Friday, August 6, 2010

Guest Post: Stef's Wedding Cake by Ruthie

Hi there readers - this past weekend I was attending my cousin Stefanie's wedding and was able to spend some time with her friend Ruthie, who made her wedding cake (and a bunch of mini-pies!). Coincidentally, Ruthie actually only lives a few blocks away from me.... but we had to drive about 8 hours north to finally meet one other! Ruthie was kind enough to do a guest post about her experience making a wedding cake and with out further ado.... here is what she had to say! (Oh and for the record not only was the cake delicious..... but I had 2 pies!)

Thank you for letting me guest blog.  I am not a big reader or a writer, but I definitely follow a few food blogs. I am, however, a "big" baker (read: I love it). A bit of a background on me, perhaps? I love to bake but with an almost-nine-month old at home and a full time job, I often struggle to to find the time to bake. I never was a great cook, mostly due to the fact that I never spent the time playing around trying things out in the kitchen when I was young.  My mother and older sister did it all while growing up, and now I'm lucky enough that my husband does the majority of the cooking.  When I do throw something together,  I find myself "baking" my dinners so quiches and roasting are popular.  I basically can sum it up with being much more comfortable with the oven than the stove top.
Keep reading for info on the wedding cake!

This cake marks my third wedding adventure! One of my best friends from college was married in a beautiful backyard wedding on a gorgeous lakeside property in New Hampshire.  Even with 140 guests in attendance, she asked for a smaller cake since there would be many other items on the dessert buffet: cakes, pies, cookies, Italian pastries, and more!  The focus was on having a really personalized feel to the entire wedding, so the fact that I would help out with the desserts played right into that role. In true summer fashion, we decided on a selection of fruit pies and a lemon wedding cake.

I made 65 mini pies (4.5 inch) so the guests could share a pie with their date, or indulge in one by themselves.  For a bit of simplicity (and sanity in my part), we stuck with three flavors:  spiced peach, cherry, and blue/raspberry.  I had some fun with the summer pies, and highly recommend doing this for any occasion: You can get really creative with the crusts, and I attempted to do that here.  I made the peach with lattice tops, the cherry pies were double-crusted with little heart cutouts as vents (afterall, this was a wedding!), and the blue/raspberry pies had a few overlapping star cut-outs to top them off, à la Martha Stewart.   Of course my trouble (as always) was time.  Some of the crust cut-outs turned out a bit more home-made then planned, but others came out almost perfect!  I made the crusts the weekend before, froze them in their pie tins, so I only had to fill the pies, top them with the appropriate top crust, and bake them off.  Just the baking alone takes a long time when you only have one non-convection oven.   Even though I read a bit online that people have frozen entire unbaked pies, I had never tested this out, so I baked off the pies 2 days prior to the wedding so that I could allow myself to travel to the wedding (NJ to NH), as well as have enough time to make last minute decorations and assembly of the wedding cake.  Of course I was also a guest at the wedding, so I needed to be done well in time prior to the ceremony. 

Now onto the wedding cake itself.  I adapted my vanilla buttermilk cake recipe from and used a lemon curd filling recipe from  This cake is sturdy enough to be layered and stacked into tiers.  Equally important, this cake freezes and thaws well so that this all could be done the weekend before the wedding.  I baked, filled, crumb-coated, and stacked the cakes in the tiers before putting them in the freezer.  This way, I only had to take them out of the freezer, allowing them to defrost as I drove up north, and could finish the final coat of frosting the morning of the wedding.  I also used smittenkitchen's encouragement to use swiss buttercream because it seems to hold a bit better than regular buttercream (important when the cake is make ahead of time and needs to sit outside without drooping) and is not too sweet.  I love the latter point, because overly sweet frostings ruin or mask the flavor of the cake in my opinion.  Since travel and time were difficult barriers for me to make any complicated or intricate wedding design, I simply used lemon slices themselves for decoration and a few extra fresh flowers from the bride's selection.

Brushing the thinly sliced lemon slices this with egg white and then confectionate sugar gave them a nice bright shine/shimmer.  I think it came out great: sweet and simple.  At some point, I plan to take some great decorating classes so that I can offer up a bit more than lemon slices, but hey, at least the cake itself tasted great!  And, how many people can say that about their wedding cakes?  By far the most difficult thing for me was to coat the buttercream in a perfect, smooth, even coat.  I turned and turned that cake on the turn table, but could not get it to perfection.  I guess that is why that baking class will really be necessary... Oh well.  Most important, this cake and pies were made with love, and afterall I made the bride and groom happy and that is the goal on their wedding day, is it not?