Blindsided by a cake on Route Nuptial.

I’m sorry that I’ve been neglecting the blog. Several planned posts flew out the window when my brother recently announced that he will marry this fall, wants us to help commemorate his new life with a wonderful woman with whom he’ll have children and grow old, yadda yadda. The point is that the couple has asked me to bake the wedding cake. In my recently formed opinion, the wedding cake is the single most important part of the big day. In fact, Webster’s (probably) defines a wedding as “n. A grand celebration involving a beautiful cake and at least one fork.” Sometimes I hold weddings late at night after a long day of baking. You may be having a wedding right now.

Despite ownership of a cake decorating kit, five decorating spatulas, and Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible, I am not a cake decorator. I know the difference between royal icing, gum paste, and fondant, but I have never worked with any of them. I and most of my eaters prefer our cakes unadorned. We’re a simple people. Actually we’re an impatient people. Waiting for a cake to cool just to put stuff on it seems like a waste of perfectly good cake-eating time. [Pictured: Chambord French buttercream]

Chambord buttercream

Here’s a list of what I know how to do:

•  Bake a delicious cake

Here’s a list of what I don’t know how to do:

•  Bake a delicious big cake
•  Ice a cake to a perfectly smooth finish
•  Pipe anything
•  Form anything
•  Store a big cake
•  Transport a big cake
•  Make a cake pretty. Really pretty.

Six books and 50 web sites later I have my bearings now. Those bearing are What the heck was I thinking? and What’s the best way to fake a car accident if the cake goes in the pooper? Did you know that sites on how to make your own wedding cake outnumber the sites on how to fake your own car accident? Shocking. I’ve already baked four practice cakes for tasting, honing recipes, and mastering techniques. Two of those cakes went to my mother. The strain is starting to show.

Me: Are you out of cake yet?
Mom: Almost.
Me: What kind do you want this time?
Mom: I don’t want any more cake.
Me: But…but…
Mom: I can’t eat cake all the time.
Me: How about chocolate? I haven’t made chocolate yet.
Mom: Sometimes you need a break from cake.
Me: But…but…

I’m honored that the couple have confidence, faked or otherwise, in my ability to create the wedding cake of their dreams. Considering that the crowning achievement of my artistic ability to date is a brain I drew on a transparency for a freshman high school biology class presentation on autism, that means I’ll be relying solely on practice and determination (and imitation). I apologize in advance for the disproportionate number of cake posts and cake pics that I may be posting. Not only do I have to practice, I have to start eating everything we have in our refrigerator and freezers in order to make room for wedding cake component storage. This cake will be the most important thing I have made in my kitchen to date. I hope you don’t mind coming along for the buttery ride.

14 thoughts on “Blindsided by a cake on Route Nuptial.

  1. Aw, honey, you can do this. It does not need to have a perfect finish, just a loving one. If they want machine-like perfection, they can go to a machine-made cake manufacturer but they asked YOU because they want it to taste good.

    Not like the bridal couple is going to actually taste anything that day, but the rest of the family and friends will know how much love you put into this.

    One note of painfully-acquired advice: do NOT volunteer to do both the cake and the meal. One person does not have the time nor energy for both.

  2. How exciting! You know, you can end up with several different cakes, all related to each other by some sort of decoration, color, etc., rather than making one giant cake. That would give you a chance to experiment with shape, size, and filling. Whatever you come up with, your brother and his wife will love, because you have made it with love.

  3. What fun, and how flattering to be asked.
    I can’t wait to see what you settle on. Wow. That will be fun.
    (Could you just pave it with Necco wafers?)

  4. Same situation here! I’m making the cake for one of my best friends. I’m stressed out. I’ve made two practise rounds so far, and I’m pretty much settled. It’ll be chocolate layers (from biscuit roulade as I believe Rose Levy Berenbaum would call it, simple swiss roll cake is what I call it, non-fat and fairly light), three, with a filling of dark chocolate mousse, and a raspberry coulis. It’ll be covered in raspberry buttercream (again, thanks to R.L.B) and finally rolled fondant. Fresh roses for decoration, and possibly a deep red ribbon, to match. Can’t wait to hear more about your plans! :)

  5. I look forward to the practise sessions. If I was any closer I would offer some help, as I did two classes in cake decorating for culinary school and possess some fairly decent technical efficiency. Practise practise practise… will come to you.

