Sunday, May 6, 2012

Little Lovebirds for Lulu

Aaah, I love me some alliterations!

I'm proud to say that I my first wedding cake experience has now been conquered and is now behind me.  Thank GOODNESS that there weren't too many significant shenanigans to gray my hairs, but it was definitely a lot more stress than I'm used to cake-wise.

I'm definitely one of those people who jump in with both feet without looking first and when my long-time friend Lulu asked me to do up a small cake for her to cut for her wedding, I immediately squealed and said yes before I knew anything else! *LOL* I didn't actually stop to consider that I've never done a wedding cake before, or that I've already said yes before I've even heard what she wants and that I've said yes to being a pretty big part of my friend's WEDDING DAY - people only get ONE first wedding, you know! ;P  Of course, all that began to sink in after I'd already said yes, and after that, it was too late to take it back.

Thankfully, Lu was a very laid-back bride-to-be.  She didn't have anything specific in mind so long that the theme of the cake was birds.  Lu loves birdies.  For as long as I've known her, she's had pet budgies that she loves, so it wasn't that much of a surprise that she'd want to include birdies as part of her wedding cake. 

While she didn't have anything concrete in mind, she did send me a few pictures after I squealed out a yes to give me an idea of what she was thinking.

(For the first two photos, I'm sorry that I don't have any credits, the B2B just sent the images to me as an attachment!  If they're yours, please let me know or if you don't like that they're up here, let me know and I can also take them down!)

I wasn't really that excited to see the last picture though, because it meant that she wanted square cakes.  Ugh. Square cakes.  I'm not the biggest fan of square cakes...because I've never had much success covering square cakes.  I'm able to do it, it's just not a magical experience for me, let's just say.

Since I've never done a wedding cake before, I was keeping to the overly cautious side.  I wanted to leave a LOT of room for ANY possibility that I could account for and possibilities that I couldn't even fathom.  I started baking the cake layers the Sunday before the wedding and for some reason, even though I knew I wanted to make three-layer cakes for each tier, it didn't really occur to me just how many cakes I had to bake until I started baking!  Nine cake layers is a LOT of cakes to have to bake!

CONFESSION: Whoops!  I only actually ended up baking eight layers.  The last tier I did was the second tier and by then, I wasn't having it anymore *LOL*. The middle layer was enough batter to bake up pretty high so that two layers was enough anyway! 

The first thing I got after I said yes to the cake was the cake topper.  I was walking around Michaels and down one aisle, they were getting started with their spring products and bam! Whattaya know, there's a bunch of porcelain birds.  BIRDS!  Perfect!  I picked out two sets, a purple set of lovebirds and a white porcelain set as well as a small birdcage that I thought I could put up on top of the cake as part of the topper.  Turns out, the lavender birdies weren't the right choice as her colours were more blue than the dark purple that Lu first described to me.  Another thing I picked up while at Michaels was a cherry blossom/bird mold from Wilton, which I got solely for the little birdies that I thought would come useful for Lulu's cake.  In the second cake example that Lu sent me, I was originally going to cut out the shapes to make the birds just like in the photo, but hey, when you see a mold of a birdy that's the perfect size for the side of a cake...well you get it!

I'm aware that this post is going to be ridiculously long...but I think you should bear with me a bit, it's my first wedding cake! :D

So these are the pretty little birdies I made shortly after I picked up the mold.  As you can see, I wasn't entirely sure I was making these birds for the cake or just to practice.  To be honest, I really was making them for the cake until I realized that they were entirely too colourful for the look of the cake I was going for. 

CONFESSION: With my regular cakes, I don't like a LOT or too many colours (I especially don't really like to use coloured fondant to cover an entire cake), so as you can imagine, this was already too much colour for me as a wedding cake.  I put them in a tupperware container and who knows, maybe I'll find some use for them sometime.

While painting these birds, I also realized just how many lustre dusts and matte dusts I have *LOL* In this case, my hoarding paid off, I needed a lot of colours and shades of the same colour!

Since I already knew that I have trouble with square cakes, I told myself I was definitely going to make sure that I do everything I could to make it easier and for me, that meant covering my cake tiers in ganache instead of buttercream icing for an extra smooth finish and guaranteed sharp edges!  That picture above is my middle tier with its first layer of chocolate ganache.  I also used the ganache as a filling for the chocolate layers and with the filling, I included Skor bits to add some sweetness since I only used semi-sweet baking chocolate.

The top and bottom tiers are vanilla cake with pralines and cream flavored buttercream.  The outside of the tiers are iced with a white chocolate ganache.

