Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sometimes it's just too easy.

Sometimes, it is just that...too easy. When I met with Paige and Nolan, I had this photo of a cake that I had just found online, that I had to recreate. It was done by the Cake Girls in Chicago, and it just knocked me over with sheer cakestacy. The cake was a grey fondant background, with blush pink flowers in perfect lines on the sides. Paige and Nolan were planning their wedding in grey, black and blush pink. We're halfway there. Unfortunately, it's the second half of the way there (hoping that the clients have the same taste as you in cake design, convincing them that grey food is okay to serve (people have hang-ups about grey fondant...which I find funny, because they seem to have no problem eating cakes shaped like books, tree trunks, suitcases, even beloved pets, but grey fondant tends to freak people out!?!) and most importantly, not breaking the Gateaux Cardinal Rule...Each cake must be original, designed specifically for the client and their event. Now, once again, I remind you that I'm a cake lady, not an English major, so forgive that last monstrosity of a sentence, and we can all move on.

Paige and Nolan loved the cake that I showed them. They weren't afraid of grey fondant, and best of all, they brought me a copy of their beautiful invitation for added inspiration. The invitations had embossed brocade edges...matte black on high-gloss black. Ultra chic...ultra cake-able!!

So we sketched up several options morphing the cake idea with the invitation pattern. One after another, they kept coming, each prettier than the last design, until I was staring at a table full of cake sketches. Too easy.

For those of you who haven't been in for a consult with us, I'll fill you in. We send our lovely couples home with the black and white sketches, then when they come in to pick up their cake samples on sample day, we give them a stack of colored sketches from which to choose their final design. What often happens in the meantime, is that I fall in love with one of the designs. But, it is out of my hands at that point. After all, as much as the cakes are mine, mine, mine...they ultimately aren't mine at all. They are, as much as I cringe to admit it...not...mine...

That's why when it came to Paige and Nolan, it was, once again, too easy. They called back with their design choice, which happened to be my favorite!!

We got their invitation vendor to release the invitation art and monogram, and happily went about creating the cake. We created 72-plus flowers for the tiers, then saddled Julia with the task of centering each flower with a rhinestone, circled with eight edible silver dragees (I didn't say "too easy" for her, but for me it was a breeze!) We screenprinted the brocade pattern in grey royal icing over a black fondant band...never tried that before...worked like a charm. And delivered the cake to the Graves Hotel, where the bridal party was rehearsing the wedding right before the ceremony began.

We got to see the bride's reaction as we stacked the cake. That's when I realized that it really was her cake, not mine. But with such a gracious and grateful bride, even that was easy....too.

Thanks to JM Photography for these beautiful images!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Erin's Wedding, and the two Kays

I did a 60th birthday cake for a brilliant woman (Hi Maria) a couple of years ago. She is a professor at Mankato, and was leaving for Africa right after the party to finish her latest paper. The subject, I'm sure I will over-simplify...but it intrigued me to the core...the dual personalities of women. Not that freaky Cybil-type stuff, but something that every woman is familiar with in her daily life, just maybe she's not aware of it. Maria is studying how women change their outward persona depending on the situational demands they face during any given day. Business woman, vs. Mother, vs. Wife...all incredibly different. She simplified it for me by pointing out that to listen to me on a phone call with a client is very different from hearing me talk to one of my friends. Women tend to take on different behavior, speech patterns, etc. depending on the situation.

Fast forward to six months ago. I find an appointment on the books for a bride named Erin..(with Jenna's Mom, Kay). Those of you who have worked with us know Jenna. She is my right-hand woman...the organized, hard worker who actually gets work done despite my constant distractions.

Erin is Kay's best friend. I've met Kay several times. She is the consummate Mom. I call her Mrs. Weasley because of her fabulous red-hair, and penchant for worrying about her six kids (she sends out mass texts when severe weather enters the area). Not sometimes....ALWAYS.

I met with Erin and Kay, and Erin's son Alex, on a Monday. Jenna's day off. I was ready for a nice little chat and some cake sketching with Mrs. Weasley. What I got, however, was a sociological experience, that my college-professor client Maria would be proud of. You see, Mrs. Weasley, when with her friends, is a riot. I've never laughed so hard at a cake appointment in my life. Those two women had me laughing, blushing, practically crying. Poor Alex, just rolled his eyes from time to time, as though this were par for the course when these two joined forces.

