Saturday, February 27, 2010

A cake for Naitlin

Nearly every day I get e-mails from the IT department at work labeled with an exasperated subject line asking something like, "Don't you even CARE about receiving

e-mail?" It's because I don't delete much. I'm afraid to check how far over the limit my inbox is because I hang on to old e-mails like this one, written to a buddy at work in July 2008:

p.s. this has me fascinated, and i'm not sure why. i don't think i'll ever make such an attempt, but it's seriously enthralling:

Well, guess what, folks? A year and a half later, I'm making the attempt. I'm baking a wedding cake this weekend! Two dear friends, Caitlin and Nathan, are getting married after six years together, during which time they've mastered the art of tandem bike riding and built a home that feels like a cozy cabin in the heart of the city. Cruise past their house and you'll always see a warm glow through the window, a welcome sight that means I'll find friends inside offering spiced-up sweet potato fries or a cold beer.

Nearly everything about the wedding plans can be described as potluck: friends will pitch in food, craft a colorful felted-wool bouquet, make flower garlands and bottle-cap noise makers for a post-nuptial promenade through the neighborhood and even pipe up during the vows for a communal Quaker-style ceremony. I'm honored to be contributing the cake. For 250 guests!

Because this isn't any old wedding for any old couple, the cake won't be the traditional, untouchable, frosted white tower. This cake will have color! And, most importantly, flavor. Here's the plan: cream cheese frosting will sit between and on top of the layers, but not on the sides. The idea of this minimal decoration is that the cake's attractive qualities come from it actually being a cake — one with flavor and color galore. A 6-inch top tier will be purple thanks to mixed berries, the 10-inch middle tier will be tinted green with matcha powder and the 16-inch lower tier will have orange zest and a sprinkling of orange-liqueur syrup. And, if needed, a few drops of orange food coloring. (Not as much as you see here in the experimental baking phase.)

Plus, the whole thing will be decked out with lots of fresh fruit. I liked how lovely it looks with these cakes that inspired this whole plan.

To test out the cake recipes I'll be using, I made these cupcake samples. We decided the orange was a bit bright and the blue hopefully should come out looking purple instead — I used too many blueberries and not enough strawberries in the puree. But other than that, it's a go! More details to come on the two frostings I've tested, this amazing resource and, of course, my baking progress.

P.S. The reality and magnitude of this project really hit me on Wednesday when I picked up the cake pans I'm renting. It shouldn't have been so surprising to me that a 16-inch pan makes an ENORMOUS cake!


  1. OHHH my good ness. that cake you linked to that inspired you looks amazing. as i'm sure yours will.

    i have a strange desire for fruit loops now...

  2. you totally called it — that's exactly what this color scheme is! my hope is that it won't put cereal in mind once it's assembled, frosted and prettied up with fruit. (froot?)

  3. Wow, what an amazing project! And such an incredible gift to be giving your friends. They are so lucky to have you! Can't wait to see how this project progresses...

  4. When is the big day? Looks like you're mastering the art of baking. I still can only claim my surprise strawberry birthday cake that I made for you in college as my one baking achievement.

  5. Thanks, Julie! It's been a lot of fun to do.

    Dana, the wedding is this Saturday. And I loved that cake with the strawberry B! Thanks for making that fun night happen.