The Tale of the Flaming Sugar Roses
I made this cake for some very good friends a number of years ago. The wedding was to be held at a popular, classy, high-end venue with a large number of guests so there was absolutely no room for error with this particular project.
First off, with regard to the cake itself, it was a white velvet butter cake with smooth lemon butter icing filling between layers. The filling contained finely grated fresh lemon peel and the cake was covered with pure white lemon flavored fondant. The roses were all hand made from royal icing, and there were over 700 of them. The top 2 tiers were cake dummies (otherwise the bride and groom would have had enough leftover cake for 5 years!).
Unfortunately, as often seems to be the case, there was a bit of drama when I made this cake too.
I was preparing the roses for the cake well ahead of the wedding date, and actually had started making them about a week and a half before the wedding weekend. I knew I was going to need lots of time to make all the roses since I would need the rest of the week to bake the cakes, cover them, attach all the roses, and then pack the cakes for a long 250 mile trip from Michigan USA to Toronto, Canada.
The bachelor party was being held in our area and my husband’s friends, including the groom and best man, were coming to Michigan from Canada for it. By the time the bachelor party weekend arrived, I had already prepared about 500 of the icing roses. The guys were to meet at our place and I intended to keep working on the roses until just before their expected arrival time. But the doorbell rang early and here I was with icing roses set out all over my kitchen table. In a heartbeat, I placed some of the plastic trays full of roses I was working on into the oven to hide them, not a second too soon as the groom walked into the kitchen.
I told my husband what I had done and he nodded and seemingly took it all in.
Then on Sunday after the bachelor festivities were concluded, I was very tired so I sat down for a few minutes in my office upstairs after being busy all day working at the cake. I was on schedule and felt good about where I was with the cake. However after a few minutes, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Smoke started rising around my computer screen rapidly filling my office with very thick acrid smoke. I raced downstairs to find out where it was coming from, entered the kitchen below and found the kitchen black with smoke and the interior of the oven in full rolling flame.
Then it hit me. About 250 roses, a hand towel and large plastic trays had been in there and all of that was on fire. I just stood there paralyzed waiting for the smoke alarm to start wailing. My husband grabbed a fire extinguisher and had the flames down in seconds but we could hardly breathe as the burnt plastic odor was so strong. Everything in the oven had burnt down to a pile of red plastic and black goop which quickly hardened like cement.
Then I found out how the oven got turned on. Apparently, knowing that I was tired, my husband had sweetly decided to take it upon himself to make me dinner. He had forgotten about what I had told him earlier and simply turned on the oven.
Dogged tired, we had no choice for the next few hours but to clean, scrape and scour the oven to remove the globs of hardened plastic and burnt sugar. I was absolutely sickened by the fact that I now had only 5 days to make 450 roses, bake and decorate the cake.
Somehow I managed to pull it off but it didn’t end there. We drove through torrential rain for 250 miles during the night before the wedding to get to our hotel in Toronto. Once in Toronto we needed to move the cakes from the car and into the hotel room for the night so the roses didn’t fall off from the humidity.
However, in the end the cake looked wonderful, the wedding was beautiful, the location just stunning, the day gorgeous and my kitchen remained standing. Everyone was happy! But for all of you who have had wedding cake disasters and scares, rest assured I truly know exactly where you’re coming from!