I'm in four weddings this year.
But, of course, I still get to hear about the myriad of details it takes to pull together a big wedding these days. It sounds like a great deal of work - one I'm more than happy to take a pass on someday, and invest in a small, low-key celebration and whirlwind honeymoon instead.
However, as a foodie, I must admit that the idea of selecting a wedding cake does intrigue. My friend Celeste was adamant that she'd have a traditional Southern multi-layered cake at her nuptials. And, sure enough, I was wielding her family heirloom cake-cutter into not one - but three - 10-layer cakes with chocolate frosting on her "big day."
I've since tried to find some historical reference on the Internet to this multi-layered Dixie treat and the closest I've come is on a site about North Carolina folklore and culture :
When Mountain Folk got married everyone in the community baked a layer of cake and covered the top with applesauce. Then they would bring the layer of cake to the wedding. The layers would go into a stack of cake hence the layered wedding cake. A couples popularity was measured on how high their wedding cake was.
Quite a method of measuring your self-esteem as a couple. I guess getting oodles of cash, the Kitchen-Aid Artisan Standing Mixer, Pratesi sheets and a complete set of Lenox dinnerware as wedding gifts is today's Northern equivalent of ranking your community status as a twosome.
I'll be curious to see what kind of cakes my other three friends come up with for their walks down the aisle. Now, if they ask me, (and two already have), I would say they investigate options from both Margaret Palca Bakes and Soutine Bakery.
Margaret Palca Bakes is a small storefront and cafe in Carroll Gardens on the "other side" of the BQE. She has been supplying Dean & Deluca with cakes for ages and she charges prices well-below D&D if you purchase directly from her. I once got a four-layer b-day cake from her shop that was so moist and chocolatey that people had a hard time believing that it came from an unknown Brooklyn bakery.
And, as for Soutine, it is a charming small bakery on the Upper West Side. I used to work right nearby and I would often pass by the shop just to smell the heavenly aroma drifting out the door. Needless to say, their cakes are divine.
Of course, my three pals might bypass the bakery option all-together and bake their own - as one nervy bride reported in The Washington Post:
The entire time I worried about how the cake was going to look, I never once worried about how it was going to taste. Instead, I dreamed in techni-food color. Gold leaf or pearl dust? What kinds of fruits? I had fallen through the rabbit hole and landed in a Wonderland of sugar paste, marzipan and royal icing.
As I made tiny pearls on parchment paper long into the night, the rhythm of piping the icing grew, hypnotized me, music to a cobra. Was it possible I might, after all, get good enough to pipe swags onto the cake's sides?
Midway through my experiments, our two cats, Thelma and Louise, discovered they loved Royal Icing (a combination of "Just Whites" powdered egg whites, confectioners' sugar and water). Thelma learned that when she heard the sound of the Kitchen-Aid whipping Royal Icing, it was time to jump on the table, lick the icing and walk around in it. After she'd ruined the umpteenth perfect string of pearls, I piped a bit of icing on her so she could lick it off and leave me alone. Once and for all, I decided to forget about the swags.
The next step was to practice covering the cake in rolled fondant, a pliable sugar paste. Fondant is one of the most beautiful elements of cake decoration. Once the cake is made, frosted and assembled, the whole exterior is then covered by the smooth fondant. It drapes like fabric and looks like edible marble. Fondant is a perfect canvas. But it has drawbacks: Some fondants can't be refrigerated, because the humidity will make them slimy. And a fondant surface can also dry out and tear.
But, here's the real kicker:
While lots of brides get their nails done the day before their nuptials, I was getting fondant under mine.
Yeah - I think that'll be a big "no" for my pals. In fact, I imagine that after reading this item, they'll each be ordering up their wedding cakes from a professional baker right quick, with a call to the nail salon immediately to follow.