Friday, October 16, 2009

Bag Laddies Wedding

I'll tell ya - moving sucks. It just totally disrupts everything. But unless you're from one of those countries where kids stay with their parents until they get married or unless you're too young to have moved yet (shouldn't you be doing homework?), you've moved and you know the hassle. It just sucks that much more right now because I moved a year ago and I invested so much time into feathering that tiny, stupid little nest with a bitchy landlady.

That said, I'm settling nicely into my new place and have been working feverishly to get things looking real klassy before my pending housewarming date in early November. I haven't made much time to bake or write lately, butI do want to cover that wedding cake I made last month.

The wedding was in Provincetown, MA, one of the gayest and nicest places on Earth. The people are so friendly and the place is so effing charming that you just want to vomit. Or maybe that's from all the booze everyone drinks. Regardless, it's a really nice city to visit if you're L, G, B, T, or Q.

Garry and Aaron told me they were getting married earlier this year, and I immediately asked if I could make their wedding cake. They agreed, so we chatted about colors and themes and flavors. These were questions I had to research to know what to ask - I'm generally opposed to silly, expensive weddings and really have no idea what people expect out of a wedding cake. The guys told me they were doing an informal, small gathering on the beach to exchange vows, then a nice little cocktail-and-nibbley party after. They also told me they 1) didn't want a fancy cake, 2) wanted it blue and white, 3) wanted it to match their party theme, which was "Knotical" (get it? Nautical and tying-the-knot? Cute, right?), and 4) wanted chocolate and fruit flavors.

I decided to make a chocolate cake with raspberry-blueberry filling, and covered in white chocolate buttercream. I wanted to try my hand at something relatively dramatic, too, so I decided to make a 3-tier, 9-layer thing.

I had a lot of logistics to deal with, like do I make the cake in Brooklyn, freeze it, and transport it up to PTown? Do I make it in PTown, and if so, how? Do I rent an apartment? Do I make it at someone else's place? And if I make it in PTown, how do I get all my equipment up there? Do I buy everything I need in NYC where I know I can get it, then lug it all up to Massachusetts, or do I risk a grocery store in a small town not having everything I needed?

In the end, I decided fresher was better. Garry and Aaron offered to drive up all my equipment in their car. The only food item I bought in NYC was Callebaut white chocolate for the frosting (probably pretty hard to find up there). That was kind of it. I rented a nice studio apartment that was entirely coincidentally on the same block as the boys. Then I just packed my bag and headed up.

The apartment I stayed in was awesome. It was a one-bedroom with a big kitchen, and and a really nice view out the kitchen window.

After getting settled and spending a few days hanging around, I got my butt over to the grocery store and was relieved to find everything I needed. On the Friday before the wedding, I got busy by first making the white chocolate buttercream...

IMG_0050 a lobster pot.


It all came together quickly and thickly - just the way I like my frosting.

The three tiers I decided to make were going to each be three layers: one 10", one 8", and one 6". In  my head, that seemed like a decent amount of cake for about 30 guests. I made three batches of batter. One batch filled one each of the three sizes. I was making this up as I went along - I had no idea how much batter it would take to make this thing.

Once I figured out that one batch of batter would fill one layer of each tier, I churned these out like a machine, baby!

I even found time to make a few plum tarts:


At the end of a (VERY) long day, I had the cakes assembled, filled with the berry jam, and crumb-coated in the white chocolate buttercream. This day was about 11 straight hours of work, from start to finish.

The next morning, aka The Big Day, I had to be out of my apartment by 10. I got up early and walked everything down the street to the boys' apartment at lovely Captain Jack's Wharf, managed by the incredibly helpful and chatty Gregory Saint Jean. He very graciously allowed me to assemble the cake in a vacant unit on the wharf next to Garry and Aaron's place. The view was, well, the best I've seen for cake-decorating.

And from the outside in:

Hi, little cake!

It was so quiet. The only sounds were of the water slapping against the rocks, a foghorn, and an occasional seagull. Coming from the noise of NYC, it was just unreal. These few hours alone in that apartment on the wharf with just the cake and the ocean were probably my favorite of my entire trip. It was the only time during my five days in Provincetown that I felt very far away from New York and on my own. Despite the stress I'd been under with my personal crap back home, and despite the stress I should have been under to get the cake done, I fell into this really calm, dreamy state. It was a really wonderful feeling, and I think it really helped me out with the assembly process.

I measured and cut the cake supports.

I got all the cake tiers frosted.

Then I went for coffee and lunch, waiting until the last possible moment to assemble and decorate the cake. Assembly did NOT go as smoothly as I was hoping. I cut many of my supports just a bit too long, so the tiers didn't touch.

I knew I could fake it with frosting and decoration, but I was still frustrated that I had gotten this so wrong. I got to work filling in the gaps between the tiers, and it came out fine.



 I was going to try to tie a knot out of something edible, like sugar paste, but in the end, I just ran out of steam. I asked Gregory to tie me a square knot out of twine I bought. Easy. Here are a few shots of the finished thing.





So there.

Oh! One major problem I encountered was that I totally forgot to bring the cake board, dowels, and supports I bought. I walked ALL OVER PTown to find something that would work to not only serve as a sturdy base, but also would support each tier. After walking and talking to everyone in town who worked at a hardware or kitchen store, I settled on a wood base (it went with the informal and outdoors-y theme), and I found some corrugated plastic sheets that I cut into the right sizes to hold each tier. I have to stress that finding these items took me half a day. In the end, it all worked out fine.

The wedding was lovely, and the reception went off very well - until the frosting starting melting off the f*cking thing! At this point, I resigned. I was far too stressed and so upset that my frosting wasn't holding up. I guess that's what you get when you throw a chocolate buttercream cake into a warm kitchen. I fixed as much of the cake as I could with a spatula, insisted the guys make toast and cut the thing ASAP, and I left. For half an hour, I talked with Gregory, did a few shots of tequila to calm down, and hung out at the end of the wharf, enjoying the drizzley weather. When I finally got the nerve to go back in, I was pleased to see this:


The feedback I got on this cake was really phenomenal. Everyone really seemed to enjoy the flavors, the cake was moist and chocolatey, and the frosting was really creamy and flavorful. The rasberry and blueberry filling I concocted was a refreshing, tart counterpoint to the rich chocolate. I've said in the past that chocolate and raspberry is one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations. It's just so perfect together.

For a week after I finished this, I swore I'd never make another wedding cake. The stress was just too much for me. But now that some time has passed, and with much more experience under my belt, I'd like to give it another try. So if you're getting married soon, give me a holler. I have a solid portfolio of one wedding cake to show you.

My next project is coming up in a few hours, actually. My pal Brian over at Camp Blood is stopping by to shoot me for a segment on his video blog. I'm making pretzels, but in the shape of ladies' fingers. GET IT?! SCARY!!!

Thanks for reading, as always.

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