Years ago, I dreamt of baking my own wedding cake. Maybe it was all those years of working at Martha Stewart surrounded by all of those wedding cakes (and bouquets, and favors, and centerpieces, and dresses — and dresses and dresses and dresses). Or perhaps it was more the picture-perfect wedding I was dreaming about. Now I realize that’s just flat out crazy.
But when your really dear friends, two of your favorite guys on the planet, ask you to bake their wedding cake, that’s just flat out awesome.
When I moved to San Francisco four years ago, I had two friends. Two. Brian and Collin. And technically it was more like one and a half, since I had met Collin all of once before I moved but he came along with the package since he was Brian’s boyfriend. And if I’m honest, I hardly knew Brian. We spent a week together in the south of France during the summer of 1998, with a handful of misfit travelers from all over the world (quite literally), who ended up at our friend’s uncle’s condo on Bastille Day. It was one of the best weeks of my life, hands down, but then I didn’t see Brian again for years. Fast forward to the summer of 2012 when I’m fresh off the boat from New York, working in a basement of a start-up factory (that we affectionately called The Dungeon) with a group of all-male engineers who won’t talk to me (except for one, who is now a dear friend), and Brian and Collin adopt me with open arms. Thank God for them.
It is Bastille Day once again and Brian wants to recreate our fabulous night from 14 years prior, in San Francisco. “A, honey, let’s do this.” Yes. Let’s. And so we did. A lot. For the next four years.
There really are no words for that kind of unconditional love in a friendship that just happens. From driving tours of the city (Collin is the best tour guide San Francisco has ever seen) to ever-present cocktails to shenanigans at the Bay to Breakers parade every May, their arms were wide open and filled with love, light, joy, and encouragement. I’m not sure I would have made it here without them. And their awesome friends. And while their friends’ circle didn’t exactly help my dating life, it also welcomed me with open arms.
Fast forward to this weekend, when Collin and Brian got married. So many laughs (along with a few tears), and so much joy for the fact that they can get married now, and celebrate their love with all of those who love them. I was honored when they asked me to bake their wedding cake. In the sea of chaos that is my life these days, it was the calm in the middle of the storm. My mom and I talked endlessly about every detail (she is my cake mentor, after all), and after a few group texts with the grooms, it was all settled. I would bake a 4-layer black-and-white cake with dark chocolate frosting, topped with gilded raspberries and gold luster dust.
My go-to yellow cake recipe is Martha Stewart’s (along with the dark chocolate frosting) and my go-to chocolate cake recipe is my mom’s. I decided to add some raspberries to the center of the cake, along with a splash of espresso to the frosting to bring out the chocolate flavor and accent the raspberries. And then somewhere along the way I would teach myself how to gild raspberries. I would do all of this in a day and a half, since I was on the east coast until the day before the wedding. No problem 😉
Baking is my zen, and thankfully no matter what else is happening around me, I can tune it out and focus on cake. (A few years ago when the San Francisco job I moved out here for was becoming a real sh*t show, I started baking in the office… scones for breakfast, cookies for the afternoon, cakes for every birthday, baby, and wedding… there is no better way to tune out the chaos than to literally walk away from it and into the kitchen.) So bake I did, turning my apartment kitchen into a veritable bakery production line, and enlisting my boyfriend to help me taste the samples. (Although to be fair, he has never ever said he didn’t like something I cooked or baked — smart man, but he might not be the most honest tongue around.) Regardless, one day later there was a cake. A really big cake. My first wedding cake.
I don’t think I realized how much this cake meant to me until yesterday, when the grooms cut the cake and thanked me for baking it. Although I still managed to art direct the cake cutting (shocker), I was pretty choked up and sentimental. On that day and for that very special occasion, my hands and all they have learned over the years were able to show what was in my heart. And there’s no better way, for a baker especially, to share love.