Groom takes the cake

The rise and fall of baking your own wedding cake

Groom-to-be Grant Nejedlo attempts to make his own wedding cake.

Groom-to-be Grant Nejedlo attempts to make his own wedding cake.

Photo By Kat Kerlin

I’m to be married in Mississippi in April. As a testament to my genius, I’m going to bake my own wedding cake and hopefully save some money in the wedding budget.

I’m a successful cookie baker and assumed my white-chocolate-chip-macadamia-nut wisdom would translate into three-tier, perfectly manicured brilliance. After reading several library books on the subject, I gave a single-tier, 12-inch cake a shot. The two yellow levels, with Italian butter cream frosting and blackberry curd filling, came out looking like a gutted Ewok. Sunken in the middle and oozing curdled blackberry, the thing looked hideous. Worse yet, it tasted horrible —dense, fatty and emanating insubordination while petrifying on its shelf in the refrigerator. I studied the cake periodically in an attempt to discover what had gone so wrong, eventually throwing the entire thing out.

In search of answers, I looked to the internet and found Front and center on the opening page reads, “Once you buy mixing bowls, cake pans, spatulas, decorating bags, tips & couplers (not to mention ingredients) you’ve spent over $100. Since many beginners never really learn to decorate cakes properly, they do what they can, and simply hope for the best! Sometimes they get lucky … and sometimes their kids get cake scraps in their lunches. Not only is this embarrassing, it’s a huge waste of time and money!”

The webpage struck a chord. Believing that tools make the man and technique can be acquired, I’ve spent about $120 in utensils—with nothing to show for it.

The wedding reception’s focal point on the line, I made slight corrections and incorporated a baking core—a handy little device to keep cakes from collapsing—in my next attempt: a 12-inch yellow cake, with powdered sugar frosting and lemon curd filling. I constructed a perfectly baked bottom layer with a top layer equally as golden brown. I meticulously filled the two layers with lemon curd and, upon stacking the thing, watched the top layer slide right off its mate, forewarning doom.

I’m trying to construct a monster dessert capable of withstanding a Mississippi spring, and I can’t make it work in a Reno winter.

I spoke with my pastor, Jake, about my issues. Jake’s actually a blasphemer friend of mine and Kat’s [Kat Kerlin, RN&R special projects editor] from the Peace Corps who recently was ordained online and will be performing our wedding. His advice was to “try simpler cakes.” Carrot is his favorite. Eager to please, I heeded my officiant’s request and put together a 9-inch carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

While the cream cheese frosting came out a tad weak, the cake was strong. My previous weeks’ efforts to create a tasty and aesthetically pleasing cake reached fruition. I covered the cake with pecans and thought myself the craftiest artisan in Reno. I went so far as to commission my civil engineer brother, Eric, to construct a multi-level cake stand resembling a sugar pine.

Imagine Kat’s frustration. Ask me if I know anything about colors, hotel reservations or what I’m wearing April 12th, then ask me if I know what six flavors of cake I’m prepared to serve at my wedding.

I’m going to be baking cakes every weekend until April with a newly exaggerated sense of my own ability. The scary part is any sort of screw up, and I’m running to the Piggly Wiggly in my tuxedo to buy a case of Hostess cupcakes.

I can almost hear the Southern contingent now: “That Grant, bless his heart for thinking he could do such a thing.”

Wish me luck.