It’s been forever since my last blog post! Sorry! Because…cakes! We’ve been SOOO busy! Which is great, but I need to share all the awesomeness too! This was my perfect opportunity because the awesome photographers from The Bird and The Bear Photography shared their ENTIRE portfolio of INCREDIBLE pictures with me from our sweet couple, Erin & Chad’s wedding. It’s so rare I ever even get to see the professional pictures from my wedding cakes, so having them share so freely & quickly after the wedding is a blessing to me!
And Y’all!!! THESE PHOTOS! Pure magic. This is my first time working with The Bird and The Bear as a fellow vendor, & I’m extremely impressed. LOOK at the gorgeous shots they captured. I wish I could share all forty million of them, because it seems like that’s how much awesomeness they captured in every detail of this spectacular, yet fun & laid back, wedding.
This sunset shot—with the precious dog—couldn’t you just DIE?
And let’s talk about D6 Retreat for a moment, shall we? Have you EVER seen an open air chapel with a breathtaking view of the Texas Hill Country as the backdrop like this?
D6 has ‘glamping’ cabins fully equipped with everything you need, & they even have a POOL! How often do the adorable little guests get to dip their toesies in a cool pool AT THE WEDDING to cool off in the Texas heat? And check out the live poolside entertainment in the background. How awesome is that?
D6 Retreat is located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, in beautiful Dripping Springs, TX, the ‘Wedding Capital of Texas’!
And my FAVORITE shot of all, just because I laughed out loud. LOOK at the expression on the dog’s face! Haha! He’s all like ‘Come ON, man! Cut out the PDA & pet me!’
A couple more shots of the wedding, (how gorgeous is Erin & that bouquet?) before we get to the most important part…………
There’s nothing better than having the Texas Hill Country as the backdrop to your gorgeous outdoor wedding. However, it’s so hot that the Devil himself would retreat back to the cooler confines of his domain. And what’s the WORST enemy of cake? HEAT!
The words ‘outdoor reception’ strike fear & dread into the heart of a cake artist. That queasy feeling in the pit of our stomach speaks of the impending doom to our painstakingly-created confection. If the heat doesn’t get it–what if it rains? What if it’s windy—with dust & leaves flying about? And the bugs? Well, bugs LOOOVE sugar! Every bug within smelling distance is going to crash the wedding reception & head straight for all that gooey, melty, sugary yumminess. At a recent wedding, I had a fishing themed groom’s cake, & before I even finished my setup, I had to retrieve a sugar-drunk yellowjacket out of it, who was literally upside down doing the backstroke. And that was a fondant cake. Yes! Fondant will sweat & turn to goo perfect for yellowjackets with a Michael Phelps complex. Buttercream? Fuhgeddaboutit.
Since D6 Retreat is all outdoor except for those so-cute cabins, we had to come up with a great solution. They REALLY wanted me to create a geode cake with a ‘stump’ bottom tier that would be the showpiece of their reception. They had their heart set on that design, but I knew it had about the same life expectancy as ice cream outdoors.
The Solution? MAKE FAKE CAKE!
Because the cake was of paramount importance to Erin & Chad, (And it SHOULD be! It’s THE focal point of the reception!), I suggested we create the main cake on styrofoam dummies, & have cutting cakes held safely in the wonderful full-size refrigerators in one of the cabins to bring out & serve once dinner was over. The outside of the cake is still EXACTLY what it would be on a real cake–ALL edible & hand-made from sugar. This turned out to be a GREAT solution, which the couple took to another level by displaying the cake in a super-creative manner!
First, it was the centerpiece of the champagne service! How great is this?
And once the toasts were done & the yummy food was devoured, the cake was still standing tall over the delicious slices of 3 flavors of REAL cake, served at the perfect time & temperature!
The cake lasted beautifully all day and all evening! Aren’t the detail shots amazing?
I had SO much fun creating this cake! And I even used a blowtorch to make the ‘bark’ on the bottom tier look even more realistic! The stalactites & stalagmites are created using superheated sugar to over 300 degrees & wonderful sugar molds by Simi Cakes.
The Cutting Cake Myth
Big, BIG note here. This is NOT a money-saving measure. Every single week I get asked the question from the myth spread on countless wedding advice blogs, columns, websites, etc out there about doing sheet cakes in the back to save money. A serving of cake is a serving of cake, regardless of whether it’s held in the kitchen to be cut or proudly displayed at the reception. The cost is the same. It doesn’t matter the shape of the pan it’s poured into. The batter is all mixed in the same mixer with the same cost of ingredients.
Where you CAN save money is the fact that the cutting cakes aren’t decorated, so there are no additional design fees. So if you have a huge wedding & need 300 servings, doing a smaller main cake with cutting cakes will save money since you won’t need a ginormous 6-tier decorated cake. However, if the main cake is a naked or simple buttercream design, the savings won’t be much because there wouldn’t be additional design fees anyway.
Once a cake is covered in fondant, the decorating time is exactly the same regardless if it’s real cake inside or dummy. So the design fees apply equally to either. Dummies have some advantages to decorating, like not having to worry about keeping them chilled like real cake, less sweating & moisture worries, lighter weight, perfectly straight edges, etc. They also have a few disadvantages, like being much harder to cover & smooth due to their lack of weight, which gives us nothing to press against to work with the fondant. And they can get quite pricey, especially unique shaped ones.
So if you do the dummy cake plus the cutting cakes, the cost will be slightly higher, because you have the basic per-serving cost of the delicious cake, plus the cost of the dummies, plus the design fees.
BUT, with a dummy centerpiece cake, you have the HUGE advantage of having that gorgeous creation out all night as the centerpiece of your wedding reception, without it being destroyed. Cutting cake is MESSY, no matter what you do, so many high-end venues LOVE having the dummy cakes as the display, because all the messy stuff is done in their easily-cleaned kitchen, versus on their gorgeous flooring in the main venue, plus all the crumbs & icing won’t soil the expensive linens! And you can keep your cake if you want, no freezing necessary. Dummy cakes can last for years if they aren’t damaged by being knocked around, heat or moisture.
Were Erin & Chad happy with their solution? Yes! And making couples THIS happy is what makes my heart sing! From their Yelp! review: “Look at this phenomenal cake. It’s unreal! It was the talk of my entire wedding. I loved working with Christy too. She’s super friendly, intelligent and savvy. I just love her. This was the best decision we made as far as wedding vendors are concerned.”
Huge thank yous to ERin & Chad for honoring us in creating their cake, D6 Retreat for always referring us as one of their preferred vendors, The Bird and The Bear Photography for their stunning pictures, & Simi Cakes for their molds which make these geode cakes possible!