We’re reaching back into the archives for this one y’all! Way back in the summer of 2006, my brother Joel and sister-in-law-to-be Tara asked me to make their wedding cake for their upcoming wedding that October. I was very flattered, but kind of scared, and agreed with a few conditions: no tiers, no fondant, nothing crazy. Joel & Tara are pretty laid back, and there was no pressure to do anything over-the-top. They basically just wanted a delicious cake that people would actually eat, and left everything else up to me. Although they already had decided on the most important thing – they wanted carrot cake with cream cheese icing. But I still had so many questions!
Now this was back in the days before my baking blog fixation, so I turned to my trusted source: Anna Olson. I had made her Pineapple Carrot Cake before, I think for a Father’s Day party, and Joel & Tara loved it. (Recipe at the end of the post).
How much cake do we need?
Once I started to strategize, I talked it over with Joel and we decided on three separate cakes, a small, medium and large. I contemplated buying large cake pans, but quickly nixed that idea, once I realized that you start having to deal with little devices to put in the middle to make sure the cake cooks from the inside out, not to mention that the largest pan wouldn’t fit in my oven.
So my strategy was to make 12 separate 9×9 cakes, putting 4 cakes together for the large, another 4 together (with some trimming) for the medium, and 1 cake for the small. The remaining 3 cakes were extras to make sure there was enough cake for everyone . Joel did some math here, adding up the number of guests, plus the approximate size of cake pieces, to determine how much cake we would need. I don’t remember the details, but this must have been how we decided on the 3 extra cakes.
How far in advance can I make the cakes?
I knew that making 12 cakes the day before the wedding was not going to be a possibility, so my plan was to make them all in advance and freeze them. But I wondered if they would still taste good after being in the freezer for a month or so. I solved this problem by making a test cake in the summer, I think in July, and pulling it out a month later to see if it was still fresh and delicious. Success! It was. So starting in September, I think I made a couple cakes each weekend leading up to the wedding, wrapped them in plastic wrap and tin foil, and stuck them in the freezer. You can see them all here as they defrost two nights before the wedding.
But what about the icing?
Unfortunately, icing can’t really be made in advance or frozen. I have subsequently frozen leftover icing, with no ill effects, but wasn’t willing to take any chances back then. So I knew I would be up to my elbows in cream cheese icing the day before/morning of the wedding, and to make my life easier, I borrowed Lydia’s KitchenAid mixer.
So how will this all go down? And how will I get the cakes to the venue?
My plan was to ice the 4 little cakes the night before the wedding, as they could fit in the fridge and stay there overnight.
The medium and large cakes I fit together the morning of the wedding, iced, and then we made two trips to the venue with my aunts and I each holding a cake, and my mom driving very, very carefully! Note that I had been to the venue in advance with my cake boards to make sure they would fit in the fridge on-site.
In the end, everything turned out really well, even when I overheard someone say “This cake is disgusting“, but it just turned out to be one of my brother’s friends trying to be funny. In fact, the only problem was that there was so much cake left over! I think they only sliced and served part of the big cake, and we ended up taking a couple of the little ones home, and the medium one went with one of the Best Men to the afterparty. Overall a success! Although strangely I don’t think I have baked or eaten carrot cake since!
Pineapple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
Source: Sugar by Anna Olson
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 2/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup diced or crushed pineapple, fresh or tinned (drained)
1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, eggs and maple syrup.
- In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, and stir into wet mixture to blend.
- Stir in carrots and pineapple, and pour batter into an 8″ square pan, that has been sprayed with non-stick spray, or greased with butter.
- Bake at 325 for 1 hour and 15 – 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before icing.
- For icing, beat cream cheese and butter together. Beat in icing sugar until smooth, and stir in vanilla. Spread over cooled cake and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Multiply everything by 12 if you’re trying to make a wedding cake