Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Great Wedding Cake Experiment - The Final Hour

After three trial runs and several changes made it was time to pack up my 4 jars of Trader Joe's Cherry Preserves and large baking pans and hit the road...or the air and fly to the East Coast.

I can only imagine what the the TSA officials thought when they scanned my bag but I'm imagining it went something a little like this: "She's either a terrorist or has some REALLY strange fetishes." Nonetheless, we made it to the cabin in Lake Chateauguay (what, you've never heard of it?!?! I would have thought for sure you would know one of the 50 people who live there!). The only casualty was one of the jars of preserves had unleashed its wrath in my suitcase.

Luckily, nearby town of Plattburg has a Sam's Club (very similar to a Costco) and I was able to purchase many of the necessities in bulk. Given that I was going to be making 8 batches of cake batter and about 10 pounds of cream cheese frosting - almost everything needed to be bought in these quantities.

The bride had graceously set aside a specific cabin for baking purposes and I set up shop the day before the wedding to get all of the cake layers done. She also shleped up her aunt's kitchenaid mixer (THANK YOU!) so I didn't have to hand mix everything, let me tell you now that this was a blessing.

Because I only had one cake pan for each layer size, this was going to be a slow process. I started out with the 15" layers, which take up a whole oven anyway. When the first layer came out it was plainly evident that the house was not level and, hence, neither was the oven. Each layer came out slightly thicker on one side. Luckily, because there were three layers, I was confident that we could arrange them to be level.

7 hours and 6 layers baked later the bottom fell out. I had been doubling the batter recipe for efficiency and took stock of my ingredients as I was about to begin the 9" layer. I asked myself "hmmm why do I have so much butter leftover?" and then I realize, I hadn't doubled the butter. OH MY GOD!!!!!!

Luckily, one of the 12" layers was a little taller than the rest, so I shaved off a bit and tasted it. It was surprisingly fluffy and not too dry. It seemed that using less butter actually solved the desity problem that made the cake resemble pound cake. yay!

The cake was a tad bit dry for my liking so the next morning I pricked each layer full of holes and made a butter and cherry syrup to brush over each layer, this seemed to moisten it nicely.

Next came the frosting. If you've ever been to Costco, you may be familiar with the 3 pound bricks of cream cheese they sell there. Well, I used three of these in the frosting! I love the addition of a touch of almond extract to this, it complimented the tanginess of the cream cheese nicely.

Putting the layers together...

Putting the layers together was another challenge. After spreading the marzipan and cherry preserves on top of each layer, it was time to stack. We stacked the 15" layers and then frosted it thoroughly. Next came the 12" layer and we tried to get it as centered as possible, then it got frosted. By the time we came to the 9" layer, the gravitational forces of the house were at work again - not only was the oven slanted, but so was the table: the 15" layer began collapsing on the slanted side due to the weight of the other layers. AAAAHHHH!

Luckily we were able to right it and all was well and we also had 4 custom cut dowels waiting to secure the layers together once they were all in place. The funny thing about the dowels that I definitely had not thought about beforehand was that the bottom layers were so weighed down by the layers they were supporting that little dowel nubbins stuck out. No problem though! I happened to have a mess of fresh cherries for just such an occasion that we made a nice little pile of right on top of the peaking dowel heads.

Next we dropped rose petals over the whole thing and used locally picked ferns (picked by thomas) to decorate the bottom. It turned out lovely and the petals even matched the reception napkins!

Thankfully, my friends kicked me off the cake transporatation committee, alleviating me of the stress that would involve. It took 4 people to move it (it was heavy!), but one it sat on the actually looked like a wedding cake and tasted even better!

The finished product!


Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

2 cups cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar plus more if needed
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

In a standing mixer* with the paddle attachment on, beat together all of the ingredients until thoroughly mixed and of a whipped consistency. If frosting is too soft, add more powdered sugar.

*If you don't have a standing mixer, you can use a hand mixer

Mission accomplished - what's the next challenge?!?!


  1. The cake is beautiful - and sounds delicious. I love the idea of the almond cream cheese frosting - I'll definitely be trying that soon.