By the time they left, we had three completely different cake sketches, and an appointment for them to come back to discuss invitations. Not necessarily because I had some amazing ideas for her invitations, but more like I just wanted to hang out with them again.

By the time they returned for the invitation meeting, now with Erin's sister in tow (more fuel for the revelry) Erin had decided to do the skyline cake that we designed. Her reception would be at the top of the IDS building, so we decided that we could use the view as our inspiration. We decided to carry that theme over to the invitations, adding a silhouette of the church where the reception was to be held to the Minneapolis skyline. Any other significant landmarks? Alex had an answer for that. Turns out they were holding out on me. Erin's family owns the Rollergardens. Yep, you know it, the St. Louis Park Landmark Roller Rink, with...a giant dinosaur on its roof! Well, turns out they had to move the dino inside, after years of it being stolen as a SLP High Homecoming prank, but nonetheless, DINOSAUR.

I set Alex out to do some recon. He is an incredibly talented photographer. He got me photos of the church, the Rollergardens, and yes, the Dinosaur. We got the photos to my husband/graphic design consultant, the Goo, who created a landscape logo for the invitations. The Rollergarden silhouette featured on the RSVP card, where the options to attend were either "All skate" or "Wipeout".

Best thing about the invitations, was finding one in my mailbox. My husband and I decided to "All Skate" and had a fabulous time. We got to enjoy seeing the guests react to our light-up skyline cake, and even had a slice ourselves.

Alex took a skyline photo of Minneapolis, that they enlarged to poster size, cut into place card size pieces, and put back together on a large board. Coolest place card I've ever seen. The Goo and I got to sit at a table with Jenna and the other Weasley kids, and I got to see Jenna's mom play the role of Jenna's mom again. With a few moments of Erin's friend peppered in for good measure. Both are lovely women.

Monday, November 7, 2011

His Dress: the Groomscake demystified.

What exactly is this "Groom's Cake" thing anyway? I get that question all the time. My antiquated southern tradition, that thanks to Martha Stewart and a whole lot of cake-related television shows, has regained popularity and even spread to good-old Yankee territory (not the baseball team, the great frozen north in general). You see, the groom's cake was originally a counter to the main wedding cake, which was meant to be white (inside and out) in reference to the Bride's purity. No kidding.

So, the fact that the groom's cake is traditionally chocolate begs the question...What's he been up to? That, is a whole other topic. One best left to someone other than the cake lady.

Move forward, into this millennium, and you'll find that the Groom's Cake has taken on an entirely new role in the wedding. It is no longer a sad little pile of chocolate cake dwarfed by the majestic beauty of the wedding cake. It has actually become an opportunity for the Groom to have his moment in the proverbial Cake-Sun.

Let's face it, weddings are one of the last bastians of Matriarchy left in the world. I know a lot of Grooms (my own included) enjoy the process of planning a wedding, but let's face it girls, this is our world. Anyone that argues otherwise can explain to me why the Bride's dress (my own included) makes up a nice chunk of the wedding budget, while quite often, the Groom is outfitted for FREE, with the rental of the groomsmen's tuxes. I, myself, donned a handmade dupioni silk dress custom designed to my frame by a lovely Austrian seamstress (Hello, Irene), while my Groom wore RENTED clothes. That still seems pretty odd to me,'s our world, ladies.

It wasn't until I was setting up a cake a few weeks ago, when the groom's sister came to me and told me how excited he was for the cake. She referred to it as "his dress". We'll get to that lovely couple in a few posts, but that really stuck with me. Fine, he can wear rented clothes and shoes that are one step above a good pair of bowling shoes, but, let's get him one hell of a cake!

