AI'm making the cake for my cousin's wedding on November 2nd. It's in Phoenix, and I'm in Kansas. I've spent a lot of time working on the plan for this, and I'd love opinions from more experienced cake decorators. Have I missed anything? Is there anything I haven't considered? Do you have any advice?
The bride chose a simple 3-tier fondant cake, with additional kitchen sheet cakes to feed 200 (total). My mother and I will be driving out there, so my plan is to bring the frozen cakes, undecorated and thoroughly wrapped in plastic and in sturdy boxes. Because we’re driving for 2 days, I don’t want to risk the fondant sliding off or the cake settling from all the vibration. Baking the cakes in advance will save me a ton of time. I also have an extensive list of exactly what supplies I need to bring, and worst case there is a very good cake store in the area where I can pick up materials.
I have a dedicated work space with a sturdy table and full kitchen at a relative’s house that will not have wedding traffic and craziness. I’ll stack and decorate the cakes there. Since it’s Phoenix, I’m not worried about extra humidity making the fondant difficult (if anything it will be drier). The gumpaste flowers I’ll make before I leave home and pack very very carefully.
The wedding is Saturday afternoon. I’m also a bridesmaid, so there’s the rehearsal dinner and everything to attend as well, and the bride wants to have a slumber party Friday night that I would really love to attend (since I’ve missed the bachelorette and shower). Is Thursday night too early to finish the cake? The fondant will keep it from drying out, right? And the sheet cakes will be just buttercream in the fridge. Once the cake is done, I can lock it in its own room where it won’t be disturbed by traffic or be in any danger.
What do you think? Have I missed anything? Thanks for your opinions!
i think that sounds pretty good--since it's november and it's typically cooler then that should be fine-- you are taking them buttercream iced and frozen? or just plain un-iced cake? if you frost the cakes a bit they will retain their moisture that little bit more--you can add more when you arrive.
i like that you have a dedicated place for decorating and storage--good planning--
i'd suggest testing your plan--on a much smaller scale--do everything as you stated and taste and see how you like the results--not that you will travel for two days but drive around with it somewhere to work or whatever--leave the test cake in the car for the allotted time--trot it in & out--
you didn't say if you would wrap & pack the cakes to stay frozen during the trip and unless wrapped especially to that end the cakes will thaw well before the first sundown so you'll be rattling them around for hours on the road--some recipes freeze & thaw well so testing this in advance might reveal some successes and/or chinks in the armor--
just some thoughts for you--
(i always check the online farmer's almanac for weather in advance--it's fairly accurate)
AI was just going to do uniced cake but you have a good point about retaining the moisture with a little buttercream. Technically it's 3 days of travel - Wichita to Dallas, Dallas to Albuquerque, then Albuquerque to Phoenix. They will certainly be thawed by the time I get there! I don't really have any way to keep 11 individual cakes frozen in the car for 3 days (three 1/4 sheets, four 6" rounds, two 8" rounds, two 10" rounds). I can re-freeze overnight in Dallas, but not at a hotel, and I'm concerned that repeatedly freezing and thawing would be worse than leaving them thawed.
An old-school cake decorator I know once taught me how to "seal" cakes using a thick paste of powdered sugar and water. After they were cooled, she mixed up this paste and spread it very thinly over every inch of the cake. This provided a crumb coat, filled in all the little holes, and she said it kept in moisture. I did the technique once and it was pretty neat. I wonder if that would be helpful here?
Good idea on the testing! I will be using 3 recipes so that's a smart idea.
Maybe I can use a styrofoam cooler and rig up some kind of freezing system using gel packs. Or dry ice? I've never dealt with dry ice before, maybe I'll look into that. Thanks!
Why are you going through Dallas?? Take Hwy 54 out of Wichita-through Dalhart TX, on to
Albuquerque, to Holbrook AZ. then catch 77 to 377 through Payson, and into Phoenix. These are all great roads--you should be able to do this in 2 days (one night out). We usually go from Liberal KS to Phoenix in one day.
Your cakes will NOT stay frozen--it's still quite warm the first part of November. Not sure how big your vehicle is, so don't know how you're going to stack all these cakes, but I would try to crumb coat whatever I could.
