Saturday, February 6, 2010


I was asked to do my first wedding cake by my sweet friends, Raven Russell and Ian Brown. The wedding was on January 16, 2010, at the Liberty Theater in downtown Astoria. The reception was on the 3rd floor of the Elks building in the most beautiful ballroom I have ever seen. It was truly a magical day uniting two of my favorite people and I am so glad I was able to be a part of it!!
Okay -- THIS IS NOT MY CAKE! This is the INSPIRATIONAL PHOTO Raven found -- she loved the snow groom and bride on top, and wanted them for her cake, too. I said they were probably made from fondant, so that was my first order of business.

The rest of their cake plan was for three layers, coordinating ribbon around each layer in silver, black and red; and snowflakes.
But first things first, the snow bride and groom.
I had planned to make them out of clay so Raven and Ian could dust them forever. I bought black and orange Sculpey clay (which I then fell in love with... coolest stuff EVER!) and my first job was to make the eyes, buttons, and the top hat for the little groom. Then came the tiny carrot noses. Sculpey clay bakes to a hard finish which is why I did these first.
I had another product, an air-drying porcelain clay, that I was planning on using for the bodies. Not good. It sucked!! Not only did it have a stiff texture, but when it started drying it not only turned GRAY but it began cracking. REALLY NOT GOOD! I gave up and made their bodies out of fondant, which should dry to a nice hardness and they will still be able to keep them for years to come. The snow people are shown below, but first -- onto the snowflakes!

I drew snowflake designs onto paper, placed wax paper over the design and piped each design out with royal icing. After one pan of snowflakes, I started getting the hang of it, and realized I needed to be smoothing them down as I went in order to get the smooth finish I wanted to see:

(2 inches across)

(under 2 inches)

(about 3-4 inches)
The large snowflakes took nearly an hour each to do, but I did get much faster the more I did. I would pipe sections at a time, smoothing down with water as I went. The royal icing wanted to dry a little too quickly for me, but overall -- GORGEOUS! And very delicate. I used the recipe from Wilton that uses powdered meringue instead of egg whites, which means the snowflakes were very edible. And trust me, they were delicious!
Strawberries from Sauvie Island, Portland, Oregon, for the filling:
The 14-inch round bottom layer:

This was my first time making a cake this large. It was pretty daunting, but I just worked one step at a time and tried not to freak out about anything. LOL This is the best chocolate cake in the world, and it's so easy anyone could do it. It is even the one Martha Stewart likes the best! (Shhh.... it's on the back of the Hershey's unsweetened cocoa can!)
For any cake over 10 inches in diameter, you are supposed to use one of those little cups in the center to help the cake bake evenly. It was my first time to use one of those, too. All kinds of firsts here!! I baked two chocolate layers and then put them together, because first I tried to bake a three-inch layer that I would then tort (separate) and fill, but that cake not only didn't bake well, there was no physical way to cut and separate it and not have a giant mess on my hands.
So -- note to self: for large diameter pans, bake one layer at a time!
The top layer... a white cake. Delicious!!

With icing:
The fondant is ready for rolling:

This was my first time for covering a cake with fondant, and I was so impressed with the ready-made fondant from Wilton, I have no words. Roll it out, pop it on, trim. The only place where I deviated from any of the instructions I read was I found it easier to cut the excess fondant off from around the cake using kitchen scissors instead of a knife.
All done!
Since I knew this cake would have ribbon on every level, I knew I was getting a pass this time on having the bottom of the fondant perfectly flat, so that was a little break for me. By the time I did another cake two weeks after the wedding that was covered in fondant, I had it down and the sides were smooth and perfect. *WOOP*
May I have the pleasure of introducing Mr. and Mrs. Snow Groom and Bride!!!
The groom looks like he's falling backwards here, but that was fixed as the days moved forward. He just needed to be squished back into shape. LOL
The bottom layer of the cake getting iced!
The fondant ready to go!!
I was so worried about covering a cake this large, but it just went on perfectly. Amazing.
You can see my little hills and valleys around the bottom, though. No worries! It didn't matter!
See? ----->
Making more icing....

Then the middle layer was ready for some attention.

The top and middle tiers were both white cake, with the 6-inch having a lemon filling and the middle 10-inch tier with the strawberry filling. Both fillings were made from scratch and both were seriously delicious.
Adding the fondant to the middle layer -- look how it drapes!! I love fondant!!!
All done (even the snowflakes!) and having a trial-run in the kitchen:
This is the only time during the wedding cake process where I lost my cool with my children. They chose to run through the kitchen about five minutes after I took this photo.
Now the reason I chose to use this stand from Wilton is that I have never attempted a stacked cake, plus I was worried about transporting the cake to Astoria over our rather bumpy, windy road. Of course I watch all of the cake shows and I watch them carry the big, giant cakes up and down stairs, in and out of vans, through New York City traffic and all that, but I didn't want to risk destroying the cake because this was Raven and Ian's only wedding! So I chose to go this route, and each cake was decorated on its own plate, transported in its own box and then I put them together at the Elks ballroom. My biggest wish is that they had optional separator columns that were shorter. I didn't need this much space between the layers.
I went ahead and added the snowflakes the day before, hoping and praying they would make it to the reception hall. They were SO DELICATE, I can't even tell you, but they looked so beautiful. I packed all of the extra snowflakes in a box with batting and they all made it to the reception hall, too.
The other element Raven and Ian wanted on their cake were tiny silver balls, just a few, around the snowflakes, but instead of using the elusive disco balls popular with Christmas cookies the world over, I chose to dot on royal icing and paint it with a silver decorative powder. It's edible, of course, and you mix it with a tiny dot of clear vanilla extract and paint away.
I truly amazed myself, because the cake was done the Friday afternoon before the Saturday wedding. I had it packed and in the truck before dinner. I couldn't believe I wasn't up until midnight sweating over last-minute details. *go me!*
At the reception hall:

And was it ever worth it!!!!

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