NOTE: I had meant to do a practice cake prior to to the wedding date, but of course, I didn't get a chance to, so that also means I didn't get a chance to try my hand at making white chocolate ganache.  Bad move on my part!  Making white chocolate ganache is not the same ratio as regular chocolate ganache which I totally didn't believe so I didn't follow the recipe very closely.  One recipe called for a third of a cup, another recipe called for two thirds...I had no idea, so I kind of just winged it and then added a teensy, weensy bit more.  DON'T DO THAT!

My white chocolate ganache didn't harden how my chocolate ganache usually does in the fridge, and because I'm a dope (and slightly cheap), instead of making it over again, I sent up a quick prayer and started to spread it on anyway, the first layer meant to fill in any gaps and holes, etc.  Laying on the white chocolate ganache, it kind of had the consistency of spreading on condensed milk and it was making me uber NERVOUS.  My quick and constant little prayers must have been heard though because the ganache did harden enough that I felt okay about laying fondant over it.  My next ganache covered cake WILL have a harder setting ganache though.  I will not make that mistake again.

My goal was to have all the cake tiers covered in fondant by Thursday evening and while I started on Thursday evening, I didn't finish until two in the morning.  It was definitely touch-and-go there for a minute.  Kneading and rolling out fondant to cover some pretty tall cakes...not my favourite thing in the world and of course, wasn't without some imperfections. *pouts*  I suspect that I'm not kneading the fondant enough to give it the elasticity it needs, hence the little cracks in the fondant. 

Of course, I couldn't help but fixate on this and I got pretty worked up about it.  It got to the point that everytime I looked at the cake, all those little bits were the only thing I could see.  Bart had to come and talk me down from the ledge a few times *LOL*  In the end, the pearl lustre spray, the branches (which I was a little bit wary to put on the cake because when I first pulled them out of the mold, they kind of looked like chicken's feet - yes, I have some issues!), but Bart kindly, patiently suggested I put everything that I planned to put on the cake ON the cake before I freaked out some more.  By the next morning, taking a break from the cake and then coming back to look at it again, I definitely felt a lot better about it.  It's's for a WEDDING!  Not even just a wedding, it's for my FRIEND'S wedding!  This is IMPORTANT to her, and I was definitely feeling the stress of making sure I didn't let her down.

Soooo....without further ado?

Ta-daaaa!  I got a little bit carried away taking photos, I think *LOL*  I'd take a picture of the bride and groom and then I'd take a picture of the cake.  I'd take a picture of the bride and then the cake.  A picture of the groom and then the cake! *LOL*

I'm not even going to say exactly how many pictures of the cake I have. 

And there are my lovebirds!!!  My little mini Christian and Lulu in birdform.  Ready to hang out on their homey branch for all their lifelong! *tear* Yes!  I cried a LOT during Lulu's wedding day.  I LOVE weddings!  Since the lavender lovebirds wasn't going to match the colour theme of the cake, I was going to go with the white set I picked up but when I looked back on Lu's sample pictures, I thought it would be more her style if I made fat little birdies out of fondant.

I used a mixture of fondant and tylose powder to set and harden the fondant and I was definitely happy with how they turned out, though I wasn't the biggest fan of making those teeny, tiny flowers for the bride and groom. 

Even after we delivered the cake safely, I could NOT totally relax until everything cake-related was done with and for SOME reason, I was stressing out about them serving the cake and totally FORGOT about the fact that Christian and Lulu would have to cut the cake and feed it to each other first! GAH! I wasn't even going to get to taste the cake first! *LOL* It was all I could do not to stick my head in between them and have one of them feed me the cake!

CONFESSION: I stood by the dessert table and when the first slices of cake came out, I had the server wait until I tasted each flavor and when I decided it was okay for everyone else to eat, I let him get the rest of the slices *LOL* He thought this was funny, so please think this is funny because as I type this, I'm realizing how concerning I sound. Bwahahaha!

So WHEW!!!  Once that was done, then I could finally relax and to be honest...I really did enjoy my cake, if I may say so myself :D Though I did find the vanilla layer with the buttercream AND white chocolate ganache to be SUPER sweet!

Alrighty!  This post is DEFINITELY long enough, but I do want to say:

CONGRATULATIONS, Lulu and Christian.  Wishing you ONLY the best in this new, beautiful adventure you're starting and thank you very much for including me to be a part of your special day! (P.S. The cake was your wedding gift :P)

If you're still here with me, thanks for sticking it out and reading the post to the end and as always...

Stay Sweet,

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