Saturday, June 19, 2010

Strawberry wedding cake

It still amazes me that anyone would ask me to make their wedding cake. Sure, it would probably taste good, but would I finish on time? I'm happy to say that I finished this cake with 6 minutes to spare. Yeah, 6 minutes didn't leave much time for piping, hence the rather rustic coat of whipped cream on it. Oh, and it tasted good! Sadly I didn't get a photo of the cut cake, which had a lovely pink filling, but I was so relieved by then that it hadn't collapsed that I just sat down and ate some. In fact, this is the only picture I got of the finished cake.

This cake was for my friends M and D, and it was the most relaxed wedding ever. Nobody could be further from being a Bridezilla than M. In fact, her only requirement was 'cardamom', and we did discuss berries, and there was a definite preference for whipped cream rather than buttercream, but that was it. And D, well I think he'll eat anything. I got pretty stressed out by this cake, which is unusual, especially when it comes to baking. I usually throw things together without too much of a plan, and because I have enough experience, it usually works. However, I wasn't willing to have a big, slumping, melting mess of a cake unveiled in front of lots of people I didn't know, and some that I do. So, I thought about it a lot. I read books and looked at websites and forums.  I bought new pans and lots of accessories. I stole a dozen straws from Starbucks. Not exactly stole: I paid $3.25 for a latte, and took them in lieu of sugar.

Those of you who have seen my kitchen are probably wondering how I did it. There are 6 layers of cake, all made on my 16" (40 cm) of counter space, and baked in my apartment-size oven. No worries, I have a breakfast table that's 13.5' (4.1 m) from said counter. Did I mention that I am moving? I am, on Monday, meaning that the space between counter and table is littered with half packed boxes, and requires hopping, turning sideways and taking a very circuitous route. Needless to say, it was a tight squeeze, and I broke 3 plates in the process, including my lovely old cake plate. I was upset about that one, as good cake plates are hard to find, but, as for the other two plates: less to pack. I also managed to drop a full container of cornstarch off the kitchen counter and discovered that it can fly all the way to the breakfast table, and even stick to the curtains. I came home the other day to discover a set of white footprints leading from my apartment to the elevator. I keep thinking I've got it all cleaned up, but it's hard with all the boxes in the way.

Anyway, back to the cake. All the recipes were from The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Berenbaum. No recipes, as I've already packed the book. I made the génoise classique in 6", 8" and 10", with 2 layers of each. This took 22 eggs, but less than 200 grams of butter! It was a light sponge cake, spiced with freshly ground cardamom, soaked with a rum syrup and filled with a strawberry-white chocolate mousse. This mousse was a combination of Rose's strawberry cloud cream and white ganache. I frosted it with sweetened whipped cream flavoured with vanilla and stabilized with cornstarch. There was more than 2 litres of whipping cream in the cake, more than making up for the lack of butter, I think.

I baked the cakes on Thursday evening, syruped and put the layers together on Friday night (after the civil service and a great Chinese dinner), meaning I finished at 3 am. On Saturday morning, I woke up at 9 and thought I had better find a box to transport it in, and pick up some strawberries to garnish it. As you can see, I went a bit overboard with the strawberries, buying a flat (12 pints). I finally finished them yesterday. :) I got the tiers put together, using those straws to support them, and got the whipped cream on at 1:24 pm. My ride was arriving at 1:30. All I needed to do was get dressed. I was really worried about the cream melting, so I ripped a rack out of my fridge by force, and jammed the cake in.
When my ride arrived, I got the cake in its box and got it in the car, but sat in the backseat with it, as I was really worried. It was then I noticed I was wearing my house flip-flops, which did not match my dress at all. Oh well. Even though I had pushed a wooden dowel down the centre (a long cooking chopstick, actually), I could envision it sliding apart. Sure enough, on a corner that T took like an F1 driver, the whole thing tilted dramatically. Once I saw that it was okay, I relaxed. A bit too much, apparently, because as we took off from a stoplight, the box and cake lurched backward, smearing on the back of the box. Luckily it wasn't too bad, and I fixed what I could and put that side against the wall. I put the strawberries on at the venue, and watched the cake through the whole dinner, as I was really worried about it melting, or just collapsing entirely. It seemed the time to eat it would never arrive, to both me and the four year old at our table. He kept asking, "Is it time for cake yet?"

Well, it's always time for cake, in my world, but I think I'll stick to simpler things for the next little while. See you Tuesday!

14 comments:

simplyfreshottawa said...

It's so pretty! You must be so proud!!

Valerie said...

Amazing, Mary! It isn't easy to work in a small space, especially under pressure. The cake is beautiful.

Best of luck with the move! At least you will have a few less plates to worry about. ;-)

Jennifurla said...

LOL on the heist you pulled at Starbucks! The cake is lovely.

Anne-Marie (10 Rooms) said...

Hey Mary! That's beautiful and it sounds delicious... maybe you will be kind enough to make Dave and I a cake for some significant anniversary in the future.. Good luck with your move, hope to hear all about it when you're back :)

thepastrykook said...

that's amazing! (: and how i wish one day i would be asked to make a cake for a wedding too!

Natalie... said...

wow i would be so proud of this, it looks so pretty!!

Laurie @simplyscratch said...

Beautiful job Mary! You should be PROUD!!! I only wish I could try a piece!! Good luck with the move!

Valérie said...

Wow! That's so impressive! You did a splendid job! A friend of mine is getting married soon, but I wouldn't ever dare make her wedding cake - even if she'd asked!

Leslie said...

What a story! The cake looks amazing, and I think the strawberries look so fresh and beautiful.

RamblingTart said...

Stunning cake, Mary! Just perfect for a relaxed, happy wedding. You did a lovely job. :-)

Marcellina said...

I got nervous just reading your post! You must have been so relieved when it all worked out. I used to ice wedding cakes Australian style (or maybe it's British) with fondant and royal icing and that was bad enough! Fantastic work!!!!!

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Oh wow...you took on a challenge and suceeded!!!!! Superb job. It looks like a lovely cake and I'm sure it tasted great. Well done...with 6 minutes to spare!

Hanaâ said...

Wow, 2 days to make a huge cake like that?? Kudos to you!! Great job. I made my first wedding cake last year. For a while, I wished I had never volunteered to make it but it turned out OK. Check it out here: http://hanaaskitchen.blogspot.com/2009/06/my-very-first-wedding-cake.html.

Mimi said...

Great story! and beaautiful cake. Congrats on your effort.
Mimi