Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Wedding Cake Chronicles Part IV (final chapter)

The Delivery

I didn't take a lot of pictures of the final assembly of the cake (it's hard when you're covered in buttercream and under time constraints) but I remember have all 4 cake tiers iced and decorated on their own boards and in the fridge by Thursday evening as planned.

I enjoyed a wonderful Friday laughing as my mom got what might have been her first pedicure and enjoyed a fun rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. If I did anything on the cake after the rehearsal dinner, I don't remember.

What I do remember is getting up fairly early on Saturday and starting to assemble the tiers for transportation. Much like a baby, the delivery of a cake is stressful and traumatic, though arguably less painful.

I assembled the bottom 4 tiers (2 cakes, 2 flowers) and hammered in a large dowel to hold it all together. I'm sure my downstairs neighbors loved me for that, but I figured I got a bye on my wedding day.  All of that went in a large home depot box with a board in the bottom for reinforcement.

I packed the other cakes/ flowers/ topper in their own boxes and brought my tools.

My dad had by far the worst job on my wedding day.  He had been charged with renting an SUV when he flew in with my mom, and it was his job to come pick up me and the cake and deliver us safely to the venue. Even though my dad is a trained ambulance driver, driving a cake is not, shall we say, a piece of cake. In fact, this is the only time you don't want any cake pieces in your life.

My dad and a groomsman carried the heavy box down from my 2nd floor apartment and loaded it into the back of the SUV. We followed with the other cake boxes, all of course on non-skid material.

Then we drove. It was the longest 5 miles ever. You don't realize how bad roads are until you're delivering a cake on them, when every little bump results in a bone-chilling rattle of sugar flowers to point where you're sure all your're going to have left is bits and pieces.  As much as I tried not to visibly wince in the passenger's seat, I don't think I did a very good job of concealing my anxiety.  Thankfully, dad is a really calm guy.

We made it.  We unloaded. I set up.

I added a 2nd dowel through the top 3 tiers and into the large flower tier so that when the event staff moved the cake from the foyer to the reception no tiers would be shed.

Is it level??

My recollection is that I had the cake all set up by 10 or 10:30 AM.  My bridesmaids had arrived at 9 AM and got a jump-start on hair and makeup, and I was relieved to grab a mimosa and join them.

My photographer did a great job capturing the cake and its details.  Here are some of the photos:
The table assignments are on the watercolor cards in the background. 

Flower power.

The gear theme is a nod to the fact that we are both engineers.  The gears on the bottom tier were cut from gum paste.

The cakes were covered in White Chocolate Fondant. I still remember how lovely it smelled.

In short, I am really glad I made my own wedding cake. It's my piece de resistance. And I still have the flowers in my china cabinet. :) 

That being said, friends don't let friends make their own wedding cakes.

The end.

Sweet dreams.

The Wedding Cake Chronicles- Part III

The Design

3 years later seems like a good time to finally write part 3 of this adventure, right?

As I try to write this, I hear my 17 month old upstairs is staging a resistance of nap-time on a snowy afternoon in Georgia. This gives you some indication of why my blog posts have been non-existent.  The hours I was once able to spend watching bad reality TV while making gum paste flowers seem to have eviscerated. 

But, coming back to the days when I decided to make my own wedding cake developed a list of requirements to make it manageable, I sat down to design.  It turns out it's a lot easier to design for a client than for yourself. I mean, my job as a cake designer is to get to know a clients' tastes, look at their wedding or event details that they've already selected, venue, feel, budget, etc. and come up with a cake design for them.  Even after I had found a venue and settled on a dress and colors, I found the design freedom to be a little overwhelming.

  Here is what I ultimately came up with, though I made some adjustments along the way:

True to my constraints, I made sure the design could be mostly done and stacked prior to transportation.  The gum paste flowers are all in styrofoam tiers so that they could be made and assembled in advance of the cake.

Here is a mock-up using cake pans after I ordered the styrofoam for the flowers and the gear-shaped base board, which I had custom cut from a design I made in InkScape:

The crazy thing about the styrofoam tiers is that you need to add 1-2" for flowers on each side. That means their final diameter is 2-4" wider than the tiers you order. So what looks like a modest amount of surface area to cover requires a LOT more flowers than you think, especially when you want a 360 degree flower explosion, like I did.

I spent a lot of nights making flowers. On a couple of heartbreaking nights I broke flowers.

I started with the large roses, knowing they'd be focal points:

The hypericum berries, before dusting (the little leaves were SO FRAGILE. I broke many.)

The dendrobium orchids, hand painted:

The ranunculus, in various stages of completion, before dusting: 

So. Many. Petals.  I put each one on by hand. Little circles.  Many times I asked myself 'why ranunculus??'

Lining them up... this doesn't include all the leaves/ assembling the orchid clusters, etc. There was a lot of floral tape.

Starting to assemble the middle tier:

I had to cover the styrofoam with black tights so that white spots wouldn't pop out through the greenery. It was very tricky.

After all the floral tiers were completed, I carefully stored them out of sunlight. I baked the cake tiers a couple weeks in advance and stored them in the freezer.  And somehow, it was all coming together...