This weekend was frosting and filling weekend. The cakes hung out in the freezer all week, and I worried that I was not up to the task of actually putting them all together every time I got ice or frozen corn. But I persevered and on Saturday morning set out a dozen eggs and two (2!) pounds of butter to come to room temperature. By that evening, I was freshly napped and ready to tackle butter cream.
But before I could frost the cake, I needed to put the filling between the layers. This is where I encountered my first hiccup. The filling (which I made a few hours earlier), hadn't set up properly. The chocolate hadn't melted completely and was grainy. It sunk to the bottom, leaving me with a bowl of heavy cream with grainy, goopy chocolate. I was unhappy. Halfway into batch one of buttercream, I was unsure what to do.
Chocolate and heavy cream are too expensive to just toss away, so I put a metal bowl over a pot with about an inch of water in it to create a double boiler, put the filling mixture in it and whisked away. (This is where I begin my rant against microwaves. If you love your microwave, skip to the next paragraph.) My personal feeling about why the filling failed me the first time around was because the instructions tell you to melt the heavy cream and chocolate together in the microwave. My cream was at room temp, and I added my chocolate, then microwaved for the required 2-3 minutes. This did not work. I know that people are all for melting chocolate in the microwave because it's easier than doing it in a double boiler. But I think that microwaves ruin the texture of all foods, including chocolate, don't heat evenly, and I can't keep an eye on it in the way I want to while it's in the microwave. Plus, using a double boiler isn't that tough, and it makes me feel like a fancy cook. The filling, after being reconstituted in the method of my choosing, was much smoother, and looked much more even. However, I was now set back an extra day since it was 7 pm and the filling needs to chill for at least 4 hours.
With the filling back in the fridge, I turned out two batches of buttercream, put them in the fridge, and with an aching back, went to bed.
I woke up at 8 am on Sunday, fully intending to go to church, but unable to get the cake out of my mind. I wanted it finished. I wanted to check on my filling. I wanted to use my icing spatulas. I pulled out the filling and was thrilled to see that it set up properly! I whipped it up, pulled out my buttercream, warmed it, whipped it, and was ready to go. I had the cake assembled and frosted by 10 am. (I'm not a morning person--this in and of itself is a feat.) (Also, I did this without coffee.)
This is where I implore you to read and follow all directions. In my excitement to assemble the cake, I failed to follow directions properly. I put my bottom tier together, frosted it, and then rushed to put my second tier on top of it. As I did, I realized that I was supposed to frost all the tiers before assembling, and I was supposed to leave the cake tiers on their little cardboard cake rounds for structural purposes. (This is why we do a practice cake.) I still managed to get the middle tier frosted, though not as prettily as I would have liked. I followed directions with the top tier, and put the whole thing together. Then I, like a child on Christmas day playing with her toys, pulled out my brand-spanking-new pastry bag and started to pipe pearl borders. The result is what you see above.
I'm pretty damn proud of this cake. This is probably the biggest baking undertaking I've ever done in my life. (Aside from my intense Christmas cookie annual baking where I bake 3-4 types of cookies as gifts.) Greg has pronounced it incredibly good, with the filling being his favorite part. (Yay!) Now that I know how long all of this will take me, I feel pretty confident that I'll be able to do it come wedding week. Also, I'm really lucky that a huge number of people in my life are helping with the other wedding details so I can focus on the cake. (And getting married to an amazing guy.) Really, the timing is what is most important with this. I have a timeline written out so I can tackle this project and have an amazing wedding cake.
If all else fails, I'll buy a sheet cake at Giant.