Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Latest Wedding Cake...

I've been doing cakes (the fancy kind) for almost 30 years. Whew! I counted it up when someone asked me, and it surprised me that it's been that long.

Normally, I do a couple of cakes per quarter; baby showers, christenings, the odd wedding. Well, this time, I seem to have acquired TWO wedding cakes in TWO WEEKS. The first one is pictured here. It was for 190 people, and the groom is military. The fun part was that the bride and groom are softball players.

It came about because I know the bride's sister. I've taken classes with her and she mentioned that her sister was having a hard time finding someone to do her wedding cake. I'm not sure if it was because of what some bakeries charge, if it was a matter of getting a design she wanted or what, but the wedding was about a month away when I told my friend I'd talk to her sister.

Here's my cake-making philosophy: I don't do fondant. I do home-made buttercream that even avowed "frosting-haters" will eat. I don't deal well with people who dither. I do my own interpretation of your idea and my cakes taste good. All of my fillings are home-made, too.

You are getting a really good cake for what you're paying - which is usually less than a bakery will charge you.

Batter up! Softball themed cake
Soooooooo. I meet the bride, we discuss what she wants. And she says that she wants a softball for the cake top, and it's a "surprise." Okay. We can do that! See the picture for how it turned out.

Originally, the bride wanted round cakes and sheet cakes. That's a trend that's a few years old. You make a "presentation" fancy cake and then the remainder of the cake is usually a sheet cake or two, which are basically undecorated. Makes it easy on the designer but it's kind of boring.

This was a white cake, with chocolate buttercream filling, and white buttercream frosting. I asked if she was wedded to the circular cakes. She asked if she could see a drawing or spec. Nope. I don't do that because half the time I don't know what I'm doing till the point where any reasonable bride would be panic-stricken.

But not to fear. I've never missed a deadline, and I've gotten rave reviews from everyone I've done cakes for. As you can see, there are stars on the side of the cake. If you look closely at the pillars, you'll see red, white & blue beads in the pillars, too. The groom's military affiliation is noted in these decorations. The stars are gum paste, which I cut out using a cookie cutter. Gum paste is "old school" and I love it! It's edible, tintable and you can do flowers, shapes and all kinds of things (including people if you want!) with it.

Play Ball! Groom pitches low-and-inside to bride.

You may notice the photo here: the "cake topper" was actually not on top! With the bride's request for a softball for the top, I had to do something with the darling figures she had - and I only had 6" pillars! So the happy couple went off on their own cake, complete with little bases set in. Obviously, not to scale, but fun all the same.

The border is actually a shell border. But if you look at it from a little distance, it almost looks like little softballs! Believe me, that was a happy accident!

Of course, upon delivery, there was a "fat-finger" moment. Everyone who's ever delivered a cake has those, and if they say they don't, well...they're telling stories! Every time you deliver a cake, you pack a "kit" in which you have an extra tub of frosting, a spatula, a bag with tip, wet cloth and extra decorations if needed. Believe me, you'll need them!

One time I was delivering a cake and someone cut me off in traffic. As I slammed on the brakes, I uttered a quick prayer to the "Cake Genie" that the cakes were ok. Well, the top went over a couple of times. So as my mom is telling the bride that the cake will be ready in a few minutes, "...and why don't you go check your veil and make sure your make-up is ok," I'm frantically making roses and re-frosting a good 2/3 of the cake! It was lovely when it was done! But it sure told me to ALWAYS bring a kit. Failure to do so will cost you because it will come back to bite you.

Top view showing softball detail
Here's another quick look at the top, so you can see the softball. I intended to do it with the star tip, but after looking at it, I ended up going "smooth" so you could see the stitches. It's tecnically not correct, because a real 14" softball has white stitches, but for this purpose, I used the chocolate buttercream. I ended up getting a picture off the Internet so I could be sure.

Did you know that 14" and 16" (a Chicago invention mainly) softballs have different stitch patterns? I didn't know that till I had to call the bride to figure out what size softball they played -- thanks to my assistant at the office who asked! Whoops!! It would've been a baseball otherwise!

This week's cake is the total opposite: basic and traditional. I'm not sure how it'll look yet; I'm frosting tomorrow. I'll take pictures and you can see what you think. There's a little more pressure on this one: it's my friend's wedding and this is our gift to her. I hope she likes it!

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