I did it! I successfully made a wedding cake. It was a daunting experience and I am glad its over. I would only do it again if the couple was as low maintenance as Tim and Jimmy were….and if they would pay me large sums of money.
As you know, I have been making a cake a month this year (among other things). When I make these cakes, I usually take about a quarter of it up to my neighbors and dear old friends, Tim and Jimmy. (Todd and I can’t possibly eat a whole cake a month. It makes me sick to even think of it.) Well, this is how I wound up making their wedding cake. We met up for brunch one weekend and discussed what they wanted. Jimmy specifically wanted Nutella. Since I know that Nutella is made of chocolate and hazelnuts, I proposed two cakes. One chocolate and one vanilla hazelnut (instead of the traditional almond). Then the research began…
I scoured the internet and my books for recipes and settled on this chocolate cake from Smitten Kitchen and an orange almond cake from a book I have called Ultimate Cake (this happened after I made some test cakes for the fellas to try-that was a nightmare, btw). The woman from Smitten Kitchen had used this chocolate cake for a wedding, so I figured it would do nicely. I decided that each cake would have a chocolate ganache with bits of hazelnuts, to give it crunch, and Nutella buttercream as the fillings. Then I picked a Swiss buttercream for the outside as it is not too sweet and decided to put some nutella buttercream dots around the edge for decoration. Since the cake was for two men, I wanted to keep the decoration simple. Tim did suggest that we decorate with gumballs and circus peanuts, but we decided that might be tacky.
Now that we had picked out the flavors, I needed to research how I was going to make this behemoth. I watched numerous youtube videos on construction and decorating. I joined a Wilton forum to get advice from other bakers. Then I watched more videos. Then I did a bunch of math trying to figure out how to make a huge cake not taste like ass. Jimmy and I took a couple trips to NY Cake Supply to buy pans and piping bags and boards and dowels. Tim and I went and bought all the ingredients and then Wednesday, the 6th of June came….
I placed all of the ingredients on my dining table and made a plan. I had read in one of the forums, a good way to go about a project this size, is to make the cakes in advance, freeze them and then the day before the wedding, decorate, so that was exactly what I was going to do. It was actually the only thing I could do that would work with my schedule. So Wednesday was my baking day and Friday I would take off work so I could make massive amounts of icing and decorate.
more pictures and the conclusion after the jump
First thing first, I had to bring the butter to room temp before I could make any cake. I decided to make the 12x12 chocolate cake first. I prepared my pan and got to bowls out. I had to make each cake separately because 1. I had only one pan and 2. I can’t fit that much batter in my mixer at one time. I baked the first cake and when it came out, it looked not so hot. The side were coming off and it was crooked (thanks to my slanted apartment). I thought, whatever, I can even it out with a knife. I put the second layer in the oven and went to make the batter for the orange cake. It was at this point that I realized that Tim and I had royally fucked up. We had bought salted butter, instead of unsalted. UGGGGHHHHHHHHH!
I was mortified. I didn’t know if it would be that awful, but I didn’t want to risk it. I scrapped two 12” square cakes, replenished my supplies at the grocery store and started over. The rest of the night went smoothly (except I wasn’t done til 1 am) and the cakes actually looked great. I wrapped them up and set them in the freezer.
Friday morning I made a list. It was about 20 items long. In addition to making frosting and icing the cakes, I entered a pie contest, so I had to make a pie too. Ambitious, aren’t I? I set the unsalted butter out to soften and went about my day. I made the ganache first since it had to cool a bit. Then I made the Nutella buttercream and set that in the fridge, and lastly, I made the Swiss buttercream. Let me tell ya, I am AWESOME at making Swiss buttercream now (4 batches later).
I filled the cakes gave them a crumb coat while they were still frozen. This helped a LOT. I then set them in the fridge to harden a little. Swiss buttercream is a very soft icing, but if refrigerate it, it will harden a little and that makes applying second and third coats a hell of a lot easier.
At this point, I decided, I wanted this thing assembled before we got to the venue. I basically just wanted to touch up there and present. I called Jimmy down to help with the dowels and mustered up the courage to slap the smaller cake on top of the big one. I trimmed them both with the dots and went to bed…One more night of restless sleep!
In the morning, we put a cardboard around the cake and some saran wrap over the top. I sat in the back of an SUV guarding the cake from heinous NY driving. We made it to the venue safely. I touched up the cake and added the awesome little men I had made to the top. Now all that was left was for the cake to taste good, and luckily, it did. I got many compliments and people suggesting I open a bakery (investors? contact me!). I was just so relieved. All I could do after the party was go home and watch Urban Cowboy.