Unfortunately I have to pick up my mother in Dallas, so it's not really a choice. Her health is poor and driving it straight through isn't really feasible for her. So I'm stuck. :(
I have an SUV and one of the wedding gifts is my grandmother's hope chest, so I planned to put the cake boxes inside the hope chest, so nothing can fall on the boxes.
Since there isn't any realistic way to keep the cakes frozen, is it a problem if they just stay at room temperature? Assuming they're wrapped in lots and lots of plastic wrap, crumb coated, and boxed for protection, is that a problem?
AI've traveled a few times with un-iced wedding cakes and have a few suggestions. 1) stack the cakes with supports between each layer so there isn't any weight on them compressing them during the trip. 2) since you're driving, freeze the cake and then pack with dry ice. Plan stops along the way to replenish the ice. 3) detailed lists are critical to ensure you have all the tools.
My trips have always been on planes and that is a whole different problem. With precise planning, you'll do great. I live in Scottsdle so if you forgot anything, I recommend Cake Arts to get specialized items. They are located on Indian School road in Phoenix near 24 th Street. I'd also be open to helping out in an emergency. Best of luck and have fun. My last wedding was set up in a kitchen overlooking the Monteray Bay..totally and completely awesome.
i think you might want to reconsider the hope chest and cake box thing--think of any random cake traveling for three days--being held for a few more and being served--mmm no thanks i'll have the pie ;) --
here are some ideas for packaging to add to cookiejar's and jeannem's great ideas--
i purchased containers like these--
then i got moving boxes to slide them into and tape them in--
my plan was to use them for the cakes of course and one for freezer packs or ice per each moving box--taking care to not let condensation ruin anything--
but we were traveling <2000 miles so after all that i decided to bake on site--
i still used that plan for delivery because it was a couple hours away from my bake site--
it took some math & back & forth to a couple stores to get the right fit for everything--that the plastic boxes didn't have little extra bits in the inside of the lid that would poke the cake--that they were deep enough for the decorated cake --that they slid into the right size moving box but did not slide around once inside--that i could fit enough plastic cake boxes and the plastic box containing the ice--that i could get the ice container in & out to refresh it (original plan)--
it really worked out great because after i arrived at the venue i learned that it was an outdoor reception and i was able to keep it perfectly chilled until the last minute--southern california in june--anyhow--
it took no small amount of planning--
also some of the plastic boxes have recessed bottoms so i suggest getting the dimensions of the moving boxes so you can measure the plastic boxes taking dummies to walmart or wherever to be sure things will fit as planned if you go this route which you might use another plan of some kind but cake boxes in a hope chest is not feasible for this to be successful imo
could you bake on site?
AI would not pack the cakes in the hope chest. They will pick up the smell of the wood and taste awful. Everything I put in my hope chest comes out smelling of cedar. I would freeze the cakes, uniced, then stack them in a cooler with ice packs. I think there are some kind of ice packs you can get that don't get condensation on the outside of them. They are silver. I got one once in a package of chocolate I ordered. Dry ice would be great if you want to keep them completely frozen, but I think you might have to vent the ice chest to let the gasses out. You would have to ask the dry ice distributor though. When I have received Omaha steaks, the box is sealed up.
I traveled with 7 iced & frozen, individually boxed cakes (for son's wedding) for a 6 hour trip. I highly recommend icing....freezing..boxing, wrapping in plastic then putting in coolers. We have the gigantic coolers so I could fit 5 of the boxes in one cooler...then had 2 other coolers for the other 2 boxes. I bought tons of dry ice...not knowing how much to buy.
We left at 3pm and got to the hotel at 9pm..I put the cakes in the hotel kitchen frig (still in boxes) and the next morning the large layers were still frozen. So I got them out and left them sit out all day. Dry Ice is the bomb! I kept it in it's original packaging so I didn't have to touch it. It is expensive ...but well worth it.
The next time I travel for that amount of distance, I won't even buy dry ice, but just put frozen cakes in coolers.
2 lemon curd filled cakes, crumb coat and fondant...
traveling 8 hours....
how to pack them, keep them from condensation and
not be soggy when thawed ??????
what is it i have to do?????
