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1st Wedding Cake - Analysis Part 2

PrettyKitteh's picture

Friday July 24th - 90F

- make buttercream for decorating
- get everything to resort without any accidents
- assemble and decorate cake
- get cake into fridge for overnight chill

I went into town in the morning and on the way home stopped at another shop and found the UK butter I really like. Came home and made another batch of good tasting buttercream and then I mixed it with the batch I'd made the previous night [brought it to room temperature] and put it all into a container. The flavour I liked from the UK butter came through in the overall taste.

Then packed up everything I thought I might need. I used disposable roasting pans to hold each cake and put a piece of spongy shelf liner in the bottom and it held them in place perfectly. Drove very slowly down 500 feet of steep/winding roads to the bottom and headed off to the resort. The cakes arrived unscathed but when I moved the front seat back I just touched the cake in the back and I had to do a minor repair. Moved everything into the kitchen. Boy, restaurant kitchens are small! I also quickly realised there is no air-conditioning. I put each layer into the fridge since even with the ac running in the car the entire time the cakes had warmed-up.

Now the fun began.....

I put everything out I thought I would need and I used the cake stand to help me work on each cake. I really need to get a cake turntable if I'm going to do this again.

Even though it was so warm I kept the tub of buttercream out since I didn't want to have to whip it again. I thought about taking out some and putting the rest in the fridge but worried about it getting too hard.

This is how I assembled the cake -

I brought each cake out separately and added the final coating of buttercream and then put it back into the fridge to chill. A big issue I had was getting straight sides. I'm not sure what I was doing wrong as I tried to keep the spatula, offset spatula and spackle knife as straight as possible. I did as best as I could although not happy with the overall results.

My goal was to have clean cakes and when I stacked them they would stay clean but I found I touched them putting one cake on top of another. Did I do something wrong? Any hints? I had to do a lot of touch-up work. Each cake looked level but I found the level I brought with me impossible to use [uneven table?] and eyeballed it in the end.

Now came one of the hardest part - putting in the supports. I had purchased white plastic dowels which looked like big sturdy straws. Since the cake was assembled onsite I didn't plan to put a dowel down the centre so I put the first dowel into the centre to measure the depth. I remembered the suggestion to make sure they were level and exact height. The package said to use a serrated knife to cut them but I found it next to impossible to cut them straight across. Any suggestions? I cut them best as I could and put the next cake on and realised right away it really wasn't even. Now the dowels were in place there was no way to remove them so I had to cut away with scissors - not good. I made sure I got the plastic bits as I cut them off but wish I'd done a better job with the initial cuts. The second set of supports went better as I cut them a little shorter but still had trouble getting clean/straight cuts.

Once assembled I was expecting the 2" difference in layers to be more significant but it looked more like the test cake with 1" difference. Should I have gone with 3" difference in pan sizes

Now all three tiers were stacked and looked reasonably straight so I put the cake back in the fridge to cool and prepare for decorating. I made up two decorating bags one with the round tip to do the balls and the modified basket-weave tip for the vertical lines. Thanks to all your suggestions for doing the balls that part went well and if I got a winged ball I nicked it off. Most difficult to keep consistent size but got a little easier as I went along. For the vertical lines I used tape in the end to make it the appropriate width and along the serrated edge to give a cleaner line. Not my ideal to use tape but it worked. I had bought the set square to help me with the vertical lines but I couldn't put it up against the cake. In the end I kept doing the first vertical stripe over and over until I was happy - yes, easier working bottom up - and then I would move the tip and line it up the same way to try and get a consistent distance and keep it as perfectly vertical as possible. I wasn't very happy with the vertical lines because the buttercream was warming in my hands and wouldn't always stick to the cake. Had to do a bit of knife work. At one point some melted enough a blob landed on my foot!

After four hours I was as done as I could be and didn't want to play with it anymore so I put it in the fridge to chill overnight. There were a few times during the assembly and decoration I thought was insane to have taken on the project but when I left I was mostly happy with the cake plus I knew the bride needed her cake. I also had nightmares that evening that the heavy cake would break the shelf in the fridge and the cake would come crashing down.

