Sunday, October 21, 2012


I wanna be a pirate.

I want to travel to uncharted seas,  see exotic lands and discover lost treasures.  I want to rock out an eye patch, have a parrot named Pete, and go where the trade winds carry me.  Don't we all?

Much to my dismay, I get terribly sea sick, would shudder at the thought of sharing restroom facilities with a boat full of swarmy-unbathed men, and my coordination is such that if I wore an eye patch, I'd probably trip over something and break my leg...maybe that's why pirates often have peg legs?  Either way, not really my cup of tea.

So I go about satisfying my need for discovery by travelling as often as I can.  Discovering things that so many have discovered before me, but with fresh and awe-filled eyes.  Between my trips, I go about my daily routine.  I work, go to the gym, do laundry, walk the dog.  But always, my inner Pirate lurks, waiting for the next adventure.

This is why I was so intrigued with Roxanne and Dan. I think they're Pirates. 
Let's rewind a bit.  They didn't meet on a sand-bar in the Caribbean.  To the contrary, they met on a field trip to a Twins game in middle school.  They don't sail the high seas, they Kayak, typically on lakes and rivers.  Not an eye patch between the two of them.  But what they do have is a keen sense of adventure and discovery. 

They hike, bike, camp, and most interestingly, they Geocache.  I'd never heard of Geocaching before I met them, so I needed a lesson.  Turns out, there are Pirates all around us!  They bury their treasure in old army ammunition cans, plastic film canisters, even Bison tubes.  Then, they list them on geocaching sites for other Pirates to discover.  Typically, there is a log book or sheet inside the cache to keep track of who has been there, and often there is a little treasure for the taking.  But mostly, there is that incredible rush of discovery!  Where are they?  I wanted to know immediately.  The answer was surprising.  They're everywhere!  Dan told me that there were several located in the very business area surrounding Gateaux Inc.  Some are more rural and difficult to reach, others are urban and hiding in plain site. 

So this begs the does a pirate propose to another pirate?  Of course, with a treasure hunt!  With a trail of rose petals, Dan lead Roxanne to a Museum Adventure Pass (you can check these out at the Public Library for free admission to museums and sites all over the Twin Cities, who knew?  Pirates.) and a note to meet him at the top of the Foshay Tower (one of the locations covered on the pass).  When she got there, her Pirate was waiting with her with the ultimate treasure...and a ring. 

Now onto their cake.  We kicked around the idea of a hiking cake, a biking cake, even a kayaking cake.  Maybe a Twin's theme?  That's how they met, and they're still quite the fans, it's one of their favorite date spots.  But we kept coming back to the geocaching.  Easy, we make the cake look like a hollowed out tree trunk with caches of all sorts hidden around it.  Then, we'd make a cake in the shape of an ammunition can sitting at the base of the trunk.

Now, let's treat this particular cache like one that tells their story.  Imagine you found the ammo can, and unpacked it.  What items would they put in this cache that would represent their adventure together?  That was easy...we'd make frosting Twins tickets from the game that they met at.  Like any smitten Twins fan, Dan could tell me the date, who they played that day and the final score.

They'd have to include some red rose petals and the Museum pass to tell the story of their engagement.
And let's not leave out their biking adventure in the Ragbrai 7 day ride across Iowa.  A frosting route map and edible entrant bracelet would cover that tale.
A couple of ski passes, and a silhouette of them (he in a baseball cap, and she in a veil, of course) kayaking on the top of the cake, and we'd cover all of our bases.
But what does the future hold for our Pirates?  One last addition to the cake would tell their guests that their adventure could continue.  We created a map of their honeymoon geocaching road trip to finish off the tale.

So I learned a couple of things from my Pirate friends.  You don't need to be in a far-off land to soothe your Inner Pirate.  It's all about perspective.  Keep your eyes open and discovery is right around the corner.  And you don't even need to risk Scurvy to get it!
Thanks to Captured Glory photography for sharing some of their fabulous images with us.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tiger and Dragon Seeking Lost Dog

