Quoth the Beloved: Never Again! We Shall See….

Here it is.  That's my flash in the window, not Glinda the Good Witch of the North, although I got a little excited when I first looked at the picture.

Here it is. That's my flash in the window, not Glinda the Good Witch of the North, although I got a little excited when I first looked at the picture.

First, just in case you were starting to think that I eat nothing but healthy food, I was just squirting leftover cream cheese frosting from a pastry bag directly into my mouth.  And I loved it.  Also, I seriously considered purchasing some Philadelphia Brand Cheesecake Filling to eat with some jam.  Sick, huh?  I resisted.  Barely.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the wedding cake, shall we?  Here’s the rundown:  the top two tiers were yellow butter cake with chocolate cinnamon Italian buttercream filling.  The two bottom tiers were chocolate cake with raspberry mousse filling.  The whole deal was iced in the afore-mentioned cream cheese frosting.   I had to wash dishes about 47 times, mop the floor three times and drive to the cake supply store three times to get stuff.   One time, I stopped moving for a moment, and my foot stuck to the floor.  There was some cursing and a bit of sweating.  In the end, it all turned out beautifully, and the bride and groom seemed very happy, so that’s all good.  Although I’ve done wedding cakes before, each one has its own challenges.  Here’s some stuff I learned along the way.  Some stuff is stuff that you should do, too.  Some stuff is stuff that you Should Not Do.  I’m here to help, even if I have to explain that I am Not Perfect.

  1. Cake layers stick to shiny cake boards and need to be pried off with a spatula.  This is a Bad Thing.  Use dull white cardboard.  Larger, heavier layers are harder to move than smaller, lighter layers.  Just so you know.
  2. Save yourself the headache and hours of Math and just use the Guide to Making Large Cakes (or something like that) at the end of The Cake Bible.  Rose has done all the math and has Handy Charts for you.  In my edition, page 490 is critical, although she says several times that the chart is on page 483.  It’s not.
  3. Melting chocolate in a stoneware dinner plate over a pan of simmering vanilla simple syrup works quite well.
  4. Do not bother with cake saws.  Seriously, a long piece of dental floss will torte your layers for you.  I wasn’t sure I could cut an even layer in a 15″ cake with an 8″ knife, so I tried the old dental floss trick.  Worked like a charm–layers came out Even Steven.
  5. Get a 4 layer 15″ tier that weighs about 25 pounds onto a stout board as quickly as possible.   One cardboard cake square isn’t going to keep that cake from cracking a little when you pick it up.  Even if you are Very, Very Careful.  I’m just saying, icing makes Excellent Camouflage.  Excellent.
  6. Do not try to make a Big Ass Wedding Cake if you have a side by side fridge.  Fortunately, we have one of those freezer on the bottom jobbies.  Still, we had to take out the produce drawers, two shelves and two door bins to make sure everyone Fit.
  7. To turn your small station wagon into a Rolling Cooler, layer towels in the back, and then put some of that non-skid rug padding down on top.  Put 20 pounds of ice on either side of the back, and put the cold cakes in the center.  Pull the cover over the back, fold down one seat, aim the AC back there on full blast and on recirculation.  Drive with a beach towel wrapped around you so you don’t freeze to death.  The cake stayed nice and cold for the whole drive.  But, see “8.”
  8. Do not agree to transport a BAWC more than a few miles unless you can be assured by God Himself that it will be overcast and cool that day.  Your AC will not help you if the sun is beating down mercilessly on your creation.   We drove our BAWC three hours to outside-of-Charlotte from outside-of-Raleigh.  Roads seem bumpier when there’s a cake in the back.
  9. If you’re going to put real ribbon around your cake layers, and the cake isn’t covered with fondant, do yourself a favor and attach strips of parchment the same width as the ribbon around the base of the cake.  This will create a Barrier to Fat, and your ribbon will stay beautiful instead of getting all greasy and sad.
  10. If you get dressed for the wedding and stop at a Bad Place to grab a quick bite because you’re starving, the universe will Take Note and make it rain on your head so your hair looks awful.  Lesson learned.  Does anyone have any hair product I can borrow?
  11. Try as hard as you can to make each tier as level as possible.  Then, make sure you cut your dowels accurately so you can keep things level.  Also, check that the table is level.
  12. If the caterer lady says she doesn’t need a tall container of hot water to clean the knife after each cut, and then she proceeds to use the Ceremonial Cate Cutter Thing that is the bride and groom’s keepsake, just take charge and tell her to get a real knife and the hot water.  Sadly, I did not take charge.  I was too stunned.  The result? Well, let’s just say that Italian Buttercream that has Sat Out for a few hours turns into a kind of crazy lubricant upon which cake layers just slide and slide.  Lovely.   Honestly, if you have to cut a square BAWC, use a very thin wire or Ye Olde Dental Floss.  No drag; no mess.

There might be more stuff that I learned.  Prolly there is, so I’ll update if I think of anything else.

