Vows were said, toasts were made and cake was eaten! And the three tiers even turned out looking the way I'd envisioned. I'd had this picture in my head for months, and I'll tell you what, it was pretty satisfying to pull it together and see it served and polished off.
It's a big cake for a big day, so although no one put real pressure on me, I did want to get everything just right. One small panic (of several) came the day after I baked the top layers when I realized too late that I should have strained the seeds from the puree — subbed with blackberry in this recipe. But I couldn't worry about it too much because the purple layers were already baked and the pans were due to be returned. By the way, the woman I rented them from at a shop called The Frosting took an opportunity to give me a life lesson. While recommending doubling the cake boards for the largest — and heaviest — cake, she said "You need a good foundation, just like in the home." That's right. In the home.
I have to say, the green tier brought mixed reactions. I heard one older guy say, "Hey, this is pretty good — despite its color." At least he didn't hear Miguel, my too-good-at-lying-with-a-straight-face boyfriend, convince a friend that it was lettuce cake. One particularly cute detail is that Caitlin got married in pale green shoes she picked out to match it!
It was the orange tier that proved to be trickiest. Being the widest, it had the most potential to crack in the middle and fall apart. After lots of flipping from one large, flat surface to another — we used all the good foundations we could find in our home — Miguel and I finally got them in place and covered with enough cream cheese frosting to fill a kiddie pool.
A note on that frosting: I'd tested two more traditional ones beforehand — a Swiss buttercream and a mousseline buttercream from The Cake Bible — and immediately knew they weren't right. With each of those, when I dipped in a fingertip for a taste, it was like eating sweetened butter — way too greasy. It wasn't far off from some frosting I've had at weddings, but it wouldn't do for what I wanted this to be. A fancy, thin-spreading slick of icing just isn't the right complement to a homestyle, naturally flavored cake. Fluffy cream cheese frosting totally is.
As fun as it was to take on the challenge of making a wedding cake, of course it was only one contribution to a magical night of celebrating friends. We filled fruit jars with champagne and talked and danced with friends who'd come back to town from Houston, Brooklyn, Seattle and the Rio Grande Valley. Two women — relatives, I think — who sliced the cake at Caitlin's parents' wedding 30 years ago took charge of slicing and serving, then we raised our jars for toasts and got to contra dancing. With so much love in the air, my heart couldn't help but swell a little.