FALL MARZIPAN LEAVES
This is the wedding cake I did for my cousin, Omar, and his wife, Lela, on October 13th, 2002. Their wedding took place in a rustic hunting lodge in San Pablo, CA. The wedding theme was all about 'Fall.' So, I used the Fall theme and integrated a 'rustic' feel into the cake design as much as possible.
To begin with, I made a pumpkin spice cake (with and without walnuts) with a light cream cheese frosting/filling. Pumpkin is all anyone thinks about in October anyways, so I thought that it was a fitting flavor for a Fall October wedding. The cream cheese frosting is nice and light, not too sweet, and compliments the pumpkin flavor perfectly.
I took the fall theme into account with the fall colored marzipan leaves that are dusted in gold. I didn't have much experience with marzipan, so the first thing I did was go to a bunch of local stores and buy different kinds of marzipan. Then I brought them home and did a taste test and created some sample leaves in both gum paste and marzipan. Since the marzipan tasted much better and worked better with the fall theme, I finally settled on a marzipan that not only tasted great, but also was easy to work with. Though the leaves took forever to make, they were delicious and beautiful and helped to bring a lot of fall color to the design as well as to tie into the rest of the wedding decorations.
I took the rustic aspect into account with the solid oak bases that I cut from an oak tree that Blake's parents had recently cut down in their yard. I had the wood base idea but had a difficult time locating log rounds in different sizes. I visited all the local craft stores and spent many nights scouring web sites realizing that I should have gotten these rounds while I was up in Oregon log country on our vacation just a week before. But I finally found some on a taxidermy website and since they were on clearance anyways, I ordered them. However, when they arrived, they turned out not to be what I had in mind at all. I was really bummed and not sure what to do at that point with the wedding was only 2 weeks away when I overheard a phone conversation between Blake and his folks about how they had just chopped down a huge oak tree that was threatening their roof. I begged them not to cut up the logs too much so that I could pick the various diameters I would need (six bases from about 6"-18). The very next weekend we headed on over to Modesto to visit his family and pick up the wood. The wood logs were just what I had in mind and there were plenty for me to choose from so I could get the exact sizes I would need. I was ecstatic!
After locating the oak logs the week before and counting on them to work out, I set about trying to find someone who would have the means to cut them. I made a dozen calls to all the local mills within a 50 mile radius for which they either didn't have a tool that could cut up to 20" deep or they would only cut their own wood. I finally remembered Bart at the CalPoly Support Shop who had helped us out so much on our senior project and knew that they might have the tools even though I was no longer a student there. Bart was a life saver! Although he didn't have a tool big enough, he had a friend in SLO who made rustic log furniture and might just have the tool I needed and he did! Score! So I made arrangements with this log wood furniture maker to cut the logs into 3/4" thick slices. Then I made additional arrangements with Bart to use his facilities to sand the pieces smooth and remove all excess bark. I used mineral oil for stain. The bases came out great after much negotiation and effort with several parties and some good ol' fashioned elbow grease.
Finally, I had to figure out how to decorate the bases. Lela had very early on requested cakes on separate stands. So, after throwing out several ideas on making my own rustic ones and then much web surfing to find some reasonably prices ones, I found some that were not too expensive and would suit my purpose. I settled on clear acrylic stands that came in the perfect height increments that I needed! At least something worked out for once on the first try! Although I didn't have time to create a template, I pretty much knew what I wanted it to look like. For one thing I didn't want to see the acrylic at all. I also wanted the bases to look rustic and bushy and blend into the background so that the cakes would stand out. So I bought dried grape vine wreaths in various sizes, Spanish moss, preserved leaf branches in red and gold and silk fall leaves to fill in the gaps and to help tie the cake to the rest of the wedding. I set my sister to actually making the bases and they turned out beautifully.
Compared to my other cakes, I had so much time to think about the cake design that it evolved several times over the course of several months. I tried several things that didn't end up working. The overall design is mine, but I have to give credit to my Uncle for suggesting the Spanish moss and my Mom for suggesting using marzipan instead of gum paste for the leaves. This cake took the collaboration and assistance of many to make it happen. I thank them all profusely including my mother (Carole), my sister (Denise) and my cousin (Audre) for helping with the marzipan leaves, my sister (Denise) again for making the stands, my Aunt Valinda for buying most of the groceries, my boyfriend (Blake) for general help going to the grocery store, staying up late with me, helping me to solve last minute problems and moral support, my aunt and uncle (Edith and Dale) for allowing the complete takeover of their kitchen for two solid days, Bart for hooking me up with wood working tools and facilities, our family friend (Sue) for loaning her refrigerator, my sister (Gail) and my niece (Ashley) for doing miscillaneous tasks, and to my Dad (Larry) for helping me finance it all. THANK YOU all so much! It really ended up being a family event.
The cake was delicious and I received a bunch of compliments on it, even from the knowledgeable lodge staff who were not only impressed with the design, but also with the taste. So THANK YOU to all for your help and assistance. If I ever open my own bakery, I'll know who to hire ;-)