We had the extreme privilege to make a variety of pies, pastry, and cake with a watercolor theme for my best friend’s wedding at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia! Using the bride’s chosen color scheme of plum, lavender, eggplant, and blush and an assortment of pedestals with coordinating watercolor foliage (more on this miraculous find to come) from Home Goods, we displayed 11 treats with the favorite flavors of the bride, the groom, and the groom’s daughters:
- Blackberry-Raspberry Truffle Cake
- Heart-Shaped Lemon Poppy Seed Cakelets
- Mini Gluten Free Vanilla Cheesecakes with Candied Lavender
- Key Lime Jar Pies with Whipped Cream
- Chocolate Mousse Jar Pies with Chocolate Ganache and Whipped Cream
- Mini Blueberry Pies with All-Butter Crusts
- Mini Cream Puffs with Vanilla Pastry Cream
- Raspberry Shortbread Rounds
- S’mores Bites with Chocolate Ganache and Toasted Marshmallows
- Trader Joes Macarons (Fig, Coconut, Pistachio, and Salted Caramel)
- Lindor Truffles (White, Caramel, Milk, Dark, and Extra Dark)
This job was quite the undertaking, as we needed to make (and buy) 600+ pieces to have enough for all the guests to try three different treats. We purposely selected treats that could be made in advance, frozen, and filled/garnished at the last minute. Starting in May, we baked the layers for the truffle cakes and the filling for the key lime pies.
One of the most challenging parts of the preparation was finding enough suitable pedestals and trays to display all the treats, minimizing how often things would need to be replenished. We had three small tables and wanted each of the pieces to work with the overall theme. Over the preceding months, we found an assortment of items at CB2 (darling cut gray glass bowls, wood cheese boards, and blush appetizer plates), Pottery Barn (classic white three-tiered stands), Harrisonburg Farmers Market Antiques (ruffled white compote dish), and Home Goods (the most beautiful white pedestals with water color flowers, leaves, and berries in the needed color scheme).
The Home Goods find was truly miraculous. I rarely come out of that store without something amazing, but this particular time I was in danger of leaving without anything. I found one pedestal that met my specifications, but there was nothing else like it anywhere to be found. I decided against it, thinking it would look too random on its own, and proceeded to the checkout line since Peachie had things to purchase. Wouldn’t you believe, there in the checkout line were at least 10 of the same plates and pedestals! As the store was turning off the lights, amid dirty stares from the cashiers (which was totally justified – I formerly worked in retail and “those” customers annoyed me too!!), I loaded down a cart filled with this treasure trove.
One of the neatest aspects of this particular job was incorporating watercolor in the presentation. Given the inspiration from the Home Goods pedestals, I attempted to replicate a portion of the foliage onto the dessert table sign and guest table menus. I had taken a watercolor class at the Torpedo Factory a few years back, but had only started practicing again with the prompting of my artist friend. I sketched the design from the pedestal and then used transfer paper to place the sketch on pieces of watercolor paper. With lots of repetition, I was able to produce a number of pleasing “paintings”. Ultimately, it was a nice break from all the standing and work associated with the baking effort. I think the focus that painting requires for me makes it incredibly relaxing. In fact, I would come out of my watercolor class each night feeling as though I had received a 2-1/2 hour massage!
The tricky part of the wedding effort was ensuring that I prepared everything that required an oven in advance since I was informed that the onsite kitchen would not have one. What I didn’t know ahead of time was that there was no stovetop range either. Necessity is truly the mother of invention! Not only did I find recipes to make simple syrup and ganache in the microwave, but I believe these recipes were better and easier than their stovetop counterparts. Yay!
Other last minute preparations included assembling the truffle cakes with layers of blackberry-raspberry jam and chocolate ganache, candying the lavender sprigs, filling the cream puffs, topping jar pies with whipped cream, toasting individual mini marshmallows with a blow torch, and drizzling lemon poppy seed pound cakes with lemon icing and a sprinkle of poppy seed.
Needless to say, it was a team effort! The bride found and booked a room with a kitchen and arranged all the logistical details, the groom and his brother hauled in an additional refrigerator/freezer on a tractor, Jeff coordinated the entire hauling and setup effort in addition to rocking the blow torch, Peachie wrapped a million truffles in addition to a million other things and served the treats with warmth and style, and Dad hauled delicate layer cakes and arranged macarons with the finesse of food stylist. And, those were just the people helping on the day. Having survived an event of this magnitude, I will have to hire a crew for the next time….if there’s a next time 🙂