And that's just what lot's of my clients have done. Honestly, most of these little numbers are surprises. The Bride will sneak in and design a cake that is purely representative of her Groom. No fluff, no frills, all man! All, car-loving, tech-buying, hunting, fishing, golfing, cigar smoking, man! Hallelujah! And here are a few of our favorites:

Matt's Apple store groom's cake with all the toys he loves. The Ipad, solid chocolate, the Ipod, fondant, the bag is the actual cake.
We loved coming up with wedding "apps".
And, a little Sinatra on the iPod...
As Promised, Photos of Adam's Groom's Cake, also a surprise. This one celebrated his Eagle Scout status, as well as his love of frisbee, legos, and of course, Gatsby.
Couldn't forget his kitties though, that's one of their tails, and the other's paw clawing out of the back pack. *No frosting cats were harmed in the making of this cake.
Don't forget Tristen, the die-hard Twin's fan!
Or this Groom's first love, his Porche...
If he could have, this Groom would have made his life-sized R2D2 cake (complete with sound chip in his arm) his best man:

And, one of my all-time favorites...Andrew's Lobster pot cake. Because, lobsters mate for life.

So, here's to our boys, god love 'em. For all we put them through, it's nice to show them a little appreciation, especially when it takes the form of Cakey Goodness.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Emily, Adam, Gatsby and the Stars

I have met in the streets a very poor young man who was in love. His hat was old, his coat worn, the water passed through his shoes and the stars through his soul”
― Victor Hugo

Sorry for getting all literati on you guys, but The Evil Cake Genius is a sucker for for Victor Hugo. I'm also quite the Astronomy buff, every science credit in my Bachelor's Degree is Astronomy related, from 101 to Comparative Planetology, it is the artist's science in my humble opinion.

But onto Emily and Adam. I was surprised when I met them, to hear that they were having an outdoor wedding reception in August, but they weren't interested in a garden theme. Just when you think you've got people pegged...
They, instead, wanted a cake that would reflect their evening under the stars. And, I, for one, couldn't have been happier. We've never done a celestial themed cake before. We've had our share of starry cakes, but never one that embodied the Minnesota Night sky. So we got to work. The general idea wasn't to create a literal scene of Lake to Sky, but rather to incorporate the essence of the two.

I had seen a cake with fondant collars on the ledges before. Definitely meant to be waves in that cake decorator's vision, but I showed it to the couple, who instantly knew what I was thinking...the Auroura Borealis. We would use this general shape for the silhouette, but add some other references to solidify the theme. The ceiling of their reception tent would be lit by star-shaped lanterns, so we decided to top the cake with a frosting North Star in the same shape. We added silver dragee stars to the sides of the tiers (see if you can spot Orion, the Big Dipper, and even the couple's sign, Cancer) and then some shooting stars on wires to keep the celestial party going. Luckily, their wedding colors were deep blue with pink accents, so we decided to have the cake's color get deeper as you moved to the top tiers, travelling further into the night. All that was left was to add some of the pink color, but how? Simple, Lake to Night Sky...Waterlilies. I just love the sound of that...Waterlilies dancing across the milky way...Good morning Starshine, Lucy in the sky with Diamonds, Sweet Judy Blue Eyes, dude, I'll trade you my sweet tye die shirt for a grilled cheese, wait...just had a college flashback. Well, whether you inhaled or not, you can't argue that this was going to be one spectacular cake.

But we can't forget about Gatsby...As it happens these two started a family a little early, by adopting their first fur-baby. When we met to go over details a few months prior to the wedding, Emily added a frosting replica of their new puppy to the cake (supporting the ASPCA in the process with her donation, thank you!) I've done lots of these little frosting pups over the years, but Emily's idea had me laughing out loud. They wanted Gatsby to be swimming through the waves of the Milky Way on the cake. Of course, I agreed, and figured out how to accomplish this later.

She also added a surprise groom's cake for Adam. An awesome cake shaped like an old Eagle Scout back pack complete with all the things he loves, his two cats (one hiding in the backpack, with just it's tail poking out, and one clawing it's way out) leggos (man after my own heart) and frisbee's. This cake would be kept inside, and carried out by the caterers at the appropriate time to surprise him. Which...cake fans...sort of explains why I completely gapped taking a photograph of it. Argghhhh...We'll update this post once the professional photos come out...promise.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Carte Rouge