I have no sense of direction.  This is not an exaggeration.  As a matter of fact, my directional instincts are inverted.  My husband, The Captain, thinks it's hilarious how when leaving any hotel room for the day, I always turn the wrong direction to get to the elevator.  Always.  Lucky for me, The Captain has an uncanny sense of direction.  Give him 24 hours in a new city, and he has some bizarre overhead map view of it in his head.  I put this to the test in Florence, Italy (my favorite place on earth, by the way).  We had been there for our first time a year earlier, and were returning because...well, because we had to....Florence, people.  Beautiful, amazing Florence.  This second time, we were staying in a completely different area of the city than on our first trip.  On our first day back, I lamented that I had not written down the address of this little shop that was near our hotel the year before.  It was nestled in a tiny alley somewhere in the city, a one-woman shop, selling hand-made puppets.  We had bought some for my best friend's kids, and I really wanted to pick up a couple for my Neighbor's new daughter.  From across the city, on foot, with not a single wrong turn, a year after our first trip there and from a different starting point, The Captain marched us straight to the Puppet Maker.  This is not an isolated incident.  He's navigated our way through Cairo, across Germany, through Austria and all over Prague.  Barcelona was a breeze, and Paris not a problem, and Beijing and Shang Hai didn't stand a chance.  The only exceptions I have seen are Venice (hopelessly lost after a water taxi dropped us off in an unfamiliar area) and, ahem, St. Paul.  The man just can't get a handle on St. Paul.  I would judge, but, remember, I can't even get out of the hotel!
You'd think that these musings had nothing to do with our lovely couple Jasmine and Ben.  But, be patient, as convoluted as the Evil Cake Genius's stories can be, I always manage to tie them up in the end.
I met Jasmine and Ben with their lovely wedding coordinator Julia LaCroix.  They were excited to design a cake that would represent their Asian heritage, but would remain modern and chic enough for their reception at the Graves 601.  We started by designing invitations using their beautiful gold and apricot color scheme, and a stylized cherry blossom motif.

From there, we designed the cake.  It would be muted gold with fondant panels down the front stenciled with that same pattern.  Then, Jasmine suggested that we incorporate their Zodiac Signs.  He was a Tiger and she a Dragon.  Gimme, gimme, gimme.  I love the style of Chinese folk art almost as much as I loved the fact that these two truly embodied their Zodiac Signs.  Ben was serious and focused, sharp witted, and thoughtful.  Jasmine, well, Jasmine is me.  I think somehow, somewhere, we're related.  She's a Dragon through and through.  Passionate, funny, spunky...Dragon. 
I found the perfect art for the cake, and had stencils made.

We also added the Chinese Characters for their signs to the Pecan Shortbreads and Petit Fours on their dessert buffets.  A task that I found a little bit worrisome, considering every time I tried to pronounce Jasmine's last name, she couldn't help but giggle.  Mandarin...not my language, I'll stick to brutalizing Italian, thank you very much.

When the wedding day came, Julia found me and said that the couple had invited me to their suite for a few photos before they made their grand entrance to their reception.  I've never been invited to do this before, so I abandoned Jenna with the desserts to follow Julia to see my favorite Dragon and Tiger.  She took me up one floor, then we switched elevators and went up a few more floors to the couple's room.  My girl Jasmine was a vision in pleated Chiffon, and Ben looked the picture of the classic groom in his white tux.  We took a few photos, and I excused myself to return to my work down in the ballroom. 

I'm not a Dragon or a Tiger.  I'm a Dog.  Never made the connection until that day, but there do seem to be an awful lot of movies written about lost dogs.  And this Dog didn't stray from her usual hotel directional impairment.  Cue sad lost dog music, now.  I got into the elevator, and tried to press the button for the 5th floor to return to the Ballroom.  No such button existed.  Okay, I got this.  I went to the 6th floor and would switch elevators like my Julia did when she walked me up.  After sniffing around the 6th floor for entirely too much time, I decided to cut my losses and take the stairs.  It's only one floor, and I couldn't find the second bank of elevators.  I entered the stairwell, went down one flight, and heard the start of the cocktail hour.  Perfect timing, I'd just pop through this (locked) door and make my way to the Ballroom to complete setting up the desserts.  Nope. Locked.

I could hear the guests on the other side of the door.  I could smell the Hors Oeuvres.   Like Benji, I let out a few whimpers and pawed at the steel fire door, but the humans on the other side couldn' t hear me.  I walked up to where I entered the stairwell, but the door had locked behind me.  Fortunately, I had my cell phone in my pocket (take that, Lassie!) and called Jenna.  She was finishing up the desserts and had no time for my antics.  So she did what any good handler does.  She sent out a search party.  Have you seen this dog?  Last seen in the stairwell at the Graves 601.  Lucky for this pooch, the staff at the Graves thinks I'm amusing.  So they scattered to the five stairwells to seek me out.  After a few minutes, I was rescued, and safely returned to my Jenna. 

Dog references and all, she was not amused.   Maybe she's more of a cat person.

Decorator's Notes:

Jasmine and Ben's beautiful wedding cake was stenciled with custom stencils created by the Evil Cake Genius, herself.  We loved them so much that we've decided to share them with other decorators.  You can now buy these on our Evil Cake Genius site HERE

Monday, October 8, 2012

Half the fun is getting back.

