Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Buttercream Frosting and Tiers of Joy

“A cake, Franck, is made of flour and water. My first car didn’t cost this much.” -- George Banks, Father of the Bride

I’ve been to jabillions of weddings in my 33 years -- witnessed the nuptials, oogled the dresses, owned the dance floors, and raised many a glass. This Fall, I’m having a wedding of my very own. And this is the only time you’ll see me write about it :)

Planning a wedding is an interesting thing, glorified in recent years to the point of divine supernatural. Fourteen bridesmaids and Vera Wang in a million-dollar affair? It’s almost common enough to be considered passé. Even Miss Manners has come out recently to gently reprimand today’s bridezillas for creating a culture of monster weddings. I’m totally with her -- but I’ll also admit that it’s been fun losing myself in the details no one will notice. Each decision seems amplified by five, though deep down I know it really doesn’t matter what linens we choose, what sized tables we provide, or how many members are in our wedding party. And if I trip down the aisle? It’ll prolly go viral on YouTube. Eh.

Every bride, I think, has things on which she will not compromise -- whether it’s food, flowers, or formality. For me, it’s cakes... those outrageously dreamy, fairytale rounds of sweet, sweet sugar and buttercream. Wedding cakes are exquisite and artful; each is a metaphorical castle for the happy new couple to enjoy on their own and share with their friends. I just don’t understand those brides that serve cardboard. And that fondant stuff may be lovely, but it sure tastes like butt -- No, thank you. All this is to say that last night’s cake tasting appointment has been on my calendar for months. In Sharpie. With stars. Squeee!

As we walk in, it is immediately *obvious* that the cake lady’s storefront is heaven incarnate... A dizzying array of cake layers and frosting, glazed in pastels and studded with pearls. Natural light streams through the windows as I lose myself in a world of vintage cake toppers, acrylic stands, and delicate roses. Oh, to be surrounded by those five-tiered majesties again! I immediately calculate the pluses, minuses, and sheer probability of swapping my soul for a career in cake tasting, but the downsides seem numerous. [Sigh.] Perhaps I could just pay rent here instead. We pour through scores of pictures showcasing the baker’s skill (Shapes! Textures! Plain and ornate!) and taste enough flavors to make ourselves ill. We savored every corner, analyzed every crumb, and picked apart each frosting.

In the end, the decision was surprisingly simple. Just like our wedding, itself. We tasted white cake, Italian cream, butter cake, and two chocolates. But almond cake filled with dulce de leche? I do -- happily ever after.