I'm a control freak. A serioiusly, over the top, mind-numbing control freak. Ultimately, this works out favorably for my clients. After all, it's a good thing to have a cake lady that won't let your caterers pick up a stacked four tier cake and move it just because they thought it would look better in the far corner of the room. Well, I can tell you for sure, that while it may look better over there, it wouldn't look better smashed into the carpet, which is likely to be its actual destination if they try to move a 120 pound cake after it has been stacked for over an hour. Let's just say that flexibility is not my strong suit.
That's why I am in total awe when I meet clients like Jahaira and Adam. They came in with their coordinator, Sarah from Lasting Impressions, and pretty much gave me Carte Blanche to do what I wanted to do for their invitations and cake. Well, actually not Carte Blanche. More like Carte see, the only thing they really wanted was that the invitations, the cake, the decor, etc. be wonderful and glamourous, and...not white. They'd seen it all before...white linens, white draping, white invitations, white, white, white. So, other than Jahaira's wedding dress, they wanted to shake things up a bit, and do the rest of the wedding in Red and Black. How this would be accomplished, would be up to myself and Miss Trotter to figure out.

I love it when people do this. Hire people that you trust, and let them run with it. While, I couldn't do this for all the Xanax on the planet, I really do appreciate those who can. Jahaira and Adam have great taste, a fabulous sense of style, and most important the wisdom to let the people around them do their jobs without interference.

What's funny, is that you'd think this would be easy for the vendors involved, but it's not. I see a lot of weddings, so when you ask me to do something I haven't seen before, that says a lot. We needed something to set the invitations apart. I had seen rhinestones on invitations, ribbon, and even feathers, so we started looking, not in our invitation catalogues, but everywhere else. There had to be something new out there. And we found it. A pulled ribbon rosette. Beautiful...but not for sale. Merely a suggestion. You know, like a serving suggestion. Like on the box of frozen waffles, how the picture on the front has a beautifully toasted waffle, topped with melted butter, maple syrup poured from a silver basin, and fresh berries picked at the peak of perfection....all served on fine china with a single rose along side the plate. Look closely at the bottom right corner of that photo, you'll see the words "serving suggestion" printed there. As though we all expected that box of frozen waffles to contain all the necessary ingredients for that lavish breakfast, and we may just sue the waffle company when we open our weary morning eyes to a burnt waffle on missmatched stoneware, topped with "syrup" from a god-only-knows-how-old bottle of Log Cabin that we dug out of the back of the cupboard, then had to run under hot water for ten minutes to get the top to open. Garnished with...oh hell, who garnishes a toaster waffle? But I digress. Not unlike the serving suggestion, the beautiful ribbon rosette would take time, and lots of it. So, given Carte Blanche, we don't need to even show this to Jahaira... but we do. Come on, have you never read this blog before? ...of course we do, we thrive on this stuff!

Needless to say, they loved our ribbon rosette idea. They loved the invitation design, with not a shred of white on it, even the envelopes were black. Upon Sarah's suggestion, we added Menu cards with the heading "Eat", little printed flags mounted on swizzle sticks for the bar that said "Drink", and monogrammed napkins that said "Be Merry". Thanks to Bjorn Messner
for the shots of the menu cards and our beautiful couple.

After that, the cake was a gimme. We copied the invitation colors, motif, monogram, and even the rosettes, this time made out of gum paste. We made it big, we made it sparkle, we made it NOT WHITE!

Jahaira was so excited about the cake design, that she commissioned a surprise groom's cake for Adam. We incorporated his favorite things, cigars, good Tequila, and the Godfather movies. Best part, the top tier isn't a cake, it is a molded chocolate bowl, filled with rice crispie treats, and topped with royal icing "popcorn". Even the Godfather DVD is chocolate. But my favorite part is the Tequila worm making its way up the frosting bottle wearing his top hat and bow tie. Damn I love this job.

So, they ate, they drank, and they were married. A lesson in letting go? It worked out for these two, maybe I should...ahh, get real, I can't even eat a toaster waffle without breaking out the fine china.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lindsay, Sean, and the Durability of Rice Crispy Treats

When I met with Lindsay and Sean, I was instantly intrigued by the fact that they are both commercial airline pilots. Of course, all sorts of travel-inspired cakes came into my head. After all, cake and traveling are two of my favorite things in life. However, as details of their wedding plans came out, the chance of working in some crazy whimsey travel themed cake slipped away.

