This past weekend our family gathered together to celebrate my little brother's College Graduation. A few days earlier, my newly engaged sister decided it would be a good idea to take advantage of the fact that the whole family was going to be together, so she announced she and her honey would be getting married the day after the graduation. It was to be an informal family affair - nothing fancy, picnic type food and a small cake. Simple, right?
Naturally, since I make wedding cakes, everyone expected that I would make her cake (which I was more than thrilled about and quite looking forward to doing), but the fact that I live out of state, and would be driving there a day and a half before the wedding, put a real kink into things because I strive to make only the freshest cakes possible. And as anyone who makes tiered cakes can attest, the thought of making one in a foreign kitchen was simply out of the question - I'd have to pack up my entire kitchen - recipes, ingredients, cake pans, parchment, insulated cake strips, KitchenAid mixer, bowls, attachments, heavy duty turntable, spatulas, piping bags and tips, etc, etc, etc. I'd surely forget some vital piece of equipment in the process, so no, this was not a viable option (and even if I was willing, I really didn't have time).
Feeling torn and not knowing what to do, I came up with Plan B - make and freeze the components ahead of time and assemble them in my very accommodating Mother-in-law's newly renovated kitchen. That was actually a fairly decent plan until I realized a) I didn't have enough time to make/freeze the components, and b) the frozen components (or should I say semi-frozen) would be sitting in our vehicle, in the sun, for 7-8 hours before we would arrive at our final destination (not so much a problem for well wrapped cake layers, but the BUTTERcream would never survive).
Plan C was to skip the graduation all together, which would give me an extra day and a half to make the cake - that was really the best solution, but the graduation was the whole reason for going there in the first place, so I quickly erased that idea from my mind.
Finally my hubby, the logical one, the analytical one, the tell-it-like-it-is one, said, "Why are you worrying so much about it... you don't have time... you can't do it". Well, I didn't want to disappoint my sister, but I knew he was right. I had to go empty handed and hope to find a solution once I got there.
Immediately after the graduation, I started visiting all the area bakeries to see what they had available. I noticed most of the pre-made cakes were graduation cakes decorated with tacky blue flowers (hello, graduation week... duh). Not exactly what I was looking for, however I did manage to find a fairly neutral sheet cake, so I went ahead and purchased it. I wasn't happy with it at all, but I was exhausted and relieved that I had found something to bring to the wedding the next day.
After a full night of much needed sleep, and still unhappy with the sheet cake, I started thinking about what I could do with a couple of cakes I spied at a gourmet grocery store the day before. Here are pictures from the store's website - the small one is 4" in diameter; the other 7". Not exactly like my cakes, but they were the prettiest I could find, they actually tasted good (real ganache), and I knew I could dress them up a bit.
So 2 hours before the wedding I drove all the way back to the gourmet grocery store, hoping they would still have both of these cakes available - score, they did! Oh, and I found the perfect 9” footed cake pedestal there too! I begged the bakery staff to sell me a couple of clean cardboard cake rounds, and then quickly ran over to the craft store for silk mini roses, a wooden dowel, and a can of yucky pre-made frosting to use as glue (I normally would NEVER buy canned frosting, not to mention one that cost nearly $4, but I was in the middle of a cake crisis and was willing to pay any amount for anything that would help).
I zoomed back to my in-law's house with about 15 minutes to spare, cut the clean cake boards to be slightly smaller than the cakes (so they wouldn’t be seen), then I used a hot knife to quickly release the cakes from their original cake boards. I cut all the flower heads off their stems while my father-in-law cut and sharpened the dowel and my mother-in-law searched for 2 paper wrapped straws she had stashed away. My husband stood by closely monitoring (and constantly announcing) the time while all the little cousins watched. A dab of frosting glue on the pedestal and between the layers, straws inserted into the bottom tier to support the top, a dowel hammered down through the middle of both to keep the layers from shifting in the car, and quick placement of all the little mini roses to hide the gap between the tiers.
Shew…. we were only 5 minutes late for the wedding - thankfully the ceremony hadn’t started yet. I tell you, Never Again!
PS - my self-proclaimed "ever wise daughter" would like to add the following:
In the midst of her not-so-mini-meltdown, my mother was having trouble deciding on which flowers to get. Should she get the pink ones, the red ones, oh, those over there are nice..... On top of that, the lady working at the flower stand was completely useless. She said "May I help you?" My mother, desperate for any help she could get, replied "Yes, we're looking for some flowers." The lady responded, "Oh, our sunflowers are right over here..." "No-no, some flowers". "Yes we have very fresh sunflowers right here...." ugh, and so it went. Being the only sane one around, I had to bring some sense back to the equation. "Um, why don't we just go with the small ones you liked at the craft store?" "Yeah, but they're fake." "Yeah, but they're the right color and size." "Uh, good point. Let's go!"
So, I would just like to receive some credit for helping my mother with this whole mess. :)
Thank you dear - love, Mom