If you need to make a smooth and intensely raspberry-y mousse, here’s how you do it:

Smooth and Intensely Raspberry-y Mousse

  • Frozen raspberries
  • salt
  • sugar
  • lemon juice
  • powdered gelatin
  • cold water
  • heavy cream
  • vanilla

Put the frozen raspberries in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat until all melty and soft.  Mash the berries a little, measure the depth of the mashed raspberries, and cook over medium heat to reduce by about 1/4.

Pour the cooked berry puree into a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl of some sort.  Mash all of the solids through, scraping the bottom of the sieve periodically.  When you’re done, you should just have a bunch of wet red seeds left in the sieve.

Season with a little salt and lemon juice.  Sweeten to taste, but leave it on the tart side.  Chill the raspberry puree until Thoroughly Cold.

For each cup of heavy cream you have, sprinkle 1/2-3/4 teaspoons of powdered gelatin over 1 TBSP cold water.  Let gelatin bloom for about five minutes, and then melt over low heat so the gelatin isn’t gritty.

Whip the heavy cream with a wee splash of vanilla and a little sugar (to taste).  Once the cream is at soft peaks, pour in the gelatin and whip really well to incorporate.  When the cream is at medium-ish peaks, pour in the chilled puree, whipping all the time, until you are pleased with the color and the flavor.  I figure I used about 1/3 cup of puree for every cup of cream I used.

Use this as a filling for a pie, for cake or just spoon it into pretty bowls and chill it.  Serve with some whole raspberries and maybe some chocolate shavings.

Meet Two Gallons of cream cheese frosting.  And that's not even all of it.

Meet Two Gallons of cream cheese frosting. And that's not even all of it.

This worked beautifully for melting chocolate.  Yay.

This worked beautifully for melting chocolate. Yay.

Crumb coats on the top two layers.  Notice the fridge still has all of its shelves and drawers.  Not for much longer, though.

Crumb coats on the top two layers. Notice the fridge still has all of its shelves and drawers. Not for much longer, though.

What?  You still have all your drawers and shelves?  Well, we can fix that.

What? You still have all your drawers and shelves? Well, we can fix that. Oh, and between the layers: dowel ends poking out by 1/8", a parchment square and a cardboard square. It makes it so much easier to unstack those suckers, even when they're doweled together.

Take that, Amana refrigerator.  Note the beverage there:  Mike's Harder Cranberry Lemonade.  My preferred girly drink of choice is Mike's Hard Cranberry Lemonade, but The Beloved felt that I should step up to Something Harder during the Cake Episode.

Take that, Amana refrigerator. Note the beverage there: Mike's Harder Cranberry Lemonade. My preferred girly drink of choice is Mike's Hard Cranberry Lemonade, but The Beloved felt that I should step up to Something Harder during the Cake Episode.

Oh, and about that title up there:  The Beloved said that if I ever said “yes” to a wedding cake again that he would Beat Me Soundly.*  Not because he enjoys it, but because It Is Necessary.  We shall see.  While I do admit to being a bit Snippy with him while standing in the Sticky Kitchen, I am pretty nimble and should be able to stay out of arm’s reach should a cake opportunity again present itself.

So, that’s it.  I have one more Harder Cranberry Lemonade, and it just now turned 5 o’clock.  So I’ll be out on the porch.

Oh, before I go, I wanted to give you a quick review of how the dueling mixers did.  My KA has nylon gearing (I got it before they wisely went back to metal gearing), so it’s more quiet than the Viking.  The Viking is a first generation, so there may have been some tweaks since I got it.  With that in mind, here we go:

  1. The Kitchen Aid did a better job of thoroughly mixing, even in the bottom of the bowl.
  2. The Viking, with its tilt-up head, is WAY easier to add ingredients to and scrape the bowl, beater and such.
  3. The Viking holds more–7 quarts compared to the KA’s 5 (5.5?) quarts.
  4. The Kitchen Aid is heavier, which I like.
  5. The Viking attachments don’t lock in as well as the KA attachments, so a few times the beater dropped out (usually after I’d scraped it and shoved it around a bit).
  6. The Viking mixes more quickly, even on low speed.  It also goes up to 12 (twelve!!).  And that’s one more than 11.

If I were comparing apples to apples, I could Declare a Winner, but since the gearing is different and the Viking is first generation, I have to declare a sort of tie, but I still think I’d choose the Viking, because I love the sound it makes. When you get to 12 (twelve!!) it sounds like a jet engine.  Yay!

*No need for alarm.  The Beloved is all talk when it comes to beatings.

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Comments

  1. linda c. says

    “Earlene’s Cake Serving Chart” (on the web) is fantastic for telling how much cake you’ll REALLY need. Do not ever use the Wilton guide as they assume you will be cutting cake the size of your thumb.

    CakeCentral.com is an extremely addictive site full of postings by highly experienced cake decorators. They never treat you like a moron when you ask silly questions. (Don’t ask how I know this). You can also post pictures of your creations and ask for critiques.

    Your cake is lovely! How long did it take you to clean the kitchen??

