evany's extended cake mix
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taking the cake
Tuesday, April 10, 2001 | link

When Megan got married, she asked us, her would-be bridesmaids, to bake her wedding cakes. We wouldn't have to pitchfork over the green for a dress and shoes we'd never wear again, and no marching down the aisle in that weird step, half-step, step, carrying a nosegay. Plus it was symbolic!

Liz and Erin were responsible for a croquembouche (a cream-puff tower with spun sugar webbing), the three-tiered yellow cake with toasted fresh coconut frosting was up to Matt's sister, Melissa (but she was training to be a baker, so that wasn't too, too crazy), and Katie and I were sicced on two heart-shaped chocolate ganaches.

The cake itself was pretty straightforward, just a single-layer deal (but smile-in-your-mouth tasty -- I ate the trial-run version for days and days ... moist, not too sweet, better and better with age, oh god). The ganache itself wasn't complicated either, but it was time-consuming. The block chocolate had to be whittled down to chips and boiled with cream, then divided into halves, one half whipped, fluffed, chilled, and spread on the cake, the other half dribbled over the top.

But of course the day of the wedding, everything went pear shaped. Katie had her Blake baby two weeks before and was understandably too tired and overwhelmed to bake -- just getting to the wedding was going to be a stretch -- so she handed off her gourmet chocolate and wished me luck. With solo-flight in mind, I woke up at six so I would have plenty of time to bake, get all frocked up, and drive to Marin. I only had one heart shaped pan, so I had to cook the first cake and wait for it to cool enough to springform out before I could bake the second one. By the time I turned out cake number two, it was past eight.

I chopped up the chocolate, melted it with cream, and put half of it in the refrigerator. Only no matter how long I chilled it, even in the freezer, it never thickened up. It was still insanely tasty -- I know because I finger-dipped enough of it to break out into a chocolate sweat -- but it just never got beyond the consistency of syrup. The problem, I realized, was that when I doubled the recipe, I funked up the fairy cake alchemy. It was still early, so I ran out and bought two more pints of heavy cream and started over. I chopped up my reserve chocolate (not as fancy as the first batch, which at that point was just a rumble down under, but whatever), poured in half the cream, and melted it to a boil. Then I halved it, chilled it, whipped it, and it firmed up nicely. I spread it over the first cake, dribbled the darker, un-fluffed half of the frosting on top, and it was done. But by then it was 12:30, and I was supposed to be at the church at two.

Jill called to see how it was going, and I just squeaked at her in panic. She came right over because she is a cake angel and whipped the rest of the cream (we just gave up on making the rest of the frosting at that point) and spread it on with expert swirls while I threw on dress, wedding G-string, slides, mascara, lipstick, hair stuff; prepped my purse; and screamed "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!"

At three o-clock she ran to get her car. (The headlights had stopped working on my Cortina after the previous night's rehearsal dinner, and barreling home across the Golden Gate Bridge illuminated by nothing but hazzards was something I didn't really want to repeat, even if it did feel like the perfect metaphor for how things were going with Project Evany just then.) I made a tight-dress, knees-closed run out to car and Jill hopped out to help me arrange the two cakes, one on a platter, the other balanced on a pedestal, in the back seat in a huge pink bakery box I'd paid two bucks for at Lady Baltimore. I peeled out, drove through the city, across the bridge, and down into the Sausalito hills, the whole way watching the box in the rear-view like it was my baby.

As I approached the church, relieved with a full fifteen minutes to spare, I could see the puffy meringue of a wedding dress blowing out front. "Ahhhh! She's making her final approach!" But when I pulled up behind her, I realized it wasn't Megan at all, just some anonymous bride trying to keep her heels off her skirt and her veil off her lipstick. I rolled down my passenger-side window and yelled, "Is there some other church around here? Have other people come looking for a different wedding? Matt and Megan?" And she just nodded no and gave me a "Hello? Crazy lady? This is my very special wedding day!" look.

By then I was pretty much crying. I dug out the invitation, but all it said under the name of the church was, "See our website for directions!" I fired up my cellphone, but because I was in the middle of a valley and was surrounded by trees it wouldn't make a connection. So I tore back up the curvy, curvy road and tried the phone again from the tippy top of the hill. I got through, called information, asked for the number of the church, was connected automatically, got the voicemail, listened through all the information about upcoming services, god, blablabla, then heard, "Press Star for directions." I pressed Star and a woman picked up and said, "Sprint PCS! Name and city?" "I was in middle of voicemail, who are you? Why are you?" "Uh oh! Did you press Star?" Apparently Sprint designates the Star button as a shortcut to their operators, a function you have to specially disable if you want to use Star for other purposes. "YES! DISABLE! DISABLE!"

The directions were from the freeway, so I had to backtrack to the exit and drive from there. I found the church right away, parked the car, pulled off the lid of the cake box, and found the cakes. After all that driving around the curves, they were utterly mushed together, like suicide pact roadkill.

Sweating and streaming tears, I carried their poor, broken bodies into the reception hall and handed them to the caterers. ("Here!") They quickly covered the elephant-mannish shapes with some funky raspberries then hid them behind the beautiful coconut fortress, where they went virtually unnoticed until they were briskly cut up at cake time and distributed before anyone got a good look at them. They tasted fine (the combo of lots of chocolate and heavy cream tends to do that). And the wedding was such a tear-jerker (Homemade vows! A hand-embroidered gown! Drummers/dragon dancers/fireworks!) that my red, bulging eyes, blotched face, and uncontrollable shaking blended right in with the rest of the blubbering crowd. Then we all guzzled champagne, breakdanced, and lived happily ever after.

(PS: My diary has officially moved over to my official evany.com website. Let's meet up over there!)

(PS: My diary has officially moved over to my official evany.com website. Let's meet up over there!)

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