Their reception would be at the Semple Mansion in Minneapolis, one of my favorite venues, but also incredibly traditional in decor. Their palette would be Ivory,Pale Yellow and Silver, with accents of French Blue in the floral, also subdued and classic. But the nail in the "Crazy Cake" coffin, was that Lindsay had chosen to wear the most beautiful Priscilla of Boston gown that had incredible ribbon embroidery accents.

Honestly, it was a cake waiting to happen. That, coupled with their Fleur de Lis motif popping up throughout the stationery, decor, and even attire, made the cake practically design itself. We all loved the design, and I quickly forgot about my visions of travel-cake grandeur.

That is, until I got a call from Ashleigh. Ashleigh is one of my favorite former brides, and actually the person who referred Lindsay and Sean to us in the first place. Ashleigh was planning a bridal shower for Lindsay...with...a travel theme! Hell to the yeah, the cake lady gets to make the elegant wedding cake, and the theme cake too!

Now, Ashleigh's timing was impeccable, as we were about to film three more episodes of "Amazing Wedding Cakes" for WeTV. The producers were looking for cakes that were unusual, interesting, and most importantly, cakes that would put me in a position in which I was likely to have a full-on mental meltdown on television. I can oblige. Instead of the original thought of a stack of vintage suitcases, I pitched to Ashleigh a vintage travel trunk cake with a full-size globe on top of it. Why do I do these things? I don't know. The producers, Ashleigh, Lindsay, all would have been thrilled with a stack of vintage suitcase cakes. But instead, I had to go and pitch a sphere. Have we ever done a sphere before? No. Why not do it with a kitchen full of camera men (hello Amazing Larry and Kimmel) to record my descent into complete madness.

For details on how that worked out for us, just watch the episode, but let's get back to our couple. We made the globe out of Rice Crispie Treats, then frosted it in fondant. We delivered the cake to the shower, they ate the cake, loved it, but didn't cut into the globe. As it happens, they decided to save the globe to display it on their candy table at the wedding reception...6 months later. God Speed little Crispie...and I'm staying completely out of this.

The wedding came, and we delivered the beautiful wedding cake.

When we arrived, there it was, the Rice Crispie globe, in all its glory, mounted on top of a cute little suitcase that they'd bought as a display stand for it.

I've got to admit, I was shocked at how well preserved it was. We've kept dummy cakes for over a year at the shop, but those are styrofoam underneath. I had no idea that rice crispies could last that long without imploding, exploding, or otherwise ploding. Makes you want to treat the crispies with a little more respect, doesn't it?
Thanks to Brandis Alves Photography for the photographic evidence of this mad science experiment...and the beautiful couple.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Courtney and David at the Walker

Courtney and David had their wedding and reception at the Walker. You might call it "returning to the scene of the crime". After all, they had their first date at that very museum.

We've designed cakes for weddings at The Walker before. It's easy. After all, if you are the type of people to have your wedding at an art museum, you are definitely not afraid of good design, clean lines, and creativity. Come to think of it, almost any of our clients fit that description, but we're lucky that way.

So we sketched up something clean, something modern, something that would suit the venue and our design-driven couple. We even did their invitations for them. Modern, minimalist, and beautiful.

The cake would be equally modern. Rather than a lot of color, we decided to emboss the fondant with geometric patterns so that the detail would be a play of light and shadow. We'd accent the embossing with a few touches of color (they had a great palette) but mostly, the cake would remain white.

Until...several weeks later, when I got an email from the groom. It turns out they'd been holding out on me. There was photographic evidence from their first The Walker. Two little snapshots. One of him, one of her, that they'd taken of each other. Would it be too weird, he asked, to incorporate those photos into the cake design?

Well, that depends. If you treat it like a graduation cake, and get the photos printed on edible images, then attach those to the cake with a birthday-cake-shell-border so that Aunt Cindy can eat part of your cheek and your right ear, then yes...too weird. But these are creative people, I am creative people. We can work this out!

Enter Captain Leisure. The Captain, for those of you who do not know, is married to the Evil Cake Genius. He also designs t-shirts embossed signs, and other gift products to amuse, and support the Cake Lady's cakey lifestyle. A good egg. But more importantly...insanely talented in graphic design. The Captain took those little snapshots and worked a little of his magic and next thing we Cakey art.

