The Wedding Cake
Back in January, a bride and groom-to-be contacted me about making their wedding cake in June. I prepared them a sample cake, seen in the post “It’s Wedding Season”, and fully expected them to go with another baker…not that my cake wasn’t good. If there is one thing I am very confident about, it’s that I make a mighty tasty cake. I just assumed they would find someone who had been making cakes for some time and go in that direction. A couple of weeks passed and there was a message in my inbox. “Dear Josh, We would like to book you for our June 19th wedding.” Booked? I was booked? I didn’t even have a book to be booked in. I had to buy a book so I could check my schedule. I guess when your book is new, your schedule is pretty open. So for 5 months I looked forward to making this cake.
It was to be a “simple” cake with four square tiers measuring twelve inches, ten inches, eight inches and six inches. The bottom three tiers would be four layers each. The bottom tier was to be layered with a whipped mocha filling and chocolate ganache. The middle two tiers would be layered with custard and a raspberry filling. The top tier is to be saved for the one year anniversary of the bride and groom, so only two layers of cake filled with icing. The exterior was to be iced and decorated with flowers from the florist and an imprint of the bride and groom’s name on the second tier. Easy enough.
Time kept passing until May rolled around and I thought to myself, “Wow, the cake is due next month.” Then June hit and my nerves kicked in…not to mention my whole immediate family was coming in from out of town the week of the wedding (you know, the week I am supposed to help my wife clean and straighten). Oh, and for the first time in eight months I started a job, the week before the wedding. So, to recap, while I thought this would be a relaxing, fun, learning experience, I decided to turn up the stress level fifteen notches. Thank you Lord for a patient wife.
Baking the cake was easy. I purchased some new pans for the square tiers and had a full oven three times. I made four batches of icing, which is about fourteen pounds of powdered sugar. The fillings were easy, however, it is frustrating when each one of your fillings calls for a two-quart saucepan and you only have one, and each one needs to set in the fridge. The layering I thought was going to give me problems, but it didn’t. I had enough filling for each of the cakes. You see this is important, because I have been stacking a cake and halfway through I have ran out of filling, and that is not a happy feeling. On this occasion, however, I was prepared.
Now it was time to stack the tiers. I had two thoughts on this. The first was to stack the tiers when I got to the church; the second was to stack the tiers at home, then transport the cake. Now here is where the stress started to really kick in. You see, when I transport a sheet cake ten minutes across town (you know, a cake that is completely flat and there is no possible way for it to fall over) I stress out that a student driver, in his specially marked car, is going to forget that a stop sign is not a suggestion and pull out in front of me, resulting in the cake flying past my head and leaving a nice patch of icing in my line of sight. Throw in a 45 minute trek and a four tier cake in the back, and one would think this is a no brainer, stack it at the church. Not so fast! I also stress out when I am working on my cake and people are looking at me, not bothering me, not tugging on my shorts saying “Dada,” just looking at me. I started to picture the wedding party gathering around me, pointing and laughing, and the cake not holding, the icing not spreading, etc. It was too much stress to handle stacking my largest tiered cake in front of an audience. So after a nap from stressing myself out, I decided to stack the cake at home and transport it fully stacked. I loaded the cake into my SUV, after weighing it, of course. This thing was heavy–40 pounds to be exact. That is two times the weight of my daughter. Ha, I just pictured her getting into the cake, eating half of it and becoming super ninja, hopped up on sugar, running around, laughing, while I am trying to catch her engulfed in tears. I’m not kidding, if anything happened to that cake, I was going to cry.
So I started heading out to the wedding, slowly, surely, taking turns at five mph. Yeah, I’m that guy at the light that only let two people through the red, because I wouldn’t step on the gas while making the turn. I got fifteen minutes away and realized, I forgot my camera. This was the biggest cake of my career so far and no camera. I told the wedding coordinator I would be there at four. I was in a wedding, I know how important schedule is, so I left the camera behind. I got to the church a little after four and met with Jen the florist/wedding coordinator and we came up with a plan for the flowers on the cake. She mentioned that around 6:30 we would start decorating it with the flowers. YES! I had time to go get my camera. So I raced home, had some dinner and got dressed for the wedding. I headed out the door and fifteen minutes down the road I realized I again forgot the camera. Did I mention I was stressed? No time to go back.
We decorated the cake and it turned out great. I even had a few minutes to spare before transporting it from the kitchen to the reception area. Did I mention the reception area was outside about 150 yards away? I know I mentioned the cake was heavy, and I already destroyed my box to put the finishing touches around the bottom of the cake. So I took a deep breath, placed the cake on a cutting board that would support it, and started praying. I had my own personal escort in Mary Beth. She walked in front and navigated a path for me. I kept hearing her, “Look out for the root…we have a step up here…you’re doing well.” Meanwhile all I can think of is this cake landing on the ground, and, if it did, how fast could I get out of there. We made it! As soon as I set the cake down, the sun peaked out from a cloud, birds landed on my shoulders and somewhere someone was singing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah. All was right with the world.
The reception was beautiful. I was set in a semi-wooded area, not a forest, but shade trees and lanterns strung from tree to tree, you know those receptions you see in movies, where the bridesmaid just realizes she is in love and needs to run to the airport and catch her beau before he leaves for Paris? It was that kind of reception. The last step of the night was cutting the cake for the guests. I started cutting it by myself and noticed the line getting longer and longer. Oh no, here comes the stress again. And then an angel named Nicole appeared and asked if she could help me. I must have looked like I needed help, because I did. We knocked out that dessert line
in no time. I am still grateful for that gesture.
At the end of the day, I had several compliments on the cake, a good friend of mine from high school let me use her camera (thanks Megan!) and the cake did not fall apart. If there is one thing I learned, it’s this…I can’t wait to do it again.
Thanks to the newlyweds, David and Andrea, for the opportunity and may God bless your marriage.
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