wedding cake preparations

My brother is getting married next Saturday, and I am making the wedding cake.  I don’t know if I’m the right person or the wrong person for this job.  I have made several wedding cakes before, and am thus in possession of the skills and knowledge necessary to accomplish the job.  I have all the cake pans.  My cakes taste very good.  It all gets thrown into doubt, however, by the fact that I don’t like weddings.

But what do you expect from someone who doesn’t enjoy Christmas?  I didn’t even like my own wedding.  Not that I think there was anything wrong with my wedding.  Except for the photographer.  He was very wrong.

I was a disinterested bride.  I couldn’t be bothered to care what the cake looked like.  Or the flowers.  Or the dresses.  I was offered a hand-me-down dress, and it fit, and I thought with relief, “good, there’s an end to it.”  My maid-of-honor wore a borrowed dress.  I didn’t like it, but it fit her, and we said “good enough.”  I had no input regarding the cake or its maker, offering only that I understood the flowers were going to be pink roses.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be married; I just didn’t particularly want a wedding.

The best man made the food.  I don’t remember what that food was, except for a stuffed bread that was braided and filled with salami (perhaps) and cheese and possibly olives.  I didn’t discuss the menu with him.  He had been a chef in New York City before I knew him, so I assumed he knew what he was doing.  I have the sense that it was all very nice.  I didn’t complain then, and I can’t remember now, so I will carry on thinking it was all good.

Our guest list topped out at 12, mostly relatives on my mother’s side. There was no music, but we did have champagne.  Quite good champagne, as I recall.  With strawberries.  Strawberries were in season.

I don’t know if the cake was good nor not.  I had the one bite that I was fed during the ceremonious cutting of the cake, and that was it.  I believe it was a rum cake, or it was supposed be anyway, but I can’t say for certain.

So when my brother and his girlfriend announced last Christmas that they were getting married, and she said it was going to be the wedding she never had (this is her second marriage, my brother’s first; she is 32, he is 37), I knew I was in trouble.

I heavily favor elopement.

Preparations for the wedding itself have not gone well.  The latest in the string of misfortunes is that the field where they intended the ceremony to take place was flooded by Hurricane Irene last weekend.  At last report, they were relocating the ceremony to the American Legion hall were the reception is going to be held.  This is indeed unfortunate.

And I am planning the cake.

The bride, my future sister-in-law, has provided some advice, but I find most of it to be contradictory, so I am going it alone.  But I don’t know what her dress looks like, or the flowers, or the bridesmaids’ dresses, or the decorations.  I have a general color outline, but nothing specific.  She did give me the cake topper that was on her grandmother’s wedding cake in the 1930s.  It is very small, was broken and then repaired some long time ago, but is still sweet.  I met her grandmother last Thanksgiving.  I liked her very much and was looking forward to seeing her at the wedding, but she died right around the same time as my father.  It’s poignant that we have her cake topper, and I intend to emphasize it, it being there in her stead.

The bride is confident that I will make a beautiful cake, as am I, but as of this moment, I don’t know what that will entail.

No one has ever asked me to put roses on a wedding cake.  This disappoints me.  Roses are what I do best.

Brides like to look at photos of cakes and they usually expect to get a cake that looks like the photo.  That is like someone going to the hairdresser with a photo of Farrah Fawcett or Jennifer Anniston and requesting the same hairstyle.  It’s never the same.

Cakes in photos are very often not cakes at all, but foam blocks covered in sugar-and-water icing made to look like cakes.  Real buttercream is a delicate and temperamental thing.

From what I know of the wedding plans so far, roses will not do.  So I am thinking.

Myself, as I am today, would have been a good choice to make the cake for my parents’ wedding.  My tastes have always been old-fashioned and my interests in the past.  In terms of design and aesthetics, I am not a modern girl at all.  I could easily make a wedding cake that would have been perfect for my mother’s wedding.

I remember the first wedding cake I ever saw:  five tiers, all white, covered in white roses.  It was beautiful.  I was about three years old and desperate for a piece with a rose.  They were so lovely, from the moment I saw it, I wanted nothing more.  But, it was not my day.  Nor at the second wedding I remember did I get a piece of cake with a rose.  The third time, however, was indeed the charm, and I finally had one of the outer pieces:  just a nibble of cake under an inch of frosting with a white rose.  Of course, it was made from royal icing, and the roses, the rose that I waited so anxiously to get, to my eternal dismay, tasted awful.  That immense disappointment (as most disappointments are when one is a child) is one of the reasons I worked so hard to create an icing recipe that tastes good and is good for decorating.

I think, as I am finally giving the issue of the cake design my full attention, that the cake must be very simple.  The cake topper, aside from being very old and delicate, is very small.  Any busyness on the cake would overwhelm it.  In fact, thinking this through more fully, the proportions of the tiny topper to the heavy three-tiered cake are disconcertingly unbalanced.  The cake design, as I am coming to understand it, must be one that emphasizes the topper, providing it with increased visual weight.

I have been looking at some of the thousands of wedding cake photos online.  This white-on-white design is my first choice, the one that most accentuates the topper and is closest to the style of the celluloid couple:

The roses help lead the eye to the top of the cake, whereas the brightly colored flowers around the table provide color but not distraction.

This striped design is subtle enough that it won’t overwhelm the little couple.  I would change the colors to be more along the apricot-cream range.

This third design is closer to what the bride has requested in the past.  I like the use of the gold luster dust on the leaves, but there is enough activity on the cake that the bridal couple topper risks losing the center of attention.

I have been waiting for a return call from the bride for over five hours at this point.  I am anxious to find out the final number of expected guests and what kinds of flowers the will be present.  I have also emailed her these three photos, and I am curious to know what she thinks about them.  They are worlds away from the design she chose in February, but her grandmother’s topper wasn’t part of the design at the time.

So I shall go do something else now, something that is not looking at cake photos.  And not making a cup of tea due to the decommissioning of my tea kettle.

It’s going to be a busy cake week.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Published in: on September 4, 2011 at 7:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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