Friday, January 10, 2014

THE WEDDING CAKE

DRIVE-UP WINDOWS AND DRIVE-BY KILLINGS (NEITHER OF WHICH ACTUALLY HAPPENED)
It was my youngest sister's idea to get remarried over Thanksgiving. She figured she could do it with the least amount of pomp and circumstance since everyone else had plans made well in advance. She and her future husband had thrown darts at a map and hit Las Vegas as the perfect location for a quickie little ceremony. No muss no fuss, a long weekend, they'd go down, say their "I do's", do the nasty and be back in time to clock in on Monday morning. This left us, the family of the bride, trying to figure out what we should do to acknowledge the nuptials. We decided on a little early evening dinner after their return, no big deal, just enough to let them know that we saw that the groom had put a ring on it.
Rick worked out a menu of salmon and salad, but the piece de resistance was to be the wedding cake made from scratch and decorated by our niece, the ninth grade baker in training. Peyton has a real flair for the bakery side of the culinary arts. She's been baking pastries for a while now and has a developing knowledge of the art and science of baking, pretty impressive for a girl in her first year of high school. To make things easier Rick had volunteered to bake the cakes, a three tiered set of chocolate squares pulled from a recipe of our beloved Martha Stewart. The plan for the day was for Rick to bake the cakes in the morning and then have Peyton come over early afternoon to do the decorating. Peyton was to have created the sugar flowers and icing before hand so the main event happening in our kitchen would be the application.
The best-laid plans generally (at least in our world) must include a minimum of three small flaws or one major one. Our first was a miscalculation about the amount of time needed to bake three tiers of chocolate cake from scratch. While Peyton patiently waited with her trays of white and gold florets Rick splashed and spattered his way to a two-hour delay. When the cakes finally came out of the oven they were ever so gently striped of their pans and placed on cooling trays. To help make up for lost time, and it was winter in Wisconsin, the cakes on trays were brought out to the garage to cool.  Another half hour expires with Rick thinking I've gone to pick up Peyton who is still patiently waiting and I'm thinking Rick has gone off to pick her up. When we meet in the hallway and discover neither one of has gone to pick up our niece I throw on my coat, grab my keys, run through the kitchen and into the garage, rev the motor and drivel out to pick Peyton up. The drive isn't far, a mile and a half, and I clock it in pretty good time knowing Rick is pissed I didn't pick the kid up and Peyton is thinking she's got two crazy uncles - one of which is to become even crazier.
I pull into the driveway of my sister's home, not Peyton's mother but her aunt's, where Peyton has been waiting with her trays of pre-made decorations and bowls of icing. Snow had fallen; the streets were still a little slick, the temperature hovering in the teens.
When I finally cross the threshold of my sister's bungalow Peyton is sitting at the dining room table wearing a look on her face that is half relief that someone has at last come to retrieve her and the other half a twisted contortion of confusion making one of her eye's squint and the eyebrow move a half inch up her forehead as if to ask "Where the heck have you been?". I'm all apologies as I grab one of the trays and head back out to the car knowing time is now at a premium. I maneuver the front door handle with one elbow and using one of my feet I push the door open. My back is now facing the car and I need to spin around to get down the three steps on my sister's front porch.
Now is the moment I spy the car and my brows furrow and then I do that WTF move with my mouth. Who plopped something on top of my car while I was in the house? I couldn't have been away from the car for more than ninety seconds. It sort of looked like someone had plopped a block of mud on top of the car, and then came the OMG epiphany. It was the three layers of chocolate cake that had been brought out to the garage to cool. Panic. Then relief. By some miracle my guardian angel was on duty for that fateful ride and all three delicious layers had made it all the way through reckless turns and a mile and a half speedway without having moved an inch from their original positions. There was no Hansel and Gretel trail of crumbs lining the path from the home of  their baking birth to my sister's almost graveyard driveway.  Those cakes were so dense they muscled themselves down and enjoyed the ride in the brisk winter wind. I didn't have to impale myself on a two-foot icicle, the would-be mandatory punishment for such an unforgiveable offense if those cakes hadn't made it. Four lives were saved that mid-afternoon: mine and the three tier cakes.
Peyton and I made it back, to our preparation kitchen the cakes now resting inside the car. I decided to let Rick finish the cake before I confessed.
The two of them smothered a coating of icing and raspberry/rhubarb jam between each layer of cool cake.
Peyton with the skills of a professional applied her florets
and dusted the cake with gold and silver.
Then as homage to the occasion and Las Vegas we cut out an Elvis and put him on top of the cake in lieu of the traditional bride and groom.
Sometimes things just work out.

















THE GALLERY
A Little White Chapel
Casey Bisson, photographer

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