I always say after the last wedding cake that I've made, "that is the last one!" The anxiety during all the phases: planning, baking and making the recipes within a short time frame that does not leave much room for error, transporting the cake, and hoping the caterer properly presents and cuts the cake. But when my longtime friend Paula's daughter Sarah asked my advice last winter about a wedding cake for her upcoming wedding, after a few moments of thought I realized that it had to be me. I've known Sarah since she was a little girl, and Paula is one of my dearest and most generous friends. Among other things, she rescued me from the deluge of phone calls generated from the launch of The Cake Bible by answering all my phone calls for several months. And after buy all of my cakes for Gabriel (the groom), he proceeded, along with his mother, to make every cake in The Cake Bible. This time around, making a wedding cake was somewhat easier since I now have my new baking kitchen and, what was even more important, Woody to help make the cake and give moral support along the way. Sarah Perlis, and fiancé Gabriel Riley, specified that their favorite flavors from which we chose strawberry and chocolate. Woody and I estimated that we would need a week to organize the components and make the wedding cake though we started several months ahead ordering some of the special items needed. On Tuesday we prepped the ingredients, made a box for transporting the cake safely, and staged the equipment. Early Wednesday morning we mixed and baked the 12 inch layers of my favorite chocolate cake, the Deep Chocolate Passion, a moist and chocolaty cake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes. I had only been using my Wolf oven for bread and cookie baking and it was well calibrated after the move when it was converted to propane. So imagine how my heart fell when I opened the non-windowed oven door to see that one of the layers was severely lopsided and unacceptably beyond repair. Fortunately, as I moaned and groaned while finishing up the batters for the 6 and 9 inch layers, Woody stepped in immediately and started putting together the ingredients for a new 12 layer. Woody shimmed the oven rack to ensure that this round of cakes would come out level. Once cooled and syruped, I filled each tier with my classic Mousseline Buttercream, flavored with my favorite strawberry butter by American Spoon Food. Next I applied a thin gilding of strawberry butter on top of the filling to heighten the strawberry presence. Our grandson Owen's birthday gave me a much needed break in New York, while Woody finished the day by completing our favorite buttercream--the White Chocolate Buttercream from Rose's Heavenly Cakes. made with Guittard white chocolate. Thursday was assembly day. Things were going smoothly until Woody informed me that, due to the raised sculpting pattern I was inspired to apply to the sides of the cake, we were going to be short on the White Chocolate Buttercream. Thus ensued another delay, making enough buttercream to complete the cake plus reserve for "just in case repairs." A short walk was in order to get some distance from my concerns and to allow the buttercream to firm up before the critical stacking of the tiers. I am ever grateful to my husband Elliott for suggesting the use of plastic drinking straws instead of the difficult to cut traditional wooden dowels that displace more of the cake. Having a second pair of eyes, not to mention large and capable hands, made positioning the 9 and then 6 inch cake tiers much easier. Piped buttercream pearls (to honor the Perlis family) connected all of the tiers. Then one of the most scary but important phases for any wedding cake that is going to be transported: the staking of all of the layers to keep them from shifting, especially for this trip of almost 150 miles. We had saved the bronze 15 inch rod that was used for staking our good friend, Marie Wolf's, daughter Sarah's wedding cake. With the same precision as before, Woody gently hammered in the bronze rod. This time I didn't cover my eyes or leave the room. Now the fun part, decorating the cake. I chose exquisite roses and snap dragons aka sweetpeas, crystallized with sugar and gold dust, to grace the tiers. I ordered these several months before from Coco Savvy in LA. Together, Woody and I placed the flowers, reserving over a dozen to finish decorating the cake on site. Then into the refrigerator with the cake to firm up for the long journey the next morning. We carefully slid the cake into our transport box and made up a kit for any needed repairs and for attaching the extra flowers. Our cake had a comfortably buffered ride as the box was placed on top of a pillow with another pillow against its side, Woody sitting right next to it, and Elliott making sure to give us the smoothest possible ride. The wedding was being held at the Liberty Farms, near New Paltz, New York. We were greeted by Olga Moriarty, the party planner, and Billiam van Rostenberg, the owner and manager of Liberty Farms. We were stunned by the beauty of the farm and the setting. The cake was unboxed and the stake carefully removed so that I could place three beautiful roses on top of the cake. Part 2 Tomorrow
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