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Ben and Codie's Wedding

Friday, July 03, 2015

As some of you may have noticed, new posts have been rather sparse earlier this spring; luckily though, there's a reason for this.  This past winter, I was presented with the opportunity of creating the desserts for two of my best friends' wedding, so days typically spent blogging turned into wedding planning as the late May wedding neared.  As you'll see below, I had an absolute blast (and learned a ton) throughout the whole process — all the way from the early planning stages through the actual wedding day.

Photo by Anda Marie Photography.

From the start, I was more or less told

  1. the number of people to plan for,
  2. to have a few non-chocolate and nut-free options,
  3. general types of desserts to steer clear of, including cake pops and cookies,
  4. as well as the flavor of the wedding cake.
Other than that, I was given a blank slate and the freedom to be creative in all aspects.  Over the next few months, we bounced ideas off of each other, filled in some of the smaller details, and ended up deciding that a three-tiered wedding cake along with four types of mini-desserts would be best.  More specifically, the desserts I chose included

  1. a carrot wedding cake with cream cheese icing,
  2. cocoa brownie bites topped with a homemade salted caramel sauce and toasted buttered pecans,
  3. s'mores cheesecake bites with a graham cracker crust, chocolate cheesecake, and a toasted homemade marshmallow fluff,
  4. mini-vanilla bean cupcakes with cream cheese icing, and
  5. lemon bars garnished with whipped cream, candied lemon peels, and micro-mint leaves.
Photo by Anda Marie Photography.
After visually sizing up how much food this would actually be, I quickly decided that a chest freezer purchase would be the best choice, rather than renting out freezer space somewhere or transporting desserts to other people's homes.  Plus, once the wedding was over, it'd help out with any future events or business plans of my own; win-win!
Photos by Anda Marie Photography.
With storage out of the way, the next thing I tackled was a whole bunch of test batches.  Everything made for the wedding was inspired by dishes I've made before, but since the final products would be different sizes than normal, I needed to have a good idea of the best pans or molds to use, the proper batch sizes, as well as fine-tuned baking times/temperatures of each dessert.
I started with the mini-desserts and made sure to write down any notes that would come in handy further down the line.  These included anything from how many people each batch served to what types of ingredient adjustments I should make for the final baking days (since you can't always scale ingredients up or down proportionally).

Once I felt comfortable with the four smaller desserts, I moved on to the base of the wedding cake, as I had never made a cake this large before.  I first wanted to know if the outside of each base layer would over-bake if I treated them like a standard-sized cake, or if I needed to play with bake even strips or metal flower nails to aid in even baking.  Next, I wanted to play around with decorating options as I had exactly zero experience decorating cakes prior to this wedding.  Lastly, I wanted to see how the cake would travel in the car...since I'm paranoid about transporting desserts of any kind.

The timing of the trial run was perfect, as it lined up with my younger sister's birthday get-together.  After a successful drive to my parent's house with the cake, seven of us got to enjoy a cake meant for 80 people, hah!  [Don't worry; the majority of the cake was given out to family and friends later that night as there was no way all of the leftovers were coming back to me].  So long story short, everything went fine on the test wedding cake.  I now knew the proper batch size, baking times, what decorating tips to use, how insanely heavy it was going to be, as well as the best way to transport it in the car.

Testing was now complete.
Photos by Anda Marie Photography.
About a month before the wedding, I started baking one or two desserts on my day(s) off each week.  Brownies and cupcakes each took one day, whereas the cheesecake bites and lemon bars took two days each since they needed to be froze for a day before portioning and garnishing.  Easy peasy.

With a few days left before the wedding weekend, all that was left was the wedding cake.  It took five separate baking sessions for the six layers, some ingenuity and patience when it came to leveling and transporting the colossal 14-inch base layers on top of each other, as well as seven or eight (I lost track) double-batches of cream cheese icing.

And that was it!  As long as my freezer didn't die on me and none of the desserts took a spill on the car ride to the ceremony, we were in good shape.
Photos by Anda Marie Photography.
The day of the wedding I got there several hours early to unpack and get everything plated up and stored in the fridge.  Everything was prepped as much as I could, so it was time to relax and catch up with friends before the ceremony.

...flash forward several hours, after an awesome wedding, some photos, and an amazing pig roast dinner...

After the wedding party was finished with dinner and all of the guests were started on theirs, our awesome group of groomsmen helped bring everything out to the dessert table while a couple other good friends of mine and I got the wedding cake sliced and plated in the back kitchen.  With such a solid crew, I'm proud to say that everything went extremely smooth.  In the blink of an eye, it was all over.
Photos by Anda Marie Photography.

Looking back at the day, I can't stress enough how grateful I am to Ben and Codie for giving me this rare opportunity.  I don't think too many other bakers can say that they were given free creative rein on their first gig all while being able to work with their best friends throughout the entire process — so a BIG thank you to the both of you!

I'm so much more prepared should another large event come my way.  Not only is my arsenal of baking equipment better stocked than ever, but I now have a much stronger idea of the planning that is involved, how best to scale recipes, how to store and transport different types of desserts, and the list goes on.

I'm extremely lucky to know Ben and Codie, and can't wait to see what the next baking adventure of mine will be.  As always, I know I'll have two gifted individuals ready to taste-test and give me the critiques and moral support needed to keep pushing me towards my dream.

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