the scariest part of my wedding day was not walking down the aisle or seeing if i would fit into my dress, no, not even close. the scariest part of my wedding day was having to carry the wedding cake from our kitchen across a gravel road to the reception area. i know, you can't really tell based on my excitement in those pictures, but visions of me tripping on a farm cat and watching our wedding cake go flying into a wheat field was what kept me up the night before. i made sure that everybody knew that carrying the cake was my job (if someone was going to drop it, it was going to be me), and i did not take any secret swigs until after the cake was safely in its spot. i might have also used the old marching band roll-the-feet technique when i crossed the road.
our wedding dessert table was my baby. leading up to the wedding, i dreamt about it regularly and made list after list of goodies i wanted to include. i wanted sweets that would represent new york, chicago, our new home, our friends, our family, and all of our favorite things. i wanted desserts for every dietary restriction and every flavor preference. with the exception of obligatory chocolate covered potato chips from the town chocolate shop, everything was homemade, with the help of my nearest and dearest.
and then i don't know whose idea this was, but at the very last second, it was decided that eggboy and i would be serving the desserts. it was *perfect* because we got a little more face time in with all of our guests before the conga line and the hora and late night shots of whatever completely took over. i miss it! i wish i could serve a massive selection of home baked goodies to my friends and family every day!
here was our menu!
the wedding cake // funfetti with buttercream and shredded halva, decorated by sister stoop and topped with wooden eggs.
marzipan moose mousse cake // because marzipan and chocolate and moose smooching! and it was filled with eggcousin's homemade jam!
vegan coconut cupcakes // these have long been some of my favorite cupcakes. they are so moist and tasty.
red velvet cake jars // they were meant to be mini bundt cakes, but then when my bundt skills failed me and they all fell apart, i crumbled up the cake and stuck it into jars. they were then magically topped with cream cheese frosting while i was at the salon getting my nails did. (thank you, mum/marshy/stoop/bridesmaids!!!)
crack pie bars // stoopie goes nuts for crack pie and i thought it would be a nice nod to new york. i made them in bar form because around these parts, you can't have a party without bars.
chocolate ganache pie // from ms. lyndsay coco cake land!! our guests gobbled it up before i could even sneak a bite (arghh), so i need to make it again stat.
(i'd also like it to be known that i bought raspberries to make this crostata but they disappeared into some mysterious bellies before i could roll out my pie crust. so i am saving it for our first anniversary because a crostata and leftover cake is better than just leftover cake.)
what is that you say? you're getting married soon and you want to make your own desserts too???? i say do it! here's how i did it and some tips that might help you:
first, i determined what my top priorities were and then chose some easier recipes that would help bulk up our dessert table, to ensure we had enough. the funfetti cake, moose mousse cake, and pies from my blogger friends were all priorities. i did a rough estimate for how many people those would serve (here's a good cake serving guide) and then filled in the rest with less involved items, like the cake jars and cupcakes.
the freezer was my best friend. (in fact, any time i make cakes, the freezer is my best friend.) i baked all of my cake--four funfetti layers, four chocolate layers, a batch of red velvet, and a few batches of coconut cupcakes--about a week in advance. once they cooled fully, i leveled the layers, wrapped them tightly in plastic wrap and stuck them in the freezer, making sure not to stack them until they were totally frozen. i know some people who bake their cakes even up to a month in advance. if you bake them more than a week in advance, i would recommend adding a layer of foil outside of the plastic wrap, to further help prevent freezer smells from getting into the cake. 99% of the time, i frost my cakes and cupcakes right out of the freezer because they're easier to work with, and then keep them out at room temperature for a few hours, until they're served.
i learned that cakes can be frosted in advance. i get nervous with this because i'm always afraid to mess up the frosting, but i did it with the moose mousse cake and since the wedding i've had more success in this department. here's the method i use for cakes frosted with buttercream, cream cheese frosting, or whipped ganache: once the cake is frosted, freeze it uncovered until the frosting firms up, but try your hardest not to leave it in there uncovered any longer than it needs to be. then, cover the cake with plastic wrap so that the plastic wrap touches the surface of the cake. make sure it is fully covered. if you want to be extra careful (like, if there are really intricate designs or doodads sticking out of it), you can then place it in a box before replacing it in the freezer. otherwise, you can just stick it back in the freezer. to defrost, transfer it to the fridge overnight with the plastic wrap still on. then, remove the plastic wrap and let it defrost for a few hours at room temperature before serving. this whole process is easiest if the cake is on a cardboard cake board, rather than a plate. for the moose mousse cake, which was frosted with whipped cream, i did not keep the plastic wrap on as it defrosted, since the whipped cream gets super soft super fast. i just unwrapped it straight from the freezer and defrosted it at room temp. i don't have a lot of experience with freezing cakes that are coated with powdered sugar glaze or a fondant/marzipan coating, but i'll update you once i do!
