Monday, January 2, 2012

First Wedding Cake Part IV: THE REAL DEAL - Preparation

Apologies for the delay - one New Year's resolution is to update more frequently :(

ANYWAYS... back to the never ending wedding cake. THEN we can move onto more timely topics.

Three days after the practice run, it was time to start packing for Florida. I ended up with two bags: one for clothes and one for cake supplies. The cake supply bag contained my pans, a cake lifter (giant, round spatula), piping bags, tips, and couplers, metal icing spatulas, dowels, wooden rods, cake drum (base), cardboard tier bases, frosting smoother (looks like a mini iron), and my apron (figured this was an occasion as any). I prayed I could carry them both on, because after my boyfriend's recent loss of luggage through Southwest (a suitcase full of a week's worth of clothes that covered the gamut of poolside clothes, going out clothes, warm-weather casual clothes, work clothes, workout clothes - i.e., an entire closet), I was not going to risk losing one of these bags. I still question what would have been a more detrimental loss: the clothes or the cake supplies...

Lugging the bags through the airport was less than fun, and security almost confiscated the metal spatulas. Really?? About the only harm those can do is a mild slap, let alone take down a plane. Another gripe: every time I go through security/board a plane, they tell me I have too many carry-ons (a duffel or tote, a rolling suitcase, and a purse). Then, they watch me put the purse inside the duffel/tote, then let me board. What's the difference??? It's the same weight on the plane no matter how many containers it's in...

Anyways, the flight was short and smooth, and upon arrival in Sarasota I picked up my rental car - I was "upgraded" to a minivan for free. Not the most stylish ride, but definitely the most practical for cake transportation. And the license plate had the word "YUM" in it. Perfect.

After a short ride we arrived at Casey Key Road, the mini island where Traci's family and friends have houses, as well as where all the guests' hotels were. So, these houses... UNBELIEVABLE. My jaw dropped as we arrived at her family friend's house, which was where I'd be baking. This place was cavernous. The ceilings in the foyer and living room had to be at least 30 feet tall, there were enough bedrooms to house a sleepover for a family of 12 plus 25 of their closest friends, a pool deck straight out of Cribs, and the kitchen... OH, what a kitchen! So many cabinets there was a library ladder (think Beauty and the Beast-style) to reach the top ones; a granite island so large that at one point 12 people were standing around it like a cooking show, staring at me as I assembled the cakes (ummm, uncomfortable); a completely empty fridge and freezer for cake storage (this was a vacation home); and all the supplies and ingredients I needed already sitting on the counter, thanks to Traci's mom. I only had to grab a few more things from the store, and then it was time to get to work!

The amazing kitchen. I know, poor me...

View from the kitchen while working.

View of the patio from the living room.
4pm Thursday: As I had a pretty limited amount of time, I had to be very efficient in my tasks. So, first things first: the raspberry puree, a component of the cake. As the mixer could only hold one unit of the recipe at a time, I had to mix up three separate sets of batter. I got my first set of pans in the oven, then
started mixing up the next batch. The empty freezers were clutch for a quick turnaround - I just placed the baked cakes straight from the oven into the freezer to cool quickly and preserve moisture. The cakes popped easily out of the pans, the pans were cooled, and I could move onto the next batch.

6:30pm: Around this time I realized I needed to make the lemon curd ASAP so it had enough time to set up and would be ready when it was time to layer the cakes. Luckily, Crissy had just arrived, so she made the curd while I continued with cake mixing and baking.

7:30pm: Time to make the frosting. It whipped up just as perfectly as it did for the tasting. I had grabbed a couple Godiva vanilla bean white chocolate bars at the grocery for the little white chocolate addition. They melted smoothly, and I added them in. The results completely blew me away: not only was the butter flavor gone, but the vanilla beans in the bars imparted a deep, floral, vanilla flavor that I was not expecting. SO delicious. You could also see the vanilla bean flecks in the frosting. This flavor will be a must in my Swiss buttercream in the future, whether via this exact chocolate or the addition of vanilla bean. So pleased.

8:30pm: Dinner break. A slice of pizza. I realized how hungry I was then after only eating a slice of cheese and some crackers earlier that day. Laugh all you want, but cake making is an athletic endeavor: you have to take care of yourself, eat healthy, etc. so that no bodily discomforts prevent you from wanting to stand and work steadily for 11 hours straight (as I did that day). I don't really know how fat chefs do it, unless they eat all the bad stuff after their shift...

8:45pm: Back to it. Time to start assembling. I first leveled the tops of the cakes so they did not slope. After organizing the attack (think rows of cakes ready for stacking), I was ready to go. I piped frosting around the outer edge of the bottom and middle layers to create a dam for the lemon curd, then spooned in the filling. I stacked the layers for each tier, then leveled the sides to create the right angles I mentioned in the last post. These scraps were a hit, as they contained the cake, the filling, and the frosting. People mulling around the kitchen (all the friends and family that had arrived early were staying at this house Thursday night) forked a cake scrap, dipped it in the leftover lemon curd (we made a triple batch to be safe but only used a half batch - oops), and then spooned on a little frosting. Even in this form the cake was already getting rave reviews. After doing the scrap-dip, Stephen, the groom, said, "Wow, that tastes like jumping in a pool - so refreshing."

Mmmm delicious scraps.
10:00pm: Though I wanted to indulge in the plentiful beer and wine with the others, I knew it was a bad idea in order to keep my stamina (told you it was athletic), so I had half a beer and kept chugging (at work, not my drink). As soon as I started the crumb coat process, I realized what I was getting myself into... another several hours of frosting. I did the crumb coat on each tier while the other two sat in the freezer, firming up. The layers were sliding a bit from the loosey-goosey lemon curd, and that had to stop. The freezer was awesome because it firmed up the frosting enough that it didn't nick easily when I moved from the freezer to the counter.

12:30am Friday: Aaaaaaand I'm still frosting. People started to go to bed, but I knew my time wasn't yet. I allowed the crumb coats to firm, then started applying the final frosting coat. I don't know if the humidity was at the perfect level down there, but the frosting was spreading like velvet. I had bought all these precautions for smoothing - Viva paper towels, a fondant smoother - but needed none of them, so the offset spatula was enough. I became giddy about how seamlessly this process had gone thus far. Now, let's hope it continues that way...

3:00am: Aaaaaand time for bed. All three tiers have their final coat of frosting and are chilling in the refrigerator overnight to prepare for the next day: tiering and decorating. See you tomorrow...

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Oh yeah, I got a quote in there!

Thanks again Nicole, it really was amazing.