There’s something fun and exciting about being able to say, “I’m making a wedding cake.” It’s an exercise in faith and trust.
It’s those things that also make being tasked with that responsibility all the more daunting, especially when those two people who’ve asked you to be a part of their special day really, really, really expect something amazing and, furthermore, have no qualms as to your ability to deliver the goods both figuratively and literally. Oh, and did I mention how so very much those people mean to you and your husband?
Add to this a complicated set of parameters: banana cake that’s supposed to taste like banana bread but be a little lighter, chocolate cake that is sturdy enough to support the banana bread but not overpower it but still stand out, and a sticky and rich peanut butter buttercream filling that will not only be a filling but a frosting, too, and really is supposed to balance and not overwhelm and not be too rich or sweet, and it’s all baked up in 14 x 14 and 6 x 6 inch tiers and you’ve got pressure.
Lots and lots of pressure.
Is it the stuff of fancy flowers, fondant, and Martha Stewart? No. Well. Actually, I have to tell you that I took great comfort in the fact that Martha Stewart’s Wedding Cakes and Dede Wilson’s Wedding Cakes You Can Make had buttercream frosted cakes that indeed did not have perfectly frosted sides.
Was it easy? No. There were the thirty bananas I tossed in the trash because their mottled, brown, delicious looking outsides belied the fact that their insides were firm, green, and fully under-ripe. Thank heavens for the local produce stand that was kind enough to give my husband their worthy-of-banana-bread goodies for free even though he begged to pay for them because they were saving our frustrated wedding-cake-making selves.
There were the two 4-batch layers of banana bread cake thrown straight into the trash because one was under-baked in a weird 3-inch ring that was half an inch deep in a circle eight-inches from the center heating core that was supposed to keep such a thing from happening (solution: cake baking strips, heating core, and metal flower nails) and the other had more of the under-ripe bananas. I can’t look at a banana right now.
There was the delicious chocolate cake that didn’t quite fit into the largest mixing bowl I own, and by largest I mean 14 inches across and, gulp, 12-inches deep, so I had to make it in two separate batches. And the peanut butter frosting. Oy vey.
But really…do you see the smiles? Do you see the happiness and the ginormous slices? If you’d been there, you’d have heard the jokes, the gibes, the laughter. “You guys could take smaller slices, you know!” Shutter click. “This is what we’ve been waiting for the most!” Shutter click. “No pressure, really.” Shutter click and a tremendous gulp from me.
And still, do you see the smiles? The looks of “this is A-mazing”? Yeah. I did, too. And it’s a real wonder this shot is in focus, ’cause there were some serious tears in my eyes. You know, those tears of dear Lord this is over and they’re happy. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you.
And if that wasn’t enough, for the next thirty minutes, the cake disappeared. People lined up, people devoured, people complimented, gushed, raved. There was the woman who told the bride in front of me, not knowing who I was at all, that it was the best wedding cake she’d ever had. Wedding cakes are always so dry and covered in fondant, and they just never taste good. This one was moist and flavorful, and…. Yeah. It was…overwhelming. When we left, the trash cans had clean plates and not a drop of cake to be found. Not a crumb. No even a smear of frosting.
Will I ever do it again? I don’t know. It took me and my husband 22 hours of making, baking, stacking, frosting, decorating, and transporting. Add the 29 hours of cake decorating classes, which while I didn’t use every technique I’ve learned, I certainly used enough to justify the time. Then factor in the days of testing, modifying, and retesting. Well. It was a lot of work. Granted, I don’t have to take the classes again, and, in truth, they’ve been a pleasure more than a difficulty.
Was it worth it, though?
Did you see those smiles?