I stood there motionless, sticky fondant and faulty frosting oozing through my fists, as the soggy cake smiled at me from its crooked split down the middle. As I reached to hurl its crumbling skeleton to the floor, this pesky voice of reason, in the form of my husband, intervened.
“Cass…let’s work the problem. We can’t fix anything when you’re like this, so what are our options?”
“Our OPTIONS?! To quit! I cannot do this!”
“Well, that’s not an option. You committed; the wedding’s in three weeks. Try and figure out what went wrong so we can change it.”
“I’m a complete moron, that’s what went wrong. The cakes are too soft, the ganache didn’t set, the support dowels slipped, and the whole thing freaking imploded on itself!”
Trying not to hyperventilate, the anger quickly turned to panic.
I was doomed.
Pause and rewind a few months as I’m debating with Steve if I should take the job.
“You’ve done lots of cakes, but this is a big commitment.
“But, it would be a really great challenge…one I would never have taken a year ago…maybe it will help me get further past fearing failure.”
Shoulder shrug. Cake accepted. Failure looming.
I figured I had two birthdays and a baby shower to practice on before the wedding so I would be fine.
I was an idiot..
#1) Pirate cake: layers too soft, fondant too brittle, @#$&*@$%.
Texted Steve I was going to back out. It wasn’t too late, she would have time to find someone who didn’t swear at frosting.
But I still had to finish that birthday cake. So I emailed a baker friend for suggestions, tried to fix what I could, and disguised the rest.
Buoyed by the recovery mission, I decided to push on a little further.
#2) Baby shower cake. First attempt: Bottom layer collapsed. Went blood shot on YouTube tutorials. Changed some recipes and it stood.
#3), Monster cake.. Mock-up of the wedding cake. Middle layer toppled. I cried. Rebaked. Decorated. Collapsed in bed.
A few hours later, Steve woke me like a man poking a stick at a grizzly, and whispered, “Hey…there’s a problem.” Which brings us up to speed in the story.
Sure enough…I saw a pot-bellied monster cake slowly sinking into itself.
Tears. Hot, angry tears.
“Well, I can’t start over, I don’t have the supplies!”
“And…it’s nearly midnight with the party in the morning,” he said calmly.
That’s when I yanked off all the fondant to see what could be done, ready to toss it…literally…when Steve had an idea.
He grabbed some thick ribbon and tied it around the crumbling layer, holding it together. We made a batch of buttercream and I frosted it as best I could, then he froze it. The next morning I smoothed and decorated it and altered the design
And one monster became two.
It worked fine for a baby’s birthday, but no bride would be down with that design alteration.
So for the next three weeks, I fought through my failure fear as Steve trouble shot the problems with me and we figured out as best we could how to fix them.
When the big weekend finally arrived, he took the boys while I shellacked our house in powdered sugar and anxiety. The tiers frosted great.
I got to paint a cake for the first time.
And all the fondant draped well…too well, it felt.
That night, Steve pulled out his power tools and helped me pound, spike, and shimmy dowels into the cake then stack and center it all.
He carried it out to the car the next day like someone handling dynamite. He did a victory dance with me as we watched it drive away. He prayed with me that it would remain upright and intact until the wedding that evening.
It would have been so much easier for him had he just said, “Whatever you think, honey…” and let me go where the old current always took me. His life would have been better. But he knew mine wouldn’t. So, he entered my world and helped me wade through not just a current problem, but a life long heart issue.
And in the end, a big blow was dealt to Failure as I pushed through the discomfort and anxiety with the help of my man.
And the cake stood tall, and proud.
**Ode to the Cake I wrote on wedding day:
You and your 30 lbs of girth got transported out of my life today. How many late nights did we spend together as I celebrated the perfect frosting edge only to curse your very existence when you imploded on yourself by morning? How many of my friends and family would rather have buttercream piped in their ears than hear about you one. more. time? How many times did I mess up, weep, research, and start over?
But like that smelly cousin with all the great stories, I’m glad you’re gone but sad to see you go. All I ask is that you stay upright, no screwing around today. Don’t get insecure about that thumb print in your second tier, it makes you who you are (and will be covered by flowers). And though your end game will be digestion in a few hours, stand tall and know your staggering amounts of sugar may cause a few diabetic episodes before you’re *through.*
You drew profanity and triumph from me like no thing ever before as this quitter-by-nature learned from a truckload of failure.
Thanks Cake. You’ve taught me a lot.