Friday, October 12, 2012

The Wedding Cake

Get ready for a wordy one!

My friends got married! Yes, it is excellent. I, being a college student who doesn't have much money at all, thought that instead of buying them a gift I couldn't afford, could make their wedding cake. That became the deal. They would pay for the ingredients, Mrs. Bride would tell me what she wanted, I would get the experience of making a wedding cake, and Mr. & Mrs. Happy Couple would get a delicious wedding cake for a fraction of the price.

The cake's recipe was from Baking With Julia; it was brought to the book by Martha Stewart. The cake was for 50 people, the ingredients were about $80, and the rest of the supplies I needed made the whole deal about $150. Quite a deal! I also spent a long, long time working on it.

I ended up having three cakes to make that week. This one, my sweetie's birthday cake (for about 15), and another birthday cake, a chocolate behemoth for 50. It was quite a busy week. Needless to say cake making is breezy now. I can make a successful cake recipe-free now, so the lesson was useful.

The most important thing that I learned: plan ahead. I new that the biggest challenge for a 50 person cake was going to be logistics and shopping, so I was ahead of the curve the whole time. I began about a month ahead by making a comprehensive grocery list and doing some pre-shopping. That let Mr. and Mrs. Happy Couple plan on how much it would cost. I also made my shopping much more manageable. In fact, when my dad asked me to make the second 50 person cake a week before, It was pretty easy. I already knew what to do, and my kitchen was in cake mode.

I have to admit that I can be immensely stubborn. I still am not fond of Mrs. Bride's decoration choices, and I wish that the cake could have been displayed on a flat, clean, and covered table, but it wasn't my happy day. In the end the cake got rained on and started sliding on the crooked table; the photos show that. It still was delicious though; people were talking about it weeks later.

I'm removing the top tier to save.
Mr. & Mrs. Happy Couple!

The cake was a dense almond cake; pretty much a pound cake. Each tier of the cake had two layers of the almond cake surrounding a round of almond dacquoise surrounded with apricot jam. The recipe in Baking with Julia called for a egg yolk buttercream, but after I made our tester cake we decided that it was too rich. I ended up making an italian buttercream frosting instead. I have a lot of learning to with with frosting cakes still!

Mrs. Bride wanted black daisies and I decided to make them out of marzipan instead of gum paste. They turned out really well!

My gallon bag of homemade almond paste. About half turned into marzipan.
Decoration factory! Small daisies.
Cake Factory!

I enjoyed the experience and hope that I get more chances to make big cakes; I really need to learn how to frost! One thing I learned, chill your cakes! It makes everything go smoothly. My biggest problem with my buttercream is that it had big holes in it so it frosted lumpy. If anyone has any ideas about how to get a smoother frosting without air please let me know!!

Anyway, the wedding was a success. In addition to the cakes I helped the Mrs. Bride shop for, and prepare the rest of the food. We made pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, and lemon feta pasta salad for 50 people. It was great fun! I made the pasta in a massive restaurant food storage bucket. I was stirring with my hands so that I wouldn't tear the pasta. I was up to my elbows!!

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