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Jun 9, 2007 11:53 AM

Ideas for bringing a wedding cakes 3 hours away and a few days early...

My sister is getting married this summer outside Yosemite. She's asked me to help make a cake buffet. We're going up Wed, the wedding is Saturday and it's a 3+ hour drive, steep winding turns at the end. Supposedly, we can refrigerate once we get there. The longest I've ever transported a cake is from Monterey to Palo Altos Hills and that windy, steep hill just about gave me a heart attack with the cake almost shifting. It's an upscale camp/cabins and no kitchen/supplies we can use up there. Should we pass on the idea and just hire a real baker? If we do it, what kinds of cakes would work with this situation? Thanks!

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  1. I know you have no kitchen but is there any way you can decorate it there? If so I would freeze the cakes solid for the trip up. They will travel better and if the layers are cold they'll be easier to decorate.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      That might work! I have to see if I can decorate a lot of cakes in a little cabin. But, I don't have my decorating supplies anyway so I'll have to wing it either way. Thanks!

      BTW, funny that you should respond since I'd considered using your chocolate pound cake (thinking pound cakes freeze well), bring cream (and maybe mascarpone) to whip and strawberries. If I could get a nice decorative mold, fill the center with berries, it would be a pretty presentation as one cake.

      1. re: Candy

        Candy, I agree with you. Could the cakes be scratch-coated and then frozen for the trip to the cabin. I would also do as much of the decorated and store the pre-made pieces in Rubbermaid containers of rice.

        I don't like to travel with a finished wedding cake more than 10 miles,unless the road is anything but a well maintained interstate. I lost a cake once, and the risks just aren't worth it.

      2. You mention a "cake buffet" so you are onto the right idea. I am a huge proponent of making your own wedding cake. I made mine and it remains one of the happiest memories of the experience. Also conquered tough circumstances: beach location, "Easy Bake" size oven. No long drive though.

        I truly recommend the cake I made. It is called a Spanish Vanilla cake - almond with shaved chocolate flecks, layeed with apricot and chocolate ganache. It is from Dede AWilson's wedding cake cookbook (which I also highly recommend. Part of its appeal is that is extremely delectable, but sturdy and actually better after few days.

        If you are doing an assortment, for a real buffet, I would veer toward pound cake, carrot cake types as they are also naturally moist and great after a few days. (The Glazed Lemon Cake in one of the Silver Palate books comes to mind now that they are celebrating their anniversary!)

        Unless you have the ability to frost and assemble there, tiering is out of the question. You can achieve someting of the same effect with cake stands or just displaying the cakes at different elevations on the table. Sturdy boxes draped with pretty linens would work fine.

        In light of the rusticity, I would avoid butter creams or whipped cream frostings. Even if you don't care for fondant, it is much more durable! A nice jam or ganache between layers more than makes up for any flavor deficit. I actually covered my entire cake with marzipan which was also durable but harder to work with than fondant.

        In this setting especially, decorating with fresh flowers and fruits works great. I did have a three tier cake and each tier floated above a "layer" of whole berries and fruit accented with stephanotis blossoms. Sugared fruits are also beautiful - softer and more romanitc somehow. Brush with egg white, dust with superfine sugar, let dry. Avoid cut fruit - it weeps.


        6 Replies
        1. re: Junoesq

          I imagine that a traditional wedding/fruit cake would travel well as it is solid and the traditional icing will travel well too.

          unless you are able to do the assembly when you get there (and that would require having all of the bits and bobs at hand) then try to avoid complicated tiers, icings, decorations, etc. and it sounds like you will have to take all of that with you.

          have a look at - not local to you I realise, but these guys do great cakes AND support home bakers and there is a lot of info on making cakes, decorating, etc with practical advice on everything from shape to filling.

          1. re: kmh

            Great site--thanks! I love the little cake idea (my sister is thinking cupcakes for the kids. I thought it might be fun to do little homemade hostess cupcakes and twinkies).

            1. re: chowser

              i had the little cakes for my wedding and we boxed them up for guests to take home. they were a winner. but the people that run the shop are equally interested in helping other bakers...

          2. re: Junoesq

            LOL, the second best thing is to call your sister on the other coast and ask her to do all the work! I talked her into the cake buffet idea. It's not a traditional wedding anyway, being out in the middle of the woods. mountains and meadows. Definitely no tiering, just a variety of cakes (I'm thinking 2-3 of each type) which will make transport so much easier. Why am I so afraid to try to do fondant? I've been making cakes/decorating for years, taken classes, workshops and it's one of those things that look so simple when I've seen it done but I'm afraid it'll be so much harder that it looks. I love marzipan, too, so could try that. Maybe it's time to get over my fear. That glazed lemon cake sounds great. I'm going to have to find the recipe. Good Father's Day cake to test it out first! Thanks!

            1. re: Junoesq

              I'll second the Spanish Vanilla cake - used it as the base for my wedding cake, with orange marmalade as filling and grand marnier buttercream.

              1. re: Junoesq

                Second the sugared fruits idea. I had a stunning cake that was inspired by Martha Stewart's chocolate tiered cake with sugared fruit for my vintage-themed wedding and it was a huge hit. My sister was also inspired to use sugared fruits for her wedding as well, and she did several single cakes in different flavors. Sugared fruits are great for a fall wedding to emulate a nostalgic or rustic feel.

