When I said “I do” I didn’t take into consideration that my wife would also become a client. Nowhere in my vows did I say “and allow her to stand over your shoulder while you create her cakes.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my wife and all that she does for me and the boys, and I’m most certain, I’m not always a peach to deal with!
BUT, having a live in client comes with its own set of challenges.
For the past 5 years, I think (my memory on dates is never good, but as long as I remember the important ones – birthdays and anniversaries… Then I’m good… right ?!) I have made my wife’s cake and each year it comes with more and more challenges. You see, her justification is that it helps me grow as a caker. Granted true, and I do love a good challenge (which she also knows) they are the most stressful cakes to make.
I have had thousands of clients over my caking career and none of whom I am more nervous to please than my wife! Her love and support for what I do is endless, however she’s always the first to give me her honest opinion on something that I may not have executed correctly (i.e. her 2016 birthday cake) I am man enough to admit my faults when things go wrong, and man did they go wrong last year.
It was delicious and of course we ate it and she is forever grateful for it, but I got some serious slack for this one.
2015 was a tough year for us, but I still managed to make her her favorite, a real black forest cake.
2014 was a significant milestone and I made a 4 tier ombré cake with 30 handmade, hand painted lilies.
And in 2013 I surprised her with her life long dream of a red velvet armadillo (Steel Magnolia fans rejoice!).
Now enter 2017 and the need to redeem myself from the melty (it’s a word I promise 😉 ) mess from last year.
I was given the criteria of purple, flowers, butterflies and elaborate.
Now that’s not a whole lot to go on and having creative freedom on a cake is a decorator’s dream. But when it’s your wife, your true confidant, that will hold you to the highest standards and above everyone else, man the pressure is on!
I wanted to bring you all along for the ride, and broadcasted Live for the majority of the process on Facebook and I’m so glad you joined me through the process.
I struggled with ideas right from the beginning. I started with flowers, I knew they would be on there and I knew they would be purple so I started with my signature roses.
From there I made other fillers, flowers and some foliage that I knew would work perfect for the cake (that I still hadn’t really designed by the way).
After some thinking, and knowing that I had complete freedom and cost wasn’t really a factor I knew it would be 3 tier!
Then I got to thinking that I would play around with some techniques that I hadn’t really had a chance to play with… Marbling.
Marbled fondant is such a fun and easy yet elegant way to add color and design to any cake.
Looks great on its own for a simple yet sophisticated touch to a cake (… I couldn’t stop there) but let’s talk about those edges though!
I use an upside down panelling method to achieve razor sharp edges each and every time. Check out the video in the How To section to see how to do the marbling and paneling of a cake!
After seeing so many aged wood cakes around and dying to try my hand at it I was instantly sold on the fact that it HAD to happen for this cake. I spent some time playing around in the kitchen one evening with wafer paper, and fondant and ended up with a beautiful aged wood effect for the center tier of the cake.
Originally I had silver leaf added into the aged wood however my wife HATES “foil” as she refers to it. I knew she didn’t like the scatter leaf technique you see on all the beautiful cakes, however I was not aware she didn’t like it AT ALL or I would have saved myself the time and headache.
I can still here her “I can’t believe you put foil on my cake…”
Ok so lets recap:
Elaborate …. Getting there.
Butterflies … I’ll get to those… Almost got myself into trouble… See… Challenging Client.
For the overall cake I originally planned for your standard stacking technique of perfectly executed tiers, perfectly spaced… however… everyone does that!
So to avoid this I decided to have my wood planks overhang the top and bottom of the center tier and appear as if broken, not cut… this meant I couldn’t do a traditional stack.
Instead, this beauty was imagined!
The top and bottom tiers are the same size and the middle tier is larger than the two. This created the illusion that the cake is an extremely tall cake with a floating wrap around the middle.
Now to talk about those butterflies.
I know (because I’m her husband and I should have been a little more conscious of this) butterflies hold a very significant meaning for my wife and that’s why they were initially requested.
It was late in the evening the night the cake needed to be finished and I told her I just didn’t have the time to do them, the instant sadness and disappointment that took over was heart breaking. So I couldn’t disappoint. I stayed up later than anticipated and played around with several different techniques to come up with a great solution to add to the cake. I tried chocolate, the mold was too clunky. I tried black isomalt, although beautiful again too clunky. I didn’t have time to let lace dry so I tried chocolate in the lace mold, too fragile and cracked everywhere.
Running low on options I tried a watercolor wafer butterfly and it turned out great – however was still not the right accent for the cake.
Brainstorming with a friend (yes cake friends are always up late so you can count on them for help 🙂 ) I decided to try a sparkly silver butterfly. I used a silver coated card stock (initially for scrap booking) cut the shape required, airbrushed with a little purple and glued a floral wire to the center.
Absolutely perfect addition to the cake and the little bit of sparkle it needed!
To say she was thrilled with the final product is an understatement and to see her light up when she noticed the butterflies, made the extra late night and purple hands…
…well worth it!
Enjoy some of the other eye candy and thanks for hanging out with me and keeping me sane!