Monday, November 14, 2011

Baker, Shaker, Wedding Cake Maker

A month ago, a friend asked me to make the cake for her daughter’s wedding and confirmed my standing suspicion that she was a little cuckoo. (Tooootally kidding! I love you, Liz!) I was honored and happily agreed… and as I thought and thought about it over the course of weeks leading up the wedding day, I realized that I was, in fact, the cuckoo-bird. I started to wake up in the middle of the night from dreams of the cake toppling, or being in a car wreck on the way to the reception, or even forgetting to bake the cake! Really, who do I think I am? I bake at home, purely for my own amusement. My mom pragmatically pointed out that this was someone’s wedding, and maybe just a little more than one of my fun little baking experiments. A wedding cake is one of the most important pieces of one of the most important events in two peoples' lives! No pressure or anything. But in the end, they had that much faith in me to have me do my first ever wedding cake and I always step up to a challenge. Anyways, I’ve watched enough Food Network Challenges to have it in the bag.

We decided to go with Red Velvet – as the bride is a big red velvet fan. The only catch was, this cake needed to be parve, and I know from my vegan sister, that subbing for dairy sometimes results in wonky tastes and textures. I went through a few recipes and test batches and put together my favorite Red Velvet, parve or not. Ever (recipe to be posted soon). I was also really inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s wedding cake and took advantage of many of her tips. And just like she said, my kitchen floor ended up disastrous. Maybe the kitchen walls too. Somewhere along the way, I knocked a bowl of red food color-cocoa emulsion from the counter. Splatter. Everywhere. I’m sure it really looked like a crime scene when my boyfriend came running in response to my shrill scream to discover a deep read puddle in the middle of the kitchen and me and everything in a five foot radius covered in forensic evidence. It’s really funny actually. Or twisted. As far as clean-up, I had three days of sleep to catch-up on and another wedding to attend the next day and decided to avoid going into my kitchen altogether. In fact, tonight I'll have to chose between doing dishes and disposable dining ware. My hands are still chapped from washing my mixer bowl 73 times. When the dust powdered sugar settled, there were piles and piles of emptied flour and sugar sacks, bottles of vanilla, buttery stick boxes, cocoa containers, shortening and tofutti tubs. I’ve never gone through so many baking supplies before. Not to mention cake boards and cake board foil and transporting boxes, pans and parchment. I literally multiplied my standard 8” cake recipe by 15 times. Read: 72 cups of batter. I needed a spreadsheet for these calculations. Now I get why wedding cakes are so expensive. Macarons too. Totally justified.

The wedding venue was a gorgeous historic building in Downtown LA, complete with marble balusters, a dramatic cascading staircase leading to a mezzanine and over 200 guests. I must admit, when I arrived to set up the cake and saw the crews of florists, caterers and lighting specialists running around, I started to get nervous. By the time I saw the showcased cake table and display of exotic fruits and desserts behind it, yogic breathing was all I could do to quell my shaking hands into piping the snail-trail trim on the cake. Ricardo from Luna Gardens, who was a delight, added the exquisite Black Magic roses to finish it off. 

I snapped some pictures and slipped out just as the valet guys were taking the first guests to pull up for the ceremony.

It’s an amazing feeling to have successfully pulled of my first wedding cake and I must give special thanks to my boyfriend. He picked up food for me when I forgot to eat, demanded that I take power naps (demanded – we were on the verge of a fight at my refusal to sleep) and made up my whole delivery team. Imagine the patience it takes to keep it together when you're driving a car full of wedding cake and your girlfriend is hyperventilating at every stop light you close in on. He completely believed I could do it and assured me the world would not implode if I didn’t.

Congratulations, Natlie & Ed


  1. Dude. Nancy. Came here via FB. You're awesome. A goddess. No, seriously. I recently had a chance to do my first wedding cake too, but the bride decided she wanted 200 cupcakes instead (two different flavors, each with their own fillings and frostings). All the work with only half the glamor. Your cake looked beautiful and I'm sure it tasted divine. If I ever get another chance at making a proper wedding cake I'll probably have to hit you up for tips (read: exact, painstaking details for your entire process).

  2. Thank you Maxine! That means a lot. I'm still dumb struck actually, but I do need to post some tips soon before I forget everything I learned to (not) do. :)