March 21, 2012
I had the privilege of being asked to create (that’s stretching it a bit) the wedding cake for a friend of mine. Since the arthritis in my hands prevents me from doing intricate work, I was happy that it was an outdoor wedding and she would be happy with a simple cake. I also made cupcakes (my favorite – my OWN piece of cake) and my famous bread pudding with praline sauce (no, you may not have the recipe).
As I have written before, food is a way of life here in the South and when we celebrate, we celebrate big. The wedding was no exception. But, first, we had to find the venue. Baking and transporting a cake for two and a half hours turned out to be the easy part (almost). The back of the suburban was full (we had removed the back seat) of cake and bread pudding which we hoped we had secured enough for the trip. Our first scare was about twenty miles from home when a truck came skidding to a halt as we were approaching on the four-lane highway. The driver did not look as though he had any intentions of stopping before entering the highway. Instead of seeing our life flash, Hubby and I were seeing cake flying before our eyes. Thank goodness all the layers were safely in their own boxes and on a rubber mat.
We continued on our journey and that is a story all by itself. We live in South Louisiana and we were on our way to Mississippi for the wedding. What we had no idea about was we were on our way to no man’s land. The directions were interesting as they offered a number of ways to get to our destination (the middle of nowhere). It was quite interesting to meet up with friends once we arrived and to listen to the different stories of how they had all arrived. It seems we all took different routes, all claiming to have taken the “easy” route.
We took Interstate X to Street Y to Highway Z to Lane A (we had to begin the alphabet over – there just wasn’t enough X,Y,Z to make this trip happen). I have to admit, even though the mileage wasn’t quite accurate, the landmarks we were given were. We turned down a two-lane road and almost had our second mishap of the day. The driver of a pickup truck stopped at a stop sign and then started to pull out – in front of us – and once again, we saw cake flying. Luckily, with a lot of horn blowing and braking, we managed to escape harm.
We were bumpity-bumping along the last leg of our journey and Hubby and I both burst out laughing about the same time (turns out we were both thinking the same thoughts). Originally, we were unsure if we would be making the trip to the wedding and if we hadn’t, then the bride would have been transporting the cake; and that may not sound like much of a big deal but you have to know her. She is full of energy, always going at a hundred miles an hour. We were thinking of M.J. transporting an assembled cake – all three layers of it. We were both picturing her be-bopping along the very bumpy country road, forgetting all about the cake until she reached the house (get the picture). Between laughing and wiping his tears, Hubby said she could have offered everyone a spoon! Well – that inspired more laughing. Hubby and I travel well together. We talk and laugh, never even turning on the radio.
Digressing to earlier in the week (the day before), here are a few pictures of the cake baking process. M.J. and I had originally discussed a two layer cake, but then the basket I found to hold the cake just needed something more so I added a third layer. Hubby has always been my frosting guy. I don’t have the patience it takes to work the icing to a smooth finish. I had to give him credit for icing my cakes when I was taking cake decorating classes. He compares it to finishing concrete. He just uses a spatula instead of a trough.
The shopping process was so much fun. I am not one to go out shopping, but when I have a mission, I can really get into it. I needed baskets to house the cupcakes and the cake. It was an outdoor country wedding and one of my favorite and in my mind, I knew exactly what I needed. I wanted a square basket in a darker natural twig color large enough to house the cake and the magnolias that I planned to surround the cake with for decoration. My only dilemma being – would I find what I had pictured in my head.
I also wanted to find two shallow rectangle baskets to serve the cupcakes in as well. It was a pretty tall order, but I had confidence that I would find exactly what I needed at Hobby Lobby (I am infamous for projecting what I want- always good to hedge your bets). Imagine my excitement (no I did not run through the store shouting I found them, although I was tempted) when I found exactly what I was looking for.
The next items on the list were the perfect cupcake papers. Anyone who bakes knows that once the cake comes out of the oven, you cannot tell what the original paper looks like. I wanted these to look special for my friend, so I was looking for an outer paper to set the cupcakes in once they were frosted. It has been a while since I have ventured out shopping and I was excited to view all the new products that available. I found a parchment colored toile with a brown design (how perfect is that – it matched the baskets) and a plain parchment paper cup. I was beginning to want this wedding to be my own!
M.J. loves peach and wanted peach ribbon. What happened to peach?! There was no peach ribbon in South Louisiana (at least in Houma). My plans were to wrap each layer of the cake in a beautiful peach satin ribbon – so much for that idea! I did find beautiful coral ribbon as a back up in the event we could not locate peach ribbon. I ended up purchasing cream satin ribbon as a base to go under the too thin coral ribbon – yeah – no wide ribbon. I did not find peach ribbon at Michael’s but I did find the beautiful coral ribbon (as a backup) there.
After a stop at the local cake shop for flavoring, I was on my way home content with my purchases – after a trip to Wal-Mart, that is. I did need cake mix and pans for the bread pudding and LOTS of good ole Southern sugar – the base to all of our fine desserts! I admit – I do use a bought cake mix, simply because I haven’t found one from scratch that is as moist. Sometimes the box is best. I do make all of my icings from scratch though – none of that fake stuff for me.
For anyone wishing to make a wonderful cake icing, the flavoring is Crème Bouquet not Almond as most people think. It smells a little like almond and has a touch of that flavor, but it is not Almond extract. The flavoring is worth the stop and the cost at the local bakeshop. For the chocolate icing, there is none better than the old-fashioned Hershey’s Chocolate Icing off the back of the container of Hershey’s Cocoa. It is sinfully good. You don’t even need cake to enjoy it!
Getting back to the wedding, there was also the old-fashioned Boucherie or Cochon-de-lait – the roasting of the pig. There were many other goodies that are found at almost every Boucherie – Blood Stew (doesn’t that want to make your toes curl?) and pork stew and grilled grillades. Guests also feasted on potato salad and baked beans, and of course, no Southern meal is complete without white beans and French bread. And, as you will find at any Southern gathering, a table loaded with desserts. I am happy to report that my bread pudding was devoured in record time and, yes, I am human – I just loved all the comments it was receiving!
Did I mention that there had been a rainstorm the day before? It was a bloody, muddy mess! Instead of the wedding taking place by the pond, the couple exchanged vows under the porch (thank goodness for those Southern porches!) It also presented problems with parking as you can see by the pictures. The friends next to us were stuck and need to be pushed out of the little ditch. In the process, they came very close to sliding into our car. There were a few white-knuckled moments there. Needless to say, they decided to let Hubby pull out first. I was waiting up the drive because trying to cross that muddy ditch was like a “Lucy” moment just waiting to happen. And, when I say up the drive, I mean WAY up the drive. I certainly did not want to wear mud home! Hubby gunned the engine and sailed through the ditch with mud flying everywhere. I think the burb brought home about a truckload of Mississippi mud on the sides.
I also ended up being the “unofficial” photographer of the wedding and with the permission of the bride, here are a few photos for you to enjoy. Congratulations, M.J. and Sean on your wedding and thank you for inviting us to be a part of it.
You can view additional pictures by clicking on this link: My Life. One Story at a Time.: My Crazy Life – A good old-fashion Southern wedding and Boucherie