Sunday, October 28, 2012

My First ... and Probably Last ... Wedding Cake

Last summer I attended the wedding of one of my former colleagues. I taught at a small high school for 7 years before switching to the high school I've been teaching at for the past 12 years. Tom was a social studies teacher in the room across the hall from me for 6 of those 7 years. He left the year before I did, but I still know members of his family in the area and was able to keep tabs on him. I was excited when I received in invitation to his wedding last summer and was hoping to reconnect with others I had worked with. That's exactly what happened. It's funny how we can all live within 20 miles of each other and never run into each other. It was really nice seeing everyone and we all promised that we'd get together soon for lunch.

A few weeks after the wedding I received a call with information on the promised lunch gathering. Five of us got together at a local Italian restaurant and had just the best time catching up. While there, I got to see pictures of new grandchildren and grown-up children. I too shared pictures of my boys ... these ladies remembered holding both of my boys when they were born. I also shared with the others that I had a new baking hobby and showed some of the pictures I had stored on my phone. Dianna was very complementary of my cakes and cupcakes. It was a fun afternoon.

Flash forward to January of this year. Out of the blue, I got a Facebook message from from Dianna's daughter. She was getting married and wondered if I'd make the cake. I told her that I didn't make wedding cakes, but she was very persistent. She called me on the phone and told me how she had looked at my pictures on Facebook and she really wanted me to do this. She must have given me the right number of complements, because I finally said yes. She was only asking for a small cake for the wedding party ... a cousin was making cupcakes for the guests.

... A cousin was making cupcakes. Are you thinking what I thought? Am I not the cupcake queen? What was I doing making the cake? Why did I agree to all of this?

... back to the story ...

She wanted a 2-tier red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. I was really concerned about the cream cheese frosting. She told me the reception was going to be in a barn in October. October in Illinois can be cold, hot, rainy, humid, dry ... it's so unpredictable. I tried to talk her out of it, but I just couldn't. I went on and asked for advice there. One of the posters, carmijok, shared her cream cheese recipe with me and it worked beautifully ... not runny and easy to work with. I site of the reception eventually got changed to an indoor venue. I had less to worry about when I learned that information.

So, flash forward to this weekend. The wedding was yesterday. We had Parent/Teacher conferences this week, so I was done at school at 12:30 on Friday. I had the whole afternoon to bake and decorate ... so I thought. I ended up going to our high school football game because it was the 1st round of the playoffs and the band was playing at half-time (son #1 is in the band). That took a couple of hours out of my day ... but I was able to get the whole thing done by 1:30 a.m.

Here's what I did ...

I started off by baking two 6-inch round and two 8-inch round red velvet cakes. I wanted to make each tier three layers. So then I leveled, cut, and assembled each tier.

Crumb coating is a must ... especially with red velvet. Red velvet crumbs get everywhere ... and ... I have never made a red velvet cake where I haven't stained everything in my kitchen red. Why does everyone love red velvet so much?
Top Tier
Bottom Tier
After the crumb coat was all smooth, I started adding more frosting. I had some real issues getting it smooth ... and the darn red velvet kept bleeding through. So I added more frosting. That really seemed to do the trick.

Next came the part that makes me the most nervous ... stacking. I used 5 straws for support, each cut at the same height and inserted into the bottom tier. I had my ruler out and tried to mark the cake so that the top tier would be centered. I think I did okay. The whole cake was 7 inches tall.

It was now time to decorate. Trisha asked for scroll work on the cake as well as a "B" for her new last name. She wanted a blue border (Pepsi can blue) as well. I used a stencil for the "B" and a round fondant cutter for the circle, but all the scroll work was free-hand. That part made me very nervous. I was also concerned about getting the cardboard cake circle under the top tier covered up. It all worked out though. I even hid a heart in the back as a little surprise for the bride and groom.

I had not seen the cake topper, but knew it's dimensions, so I left room for it on the top.

This cake was far from perfect ... and it was a little stressful making it. I don't think I ever want to do one again. I'm glad I had the experience, but now I'm done. :)

For those of you who are interested in making this delicious ... and nice crusting cream cheese frosting, here you go ...

Cream Cheese Frosting
2 sticks of real butter (salted)
1 8-oz pkg of cream cheese
2-lb bag of powdered sugar
Cream the softened butter and cream cheese together, then slowly add the powdered sugar. Mix well.

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