              2. Congrats on your sister's wedding and your offer to bake her wedding cakes! Freezing is a good suggestion, but I'd add that each tier should be frozen and transported separately, then assembled on site. Remember to stick 3-4 dowels down through the center of each of the lower tiers - cut to the exact height of the frosted tier - and covered with a rose or lemon leaf so you can find them when cutting the cake. This will support the weight of the upper tiers.

                For your cake layers, I recommend using dacquoise for some of your layers in each tier (maybe alternate half layers of pound cake with the thin dacquoise disks). Use ground toasted nuts in the dacquoise to add an unexepected dimension of texture and flavor to your cakes. They freeze and defrost beautifully, absorbing some of the moisture from the buttercream to give you a delightful crunch to every bite!

                There IS a "summer" buttercream Rx that replaces a portion of the butter with vegetable shortening (Crisco), but IMHO that leaves an unpleasant coating on the tongue. If you can freeze, use a fruit buttercream between layers, and a thin coating of vanilla buttercream (a "crumb coat") or apricot jam (light, so it won't show through) outside, covered with rolled fondant. You can make your own, or buy it ready to roll.

                If you can't do extensive decorating onsite, take rolls of patterned ribbons coordinating with the wedding colors to wrap around the base of each tier instead of the traditional icing pearls. Secure the ends at the back with a dot of icing, or in a pinch (Remember to remove then before cutting!) use straight pins with colored heads (so they'll also be very visible).

                For creative cake and icing ideas (that work!), I like The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. She was a chemistry major and she explains the food chemistry behind why her recipes work. There's also a section on wedding cakes. My signed copy is so well-used that it's falling apart and you can tell my favorite pages by the streaks of raspberry and chocolate. LOL

                Good luck and keep us posted on how it goes!

                1 Reply
                1. re: seejanebake

                  Thanks. We won't be tiering. There will be a table full of different types of cakes. She's not looking for anyting that looks like a wedding cake, no wedding colors, very non-traditional but then again, we'll all be camping. It'll be much easier than having one large wedding cake (which would be even harder since I'm on the east coast and so are my large pans/baking supplies and she's on the west).

                  At this point what I'm considering, if I do this, is cheesecake, Candy's pound cake (and maybe another one, key lime?), tres leches (adding the milk once we get there) and one more. I can bring a lot of heavy cream, vanilla, rum/other alcohol, strawberries/other berries and a few whisks and enlist guests help with the whisking. If I can bring up a little microwave then ganache is possible... Thanks for all your help, everyone. I still have a month to work out the logistics.

                2. Outside the park? It is an incredible challenging drive without cakes. I live not that far away and trying to figure out where there are cabins? Are you going to South end of the park, Fish Camp? Because coming in from that side is even steeper. The other way is Mariposa, that is outside the park, I just would have a local do it. It gets really hot there in the summer,and humid. Because of the altitude, you will heat up quicker. The park is jamming during the summer accommodating guests from all over the world, so I would not want to ge stuck in traffic (and yes they have huge traffic in the summer) and have my cakes wilt. It's a more dangerous and longer drive than the Santa Cruz mountains. I would just focus on getting there safely.
                  Your sister could not of chosen a more beautiful place to get married, and once your there you are going to want to spend some of your time enjoying the park. There is so much to see and do, I would hope you get the chance to have a stress free time and enjoy all of the beauty! Oh by the way, the Ahwanee Hotel, Tenaya Lodge and the Wawona Hotel all do events, will probablly be happy to the cake for you.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    You've just hit my concerns about transporting the cakes. This place is not in Yosemite but just outside Hetch Hetchy. The place she's getting married won't do the cake because of the altitude but can recommend bakeries from lower that have supplied them with cake. Her friend also suggested going with Citizen Cake but I can't imagine the deliver charge for that.

                    It should be beautiful. She's planning on hiking somewhere in the woods to get married and then coming back to the campsite/cabins ($250 a night for a cabin!). She also has the condition that we all enjoy ourselves and not spend time working on the cake while there. We just talked about it. We're leaning towards doing different flavors cheesecake and poundcake, freezing and transporting in coolers. Bringing cream to whip, frozen macerated berries, chocolate ganache to use on the sides. For the kids, she's thinking of making croquembouche with frozen Costco creampuffs. She's not as into every having to be home made like I am and I just say, "Okay."

                    1. re: chowser

                      is there going to be a campfire? kids love the s'mores - hey adults do too.

                  2. I think your best bet is to freeze the cakes and go with things that don't need too much in the way of decoration.
                    Pound cakes and cheesecakes, as you mentioned, are great ideas.
                    One of those flourless chocolate tortes would probably be great too. Dusting a bit of powdered sugar over the top (even doing a pattern with a paper doily) would be a pretty and easy way to decorate it.
                    This almond cake from Giada would do really well too

                    It sounds absolutely beautiful, that's for sure.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: QueenB

                      Oh, a flourless torte sounds so good, too. That almond cake looks delicious. I'm printing it out and will probably be making it soon (I happen to have 1/4 or so cups of almond paste that I've been wondering what to do with other than eating it by spoonfuls here and there). Have you tried it?

                      1. re: chowser

                        I haven't tried it yet, but it got some good reviews. I've been happy with the Giada recipes that I've tried so far.