    • says

      My blood pressure has finally come back to normal, Lori! The cake was 15″, 12″, 9″ and 6″–the absolutely largest amount of cake I would ever agree to do. It was indeed a huge project, but overall I was very pleased with the end result. :)

  2. says

    Holy crap. I tremble in fear of having to make a wedding cake. I don’t think I’d be so scared if I do it in a commercial kitchen with, you know, other bakers and stuff, but in my regular kitchen?? I don’t even own a non-funky-shaped cake pan that’s bigger than 4″ across! Your cake clearly turned out wonderful, though – I love the simple ribbon decoration!

    • says

      Thanks, Anna. Yeah, a commercial kitchen would’ve been Awesome. But, alas….the 15″ pan JUST fit in the oven. The new kitchen was all, “Hey, where’s that lady who just used to make a casserole every once in awhile? We want her back!” lol

  3. says

    You have much more patience than I do. In my teens, the cake decorating was a passion. No longer! I retired after a 4 tier wedding cake at age 19 ;-) Life is much simpler now.

    Congrats on getting things done! Nice job!

  4. says

    LOL, I would have gone straight for the mouth with the piping bag! Beautiful cake, but I will retire happy not taking on projects like this, and I am glad we have wonderful people like you doing it instead!

    Now I wish I had called the ‘pound cake french toast’ Fast Forward Toast, good name for it!

    • says

      Chef E, I will say that I told the bride and groom that I’d make their cake. As long as they didn’t tell anyone where it came from. I don’t really want to be The Cake Lady. Too much performance anxiety! :lol: And I will be dipping pound cake in custard soon. Oh, yes I will!

    • says

      1/4 inch dowels, Niko. That cake was too heavy to trust to straws, although I do use them if it’s only going to be two tiers or if it’s not a very heavy cake. So far, beatings have been averted! ;)

  5. says

    How many did this cake feed? I am making a “wedding cake” next week. But it isn’t as big a deal as the one you did. This is for a SUPER casual wedding reception (the eloped in April)and I figured everyone needs a cake, right? So I offered to bake it – for 50 people…
    I am probably more screwed than I think I am…but I am in blissful ignorance right now!

  6. says

    OMG you are my hero! I admire anyone that an make more than a 9-inch round cake….I can cook, but baking scares the crap out of me. I would give up and sqirt cream cheese in my mouth and babble like an idiot! ;-)

    Your cake came out gorgeous! You should be proud

    • says

      Katherine! There will be no idiotic babbling around here, missy! :lol: Let’s just say that I am Far from Calm and Cool when I make a big old cake like this, if that makes you feel any better!

    • says

      Natashya, actually, the cake is already in place at the venue. I didn’t completely assemble it until we were on site. I had the bottom two tiers doweled together and the top two doweled together. Then, I stacked them once we were there. Driving that far, and as heavy as the cake was, I didn’t want to take any chances with a Toppling Incident! The venue was lovely. :)

  7. says

    Cream cheese frosting on a wedding cake in any months other than Dec-Feb are anathema in my kitchen. I can’t see making a cake that has to be refrigerated when it’s probably going to sit out for hours in a reception hall aand turn to goo. Nonetheless, yours is beautiful and the flavors sound lovely.

    Gotta bake a raspberry filled French Vanilla layer cake today for a graduation. I’ll post a pic tomorrw.

  8. says

    Cream cheese frosting on a wedding cake in any months other than Dec-Feb are anathema in my kitchen. I can’t see making a cake that has to be refrigerated when it’s probably going to sit out for hours in a reception hall aand turn to goo. Nonetheless, yours is beautiful and the flavors sound lovely.

    Gotta bake a raspberry filled French Vanilla layer cake today for a graduation. I’ll post a pic tomorrw.

    By the way, I am NEVER snippy when I make a wedding cake. This is because I chase everyone out of the house before I start!

  9. says

    @gastroanthropologist thanks :) I also accept the gold-circle-on-the-forehead kiss from Glinda!

    @groovyoldlady Actually the icing held up well; I did use some shortening for insurance. The real issue was the soft buttercream filling and the dull cleaver the caterer used to cut it. Those two elements together were bad news! Regardless, it was very tasty, and I think everyone was pleased. Regarding chasing folks out of the house: The Beloved was at work for long stretches, but on Saturday, he was just out doing yardwork. Once, he poked his cute sweaty head into the kitchen to ask if our garbage people take yard waste. I looked at him with evil laser eyes and said something in a shrill voice about not being able to think about anything other than the cake right now and why are you Bothering Me?!?! Fortunately, he is a very good sport and just backed out making the calming gestures one might make when meeting a rabid raccoon in the forest. :lol:

  10. says

    Your BAWC is AbFab. After all of that, you totally deserve a direct stream of that cream cheese frosting. Heck, if it were me, I would demand an IV line. Did the Beloved get a slice for his patience and fortitude? That always works with Mr. Noodle.

  11. says

    Impressive. I don’t think I could take the stress of doing someone’s wedding cake. It turned out beautifully though:-)

    I have the smaller Kitchenaid so it has the tilt up head, but after reading about the “jet engine” sound I may have to go trade mine in for the Viking.

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