This was me a few Saturdays ago: speeding down Lake Avenue, fervently praying for a string of green lights. Bound for the Church of the Incarnation in South Minneapolis. The car was completely silent except for the occasional whoosh of air conditioning. Finally Peter said, "I don't think you were this nervous at our wedding."
He was right. I was a ridiculously nervous wreck. On the way to the wedding ceremony of my dear friend Christina, I couldn't concentrate on anything but the five carefully packed cake boxes back home in my refrigerator. Because I was not just a wedding guest. That Saturday I was also a baker. And the clock was ticking.
|Photo c/o the great Melissa Mobley Copon|
My friend and her fiancée asked, very sweetly, if I would bake their wedding cake back in February. I was flattered and surprised. And I'm ashamed to admit I was scared out my mind. Forget the eight months of pastry school. Forget the countless cakes I've baked for birthdays, showers and parties. The word "wedding" had me terrified. Imagining a dozen Cake Wrecks-style disasters, I asked, "Are you sure?" I couldn't bring myself to say yes, but I promised to think it over.
I let my mind wander for a month or so. I remembered how much satisfaction I got out of designing the cake for my final pastry school unit. How gratifying it was to bake it and decorate it and see that the end result was so close to what I'd envisioned.
|Very scary math|
I started pinning. Just to test the waters at first. To try this wedding cake idea on for size. The bride and I met over cake at Cafe Latté (so fitting!) and she surprised me when she picked out this rustic beauty as her favorite. I thought about how meaningful it would be to contribute to Christina and Joe's wedding. I thought about what they were asking for. Just a lovely, simple little cake. I finally thought, I can do this. And so I got to baking.
Raspberry jam filling.
Lucy, my friend and house guest in town for the wedding, was my baking assistant/partner-in-crime/comic relief. We began baking the cakes on Thursday morning. Five tiers with two layers each, ranging from 14-inches to 6. I used the Lemon-Scented White Cake recipe I made so many times at I.C.E. It's a light, springy cake with a delicate crumb. And the generous dose of lemon zest cuts through the sugar with a kick.
|Dowel rods to support the tiers.|
We made what seemed like an endless supply of vanilla buttercream frosting on Friday morning (Lucy is an egg-cracking fiend). Later, I frosted and filled the cakes and boxed them all up, until my fridge looked like this:
On Saturday morning I tacked this pretty yellow eyelet fabric to a styrofoam disk to serve as a base. I also went out and bought a bouquet of brightly-colored zinnias to decorate the cake. Then I got dressed for the wedding and started my deep breathing exercises...
The moment the beautiful ceremony was over I raced to my car. The theme song to Mission Impossible might as well have been playing, because that's what it felt like. I had 90 minutes, give or take, to get home, pack up my car with boxes of cake, and drive to the reception in downtown Saint Paul to assemble and decorate the five tiers. Oh, and did I mention? All of the freeways were closed.
But we did it! Here is the finished cake:
|c/o Melissa Copon|
I say we, because of Peter. Not only was he the receptacle of all the cake-anxiety scenarios I couldn't keep quiet about, he was a) my Indy 500-quality driver, b) my buttercream spackler and c) my floral designer. Just look at this cascade of flowers! I started out with something pretty, but he made it beautiful. Every artfully-placed blossom is thanks to him.
|c/o Melissa Copon|
And thanks also go the fabulous Miss Lucy for all of her cake-baking assistance and moral support. Ha. I feel like I'm up at the Academy Awards podium or something. And in that case, don't let me forget to thank Christina and Joe, for asking me to bake their wedding cake in the first place. And for trusting that I wouldn't screw it up.
|Lucy and me c/o Melissa Copon|
By the end of the night, what was left of my cake came with us to our favorite private karaoke lounge. Wedding guests trickled in until we had a packed room singing ironic/non-ironic 90's singles in between mouthfuls of cake. There could be no better end to the night! And no better fate for the cake.