I just got back from the wedding weekend and had to post right away before I forgot. Mainly because I had to thank you all for your supportive responses and suggestions! Thanks Jeanne, Julie & prettycake!
Of course, I had unexpected problems and challenges, but also of course, everything turned out well in the end. I realize that many of the precautions and stresses beforehand are necessary, but this time I promised myself I wouldn’t make myself (or my husband or friends) miserable over things I can’t control. OF COURSE there was an extra hour of traffic delay on the drive. Of course it was 15 degrees warmer than forecasted and the fridge at my rental house was only turned on a few hours before we got there…. and there was a blanket stuffed in the freezer preventing air flow from cooling the fridge! And of course the venue had no fridge space. I just tried to not let anything get to me because I wanted to look cute and enjoy the wedding. I guess that’s my advice to anyone embarking on a wedding cake project and driving it a long distance. Prepare as much as possible, but also prepare to roll with the punches.
I solved the Nutella filling and can post my recipe later, but I essentially mixed Nutella into the same vanilla IMBC used for the outside of the cake (made with Madagascar vanilla bean paste so there were visible flecks), and then added imported Italian hazelnut paste (Pariani Pasta di Nocciola) to intensify the hazelnut flavor and make it less cloyingly sweet. I will probably never make my own hazelnut paste after tasting the Italian version. This also allowed the nice light mocha color to contrast with the dark chocolate cake and white frosting. I am so happy with how it turned out. It was very soft and fluffy, so I was sure to pipe a good buttercream dam.
I ended up travelling with the cake tiers (which had chilled overnight in a reach-in fridge) boxed separately (6”, 9” and 12” + 9"x13” for 110 ppl) with nonskid shelf liner inside the boxes and the outside of the boxes triple-wrapped in plastic. We placed freezer gel packs around them in the car, and my husband put opaque white plastic sheeting (a cut-up white bag) over the back windows to avoid sunlight hitting the boxes directly. Even though it was nerve-wracking it worked well. Our real issue turned out to be not having a cool fridge at our destination as we had expected. I knew the cakes would be safe to eat even at room temp. I was just concerned that they would slide en route to the venue or that the designs I swirled into the buttercream with a spatula would just soften into blobs. The day of the wedding, it was much hotter than expected, and after a night in a barely cool fridge, I was starting to worry the cake would melt before it was served. I pictured people biting into the buttercream and getting oily/greasy instead of silky/fluffy. Luckily, everything worked out really well. A later afternoon breeze sailed through the barn and about 6pm, I knew it would be OK. People loved the cake.
I wish I had a photo of a slice out, but unfortunately the servers pulled me away to slice and serve the cake because they didn’t feel comfortable cutting the cake. Generally the cake baker does not do this and I was less than thrilled to cut 120 pieces of cake in my chiffon dress and heels. But hey, it had to get done.
Here are some pictures of the cake table setup in the barn, the full cake and a detail shot of the top tier.
I couldn’t have done it without you guys and this wonderful forum. xoxo