[Sorry about the post title. It’s reeking lamenessosity, but it was better than the alternative: Pro-Do Things You Never Considered Yourself Capable Of Doing. I almost vomited while typing that title. I tried adding a clarifying subtitle: This Post Sounds Cheesy, But It’s Actually Not. However, I ultimately decided I didn’t wanted to be associated with the original title, let alone attach my name to it. So I settle for something vaguely synonymous, if slightly inaccurate. 🙂 ]
Shishmaref has presented the editor of TAT with a lot of first:
-eating various parts of marine mammals
-being lost in a blizzard on foot
-having my picture in the newspaper with a balloon shoved up my shirt
-and, losing my only pair of inside shoes so completely that I was forced to teach in my socks for a week.
Earlier this month, I experienced another first: making a wedding cake.
TAT readers may not appreciate the magnitude of this achievement, so allow me to share the following facts about myself:
-my first grade teacher used to make me stay inside during recess in order to practice coloring in the lines
-I couldn’t tie my shoes until third grade
-when I told my brother (who I know for a FACT happens to ADORE me) that I was asked to make a wedding cake, he responded with, “Wow, that person must have been desperate.”
Let’s just say that a life of craftiness and hand-eye-coordination has not been mine…
However, I’ve recently teamed up with one of my students who oozes craftiness, good taste, and overall perfection. Daphne and I try to bake during as many weekends as possible, and our efforts have been met with good results and a reputation as skilled creators of all things yummy.
Leaning on a recipe recommendation from my sister (who inherited far more than her fair share of domestic ability) and the expertise of our heroes Bakerella and Pioneer Woman, we produced our first fondant creations. They were by far the cutest things I have ever been a part of (this parenthetical comment exists solely to prevent this sentence from ending with a preposition).
We produced a host of them and shared them with people who provided appropriate validation by ooohing and aaahing. (Steve does his best, but he can only feign so much interest in the adorable.)
Our next challenge was to master full size cake layers. Which we did. We also learned how to make fondant turtles and experimented with peppermint flavored fondant (which I loved, but Daph thought tasted like toothpaste).
(Note to Readers: Please consider not judging me based on the messy table and cake platter. Thank you.)
For the sake of comparison, this is Daph’s.
(Note to Readers: Please see the note for the above picture. Thank you.)
We were happy with our mastery of larger-scale fondant use, but we weren’t completely sure what to do to elevate our decorations from cute to elegant.
Luckily for the bride, the universe fortuitously send us Erin (Hey Universe, thanks!). Erin teaches Family and Consumer Sciences at NACTEC and minored in food garnishing. She made a visit to Shishmaref and agreed to teach my tutoring group (of which Daph is a part) how to make fondant roses.
Erin introduced us to all sorts of amazing things, including this little tool that we found in the Home Ec room that cuts perfect circles.
(Note to readers: I apologize for the blurriness of the above photo. I’d like to be able to say that one of my students commandeered my camera and took the photo, but I don’t think that’s true, and I try to avoid lying whenever possible. Please consider that there’s an excellent chance that the photo is blurry because my fingers were covered in marshmallow fondant and not because I possess zero photo skills. Thank you.)
This photo documents my pathetic attempts at learning the art of edible flower sculpting. While I am using the correct technique of beginning with a series of an odd number of overlapped fondant circles, I used way too much water as an adhesive and ended up with a gooey mess.
Not surprisingly, Daphne was far better than me at creating sugary flora. It was at this point that I officially became her assistant.
We started on the actual cake two days early by making the cake layers and the fondant. The next day we made several fondant roses of various sizes.
When I say “we,” I actually mean Daphne. I did apprentice level tasks like roll out the fondant, cut out the circles, and get Daph beverages.
We used a shiny frosting recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.
(Tip: When you quadruple a frosting recipe you need to consider that, even with a Kitchen Aid, you will not be able to beat that much frosting. Even if you tackle it in two batches. Be prepared to beat the frosting to the appropriate stiffness in layers using your friend’s hand mixer.)
(Tip: Quadrupling the Better Homes and Gardens Shiny Frosting Recipe results in way too much frosting.)
Kate helped us smooth the frosting. Kate also provided us with the pans in which to bake the cake. And all of the decorating tools. And her kitchen table. And her husband, who proved himself immensely useful.
The finished product with the topper the bride selected and ordered.
For most wedding cake creators, the hard part would be over. We still had to get the cake to the church. A challenge considering it was both windy and snowy on that typical Saturday afternoon. Kate’s resourceful husband John saved the day by loading the cake into a sideways microwave box and taping a garbage bag over the open side. John was also the champion who carried the cake to the church. (Hey John, thanks!)
Image of the evil tape dispenser that prevented me from being able to assist John in the taping.
With the cake in place, Daph and I were free to enjoy the wedding.
Just because I know you’re dying to see, I’ll share my favorite moments of the wedding (please do not consider the following pictures as an accurate representation of my actual ability to take wedding photos. Consider that I was exhausted from the extremely stressful yet satisfying experience of baking the wedding cake. Also consider that a hard drive failure took with it my copy of Photoshop. For an example of an Alston with actual talent in wedding photography, see here) :
The ring bearer trying to wink at me…
The flower girl who got scared and froze halfway down the aisle (for maximum enjoyment, note the equally terrified flower girl seeking refuge on Grandma’s right hip and the wedding guest sticking her pink camera into the aisle for a picture of the bride)…
The son of the bride and groom hiding under his mom’s veil after fussing to be picked up in the middle of the ceremony but before being removed from the chapel (let’s just say that the wedding was not the best day of his life nor the most fun he’s ever experienced).
It was a great wedding. I was honored to be part of it.