I don't own a refrigerated truck.  I own a refrigerated SUV.

Truth be told, you probably own a refrigerated SUV or car, you just didn't know it. 

We get asked all the time about how we deliver these little beauties, and the answer always surprises people.  First, we do not deliver wedding cakes fully stacked.  More power to those who have the cahones to do so, but that is simply not in my risk-reward mental make up.  Second, while we don't have a refrigerated truck, it is a little known fact that if you relentlessly crank the Air Conditioning in a relatively new SUV at high speed and the lowest temperature setting, while recirculating the air through the vehicle, it can get damn near refrigerated!  This is most noticeable when the driver (and often her poor assistant) deliver a cake several hours away. 

We begin by packing the cake tiers in their sealed corrugated cardboard boxes securely in the back of the vehicle, then we suit up.  Not unlike an arctic expedition, cake delivery can require multiple layers of clothes and high calorie foods to keep you going.  My typical accoutrements are as follows:
  • 1 pair thermal long-underwear
  • 1 pair jeans
  • 2 pairs wool socks
  • 1 pair lambs wool lined clogs
  • 1 tank top
  • 1 long sleeve t-shirt
  • 1 long sleeve thermal shirt
  • 1 pullover hoodie
  • 1 zip front hoodie
  • 1 pair hello kitty stretchy gloves
  • 1 pair mittens
  • 1 family-sized bag of nacho cheese Combos
  • 1 family-sized back Twizzler Cherry Bites
And we're off.

So, I get this email from Jason.  He's not a groom, not a wedding planner, he is, however, the world's most awesome brother.  Why, you ask?  I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons, but what pushed him into the number one slot is that he contacted me because he wanted to buy his sister Shaina and her fiance Zac an awesome wedding cake.  I've  been doing this for 17 years and never had a sibling pick up the tab on a cake.  Best. Brother. Ever.  When I asked Jason why, he said "seemed like the thing to do". 
Shaina and Zac came in for the design session without Jason (he lives on the East Coast) so possible motive number one...controlling the cake design for your own cake-design glory at the reception...not it. They also picked up samples without Jason...(again, he lives on the East Coast)  so, possible motive number two...securing an invitation to the cake tasting...also not it.  We'll solve this mystery before the blog is through.

We designed a fabulously modern, graphic and beautiful cake for Shaina and Zac.  Their color scheme of apple green, sky blue, and royal blue is nothing I ever would have come up with myself, but it pops!

The cake would be delivered to Two Harbors, Minnesota, a healthy 3 1/4 hour drive from the shop.  The good news is it is a beautiful drive along Lake Superior, passes close enough to Cloquet to merit a stop at Gordy's High Hat for some awesome burgers on the way home, and Two Harbors happens to be the home of Lou's Fish House.  Lou has been smoking whatever they can pull out of that lake for years, but in my heart, he'll always be king of one thing...Beef Jerky.  Long before the Evil Cake Genius was a Cake Genius (she's always been a little Evil) she and her now husband, Captain Leisure and their flannel wearing hippie crew of college friends frequently camped along the North Shore, and Lou's was one of the scheduled stops along the way. 

I was sure to share this nugget of wisdom with the soon-to-be newlyweds.  Hopefully they took my advice and made the pilgrimage to that Mecca of all things smokey.

So, why is half the fun getting back?  Because getting there is a bitch!  Despite the layers of clothes and cranked up seat warmers, it is a bone-chilling endeavor to deliver a cake my way.  To make things worse, it was pouring rain until we reached Duluth, about 2 1/2 hours from the start.  When we arrived in Two Harbors, the sky had cleared, a huge relief for an outdoor wedding, and we gradually defrosted ourselves while stacking the cake.  The wedding party was around for photos, and we got to meet Jason and even see our bride and groom!  Reluctant to get back in the rolling freezer, we hung out for a little while and watched the ceremony from a window in the reception space.  And then it happened.  We got our answer to the great mystery.  As Shaina walked down the aisle we watched her brother beaming with joy.  Motive number three...a big brother sharing in his little sister's was all over his face. 

So, mission accomplished, and mystery solved, I kept true to my odd tradition of paying my employees bonuses in meat by loading up Jenna with beef jerky at Lou's followed by a late-lunch at Gordy's...including a brush with burger greatness...Gordy himself was behind the counter!  It took not a minute for the Cake Ladies to seize the day and have our photo taken with the legend himself.
Yep, the Man Himself...Gordy!
North Shore Has it all...even architecture.  Frank Lloyd Wright!

And life on the North Shore is good.