Saturday, May 21, 2011
Nothing runs like a...(n) International Harvester
As a cake lady, you'd think I might not know all that much about tractors. You'd think right. You'd think I didn't know anything about AC/DC music either, but that's for another blog.
Enter Amy. Her fiance grew up in Iowa on a farm called, not making this up kids, "Lover's Lane Acres". He loves it there, and while that is not his chosen profession, he still spends a lot of time there, on his favorite tractor "Barney". Amy would like to have their wedding cake topped with a frosting replica of his beloved tractor.
So we meet. Surprisingly, Amy is a very fashionable, not-at-all-country girl. Upon hearing her wedding details (pink and orange gerbera daisies, white linen dining, a stunning wedding dress) I couldn't bring myself to top any wedding cake of hers with farm machinery. Fortunately, she had been leaning towards the tractor as a surprise groom's cake, so we had a deal. She provided me with photos of Barney, photos of Jake (not another tractor, their adorable doggy) and details that would be fun to include on the cake (how the groom loves to fish with his boys, etc.)
Since a tractor doesn't have much bulk to it, we decided to put a frosting replica of Barney on a cake shaped like a shipping crate, stamped with the name of the farm, as though it was sent up for the wedding.
Now the madness begins. How the hell do you make a tractor out of frosting. You start by calling in the big guns...Magic Phil...whose family owned an International Harvester dealership in Kansas when he was a kid. Thank god Barney wasn't a Green (ahem, you know who you are) tractor, or we would have lost Phil right away. We ordered a cast iron replica of what, after many hours of internet searching, I learned, was an International Harvester Farmall 756 Custom Diesel tractor. This, of course, only after looking through hundreds of tractor replica toys, and learning the subtle nuances of tractor design.
Once we got our little toy in the mail, we called in Phil to dismantle the sucker to cast some molds. He filled us in a whole lot more on tractor design, and tractor etiquette. Yes, there is such a thing.
It took us the better part of a week, and a final assembly mission involving all three cake ladies, royal icing, red chocolate, and a few cans of compressed air, but the tractor was assembled and happily, made the ride to St. Paul without a hitch (ha, no pun intended...the IH Farmall 756 Custom Diesel doesn't come with a hitch, silly urban folk).
Now onto the wedding cake. I've never made Gerbera Daisies out of frosting before. We've made cute little Shasta Daisies, and tons of little cartoony daisies, but never something as complex as these. We got them cut and imprinted, and let them dry for a day before assembling them, and learning the hard way, that they are insanely fragile. We needed three for the cake. We made six. Two days before the wedding, we made three more (just couldn't sleep without a few more extras). I know I can be paranoid, just ask the girls, but once the cake was set up, we had zero, yes, zero orange daisies left, and only one pink one. Gah!
Anyway, despite the daisy terror, this cake ended up being one of the most festive and just plain fun wedding cakes we've done. We set it up, hid out in the kitchen, and watched as the Bride and Groom entered. She was covering his eyes, so that she could surprise him with his groom's cake. So cute. And she informed me that he drove to the hotel that night with the tractor in a box, on her lap "like he had a newborn baby in the car". Now that's love.