Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bridesmaid Dresses!

Here's one for all of you fashionistas out there. The cake lady knows nothing of fashion, but these sisters do! Not only did they bring the dresses on which we based these cakes to the appointment, but they modeled them for us as well. Shoes, tiaras, the works. For those of you who have followed the blog for a while, this is that same family (some of my all time favorite clients) who we made the cowboy cake for last spring. I love them...but they think I can do anything. That's why, despite my minor stroke when they suggested I replicate four dresses, I somehow still muttered "okay". That's where the story starts.
Next step, how do we make these and more importantly, how do we get them three hours away from the shop without killing them. Answer...very carefully, and very carefully.
We needed a mold to cast the dressmaker dummy bodices. If there had only been one, I would have carved it by hand, but there were three, and if they weren't identical, it would have looked sloppy. So we went shopping. A My Size Barbie, the victim...Craig's list...the resource. I picked her up, and felt a slight pang of guilt for the gruesome acts that were about to follow. Let's be honest, what woman wouldn't derive at least a little pleasure from decapitating and ripping the arms off of that symbol of all that is unattainable in the female form, but before I get political, I'll get back to the story. Sorry to all my little cake fans, but Barbie had to die. We ripped off her arms, legs, and head, and cast a plaster of paris mold off of her torso. Admittedly, it actually was a little weird to do, plus, Mattel builds those suckers to last. It took a whole lot more effort and tools than anticipated to get the job done.

Being the frugal cake ladies that we are, we felt guilty throwing away perfectly good arms and legs, so we left them at the shop for a while. That provided seemingly unending entertainment for the Crew of Amazing Wedding Cakes, who would randomly appear for an OTF with a barbie arm sticking out of their shirt sleeve, or worse.

We don't typically practice cakes in advance of making them. This would be impossible to afford, but in this case, I needed a little assurance. So, we made a mock up a week before the cameras arrived, and then sent Jenna and her boyfriend Kyle out on a snowy Saturday afternoon with it in the back of my SUV. Once it stood normal driving maneuvers, they decided to test the limits, and I'm happy to report that it withstood a pretty wild ride (I believe they did doughnuts in the parking lot, but they won't confirm or deny this).

Once we were convinced that they were road-worthy, we made some serious friends by giving away chunks of that 50 pound dress cake to our neighbors.

The rest is pretty much viewable on Amazing Wedding Cakes, which I have been informed is now available for download on iTunes. Take that Lady Gaga, the cake ladies have arrived! And in style, for once.

Many thanks to Cat Manchank Photography for capturing these cakes for us before they became dessert!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Tale of Three Cities (and one Mexican Restaurant)

When I met with Marissa and Robb, they instantly took to the idea that their wedding cake should be a “Tale of Three Cites”. You see, while they were both from the Twin Cities, Marissa had been living in New York, and Robb in LA. They moved back home within two weeks of each other, met, fell in love, and then needed a cake! My original thought was to have Landmark New York buildings silhouetted on the top two tiers, the Hollywood sign and palm trees on the bottom two tiers, and Minneapolis represented on the middle tier. It was Robb’s idea to switch the bottom tier from palm trees to Hollywood search lights (great call). We would top the cake with a well known Minneapolis sculpture of a cherry balancing on top of a spoon.
It wasn’t until I went over the design with Jenna and Julia, my trusty sidekicks, that the idea of making the searchlights actually light up was hatched. After all, I had opened my big yapper about making the cherry on the top of the cake light up when meeting with the bride and groom, and they loved the idea, so why not light up the searchlights too?
This was the first cake we’d ever made with a camera crew in our kitchen. Honestly, the idea of being filmed while working on wedding cakes wasn’t high on my list of things that sounded “fun” so it was an extra stressful day around Gateaux. We arrived to eight crew members in our tiny shop. I think I had convinced myself that this would be a smaller production than it actually is. For my own sanity, for weeks, I was happily picturing some lone camera man hiding out in the corner of the kitchen as the extent of “the crew”. Trying to act like this is all completely “normal”, we got microphones attached to us, and started making buttercream. Somehow, the ritual of the morning prep work was managing to calm me down, until everything went dark.
No, I didn’t pass out from sheer terror… power to the building was out. Off to a great start. Fortunately, the strip mall across from the shop was spared the power outage, so we packed up our little prep mixer, and busted in on two very kind, but very confused prep cooks at El Azteca Mexican Restaurant. They agreed to let us use their electrical outlet, and we managed to whip up the Mousse filling for the wedding cake within a couple of resounding renditions of the Mexican Hat Dance.
After our little field trip, we returned to our powerless shop, and filled the cakes in the dark. With the cake gods on our sides, the power came on within a half hour of our return to the shop. The rest of the cake went as planned (with the exception of yours truly breaking a number of the frosting buildings, but that’s why we make extra everything). When the day was over, I was actually grateful to have our morning field trip on film. I think Marissa and Robb will get a kick out of seeing what went into the making of their wedding cake. We often see that the process of making someone’s cake reflects their personality. These two had to travel halfway across the country to find each other right where they both started. The least we could do was walk across the street.

Much thanks to Jacki Vaughn for these beautiful photos, and to Donna at the Graves 601 hotel for connecting us with this chic and wonderful couple.
 Decorator's Notes
Marissa and Robb's cake was decorated during the filming of Amazing Wedding Cakes Season 4 at Gateaux Inc.  To see the cake being decorated, follow this link
Our Skyscraper Windows Stencil is now available to purchase!
Click HERE

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Samanthony and the Beach

Nothing makes me happier than making a cake in the middle of a Minnesota winter that is NOT snow related. Don’t get me wrong, the snow is lovely, and winter weddings are cozy wonderful events. But…come mid-February…if I have to look at another frosting snowflake, while I’ve spent the last three months shoveling pounds of their real counterparts off of my sidewalk, and scraping their icy cousins off of my windshield every morning, I just about want to pack up everything and move south.

