Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tasty Cakes

Several people have asked about our day in Atlanta and how the cake tasting went. About 12:30 or so yesterday, I didn't think I could see any humor in the whole experience, and we were just about ready to bake a bunch of cupcakes and let it go. This narrative may go on for hours, but I have to let it all out!

Emily was in school all last week, so I had the job of calling all the bakeries on her list and ruling some out and setting up appointments for "tastings" when necessary. (The one charging $5.75 a slice kind of ruled itself out) A few either didn't answer or were going to be out of town May 30th, but I set up the first appointment at 11 a.m. and another at 2:45 p.m. That would give us time to catch the one where appointments weren't necessary at our leisure - kind of funny to say leisure when talking about doing things in Atl.

We had stayed up late addressing invitations and getting the first batch mailed. (Thanks for the heads up, Kathy, about the square envelopes needing 2 stamps. Otherwise, we would have plopped them in the mail slot and had a few aggravated people who had to pay extra postage.) We were a little bit late starting because of waiting to buy more stamps and getting those mailed, but we were still doing okay. We took 2 cars because they thought they might want to spend the night with friends. Emily and I were deciding we'd better call the first place and say we'd be a little bit late when the phone rang. It was Ryan asking if we had taken into consideration that we were traveling from central time to eastern time, and that we were already an hour late. First glitch.

Emily got the lady on the phone finally and confessed what we had done and asked if we could come later, but she said she was booked the rest of the day. No problem. We still had 2 more. Everyone knows I'm not a good passenger, so all the construction on I-85 plus rushing a little (and feeling completely stupid about the time zones) was making me very nervous. Emily told Ryan I was "acting up." We wanted to go by the house and the little park where the wedding was going to be to leave Ryan's car and look at the work they were doing in the yard, but there was an accident near I85/I20 that kind of forced us to get off early. Ryan's GPS lady was calling the shots, and Emily and I were trying our best to keep up. I'll stick to the cake tasting because it's late, and leave the other stuff for later, but we did make it to the house and were so excited about how great the lanscaping was going. If I hadn't lost my camera, I would have some pictures for tomorrow. Hopefully, I left it there.

When we left there, I called the non-appointment bakery and told the lady who I was and that I had talked to her earlier about coming by to see about a wedding cake. She immediately said, "We don't have no more pound cake." I said, "Wedding cake," thinking she didn't understand me, and she said, "I'm AWARE of that. We just don't have no pound cake. We used the last of it on our cakes today." Still not knowing what she was talking about, I just didn't say anything for a minute, and she put someone else on the phone who said, "Just come on in anyway. We have some cupcakes," and gave me the directions. Why was I getting a sense of forboding?

Em's friend and her mother and sister who live in town also met us there, and I guess it was a little intimidating for the bakery girl. She said, "Oh, you brought the whole family." I guess she was thinking about how many little slivers of pound cake she was going to have to cut. We told her we weren't all tasting - that it was up to Em and Ryan. Finally, she kind of grudgingly showed them some pictures of cakes and one sample cake. The rest of us were just chatting across the room, but I could tell it wasn't working. The sample was a 4-tiered cake but small tiers, maybe 5 inches high. To feed 75 people, we would only need 2 of the tiers, which would make a squatty little 12 inch high (at the most) cake. A wedding cake, for goodness sake. We asked if there could be a smaller 3rd tier for a cake topper and to make it look normal. We've never done this before. The girl said, no, adding a 3rd tier would bring the cost from $175 to $300 and we'd "have a lot of cake left over." She told us we could set it on a box and cover the box with cloth to give it some height. Poor Emily tried to cooperate with her, asking questions and trying to figure out something. At one point, I said, "We don't have to make a decision right now. Why don't you come back next weekend?" Knowing that we weren't going to be there next weekend but wanting to get out of there as fast as I could.

The girl then brought the samples. About 6 slivers of pound cake and yellow cake, and she proceeded to squeeze some icing out of the decorating bag. They tasted one, and I didn't see much enthusiasm, so Emily asked about some alternatives - maybe cream cheese frosting or something, and the guy behind the counter who was enjoying himself immensely said, "Not on May 31st at an outside wedding. No way. It would be sliding around all over the place." So cross that off. Then the girl suggested fillings. Oh, this was all done standing at a counter with her handing things across to them and the whole world watching and making comments. She then put raspberry and lemon filling on cake pieces and let them taste. I was getting terrified they were going to want to settle - and also worried that maybe we had overestimated this whole cake business, and we were going to have to either have a silly little toy cake or pay a fortune for a big cake. Emily later said she didn't want to hurt her feelings, so she went along with it but that the icing was awful, just really sweet. With a great sense of relief on my part, Em told her we had another appointment and would come back later - maybe.