We shot a screen, and printed their first date in royal icing, right on the bottom tier of their wedding cake. LOVE IT.
Best of all, the Bride and Groom loved it. The guests loved it, and Aunt Cindy still got to eat somebody's ear, but... do you taste that Auntie? That's what art tastes like.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Elizabeth, Mike and July in Minnesota

Many of you cake fans out there saw us deliver Stephanie and Pete's cake in the Snowmageddon blizzard of 2010 on Amazing Wedding Cakes. It's true, Minnesota is a Harsh, blustery climate with awful winters. You'd think that the weather gods would cut us some slack the rest of the year, but what many of you don't know, is that come mid July, a cake lady can find herself longing for 10 below and snow covered roads. You see, Minnesota in the summertime can be a relentless steam bath. And fondant cakes plus humidity and heat are a cake decorators worst nightmare.

Enter Elizabeth and Mike. A nicer couple you would be hard-pressed to find. They've got a great back story for cake-spiration too. They're currently living in Hong Kong, but having a Lakeside reception in her parent's beautiful backyard in Sun Fish Lake. Without being too themey, they wanted to incorporate some Chinese design elements into an otherwise "summer on the lake" themed cake. This might sound like a tricky proposition, however, we had a few tricks up our sleeves.

To start, the couple had Mimi Designs coordinating their wedding, and while I am still convinced that they are out to kill me,(we'll get to that later) they do amazing design work that has inspired many a Gateaux cake. Second, the Cake Lady has had the opportunity to travel to China within the past two years, and was overwhelmed with inspiration in the Yu Yuan Garden in Shanghai.

Easy, we take the birch tree motif from their invitation, add in some laquered chinese garden pagoda lattice (made entirely of frosting, of course) and top it with a frosting double happiness character. A few frosting water lilies at the base, and we had a winner. Elizabeth and Mike were happy, I was happy, the Mimi's were happy, Mother Nature was laughing at all of us.

Now, let's get back to some history here. Amy and Amy from Mimi Designs have been bringing their clients to us for cakes for many years. They are creative, unique, and very talented event designers. And...they are out to kill me. If I had a buck for every time I've heard Amy Red say "don't freak out, but..." to me, I'd be retired and living in a villa in the hills outside of Florence, Italy(mmmmm...Florence). I've shown up to deliver elaborate cakes, followed in by Irish Step Dancers (not kidding...STEP DANCERS) who asked Amy where to set up. The answer..."You'll be dancing around the cake". Trying to kill me. Other cakes, I've been informed that "The bride didn't want the cake cut until 11:00" while setting up the 3:00 in the afternoon. Trying to kill me. "Don't freak out, but the florist has brought you 300 of the wrong color roses for the cake". TRYING TO KILL ME. Funny thing is, these situations always work out. The step dancers were a hit, and the cake stayed upright, the 11:00 cake cutting was a dramatic highlight of the late night reception, and the Mimi's had already cleared the flower color change with the bride before her high strung cake lady arrived.

The Monday before Elizabeth and Mike's wedding, I got the dreaded call from Amy. "Don't freak out, but they're predicting record high temperatures and heat advisories for Saturday". Just what every cake lady loves to hear. We worked through any possibility of setting the cake up inside the house, but the guests wouldn't be in the house for any portion of the reception, so that was out. We then figured out the absolute latest possible set up time frame so that the cake would be stacked and done when the guests arrived, but not standing for a second longer than it had to be before being seen. None of this would matter,however, because the weather forcasters were wrong. Dead Wrong...they had to be. There's no way, we'd get stuck with three weddings in a blizzard, and one outdoor set up during a heat advisory in the same year. It simply wasn't a possibility.

Until, of course, Saturday morning, when I woke up to the most torrential downpour and thunderstorms I can remember. Overnight on Friday, Minneapolis got 4.85 inches of rain. By mid afternoon, it had heated up to 93 degrees, evaporating all of that water into the air, causing a near record 77 degree dew point. For those of you who don't have a meteorology degree, and aren't anal retentive paranoid cake decorators, let's have a lesson, shall we? You know how when you take a can of soda out of the fridge, and set it on a table in the summer, it sweats? Well, the dew point is the temperature at which that water will condense on a surface on any given day. Anything over 65 is not pleasant, the record for Minnesota is in the early 80 degrees, and on Elizabeth and Mike's wedding day it was 77 degrees. That means, that if you took the can of soda out of the 38 degree fridge, put it in the oven, heated it to 77 degrees, and took it outside, it would get sweaty.

