Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Our Cross Country Cake Adventures

 A few months ago I was approached with a rather odd request... make my nephew's wedding cake.  Now I know that upon first read that doesn't seem terribly odd, but let me finish... his wedding was going to be in New Hampshire, and I live WAYYY down south in GA.  Yeah, see?  But Sean and his fiance Kirsten were such a cute couple that I just couldn't turn them down.

Delivering a fully decorated wedding cake 17 hours and and little over a 1000 miles away can be a daunting task and honestly one that I didn't feel I (nor my cake) was up to.  So several months ago I started formulating a plan to actually make the cake there.  The venue where the wedding was held was an absolutely gorgeous working orchard named Allyson's Orchard.  I spoke to Fran, the venue manager about my dilemma, and she graciously offered me their kitchen space to work on the cake all week long.  The kitchen had the essentials, oven, sink, and refrigeration, but any other tools I needed I had to bring with me!  GULP!

So I went back to the drawing board, because everything we were bringing (Chaddy and I, a weeks+ supply of clothing, and all the components we needed to make a cake had to fit in our Honda CRV.  It's not a compact car mind you, but it's no stretch limo either!  So I made the decision to bake the cakes and make the icing before we left and freeze them.  That way, the only "major" appliance I would need to bring would be a Kitchenaid mixer to re-whip the icing.  I would place all the wrapped frozen layers in our big marine cooler along with some disposable ice packs (the kind I get when I order chocolate) and we would just stack, fill, ice, and decorate on site.  Theo couple had chosen a mud cake, which is very dense, so I really did feel that the frozen layers would hold up to the drive.  I also began the process of making the gumpaste flowers and wrapping them to thwart the nastiest, kickiest delivery driver.

Well, Sunday morning came and we packed everything up in the cooler, along with our 2 suitcases, and our Rubbermaid tote of kitchen goodies and we left the sweltering Georgia heat on our way to New Hampshire.  We left late because we were up late the night before, so we made it to Frederick, MD (my sister and the groom's Mom's home) really late Sunday night.  I was somewhat worried about the contents of the cooler, but the outside felt cold, so I decided to not risk opening the lid and letting any cold out and just let it ride.  We visited with my sister for a few minutes and hopped in bed.

We awoke (late) the next morning and after a quick shower and breakfast, we were back on the road to New Hampshire.  We drove at a good clip, made a few stops for food anf fuel along the way, and reached our hotel late Monday evening.  I thought I had never been SO tired of being in the car!  We stayed in Keene, NH and was a pleasant surprise it was!  We were within walking distance to downtown and we explored it pretty extensively during our off times.  But I digress...

Tuesday I called Fran at Allyson's orchard and she agreed to meet us and show us the kitchen.  It was a very nice catering space and I knew it would work well, as long as everything had fared well in the cooler (which had STILL not been opened since Sunday morning at this point).  We got the cooler inside, opened it, and believe it or not, everything was still VERY cold.  Those disposable ice packs were still mostly frozen.  The cake gods had indeed smiled upon the work I was trying to do.

I made gumpaste blueberries!
We pulled out the layers and let them thaw a little more while we unpacked our kitchen and got setup for the week.  Over the course of the next few days we worked on the cake a little each day, just like normal, stacking, filling, making the textured bands, and coloring those gumpaste flowers.  When we left the orchard on Thursday the cake was all done and we had the whole day Friday to spend with the rest of the family. who had now joined us at the same hotel in Keene.  It was like a mini family reunion.

I made an extra trip over to the venue on Saturday to set the cake out in the venue space (just a few steps away from the kitchen space I had been using) so that the caterer's would have all the cooler / kitchen space they needed.  A quick trip back to the hotel for a freshen and a change and it was ceremony time!

Now I go to a lot of weddings, but we're there while the linens are going on and the DJ is setting up; We rarely get to see ANY of the wedding, and especially not the ceremony.  It was nice to get to witness all the love and all the pieces of the puzzle fit together so nicely.  Sean and Kirsten had a beautiful ceremony outside by the lake and then the reception with a crazy good BBQ dinner.

When you start adding up gas, mileage, and all the other expenses, this was definitely the "most expensive" wedding cake I have ever made, but I wouldn't have changed it for the world. The new Mr. and Mrs. Seymour loved it, and I loved seeing the smiles on their faces all throughout the night.

And even though I like to preach that other decorators shouldn't take orders they don't know how to do, the lesson to be learned is that it's OK to stretch your wings and go outside your comfort zone on some occasions, just as long as you have a good game plan!

A very special Thanks to Fran and the entire staff at Alyson's Orchard for extending their hospitality, sharing their beautiful facility, and making my task much easier!

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