We had not enough time to eat lunch but too much time before the next appointment, so we went on and found the place. We walked in and noticed that there was a tasting/design session going on so we decided to go outside and wait and enjoy the beautiful day. We also decided it was too small a little room for us all, so Karen and Ida Beth went home to wait and meet us later. As we waited, we looked at the brochure I had and noticed that there was a statement that there was a $300 minimum for cakes feeding less than 125 people. That was a very tense moment. Emily was just on the verge of not having a good time anymore (and I felt the same). She was trying so hard to be conservative and stick to the budget. I said, "You're going to have a nice cake. Don't worry about it. We're going to do this," although we went in when it was our turn with not much hope. But after about 5 minutes with David (I probably shouldn't mention names but I don't think he would mind), the sun came out and birds were singing and we were once again having a wedding.

I just can't explain the difference. He shook hands with us, sat us down around a table, kind of sized us up (probably felt sorry for us), asked some questions, and told Emily to tell him what she wanted. I think she was scared to at first. In the meantime, I was looking at the gorgeous cake model behind him - 3 tiers - a REAL wedding cake - and tall. He said, "For 75 people, this is what it would look like, and unbelievably he turned around and pointed to that very cake. Emily and I just looked at each other. She said, "REALLY." She just wants no frou-frou, pretty plain, and he said it would be around $225. He explained how the tiers don't just sit on each other but each one is on it's own stand, and he's never had one fall. He said it would be very cold when it was delivered and that if it was in a shade, there would probably be no problem, even on May 30th. He helped her decide on a design and what would be extra and what would work and what wouldn't, and THEN he brought out the samples. I'm sorry if I sound a little weird, but this was a first for me, and that first experience had just devastated me. He brought a tray with 8 plates of beautiful real slices of cake, napkins, and 3 forks. Each one was a different cake with a different filling between and a different frosting. So many choices -

Types of cakes: Yellow. Chocolate. Marble. Banana. Almond. Pecan. Black Walnut. Rum. Carrot. White. Red Velvet. Lemon. Strawberry

Mousse Fillings: Amaretto. Black Forest. Chocolate. Coconut Cream. Grand Marnier. Hazelnut. Jamaican Chocolate Rum. Irish Cream. KalhuaLemon. Strawberry. Strawberry Banana. Pina Colada. Raspberry. Rum. Vanilla Cream. White Chocolate. White Chocolate Raspberry

Icing Flavors: White Chocolate Butter Cream. Cream Cheese Butter Cream. Chocolate Butter Cream. Vanilla Butter Cream. White Ganache. White Chocolate Ganache. Milk Chocolate Ganache. Hazel Nut Ganache

And we thought we were going to have to have pound cake! Ryan was getting a sugar high just looking at it. I just tasted one icing, but every bite they took, I could see the excitement growing.

Each layer will be a different cake and a different filling - to be decided later. We told him some of our experiences beforehand, and he just shook his head. For maybe $75 difference we can have a cake that people will be excited about eating and that will be beautifully and professionally done. What a pleasure. I guess it doesn't hurt to mention a good experience by name - it's called Dreamcakes International.

I got a HUGE hug from Emily when we got outside for not letting her run away and serve cupcakes! The rest of the day went much better. Especially for me. I'll write about that tomorrow, but I ended up whiling the afternoon away on a lovely shaded deck with a creek running along below us and puppies and babies and getting to know Emily's friend's parents. She said she knew Ida Beth and I would be BFF, and I think we might be. If we don't drive her crazy with this wedding.

The rest of the story tomorrow.


  1. What a relief!! I was worried!!
    I know that cake will be delicious!!

    The wedding cakes are so expensive in there, wow!! I know once a girl who makes this cakes: 4 tiers and 3 layers, with french icing, for $150, crazy hu?

    Maybe the next wedding could be here, so everybody can go to Antigua!!

    Love Gaby

  2. Really, Gaby? Would you like to come to the wedding and bring the cake? I can see you sitting on the plane holding a giant cake box and peeking around it. I think it would be better to go there. Send me your and Dina's wedding pictures. Since I've lost my camera, I need some pictures.

  3. It is amazing how a little of good attitude can make a great difference. I'm glad that Emily is having a beautiful and delicious cake for her wedding.

  4. You're absolutely right, Dina, A good attitude makes things different no matter where you are. When you're asking someone to spend much money on a cake, for goodness sake, you need to be nice to them!