I would fill/ice/freeze.....fondant on site.. That may not be possible, but I do not have experience in traveling with frozen fondant cakes.
I do not have the option... I will be in a hotel...
I was also in a hotel...but they let me use their refrigerator to store the cake in over night. Have you asked them if you could use theirs?
Thank you everyone! I'm rethinking now how to keep them frozen - maybe large coolers with dry ice, vent it at every gas stop, and refresh the dry ice in Albuquerque. It seems like baking on-site would be easier, but my aunt's oven is poor and I don't trust it, not to mention how much time that would take. And I only have so many cake pans!
Another question as I seem to get differing answers - are sheet cakes (kitchen cakes) usually 1 or 2 layers? I had planned to do 1 but my friend suggested 2. If I do 2 layers, that is 14 individual layers instead of the 11 I'm already planning on, and it compounds the transportation problem.
Thank you everyone for your helpful thoughts!
AKitchen cakes are supposed to look like the main wedding cake.
I did this for my best friend's wedding many years ago. I was living in Oklahoma at the time and she lived in Phoenix (coincidence!) I had two very small children at the time and could only be away from home for a couple of days. I flew out on Friday, wedding was on Saturday in the early afternoon, and I flew home the same evening. Here's how I did it;
1. Pre-made icing flowers out of royal icing and packed them, nestled in cotton, in plastic containers. Made lots of extra in case of breakage.
2. Pre-made buttercream and packed it in a couple of large plastic containers. Also packed all of the supplies I could think that I might need from start to finish, even my baking pans. The only other thing besides supplies that I had in my ginormous suitcase was my dress for the wedding..lol!
3. Arrived early on Friday morning, went straight to the bride's mother's home, and started baking. I had given her a list of ingredients to have on hand for me, so I didn't need to shop on the way. Cakes were baked and iced by dinnertime. Took a break for dinner and then decorated that night.
4. Transported cake to venue and set it up on Saturday morning. Had nice wedding, ate cake, rushed to the airport.
5. Flew home and collapsed from exhaustion. :) But the cake looked great!
Good luck to you and I hope it all turns out okay!
i think you have a good variety of suggestions, but i have to add that Phoenix at the beginning of November will not be cool, usually mid 80's and because most Phoenicians are used to hot weather, houses are usually air conditioned to 80-82 degrees. Room temp here is full-on summer for a lot of places. I really don't know any arizona desert bakers who would leave a fondant cake out of the refrigerator for anything other than transportation--i know i wouldn't. But the good thing is that with the dry climate, there really isn't much problem with a little condensation on the cake when coming out of the fridge.
Do you have a dedicated fridge for the cakes? Unless the cost or sentimentality is too much of an issue, I would suggest purchasing kitchen cakes from a local bakery and then putting your efforts into the main tiered cake. I'm sure there are 'cash and carry' bakeries that can provide two-layer half-sheet cakes that can be picked up and taken by family to the venue.
about the freshness of the cake being out that long, are you scratch baking or using a doctored mix? Your doctored mixes are going to hold up to the point of 'i wouldn't worry about it' because they are supplemented with preservatives that will keep it tasting like the day it was baked. A scratch cake is going to be a bit more delicate with shelf life because of the natural ingredients.
AMaybe you can make the display cake a dummy cake. Decorate it all at home. Then bake and ice the kitchen cakes when you get there. (bring your premade icing, measure all the dry cake ingredients and put in zip bags before leaving home.)
Thank you everyone! It had never occurred to me to refrigerate the fondant once it's on the cake, that's like the kiss of death here! It is warmer at my aunt's house than I keep my own home, but I think it's more like 78.
I gave up on the frozen cake idea and have arranged to use multiple ovens at neighboring homes to get everything baked quickly as soon as I arrive. It's stressful for me and I probably won't get much sleep, but it seems to be the best thing to do. It's also "my" cake and not a bakery's cake that they could have ordered on their own (maybe I'm being too sentimental but this wedding is a HUGE deal in my family, we've had a lot of deaths in the last 4 years and this is the first wedding in 30 years). And I do use doctored mixes so they should be stable.