  6. Hahaha! Good luck! My brother asked me to make a vegan cake for his wedding a couple of summers ago. 10 test cakes and 20 pounds later, I still couldn’t come up with a recipe that would make a large cake that would be sturdy enough to transport and not taste like shoe leather. I settled on making a smaller vegan cake and just ordering a big, regular wedding cake from a bakery. On the plus side, everyone liked my cake much better than the baked one, or the groom’s cake my mom made. But it was cold comfort after the evil eye my brother gave me for bringing a bought cake to his wedding.

    But I’m sure you can do it. Good idea to give them away before they wind up on your thighs!

  7. Susan: Thanks! And I will most definitely will NOT make the food. Poor you for going through that!

    Lydia: I may indeed end up making several cakes just because I don’t like how stingy wedding cake servings generally are and I want to make enough to serve everyone. But I think I can pull off a nice big centerpiece cake too.

    cookiecrumb: The Necco wafers (or something similar) actually aren’t a bad idea–my cake book has a pine cone cake that’s studded with chocolate disks. It’s pretty cool. A paving of white chocolate disks might be neat. Hmm.

    Anne: Wow, the roulade and mousse are a lot of work! I’m determined to stick to butter cakes for simplicity. The mousse and coulis sound wonderful. Good luck!

    Kate: You’re so kind! I will definitely practice…and eat…and practice some more. And eat some more. Etc.

    SusanV: Thanks for the encouragement! No offense, but your brother sounds a little ungrateful. A cake is a big deal, and a vegan cake is much harder.

  8. I recently went to a wedding and they had a big beautiful centerpiece of cupcakes! I was a very nice presentation. There were several different flavors of cupcakes and however, they were all decorated to match the theme of the wedding silver and lilac purple. The cupcakes were baked in silver cups and the icing was white with lilac icing in a shape of a flower on top. Alone the cupcake would look very simple but, together about 200 of them, it looked very impressive. There were about 6 round tiers just like a cake. They had used silk, chiffon and flowers to decorate each of the tiers and placed the cupcakes on top of them. The best part was, everyone got their own cupcake or two and they were served on pretty plates with napkins with a personal message from bride and groom – something about how their love started small and blossomed in to a great love…and the cupcake is a representation of their start…..I can’t remember the exact wording but, I think you get the sentiment.

    Now, you could runaway with this idea by making all different kinds of cupcakes, sugared edible flowers…etc. You could add your own touches.

    Anyways, good luck and whatever you do, I’m sure it’ll be delicious and beautiful. If it comes down to it, people will remember a delicious cake more than the beauty. Trust me I know. My family has been in the wedding business for over 20 years!

  9. Great post! Your sense of humor will definitely help get you through this. I’m sure the final cake[s] will be wonderful. More important, they will be fondly remembered by everyone. What a great gift to your brother and his bride.

  10. My feeling on cake is you just can’t go wrong. As long as it is made with love and tastes good, everyone will love it. So no worries.


  11. Hye Chong: I was thinking about cupcakes in addition to the regular cake, thanks for the ideas and encouragement!

    Terry B: Thanks! I hope my sense of humor doesn’t die the week before the wedding, heh.

    almost vegetarian: Tasting good is definitely important. I will do my best.

  12. I’ve done this! And I’ll never do it again. But damn it was a GOOD cake, and that is all that mattered. I had a friend’s mom offer to make the base layer (12” round double italian cream). I made a double 10” carrot (my best and the bride–my sister–‘s fave) and a 6” carrot topper, with an 8” double banana in between them. Cream cheese frosting. In JUNE. In the South. I don’t decorate either. We delivered it *in separate cakes* to the reception site’s freezer the day before (they are used to this type of thing). A few nerve-racking hours before the ceremony, the groom’s mother and I put it together and she piped on some decor while I stuck on some rose petals my dad brought from his garden. Get an assistant or two would be my first advice. Don’t kill yourself. I had an extra sheet cake of the carrot on hand, too, and damn if it wasn’t all happily devoured. Have fun!

  13. again, loving you…
    great writing – you’re a funny funny girl
    i gotta keep reading to see what happened
    this blog’s a page turner…

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