So it seems appropriate to tell you about the wedding cakes I just recently made.
A friend of a friend somehow was without a cake just a short week before her daughter's wedding. So she emailed her friends asking if anyone could put together a cake for her, which was then passed on to me because people remember when you do stuff like decorate wedding cakes. So I said yes, only partly because she was paying, because, really it's not worth it if I don't enjoy it, but every penny helps now that my second born is also in need of extensive orthodontia.
She had purchased cake mixes, which would have made it easy, but I just couldn't bring myself to make a cake that didn't actually taste good. So I went the much more time consuming and expensive, and personally satisfying route of baking all the cakes from scratch. The big cake is lemon cream cake. The two medium ones are cardamom spice with blackberry filling, and the tall little cake that isn't in the final photos was strawberry cream cake.
There are ways to make cakes look perfect, but they usually require sacrifices when it comes to flavor. I'm ideologically opposed to such a thing. Cake had better taste good, or don't bother making it.
I owe at least one of you a recipe, Bethany, so I'm aiming for putting them up this week for you.
It's fun to look at final shots first isn't it?
Flowers make everything pretty. Though at first when I got there I was worried because I couldn't find the ladies with the flowers and they only had a very few for me. I guess no one told them I was bringing 4 cakes! But then they realized I didn't need any stems and there were dozens of flowers to choose from after that.
This is a quick shot of the tent the reception was held in. It was a pretty classy event. Much fancier than my humble cakes.
A 6 layer little strawberry cream cake, whimsical, adorable, delicious. What could go wrong?
I watch this kid sometimes during the home schooling week. He was a great help the day I was assembling the cakes and juiced a stack of lemons for the glaze.
That's the secret to a flavorful cake by the way. In a lemon or lime cake, mix juice and icing sugar and brush it on between the layers, and on the sides. It helps with icing because it hardens and keeps the crumbs out of the way, but mostly it adds a lot of flavor.
I was tucking the bigger kids into bed the night before the wedding. (Aaron was out of town for the whole week I was making cake.) BamBam quietly wandered out of their room and when I came out he was sitting beside this cake that was barely cooled stuffing fistfuls of it into his mouth. This is in funny because it's much better to laugh at this sort of thing than to yell and cry about needing to bake more cake. I consider it proof positive that the cake is delicious.
Progress shot. Smooth icing, no decoration.
And finally for this little cake. It almost made it. Even though it turned out to be too tall to fit into the freezer, it was refrigerated a good long time, and had sticks running through it everywhere to hold it together and up.
It survived the 20 minutes drive on the freeway in rush hour traffic. I survived the big pothole at the main entrance to the wedding venue. It even survived the first trip up the near vertical driveway toward the reception tent and kitchen. What is didn't survive was the poor directions and how I had to drive back down that crazy hill and then back up it again.
The large cake nearly slid right off it's base on that trip, the medium cakes were fine but there was no rescuing this little guy. The bottom layer was completely crushed.
It would have been adorable too on it's tall stand we had for it. I was going to tie a bow around it about 3/4 of the way up. Ah well.
The kitchen staff asked me what I was going to do with it and I told them, "I'm not doing anything. You are going to cut it and serve it at cake time. There's no reason they shouldn't eat it, even if they can't look at it. And that, I assume, is what they did.
Here are a few tips and trick for those of you who feel brave enough to make a wedding cake one day.
1. On a tiered cake, put each tier on cardboard rounds. Cut straws to equal lengths, just taller than the cake layer iced, and then push them into the cake. These hold the weight of the stacked up layers so that the cake doesn't get crushed. (They also help the cake to stay together better.) Don't assemble all the tiers until you get to where you're going. Carefully place them on the center where you have the straws waiting to support them.
2. Chill everything before transport, and before icing, and in between layers, and, well, get a really big fridge.
3. Take extra icing with you and anything else you will need to fix bumps and bruises from transport.
4. Fresh flowers make everything prettier. And most florists will provide extra for the cake free of charge. But don't stick the flowers right into the cake. Break off the stems and use double sided toothpicks. You stick one end in the flower and the other in the cake. This make it easier to rearrange if you need to as well.
5. You can use cloth ribbon to make it look more finished. I've done this on 2 cakes now and it looks pretty. The icing holds it on for you.
6. Make it taste good. The last thing people want to do is eat a gorgeous wedding cake that tastes like cardboard. Make them happy they are getting to eat your cake.
7. You will always need more flour, sugar, eggs, butter, cream cheese, icing sugar, etc than you think you will. I had to go out 3 times to get things I ran out of this time. And I've done this before! Though, this is the first time I have made 4 cakes all at once and one of them so huge.
Have you made a wedding cake before? Do you have any more tips? Leave them in the comments.