Thursday, September 16, 2010

My First, and Hopefully Not Last, Wedding Cake

It ain't perfect, but in my opinion, it ain't too shabby for my first attempt. This was my first time working with fondant, my first time making a multi-tiered cake, my first time handling a 60-year old vintage cake topper and attempting not to break it. Early on this summer, two of my friends from college asked me if I would be so kind as to make their wedding cake. At first I laughed...then I realized they were serious.

These two blindly trusted my baking skills, and I thank them for it. This was an amazing learning experience, starting from scratch, with only a few online video tutorials, back episodes of "Amazing Wedding Cakes" from WE tv on my DVR, and a giant fondant rolling pin to assist me in this endeavor.

I spent a few months planning for this thing. I met with the bride and groom to discuss what they were looking for in their cake (size, shape, flavors, buttercream vs. fondant, colors, decorations etc.). From there we decided on a simple, two-tier, small-ish square cake. They were serving a tiramisu dessert at the end of dinner (they did get married at the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame after all) so they wouldn't need cake for everyone, just those who wanted a little extra something after a night of dancing and drinking. Also, we wanted to keep it simple because they were using the cake topper that their grandparents used back in 1954, and wanted to keep the focus on that, rather than any fancy decorations on the rest of the cake (not to mention that I have no business getting fancy on my first cake). Look at this thing, how awesome is this cake topper?

I cannot tell you how relieved I was to drop the topper off with the cake. The groom was teetering on one leg, and the bride was chipped at the hip, and I did not want to be responsible for destroying a family heirloom. I think I was almost more nervous about dropping the topper than the cake itself. Luckily none of the above occurred and everything got there in one piece.

We did a tasting about a month out from the wedding day. I presented them with four flavors of cake and four fillings, and they were able to mix and match and decide exactly what their wedding cake would taste like. The groom picked flavors for one tier, a devil's food dark chocolate cake with amaretto buttercream, and the bride picked flavors for the other tier; a banana cake with a banana cream filling. Hows that for cooperation? Now came the fun part...the baking!

Since I am no expert at this yet, I will show you my pictures and walk you through my schedule instead of going into detail with recipes and methods. Someday I hope to show you an exhaustive, detailed, perfect to the T, explanation of how to make a wedding cake, but I fear we are a long, long way from that day. So for now, here goes.

The wedding was on a friday at 3:00 pm. I needed to drop off the cake by noon that day to have enough time to go back home, get ready, and be presentable with no visible frosting in my hair in my pew at the church before the ceremony started.

Two weeks before the wedding, I began baking the layers. Cake freezes wonderfully, as long as you wrap it up well. Two to three coats of plastic wrap and a final layer of tin foil will do the job. One week before the wedding, I made and froze the buttercream, and made the fondant. Two days before the wedding, I made the banana cream filling and refrigerated it. I also cut all the cake boards to size and cut the ribbons to the correct length.

Crunch time. The day before the wedding, I torted, filled, and crumb coated both tiers. I also put the final, smooth-as-I-could-get-it layer of buttercream on each tier and left them in the refrigerator overnight.

If you are using non-perishable fillings such as a buttercream or ganache you can fondant your cakes a day ahead and leave them at room temp overnight. Since I had the banana filling, I had to refrigerate them up until right before the delivery.

It is apparently not a good thing to put a fondant covered cake in the the fridge. Bad things will happen, or so I hear. I chose not to push my luck.

I also made a little stand for the cake topper with a small round cut out of cardboard, covered with a piece of ribbon.

The morning of the wedding I woke up around 6 am to finish the cakes. I let the tiers sit out at room temp for about 20 minutes before covering them with fondant so that the buttercream underneath would have a little give and I would be able to smooth it better. I rolled out my fondant with a generous amount of powdered sugar, and covered my cakes. I had a good amount of air bubbles, so I got out a sterilized needle and went to town. I chalk this up to it being my first time using fondant if you don't count the styrofoam 'cakes' I covered a few months back for practice.

Using a small amount of hot glue, I secured the ribbon around the base of each layer. I then stuck some plastic dowels into each tier of the cake, removed them and cut them to proper size, the replaced them back into their holes. This helped support the second tier and the topper, making sure it they didn't sink down into the layer below.

Then I held on for dear life in the back seat of the car, yelling at my boyfriend every few blocks to drive slower and more carefully (in reality, he was doing a fine job, I was just really tired and scared that we were going to hit a pothole and the cake would going flying into the back of the driver seat. It didn't).

The cake was delivered without a hitch, and about fifteen minutes later I was a happy little clam with a strong bloody mary in my hand. I firmly believe that if you successfully make a two tiered wedding cake in your two-bedroom apartment kitchen, you deserve to drink hard alcohol before noon.

The wedding was beautiful, the reception amazingly fun, and the cake, delicious. Of course I was in the bathroom during the cake cutting...that just figures. Its okay though, hopefully, in time, there will be many more couples cutting into one of my cakes.

Here are the wonderful recipes I used:

Chocolate Devil's Food Cake
Banana Cake
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
Banana Cream Filling
Marshmallow Fondant


Anonymous said...

You should be very proud. A lovely cake!! :)

sweet_tooth said...

gorgeous looking wedding cake. simple yet elegant

Anonymous said...

You must be over the moon proud, such a gorgeous success!
I wish much success in your new found business :)

ajcabuang04 said...

I was seriously in awe when I saw this cake!! Not only is the outside beautiful but the cake itself looks to die for!! Can't believe it's your first! Looks spectacular!
Would you mind checking out my blog? :D

Jan Nelson said...

Bria...a simply elegant wedding cake. I am certain this will not be your last! Cheers to the next one. Xox

Indie.Tea said...

OOO, how pretty! Very elegant, very nice and clean...

Elisa B said...

Just was given the link to your blog by a good friend of mine ... we took a dessert class together that did macaroons! I haven't tried them yet on my own, but can't wait! I'm going to keep coming on back for more from you!

Bria said...

Thank you everyone!! It was quite a task, but I cannot wait to make the next one.

Anonymous said...

That's one amazing result for the first time!!!

Gina said...

The cake was AMAZING! We are so lucky to have such a talented friend!

Bria said...

Gina - thanks for trusting me with your wedding cake, the day was amazing!

EmilyPepper said...

Wow! I came across your blog on tastespotting and love this post on making a wedding cake. I have my first wedding cake to make for my sister in a few months and loved the tips and recipes you have used - thank you!

EmilyPepper said...

BTW - did you make the devils foodcake cupcakes for the cake? And how many layers of cake or how many cake mixtures did you use for each tier?

Bria said...

Emily Pepper - Whew...I am trying to think back as to how much batter I used for the chocolate tier, it was almost a year ago! The top tier is a 7 inch square so I think I used 1/2 batch for each layer, and there were two very thick layers, so in total, 1 batch of the cupcake recipe. It is a fairly large yield and it rises a lot. I also made this for the the other wedding cake I did, and put one batch in each 12 inch round cake pan I believe.

My best advice to you in preparation to making your first wedding cake is to make lots of lists, and start early!! It was so nice having everything baked and made in advance, so all I had to worry about was assembly and decoration. Good luck, please share your results, I'd love to see them!

EmilyPepper said...

I just finished my first wedding cake! What an interesting experience!

Your latest 4 layer cake is AMAZING!!! Wow!! Congrats!

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