Our cakes are kept in a 38 degree refrigerator. We let this one come to room temperature in Elizabeth's parent's livingroom before we took it outside to stack it. The wooden cake stand that I brought for the cake table, and my camera tripod (typically not stored under refrigeration) were sweating. I was SWEATING.

We set up the cake in a record 30 minutes. We had stabilized the buttercream as we always do for outside events, but with a heat index of 108 degrees, who really knows. Funny thing. The condensation on the tiers made the cake high gloss, no, really high gloss. It actually looked like we lacquered it. If you didn't know that to a cake lady, that's terrifying, you'd think it was really quite pretty.

The Mimi's did their best to comfort me, as usual, and in the end, the couple loved their cake. We had the pleasure of seeing some of their photos, and just like our blizzard couples, you wouldn't even know that there was any issue. As a matter of fact, the reception looked like a blast to attend. Other than the Double Happiness flopping over (now the symbol for double heat exhaustion) the cake stood tall and lasted until they cut it...thankfully NOT at 11:00 at night. And the Mimi's...have still not succeeded in killing me.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Cake of His Own

We do a lot of wedding cakes. And that's just how we like it. But every once in a while, I realize that the estrogen level at the shop is getting a bit high. Every time we make a fabulous gum paste flower or frosting bow, it edges a little higher. By mid July, the bakery reaches female DEFCON 1, practically glowing pink with femininity, and I feel the desperate need to do something, anything, that isn't girly.

Thankfully, that's when Michelle showed up. Don't get me wrong, Michelle is plenty feminine. She's strikingly beautiful, and, might I add, she rocked her Maggie Sottero wedding gown. But, she didn't come to me for herself. She came to me for a surprise groom's cake for her fiance Tristen.

Imagine my joy, when she described him as a "man's man". Hallelujah! Even better, he's an officer in the Army...loves baseball, especially the Twins, and has a thing for Sam Adam's beer.

Michelle had a pair of Twin's tickets that she planned to give him as a wedding gift, so we decided to focus on baseball as a theme for the cake. Before we knew it, we had designed a cake that was all about peanuts and crackerjack rather than silk and chiffon. We added a pair of frosting dog tags in lieu of a frosting brooch, and, to honor their first date on the 4th of July, a few frosting firecrackers...can't shake a well-manicured finger at that, can you?

So we traded out our Katy Perry and Regina Spektor CDs for some Beck, and Sublime, and commenced a week of purely masculine cake decorating (no, that's NOT an oxymoron). There's nothing like molding a solid chocolate bottle of beer and baseball to cure whatever ails you! We even added a frosting scoreboard, with their wedding date as the score, a frosting baseball cap, and a pair of frosting hot dogs(with his and her favorite toppings). And with each stroke of the pastry bag, the threat of an all out Gateaux cat-fight-meltdown was diminished.

Michelle reported back that Tristen loved his cake (once he actually realized it was a cake) and it was the hit of the reception, especially with the guys. Thanks Michelle, we needed, we really, really needed that.

Thanks to Michelle and Tristen's Photographer Kate Botwinski for capturing this cake in all of it's manly glory!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Nicole, Jim, and Cake Kismet

Anyone who's been in to design a cake at Gateaux, knows that it is a rambling unorganized mess of a process. And that's just the way I like it. I rarely know much about my clients before they come in to meet with me, shy of the location, color scheme, etc. So the design session is the ultimate cake show and tell.

Every once in a while, I'll pull a photo out of my overstuffed file of "cake ideas" before a meeting, if there is something that strikes me as particularly suited to a couple based on my limited knowledge of their event, but usually by the third or fourth minute of the appointment, my ideas have shifted so dramatically, that it never even sees the light of day.

Not the case with Nicole and Jim. They walked in with a photo in their hand of their dream cake. To which, I laughed, and pulled out my torn out magazine page of the exact same design. Easy enough. Or is it? Ask my husband (or my beloved doggie Speck) if I've ever been known to let sleeping dogs lie. NOT LIKELY.

