I have two friends, Marc and Bayan, from NJIT, my alma mater, that I hadn’t spoken to in years, but I always remembered them fondly. We all had a group chat when I was a sophomore that we constantly texted on and it was an all around good time with them. Anyway, when we had recently caught up a month beforehand, Bayan mentioned he was engaged and invited us to his engagement party. So, being the amateur baker that I am, I volunteered to bake him a cake. And, of course, me being me, I let my idea get ahead of me.
I always joke with my almost sister, Jessica, that I would bake her wedding cake, but as time has passed, I’ve begun to take the idea more and more seriously. It most likely won’t happen since she seems to dislike everything I’ve baked her, but I at least need to be prepared. So I saw this opportunity with Bayan’s engagement party as a stepping stone and possible learning curve. (spoiler: there were many learning curves)
I love Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network) and she always has this saying of using the GOOD vanilla. Pictured above is the GOOD vanilla and GOOD cocoa powder which I found offers a richer flavor to my cakes. Clabber Girl baking powder is my favorite because it has a lip on the canister that acts as a leveler with your measuring spoon. It’s the little things!
The bake went well and I was happy with the results, but I waited to ensure my cakes were FULLY cooled to room temperature before I covered them and put them in the fridge overnight to cool. I always struggle with frosting cakes because I always get crumbs into my frosting as I frosted and I wanted this bake to be perfect. (spoiler: it was disastrous) I’m also a tree-hugger and my bff Josh bought me bees wrap as an alternative to plastic wrap. They can get annoying to wash because you can’t wash them in hot water since that ruins the natural adhesive in them, but they’re really handy and make me feel like I’m acting like a better human… even if I don’t use them consistently.
It all went wrong after I made tiers 2 and 3. First, I used too much oil, so I reduced the amount of hot water I added to hopefully balance the wet and dry ingredients. Second, when cutting into the middles of the cakes, I did a shit job and crumbs flew everywhere. This made frosting the cakes a fucking nightmare.
Clearly, this cake was NOT presentable. Cue emotional meltdown, self-doubt, and a phone call to my sister. My sister Vanessa, bless her soul, has the patience of a saint, usually, when it comes to dealing with me and my parents. Of course, she’s spewing positive shit and I’m just all mopey and saying yes. This eventually leads to me taking off tiers 2 and 3 and using only the first tier because the other two were NOT presentable. Tier 2 looked ready to fall apart and tier 3 looked like an Oreo cake. After lots of whining and moping, we have the final product below.
This end result was not what I aimed for and it really humbled me, because I CLEARLY have much to learn when it comes to icing cakes. Hopefully my next tiered cake comes out better.
- Have a better frosting plan
- Have a better plan on how to stack tiers
I thought I had a good idea on how to tackle frosting, but I really didn’t. Even though I gave my cakes ample time to cool, it all came down to how I sliced the cakes in half. Not only that, I had an incredibly shoddy method of stacking my tiers which involved dowels (basically rods) but no real plan of execution. I naively thought I could stack them on top of each other and that’d be the end of it. Lastly, I didn’t have patience. The key with frosting cakes is really patience. I kept trying to speed up the process and getting ahead of myself when I really should have paced myself.
I tried to bake a 3-tiered engagement cake for a college friend and ended up with a 1-tiered cake decorated in flowers to hide the gaping flaws (literal gaping because I had to take the wooden pegs out from the base tier since I was only going to use 1 tier).
While the flavor for this cake was definitely there, the aesthetics were a HUGE miss. Everyone loves free desserts, so of course they’ll say how delicious something is. But when it comes to ACTUALLY spending their hard-earned money on something? The aesthetics need to sell and I’m not there yet. But, that’s just another learning curve right?
Thanks for reading!