Monday, March 22, 2010

Brannon & Niusha's Red Velvet Wedding Cake, Part 1

Persians really know how to party - let me tell you!

This wedding was so much fun to attend.  First, it was nice to have the wedding cake done!  Second, the wedding and reception were at the same venue where my husband and I had our reception more than eight years ago - it was great to go back as guests, when we could focus on the space and the food and really enjoy both!  Third, when Persians celebrate, especially something as joyous as a wedding, they really go all out.  There was lots of dancing, a ton of food, and all sorts of traditions that were new to me.  It was a neat entree into a culture that is not my own.

What you see in the background of the above picture is the sofreh aghd, the traditional ceremonial Persian wedding feast.  It's a central element in the Persian wedding service.  From the wedding program:

Its various items symbolize what the couple will share in their new life. A few of the significant elements of the sofreh aghd:

Bread and money signify prosperity and wealth.
Flowers express the wish for beauty in the couple’s life.
Sweetness in life, meaning happiness, is represented by honey and pastries, and by the cones of crystallized sugar.
The nuts and eggs represent fertility.
Evil spirits, and the evil eye generally, are warded off by the spice tray.
Rose water brings purity with its perfume.
And the mirror symbolizes light and clarity, specifically the bright future ahead.

This wedding ceremony was a mix of Christian and Persian elements - there were two officiants - as the bride is Persian and Episcopalian (the groom is non-Persian and non-religious).

As for the cake - it was a production!  It was red velvet cake with two types of filling: one regular cream cheese frosting and one caramel-cream cheese frosting.  Each tier had three layers of cake, and the whole thing was covered in dark chocolate frosting.  I think the word we're looking for here is "decadent."

Now, I'm not really a big fan of red velvet cake.  Sure, it's tender, but it's usually a neither-here-nor-there cake in terms of chocolate.  The groom and I settled on this recipe, though, and thought it looked pretty good (and I was heartened to see that Deb feels the same way about red velvet cake - and liked this recipe anyway!).  I made a sample cake to try everything out, and it's a really good red velvet cake!  You can actually taste the chocolate, which was refreshing.

The wedding colors were deep red, gold, and brown, so they didn't want it frosted in the white cream cheese frosting that usually adorns red velvet cake.  So I suggested we use the cream cheese frosting as filling between the layers.  In a previous iteration of this wedding cake (with a different cake flavor), the plan had been to use a salted caramel filling, but that would not have played well with the red velvet.  The color of the caramel was appealing, though, so I made my caramel-cream cheese frosting for the couple's sample cake - it was a hit!  The caramel brought out the tang of the cream cheese, and it added just a little more decadence to the cake.

The frosting is my new favorite chocolate frosting.  It is SO GOOD.  It has obscene amounts of chocolate and butter in it, but it spreads so beautifully and is so richly chocolate that it is worth it.

The decorations caused me some problems - I love the way they looked, but they took more time to apply than they should have.  Part of the problem is that I didn't discover that I could buy the big gold pearls (instead of trying to make my own similar decoration) until after I'd made the sample cake, so I hadn't actually worked with them before.  A lot of them did not want to stick on the cake.  I know exactly what to do to remedy this problem next time (put the chocolate frosting on thicker, so the pearls can sink in more), but it made for a frustrating day!  And - this really bummed me out - I missed the ceremony because re-applying so many pearls took so long.  But I got the cake there on time, which was the important thing!

It all worked out in the end, and everyone loved it!  I got lots of compliments on the cake - both its appearance and flavor - and people seemed to like that it was covered in chocolate instead of the usual white buttercream.

I have to say, after this wedding I'm tempted to only do wedding cakes for Sunday-evening weddings!  It was nice to not have to take time off work to make the cake.  Also, I'm going to call the chef of the Lake Union Cafe (where the wedding was held) the next time I make a wedding cake - he got so many more servings out of this cake than I had planned! 

Recipes, supplies, etc. to come shortly in a second post.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sneak Preview...

This is the cake for my friends' wedding, which was last night. More to come, once my kitchen is less disastrous!

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