Just because we all thought of the same cake, doesn't make it the right cake. Yep, it had the right color combination of pale yellow and white, and an incredibly sophisticated interlocked ring pattern on it, which suited the graphic nature of the couples style, with the minimalist design of the reception site (the Walker Art Center). But, the problem was, that it wasn't Nicole and Jim's cake, it was Martha Stewart's.

So, we dug through the rest of their idea file, looked through my portfolio of cakes, and before we knew it, we had four alternative designs. Several of them kept the ring pattern, but oh, what incredible depth it added to make the back row of rings charcoal grey (their accent color) and what about changing the tiers to square? If we stack the tiers asymmetrically, maybe the pattern shouldn't wrap all the way around the cakes? When they left the appointment, that original "perfect" design had transformed into THEIR cake.

But that wasn't all. They wanted to go all out with a dessert table. Still on a design high, we sketched up desserts decorated with clean graphic patterns to compliment the cake design. Nicole had a collection of fabulous cake stands and trays, and we had our own "Magic Phil" make us two tiered square plateaus to wrap with groovy paper provided by the ever-talented Mimi Designs. On Nicole's suggestion, we added pink and blue to the dessert color scheme to make it more inviting and fun.

And she was right, I had a hard time keeping myself from digging into that table during the set up. Okay, truth be told, they may have been shorted a yellow malt ball or two. Or three.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Rubber Duckies!

During a wedding cake consultation, I often ask about how the groom proposed. Not necessarily for cake inspiration, but simply because I'm a bit of a busy-body, and a lot of a romantic. You can imagine, in sixteen years, I've heard just about everything. Gateaux clients don't lack in creativity, so I've heard tales of proposals on mountain tops, beaches, famous Paris Churches, on Safari, in jail (they were both working as guards, don't worry) and even an elevator.

Just when I thought I'd heard it all, I met Sara and Dan.

We pretty much had their cake designed. They came in with a picture of a cake made by Confetti Cakes in New of my favorite cake shops. We knew we wanted to add a few tiers, and tweak the design, but for the most part, we had it figured out. Then, to pass the time while I was drawing hundreds of tiny stripes and polka dots on the sketches, I floated the proposal question.
"I had to propose in a bathroom" was his answer. Which begs the question "...and she said yes?" as well as "Were you trapped under something heavy in said bathroom?"and "Did you lose a bet?" and most importantly "Does your mother know?" The answers to which were "yes", "no", "no", and "well, yes, my dad proposed to her in a bathroom as well".
Turns out, our boy Dan had a bathroom legacy to uphold. As the story goes, when Dan's grandfather arrived at his future wife's house on the night he was planning to propose, he rang the doorbell, and when her parents came to the door, asked "Where's Minnie?" When they told him she was in the bathroom getting ready for their date, the poor kid just couldn't stand the wait, and went into the bathroom, got down on one knee, and proposed to a surely unsuspecting young Minnie.
Since then, in the spirit of giving that poor man a hard time, each of his sons and now grandsons have proposed to their future wives in, you guessed it, in the John.
You will be happy to know that Dan's proposal was quite elaborate, involving flying in Sara's best friend to surprise her, setting up the woman at the jewelry store to give her a room key to a suite at the Saint Paul Hotel, arranging for both of their parents to meet the next morning for brunch at the hotel, and.....proposing in the bathroom.
Now, all of you that know, and hopefully love, the cake lady, know that there's absolutely not a chance in heaven or hell that I'm going to let this go unrealized in cake form. So, I immediately began scheming with our couple as to how we could tastefully (key word here) incorporate this most unusual proposal into their cake. Dan was correct in assuming that a frosting toilet, was out of the question, but a frosting bathtub complete with bride and groom rubber duckies were absolutely on the table. Well, on the cake.
So we added a tiny frosting tub with two rubber duckies and a pair of his and hers towels embroidered with "Just" and "Married" to the cake design.
We delivered the cake to the Saint Paul Hotel for the reception and let the guests in on a long held family tradition in the process.
The bride later informed me that the hotel staff brought the tub to their Sweetheart table, and they dined with their frosting ducky counterparts at the reception. If you look closely, you can see them on the table.
Much thanks to Kelly Brown for these wonderful images, and to the Saint Paul Hotel staff, for their incredible care and consideration in adding two tiny guests to the head table that night.