Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Falling flat: a cake story

Pinning down a baker has proved tricky. Our venue recommended Baker #1, a popular bakery with a great pedigree, but offered us the option of using a credit toward whomever we wish. Since we knew nothing about wedding cakes or the process, we started off with Baker #1. We were still a year out and hadn't even found my dress, let alone picked colors or flowers. In our initial email, we emphasized that the flavor of the cake was more important than the appearance. And we were more than willing to pay for the privilege of a tasting. Just let us know the cost and when would be a good time. And that's where Baker #1 dropped the ball.

A cake that has fallen. Quite literally.

After waiting a week between replies, we weren't so sure this vendor was for us. It seemed she didn't have the time or interest to bake our cake. Reading between the lines, we learned that we weren't going to taste any cakes until after the "design session." Which didn't make sense. We hadn't even set our menu.

Mr. P grew tired of waiting (and listening to me grumble) and set out for the bakery. The trip appeared fruitful - there was a white cake box sitting on our kitchen table. He prefaced the unveiling by saying this was an unplanned, secret shopping trip. The bakery did not have slices or samples. They only had 8" round cakes starting at $25 in set flavors. If I wanted lemon, he would have had to purchase a giant sheet cake or special order. So he did what he felt was the next best thing. He brought home a chocolate cherry cake. (Bleh.)

(While this is, in fact, a picture of chocolate cherry cake, please note it is not from Baker #1, but another unrelated, probably lovely bakery. It does resemble our cherry cake.)

Let me just say that I am NOT a cherry pie kinda girl. I will pass on dessert if that's the only option... and I really like dessert. The only thing that can explain my lapse in judgement is that I was starving. And I was trying super hard to show appreciation that he took initiative. Cutting into the cake, the cherry situation wasn't all that bad. They were just dotted along the bottom layer. Thick white fluff (think Marshmellow Fluff) filled in the holes around the cherries, chocolate gunk separated the layers while the Crisco-textured frosting flaked off in huge chunks. Well, now I'm hungry...

Fluff & shortening (even this has cherry pie on it!)

First bite: okay. Then I got a rancid cherry. Plucky Mr. P countered that I was biased (as I was spitting said cherry out) and second opinions were needed. Perfect timing as some male friends who eat just about anything were showing up soon. They would be more than happy to be our guinea pigs. But there were no takers for a second slice. Mostly half eaten slices. We still had over half of an 8" round cake left. I brought it into my office, where free food disappears in minutes. The consensus was the same: dry cake with "vaseline" frosting. For a birthday cake, it received a B. But for a wedding cake, definitely a D.


You can't always get what you want... but sometimes you get what you need. Having exhausted just about every chance with Baker #1, it just did not work out. We were free to find someone else.

What was your first foray into the world of wedding cake?

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