Saturday, July 25, 2009
When my friend Kristina told me she was having brownies instead of a cake at her wedding, I was aghast. "You need something to cut! What about the pictures? Don't worry. I'll make you a cake."
Never mind that I had never made a wedding cake before. I grew up watching my mother make a million of them; she baked cakes at home to make money and still be a stay-at-home mom. And I had once made a cake that looked exactly like a drum set, so this would be even easier.
I sold Kristina on a carrot cake because the one thing I have never been able to do it get perfectly smooth icing. I figured with a mix of buttercream and cream cheese frosting, people would expect it to be a little rough.
I called my mom to discuss piping, and she was right on board to come help me. So the plan was set. I would bake the cake and do the crumb coat, then she would come over and do a perfect, smooth icing and gorgeous professional Wilton School piping.
Well, it turned out to be over 100 degrees that week, and my house isn't air-conditioned. So my mom offered to bake the cakes at her house, which is down by the beach and nice and cool.
So early on wedding day, my mom showed up with three coolers, each with a perfectly iced cake set on a board which was set on top of dozens of blue ice packs. All I had to do was assemble them. Oh, and the topper wasn't made yet.
So yeah, my mom made the cake, Kristina. The truth comes out!
I flew around in a panic to a bunch of florists that were all closed on Saturdays and finally alighted at Ralphs supermarket. Luckily, the lady seemed to know what I wanted. I bought white roses and sunflowers and left her to make a topper while I got ready.
When I got back to the store on the way to the wedding, the topper was beautiful, but it was MASSIVE. Oh God, it would topple the cake. We hurridly pulled out stems and cut them closer. As we drove to the wedding, my mom called, "I forgot to tell you. I put some bacon under one of the cakes for you. They were on sale." We considered pulling over and trying to lift the cakes out and imagined total disaster.
I decided, "Well, it's probably sealed. If not, if the cake tastes like bacon it tastes like bacon. Kristina loves bacon."
When we made it to the yacht club and I assembled the cake, I still had to do the piping where the layers meet. Let's just say it was loopy at best. Mom's perfect icing had also suffering a little from the heat. I could only hope that the topper was so spectacular no one would notice the droopy piping.
But the topper was too heavy. It was going to make the cake fall. The flowers were set into a plastic tub filled with that green florists sponge. So I grabbed an empty plate and a knife and cut out the middle of the top layer of cake in a perfect plastic-tub-sized circle. I forced the topper's plastic tub down into the hole and prayed it wouldn't collapse.
Pictures were taken, the cake taken to the kitchen to be cut, and it turned out to be the most delicious, moist carrot cake ever. Everyone complimented me and I said, "Oh, it was nothing."
Mom’s Carrot Cake
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 oil
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Cream sugar, oil and eggs.
Gradually add dry ingredients.
Stir in carrots, nuts and coconut.
Pour batter into a greased 9 by 13-inch cake pan.
Bake about 50-55 minutes
They had cute retro finger sandwiches to nibble on while the wedding party took their photographs.
Never eat anything bigger than your head
Ironically, the brownies were set up as I had feared - as a symbolic wedding cake, topper and all. So I basically forced a cake upon a bride who already had a "wedding cake."