Enter Samantha and Anthony. A quick aside, here…Say their names together enough, and you can’t help but calling them Samanthony. That officially became their code name around the shop, after every time I had to reference the couple on camera, that’s how it came out. Watch the episode closely, I hesitate every time I say their names together. Anyway, back to the story. So, I get this call for a New Year’s Eve wedding reception, and I start hard-selling champagne theme, clock theme, confetti theme, anything but snowflakes. Then, they let me know that they were married on a beach in 2009 and they wanted the cake to help bring the beach to their families at their Minnesota reception. Amen, brothers and sisters! We have a beach-themed wedding cake in the middle of a land-locked state, in the middle of the winter!

God, I love my job! Once I found out about Samanthony’s unusual marital situation, the fact that they had to have their wedding in a quick ceremony before he was deployed to Afghanistan, and that none of their family could make it to the actual wedding due to the quick timing, I was thrilled to be able to create a cake that would bring the beach to Minnesota. But how does one pack up a frosting beach for transport? Seems to me that a frosting crate would be the perfect solution. They agreed, and we quickly determined that the bottom tier would be a crate post marked with their wedding date and location, as well as some post marks of other places significant to them. My favorite was the “return to sender” stamp from Afghanistan, the bride loved it!

Now onto the baby! As it turns out, Samanthony were expecting their first baby…and knew what the gender of the child was. Samantha thought it would be fun to put a little sign on the cake that said “It’s a Boy” so that the guests would find out what the baby was when they looked at the cake. I had heard of baby shower cakes being dyed either pink or blue so that when the cake was cut, it revealed the baby’s gender. I suggested it immediately, and they loved the idea.

I began testing various shades blue cakes. Too pale, and none of the guests would be able to tell the color when the cake was cut from across the room, too dark, and no one would want to eat it. We settled on a pretty vibrant, unmistakable color. But what they don’t show you on the Amazing Wedding Cakes episode, is that in an email with Anthony’s sister (who was helping to plan the reception) I blew the surprise. I was careful to reference “pink or blue” cake when discussing the cake flavor in three different areas of the email. In the fourth reference…I blew it. I typed "blue" rather than the “pink or blue” bluff. Just be glad I'm a cake lady, not CIA, I'd fold like a cheap lawn chair under pressure! Lucky for me, the couple was incredibly gracious about it, and more importantly, Anthony’s sister can keep secrets better than the cake lady!

Want to see more about this Amazing Cake?  Check out some excerpts of the Gateaux Girls making it on Amazing Wedding Cakes!  Click Here to Watch

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Stephanie & Pete, Amazing Wedding Cake, Ridiculous Weather

I moved to Minneapolis in 1989 to go to the U of MN. My family is from the east coast, and moved to Wisconsin when I was three year’s old. My mom loves to tell the story that leading up to our move, everyone kept telling me that I was moving to a place that got a lot of snow, so when we got off the plane in mid July to move into our new house, my first words were “Where’s all the snow?”
Well, thirty-seven years later, I finally have the answer. It’s in Minneapolis.

And we love it…my Husband, the Goo, once timed a half our news cast during a run of the mill snowstorm, and they spent eighteen minutes covering the weather. Subtract commercials, and that left about six minutes for news and sports. And when a potential storm is on its way…the hype rivals that of the Superbowl lead up.

That’s why I typically don’t concern myself with weather forecasts. They hype it up to the level of “we’re all gonna die” and sometimes, the storm misses us completely.

That was certainly not the case on the day of Stephanie and Peter’s wedding.

Like I said, I’ve lived in Minneapolis for over twenty years. I’m used to driving in the snow. I had planned to make the St. Paul wedding cake deliveries myself, with Julia following me in her car. But, on my way to the shop, I called the Goo, and asked him to come drive for me. I’ve never done this before, in fifteen years of business…never. And I’ve delivered through some pretty nasty storms. Being the prince that he is, he met me at the shop, and it was definitely the right decision.

For those of you who haven’t driven in a blizzard, here’s the trick. No matter how high you have your windshield defrost set, the windshield wipers ice up. And they don’t do such a great job when they’re basically two sno-pops dragging across the windshield. The only way to fix this is to roll down your window, grab the wiper, pull it away from the windshield, and let it snap back against the glass to break the ice off. Well, if you’re 5’3” and have arms to match, this is impossible to do while driving. But with the Goo at the wheel, we were golden.

Let’s complicate things a little…this wedding cake was one of the nine cakes that were to be featured on Amazing Wedding Cakes on WeTV. So, we had a film crew caravan of cars behind us, and about 2 miles away from the reception, they ripped off the driver’s side wiper trying to snap the ice off the blade. The call came over the Walkie-Talkie that they needed to pull over. But we had a wedding cake to deliver, and it really isn’t the best idea to pull over on the highway during a blizzard. So we talked them into continuing for the last two miles with… wait for it…the driver hanging his head out the window. Ahh, dedication!

Well, Stephanie and Pete got their wedding cake, and were the most gracious of couples. The wedding was a success despite all of the obstacles that the weather put in their way.

Julia’s car spent the night at the reception site, it was hopelessly stuck after the time spent setting up the cake. We drove to the nearest auto parts store, where the crew got a new wiper, and headed back home via the backstreets (they had pulled the plows off the major highways). The snow was over waist deep at my house, but Great Wall Chinese Restaurant in my neighborhood, as usual, was open. Apparently, they don’t listen to weather forecasts either.
Thanks to Kemmetmeuller Photography for these fabulous images!