Cake decorating is not my forte. You would think that would disqualify me or scare me off from doing my own wedding cake, but I'm always up for a challenge. I already cut my design teeth on my mother's wedding cake a few years ago. It was an all-buttercream cake, and my first time doing any sort of tiered cake. Considering that, it didn't turn out half bad! And if you're amazed by the sugar flowers you see on that wedding cake to your right, please save your applause -- I didn't make those. My fiancé's mother expertly crafted those and brought them as a contribution to my mom's wedding. So, honestly, she gets praise for 90% of the beauty of this cake. I really just baked it, stacked it, and covered it in frosting.
Speaking of coverings, I don't like fondant. Or, I should say, I've never tasted a fondant I liked. If I were asked to describe the taste of fondant, I would say "wet cardboard." However, my fiancé is a fondant fan, especially the way fondant makes a cake look: smooth, clean, and modern. I can't argue with that. As much as I initially pushed for a buttercream cake, I caved into the allure of good design and vowed to figure out how to make a fondant that looked and tasted good. More on that in "The Bake."
Our theme is 1920s, and our colors are black, white, gold, and purple, so I started out by figuring I could do probably something with a 1920s/Great Gatsby/Art Deco feeling. An all-black cake, with a golden stenciled lace art deco pattern on the top tier made out of white chocolate, and fondant pearls draped across the tiers. However, my first three attempts at the stenciled lace, even with the YouTube help of the incomparable Julia Usher, were embarrassing.
Back to the drawing board, I knew black fondant would be involved, as well as gold luster dust. I was still fixated on art deco though, so I thought (forgetting the fact that I'm a terrible artist) maybe I could simplify the pattern and paint on the design by hand. My nervous, shaking, imprecise hand did not agree, and my linework was equally as nervous, shaky, and imprecise.
With my blank template in front of me, I was sitting at my desk at work one day and was thinking that all black would be too macabre, and four tiers of the same black with gold dust would be repetitive and not interesting. I knew I needed to mix it up, but I didn't know how. Somehow, I came across the idea of marbling fondant, which, as it turns out, is quite a trend on Pinterest and YouTube right now. Not meaning to be on-trend, I set about rolling out test fondant to cover a cake board, and it looked beautiful.
But I couldn't do the whole thing in marble--I thought that might look too monotonous. I thought of alternating black and marble, thought of bottom 2 black/top 2 marble, thought top and bottom marble/middle 2 black, vice versa, but I landed on something I think is a little more varied, and a little more visually stimulating.