A few weeks ago I put together, and I have to say – pulled off, my first dessert table and wedding cake for a lovely vintage-style wedding in Adelaide.
I thought I would share with you all what exactly went into putting this together. Firstly, because people keep telling me to blog about my baking experiences and secondly, because I thought it might help people who are thinking of doing something like this for their own wedding, or are perhaps just wondering why it costs so much to get it done.
So, at the beginning of 2014 I decided to start putting together photos of my baking in a more professional format. I put together a Facebook page and a website. To take my hobby and skill to the next level I needed some wedding experience.
My cousins wedding invitation was stuck to my fridge. I had a thought: maybe they would let me do some macaron wedding favours for them.
A few weeks later, after a discussion with the Bride and Groom, the plan was set. I was going to put together a vintage-themed dessert table, consisting of 200 mixed macarons, 200 cookies, lollies and…..the wedding cake! Oh my.
From no wedding experience, to the biggest possible wedding project I could take on. Individually, all the elements were things I could make with no issue, but on such a huge scale the project was daunting. Even a carefully planned schedule couldn’t prepare me for the amount of time it would take to pull off.
To begin with, there were hours of planning, scrolling, searching and pinning on Pinterest. After settling on a vintage theme, it was off the the Mill Market in Geelong and more hours of searching and trawling though the stalls to find props and display pieces and to get a feel for the vintage direction we wanted to take. Vintage has many sub-categories and after the go ahead from the Bride, I went with silverware and glass.
From there followed more scrolling, searching and pinning on Pinterest and more shopping for additional pieces to complete the look: tablecloths, bunting, scoops and tongs, lace and twine.
The buffet was to include apothecary jars filled with lollies in pink and white. A quick stop at The Biggest Lollie Shop in the World, $150 and 19 kilos of pink and white lollies later, the lolly buffet was set. In between all this shopping and researching there was baking. We wanted the macarons to keep with the theme of vintage and lollies, so I set about creating five different flavours to fit this plan. I already had two that the Bride and Groom had tasted and approved: Fruit Tingle and Cherry Ripe. After many more batches of testing flavours and colours, the remaining three flavours were settled: Lemon Sherbert, Salted Caramel Popcorn and Redskin.
The next problem: the wedding is in Adelaide. I live in Melbourne. Only a minor detail, but I was determined to make it work. I packed up all the props and sent them back to Adelaide a few weeks before the wedding in the back seat of my Mum’s car. On the Wednesday before the wedding, I got up at 6am sharp and went straight to the kitchen. I wanted to make macarons in my own kitchen as they are finicky, moody and difficult and I didn’t want to mess with my process. Nine hours of solid baking later, I had made 400 macaron shells in five different colours.
I packed them all carefully into Tupperware and headed to the airport. I checked my suitcase in with its eight kilos of chocolate (Cadbury baking chocolate was on special the week prior at Coles, too good an opportunity to pass up!) and boarded the plane with the macaron shells under the seat in front. They made it to Adelaide with only a few casualties.
Thursday morning, in Adelaide, up again at 6am, waiting at the entrance to Woolworths before they had even opened. I was the first one in the shop and I powered through ticking off my list: five dozen eggs, four kilos of butter and enough sugar to sink a ship to join my excessive mound of chocolate sitting on the kitchen table. Now somehow in the next 48 hours I will magic all these ingredients into five different macaron fillings, three types of cookies and enough wedding cake for 120 people.
Thursday I set about completing the cakes. I made one two-tiered decorated cake and two extra square cakes for the kitchen to be cut up, so there would be enough for everyone. In total this amounted to twelve separate cakes going into the oven to ensure each cake and tier was four inches high with four layers of filling.
Next, the macaron fillings, and because I finished a little early that day, a batch of Anzac cookies to set me up nicely for Friday.
But Friday is where it all unraveled. Another 6am start, but the first step of the day was to make the vanilla and chocolate Swiss meringue butter-creams, torte all the twelve cake layers and start to building. This took waaay longer than anticipated. Torting cakes is something I find tricky. Tricky keeping it straight, tricky getting three layers out of one cake and tricky putting it all together so it’s straight.
Mum even borrowed an old spirit level from the neighbours so I could get them perfect. This is a wedding after all. So several hours behind schedule, the cakes are torted, filled and crumb-coated in the fridge. I set about finishing the 200 cookies.
Probably the simplest of all tasks, but on such a scale it took so long. 6pm came and I was still cooking cookies. I still had 200 macarons to fill and cakes to finish and decorate. Oh, and I needed to eat something!!
So a quick hour of piping later and all the macs are filled and packed into the back of mums car, off to a friends house to be refrigerated overnight, since mums fridge was full of cake, cake and more cake! The cookies are finally finished and fish and chips are quickly demolished.Its About this time the stress headache was setting in.
So a long hot shower and a wee break later, I was refreshed and ready to take on the cake. Another batch of Swiss Meringue Butter-cream later (my 5th for the day) and the cakes are completed and ready to be transported and finished off at the venue.
The next morning, the day of the wedding. I am pretty sure I am as nervous, if not more nervous than the bride. It’s all baked and packed, and the design is all in my head and on a really bad sketch. But will it work? Will it look good at the venue, will the Bride and Groom like it? Will people eat it?
Two trips with a car full of food, decorations and lollies later, it’s time to put it all together. With my husband’s help we pull it off. It looks just as good as it did in my head, if not better. It matches in with the rest of the marquee perfectly. The colours of the macarons match the flowers, the string on the cake matches the vases, and the vintage theme is portrayed beautifully. Best of all the Bride and Groom are happy.
[three_col_col3]As soon as the cake is cut there is a queue for the buffet. Later the bride comments she felt like the guests were annoyed they had to sit back down to watch the first dance and lose their place in the queue! It took all of about 20 minutes for all the macarons to be destroyed. A popular choice![/three_col_col3]
We restocked the buffet a few times throughout the night and were pleased at the end when all that remained was a handful of cookies and excess bags of lollies. One lesson learned is 19 kilos of lollies was too much for 122 people, even after restocking the jars three times, there was still a few bags left under the table. But best to have too many than not enough right!? The Aftermath In the end I made way to much cake aswell. I had anticipated the cake being sliced in 2″ by 1″ slices which is standard wedding size cake slice, so had made enough cake for 122 slices of that nature. However the cake was being put on share platters and the kitchen staff cut the square kitchen cakes up in 1″ x 1″ slices, which meant they didnt even need to cut the two tiered display cake! These slices were small, but it seemed to be enough. I guess it really should have been the Bridge and Grooms choice if they wanted the cake cut so small, but the guests were happy, everyone got cake, and they got to take home a two tiered cake which I have no idea what they did with it since they flew to Greece two days later!
Hopefully the family ate some and the rest went in the freezer. Its sad to think of the hours you put into a cake for it to potentially go to waste. My Husband keeps telling me not think like that, and its not the point – the cake was beautiful and served its purpose, but I am a Baker. I dont bake just for photos, I bake to feed!
I got so many lovely comments throughout the night – from the Bride and Groom, from my family, from people I had never even met – and this alone made the many hours of planning and baking completely worth it and the
photos of the end result for my portfolio, were just an added bonus.
Until next time..