July 25th - 92F

- decorate with fresh flowers and return to fridge until served

The next day my very good friend came with me in the afternoon to put on the fresh flowers and she made the cake look really beautiful. I think I could do it on my own now as it was simple but elegant. Lisa also went into the garden and picked white frangipani so it was a real BVI wedding cake [used local eggs too in the cakes]. I don't have a photo, yet, of the cake when it was put out for display but it apparently looked really nice as they had fresh rose petals from the ceremony scattered around the platter on the table.

I didn't get to meet the bride but friends who were working at the wedding said the bride kept saying the cake looked just like the picture. Personally, I knew where it missed the mark but she was happy. They also devoured the cake and said it tasted delicious. The bride was happy to have leftovers too as they were staying at the resort for a few days after the wedding.

Will I do it again? Hmmm.....I think I need some lessons but overall I was very happy - the 10 straight hours of sleep I had after it was all done helped a lot. Thank you too for help with pricing. Everything on Tortola is over priced since you don't have many options and I called a local bakery just to compare prices. I doubled my original price based on what had been suggested here and by my research and the bride was more than happy to pay!

I'm sure more questions will come to mind as I go along but hope this isn't too in-depth of an analysis. My non cake friends were bored by my discussions about the merits of cake assembly.

If someone has come to this posting first - in Part 1 I have all the photos.


Adele's picture

(post #65176, reply #1 of 9)

I'm with you on the dowels.  The first ones I bought were too skinny to support.  I actually used bamboo skewers, as I didn't want to go to Home Depot for a long dowel to cut.  I know better now. 

I really need to get a cake turntable if I'm going to do this again.  You can spend the money on a cake turntable or you can buy a lazy susan at a discount store or dollar store.  Unless your going to make one or two a week, there is a cake turntable that tilts available at Wilton. 

I am so very glad that everything went well for you, I know you must of been tense.

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

PrettyKitteh's picture

(post #65176, reply #2 of 9)

Yes, THOSE dowels....when I made the test cake the dowels hadn't arrived in the mail and I used bamboo skewers and they did the trick but I wasn't sure they would work if I had to use them. The dowels, once in place really did support the cake.

Ohh....that's an excellent idea about getting a lazy susan instead of a cake turntable. I really doubt I would ever do that many cakes to justify a $$$ cake turntable.

Tense was putting it nicely when I couldn't get the dowels to work the way I thought they should. The one good thing is I normally do pretty well in a crisis and things work out so I was counting on those skills to kick in. When I had completed the balls and knew they looked acceptable I knew I'd turned to the positive side. A few days after the cake was done I put my head on my pillow at 7:30PM and slept straight through until the morning!

RuthWells's picture

(post #65176, reply #3 of 9)

You handled a huge, intimating job admirably, and your results were beautiful! Well done.

Ruth Wells

"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

Ruth Wells

"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

PrettyKitteh's picture

(post #65176, reply #6 of 9)

Thanks for your kind words. Everyone on this forum has been so positive and encouraging and that helped more than anyone could possibly know.

Wolvie's picture

(post #65176, reply #4 of 9)

on the board for the first time in a long while - what a nice post and cake. Not to mention the view.

great job. :-)



Jean's picture

(post #65176, reply #5 of 9)

There you are! What's up?

Sometimes I wonder--why is that Frisbee getting bigger?--and then it hits me.

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
Wolvie's picture

(post #65176, reply #7 of 9)

I pop in from time to time. :-)

just staying out of the heat here in NC. been to maine, mass, philly, etc. Having fun.

How about you?

all is well I hope.



Jean's picture

(post #65176, reply #8 of 9)

Yup--trying to stay out of trouble. :)

Sometimes I wonder--why is that Frisbee getting bigger?--and then it hits me.

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
Marcia's picture

(post #65176, reply #9 of 9)

Jean has NOT been staying out of trouble. Just ask her what she did. ;-)

It's always good when you pop up, as I really miss having you around.