The Well-Traveled Wedding Cake
Posted: 06 January 2009 11:51 PM   [ Ignore ]
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After several months, I finally have time to sit down and write about the cake I made for my sister?s wedding in September. The main point I want to stress is that that the mousseline buttercream on p. 244 of ?The Cake Bible? held up beautifully after being Fed-exed two thousand miles, frozen and defrosted twice, and being subjected to summer heat and chilly rain? all this before the cake was even put on display at the wedding. I received many compliments on how the cake looked and tasted.

As regulars of this forum know, I was planning do a sheet cake for logistical reasons. Many of you offered superb advice on how to make it look festive. Thank you again for all your suggestions.

Well, after a lot of thought, I decided to do a traditional 3-tier wedding cake: 12-, 9- and 6-inch tiers, using the chocolate butter cake recipe on p. 486 of ?The Cake Bible.?  I froze all the components and Fed-exed them. The temperature at the Fed-ex location here in Los Angeles was over 100 degrees when the package went out in mid-August. My mother received it the next morning in Buffalo, New York (weather: 75 degrees and humid). Everything was still frozen, although the cake layers were starting to thaw. Cake and buttercream went into her freezer until I got into town.

Two days before the wedding, it was 89 degrees in my mother?s kitchen, and humid. I assembled and frosted each tier but I didn?t stack them. I planned to do that at the wedding site. The buttercream held up beautifully in the hot, humid kitchen and spread like a dream without separating or sweating.

I was worried that the cake would get damaged if I held it in the refrigerator. So I stuck the tiers back into the freezer, crossing my fingers that another round of freezing and thawing would not adversely affect the finished product.

The day of the wedding was rainy and chilly, about 60 degrees. I wondered whether the high humidity would make a difference, but it did not.

Later, when the cake was served, I was happy with the results. The buttercream had an excellent taste and texture. I have to admit that compared to a freshly-baked cake, the cake part itself was a bit dry for my taste. (This could have been corrected by brushing with syrup, but I forgot to do it.) I got rave reviews all evening long and for months afterward. At one point, my cousin nudged me and pointed to my other cousin who was savoring a forkful of cake with her eyes closed and a look of joy on her face (she thought nobody was looking.) That was a sincere compliment!

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Posted: 07 January 2009 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Wow, Christine, that is quite a story!  Well-traveled, indeeed!!  The final cake looks beautiful, I never would have guessed that it had been through so much.  The layers look so smooth and perfect, and I love that the inside is chocolate, the slices must have been beautiful as well as delicious.  Thanks for sharing.

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Posted: 07 January 2009 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Great story Christine!!!!  I’m sure you’ll be expected to do more long distance cakes in the future smile.

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Posted: 07 January 2009 10:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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What a wonderful story, Christine. The cake looks beautiful!!!

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Posted: 07 January 2009 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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wow! this story belongs on the blog, for more people to see!

did you put any freezies into shipping box?  how did you wrap the layers for shipping?

jen

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Posted: 07 January 2009 04:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Thank you for your compliments, everybody.

Jen, to answer your question, I wrapped each cake layer individually with plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and then I enclosed each one in a ziploc bag to keep it safe from moisture. I froze the buttercream in 1-gallon ziploc bags. I packed everything as tight as possible into a styrofoam cooler. I stood the cake layers up on their sides so that if they happened to defrost, they wouldn’t get squashed from the weight on top of them. I snagged a whole bunch of gel ice packs of varying sizes from my uncle (who is a physician and has a nice collection from companies who send him medicines and vaccines that must be kept cool.) I placed as many gel packs into the styrofoam cooler as would fit, and then the whole cooler was taped shut and placed into a larger shipping box with packing popcorn. The styrofoam cooler bottomed out when my mother lifted it out of the shipping box, but by then it didn’t matter. The cake components had arrived, still almost entirely frozen and undamaged.

FYI, I didn’t use dry ice because Fed-Ex considers dry ice to be a shipping hazard. I forget why.

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Posted: 07 January 2009 10:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Great job Christine, glad your cake made it safe, and you managed to make a tiered cake rather than a sheet.

You can use dry ice, but up to a certain amount, it is ok, at least by UPS or USPS that I know of.

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Posted: 13 January 2009 03:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Great job.  It looks beautiful…and I’m glad that everything survived!

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