luckily, most of the desserts that we wanted also happened to freeze well. cakes, cheesecakes, cookies, brownies, macarons, biscotti... for the most part, these guys freeze pretty well and can be prepared in advance. things like custard pies and ganache pies do pretty well if you prepare them a few days in advance and keep them wrapped well in the fridge. i didn't have any fruit pies at my wedding, but here is a great tutorial on freezing fruit pies. doughnuts and other fried foods are things i've yet to be able to prepare well in advance. so i've got nothin for you there. i'm sorry :(
i had help! tons of it. i come from a family of bakers. and i picked my bridesmaids based on how good they were with frosting. (kidding, although they did whip out some mad skills.) just like i had priorities with what to make, i also had priorities with how to make them. decorating the wedding cake could only be trusted in the hands of stoop. mum was chief pie maker. and the rest of the tasks, like frosting cupcakes and setting out bars, were easier jobs that anyone with a free hand could pick up. ok, confession: my wedding was just a big excuse to have a weeklong baking party. in the event that i didn't have as much help as i did, i would have either focused on just a cake or two and had my caterer fill in with the rest, or i would have just done even more advance prep, and maybe swapped out a few of the cupcakes for desserts like brownies that don't need to be frosted.
here is a timeline that i recommend. prior to one week in advance: bake all of your cakes, cookies, brownies, biscotti, and cheesecakes, and freeze them (see note above about freezing cakes). prepare your fruit pies per this tutorial. do a mock up of your dessert table with all of your cake plates and other dishes. determine if you'll have enough space on the table for all of your desserts to be set out, or if you'll only be able to put out some of them and have to restock during the wedding. if this is the case decide who would be doing the restocking. if you're short on cake stands and serving plates, either have a cake stand-centric bridal shower registry (like i did :) or buy/borrow some. organize frosting recipes and purchase frosting ingredients. one week in advance: if you're going to be frosting cakes in advance and freezing them, i'd recommend doing that now. up to 5 days in advance: you can make buttercream frosting, cream cheese frosting, and/or ganache, and refrigerate them. 2-3 days in advance: make custard/ganache pies, refrigerate. 1-2 days in advance: soften frosting overnight at room temp and/or defrost any frosted cakes and prepared fruit pies in the fridge. day of or 1 day in advance: bake fruit pies. give any pre-made frosting an extra beating with an electric mixer to freshen it up and/or make any frosting that still needs to be made, frost cakes and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator until it's time to set them out. purchase any fresh berries or flowers, if you're using them. day of: add fresh berries and/or flowers. set the display table! unless you're having a super short ceremony and no dinner, there's really no need to factor in extra time to let your cakes and other desserts come to room temperature, since that can happen during the ceremony and dinner.
a word about transporting your desserts. for my wedding, i had a gravel road to cross, so we didn't have to worry about boxing up our desserts. but i have done my fair share of transporting desserts, and it is definitely something to plan for. for cakes, i buy cake boxes and cake boards of the same width/diameter. that way, the cake box holds the cake board in place. if i end up with a smaller cake board, i tape it down with a loop of masking tape. ideally, i keep the cake in the fridge (either in its box or not) until it's ready to be transported, so the frosting remains firm. for cupcakes, get some inserts for cake boxes like these guys. if you don't want to order online, i think michael's sells them, or your local bakery might be willing to spare some. i don't have a whole lot of experience with humongous tiered cakes, but i've heard of people transporting the tiers separately and then stacking them up onsite.
we served our own desserts! we had originally planned to have our helpers serve the desserts, but at the very last second, eggboy and i decided to serve our desserts and it was one of my favorite moments of the evening. we got to spend more time with each of our guests, i got to personally thank eggcousin for the jam that went into the moose mousse cake, and i loved seeing everyone's reactions to our desserts. our helpers cleared away empty plates and wrapped up our final piece of funfetti cake, and that was that.
did i miss something? do you have tips of your own? leave them in the comments!
all photos in this post are by chantell ziegler!