street and I happen to see a car to my left making a hardly-to-be-considered-a-stop at a stop sign, look left, (I was coming from the right) and jet out into the intersection. This chick gunned through the first lane since there was a car coming, but since she had never bothered to look my way, she thought she could cruise through my lane.
Just like that, I t-bone her.
After my initial extreme fear that I had somehow missed a stop sign, I realize that this is not the case and it seemed like I started to take in all that was going on in about 5 seconds.
Wow, I just nailed a car... wow, (breathe in breathe out) I'm okay. Oh no, oh no. I am currently transporting cake batter. Oh no, oh no.... It's everywhere! What to do first? I guess I should pull over and talk to this knuckle head. Uh oh, cake batter is spreading. Forget the girl, start scooping cake batter onto the ground as quickly as possible.
I'm pretty sure all of this took place in the matter of 5 seconds, but as I jumped out of my car I announced, "You are going to have to hold on a second, I have much bigger problems." All I can think about is saving enough cake batter to continue on my journey. Ten seconds later, I'm dripping in chocolate batter and not sure what to do next.Can't turn off my car, can't get my purse, there is cake batter dripping down my elbows. This gal starts asking me if I have insurance and acting real perturbed about the whole situation. I quickly realize she thinks this is my fault. As I head to a puddle to wash off one hand, she starts telling me how she can't believe this happened to her brand new 2013 Mustang. Really? Really? You have problems?! As I stand there dripping in chocolate trying to gather my thoughts, we decide I should go wash up in the Taco Bell across the street before we deal with this mess.
With my semi clean hand from the puddle of water, I grab my camera and snap a blurry picture of my chocolate coated self. After a quick scrub in Taco Bell's restroom, I head back out to deal with the situation.
Long story short... I have to break it to this girl that this is actually her fault. The police will not come because there were no injuries so we have to head to a police station. Somewhere between the scene of the crime and the station, she chats with her insurance company and realizes this was her fault and finally apologizes.
So let's just call that our 4 hour detour on the wedding cake weekend. After this short/ disastrous delay, I surmise I still have enough batter in the pans to make this work. I head to the commercial kitchen and have a few hours by myself to take in all that has happened. Just. Keep. Going.... is all I can think.
I woke up the next morning feeling a bit flustered and behind, but determined. The first three hours were catch up from the night before and filling in my missing inch of cake on my bottom layer with quite a bit of icing. By noon, I had pulled myself together, base iced all the cakes, and was ready to add the garland decor. Ah.... back into my happy place.
I added my garland garnish to each layer and while I was feeling really great, I felt as if the real challenge was just around the corner... putting this beast together.
The time had come... Mr. Hungry helped me semi-secure each layer in the car. The only thing that seemed to comfort me was riding in the backseat with these precious layers. We were only going .5 miles thankfully but I felt they needed me to be watching them the whole way.
And all that's left to can be said in pictures...
And that my friends is the journey of my first wedding cake. Will there be more? It's still hard to say at this point. I'm not sure I see to many more 18-inchers in my future, but we will see.