I would’ve cried but there was no time for tears.
I didn’t realize I dented Natalie and John’s wedding cake until I arrived at the reception venue. I opened the car door and, to my horror, I discovered a deep dent in the cake — at the front of the cake! — the only real detail and focal point on the cake! The black fondant initials and the plaque it rested on were clearly and mercilessly pushed into the cake.
Well, this is awkward
“Oh. Noooooo!” I groaned, as the poor doorman stood by awkwardly, not knowing what to say.
“I. Dented. The. Cake!” I uttered.
There were a few moments of stunned silence. Devastated doesn’t begin to explain how I felt.
But I needed to get home, shower and head off to my dear friend Aileen’s birthday dinner. So I dropped off the damaged cake as it was and decided I’d figure something out later.
For the record, this is what the cake looked like before I dented it.
A heavy case of Toronto traffic was in my way but it gave me some time to think. There was a pit in my stomach, I felt defeated, and I didn’t know what to do.
I called Natalie to ask her for the event coordinator’s phone number so I could call her up and let her know about the little cake problem we had on our hands. No answer. The bride-to-be was enjoying a spa day and her phone was probably turned off.
Solution 1: Start from scratch
Somehow, my mind went into problem-solving mode. I could start from scratch and make a whole new wedding cake. I started doing calculations in my mind. There was no way I’d have enough time to buy more supplies, bake and cool three cakes, whip seven batches of buttercream, decorate, stack, transport and be at Nat’s place the next day, in time for picture-taking and walking down that aisle.
Oh yah, I didn’t tell you I was a bridesmaid. I didn’t have enough hours ahead of me. So, scratch that! Baking a whole new cake wasn’t an option. Don’t cry, think of something else.
Solution 2: Bake, dismantle and reassemble
Duh. I didn’t need to bake three more cakes when only one was damaged. I could bake one new cake to replace the dented one. When I got to the reception tomorrow, I’d remove the top tier and set it aside, I’d remove the middle tier and replace it with the new cake — trying carefully to not damage the bottom tier or the pearl borders — and then I’d put the top tier back in place. You follow?
But even if I baked just one new cake, I’d still be cutting it really close with time. And then I’d have to figure out a way to get the new cake to the reception without dinging it again. To top it off, I was anxious and exhausted so I wasn’t confident I could make a new cake that looked decent.
Solution 3: Turn it around. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!
Then it came to me. I’d turn the cake around and decorate the undamaged side. No one looks at the back of the cake anyway so no one needs to know it’s dented. It might not be the sleekest solution but given the time constraint I was under, this was my best option.
So that’s what I did. I rolled more fondant, made a new plaque, shaped a new set of initials, made and attached a bunch of new scrolls. And off I went to dinner.
I thought maybe the dent wasn’t that bad and perhaps I could try minimizing it with fondant smoothers. But deep down I knew it was unlikely fondant smoothers could fix this problem.
Uh oh. The bride knows
When I arrived home after Aileen’s birthday dinner, I got a phone call from Natalie. The event organizer had called her to let her know the cake arrived at the reception venue and there was some damage on it. Ugh. I really didn’t want to stress out the bride the day before her wedding.
I told Nat that, yep, I dented the cake when I was driving but it’s OK because I found a way to fix it. Natalie said something along the lines of: “Oh my God, seriously, please don’t worry about it!”
My calm voice makes an appearance
You see, Natalie knows me too well and she knew I’d be freaking out. I told her that now that I found a solution, I was calm and everything would be fine. And by now, this was mostly true. I was still bummed but the shock and horror of ruining my best friend’s wedding cake had lost its edge. I was doing everything I could to fix it.
Now I wonder if my “calm voice” secretly freaked Natalie out. I must’ve been convincing because she let me off the phone to finish my new and improved decoration — I liked the second one better than the first. Practice made the letters turn out nicer and this time, I positioned the scrolls more symmetrically and I thought it had a nicer effect.
Protect the plaque at all costs
I cushioned the new plaque, stuffed with paper towels, in a Tupperware container and packed it up with the cake topper. On the wedding day, it traveled with me in a little insulated cooler bag. The last thing I needed was for it to melt or get crushed in the limo so I stood watch and made sure it was safely stowed in the trunk.
It was a lovely wedding ceremony, followed by some fun picture-taking. I consciously remained in the moment, forgot about the cake fiasco for most of the day and celebrated my dear friend’s big day.
Hello, chef. I’m the girl who made and then dented the cake
When I arrived at the reception, I headed to the kitchen with bridesmaid Jocelyn in tow for moral support and I met the pastry chef who was very kind. If he had been laughing about, or unimpressed with, this dented cake that showed up in his kitchen, he had the courtesy to conceal his thoughts.
I attached the new plaque and the heirloom cake topper borrowed from John’s family, and I was relieved. For better or for worse, my mission was complete.
The big reveal
When they finally rolled out the cake for presentation, I cringed. I assumed the cake would be displayed in a corner somewhere, with a wall blocking the dent from view but instead, it was wheeled out and everyone had a 360-degree view.
Most people were on the cake’s “good side” but there was a crowd and some folks came around to the back to take photos. I watched their expressions and they didn’t seem to notice the dent.
By now I just smiled and went along with things. Lots of guests were snapping pictures of the cake and, more importantly, the gorgeous newlyweds.
You want to see that dent, don’t you? Check it out.
Dented cake: How it happened
Moments after leaving home, while driving, I turned a corner. The cake, which was placed on a stack of books on the passenger seat, didn’t move and I was relieved. Two seconds later, I gently braked and when I looked to my right, the cake had moved a few inches away from me. I didn’t see — or hear — it slide.
I pulled over immediately, pulled the cake back towards me, peered around one side and the other and was happy to find it unscathed — or so I thought. I knew the cake moved but I thought it didn’t slide far enough to cause any damage.
Door grips dent cakes
The cake must’ve hit the passenger side door grip and I couldn’t see the dent from my vantage point.
The cake was really heavy so I didn’t expect it to move much but, in hindsight, I should’ve used a non-slip silicone mat under the cake boards. The books, which I used to keep things level, provided a slippery surface for the heavy cake to slide on.
Today, I can laugh at this situation. I’ll always regret that I dented my best friend’s wedding cake but I know it doesn’t really matter.
What’s a little dented cake between BFFs anyway? Natalie never asked me for a perfect cake. It’s true that I wanted to give her the prettiest cake I could make but life laughed at that plan.
Sometimes trying to fix the dent is all you can really do. And with solid friendships, that’s often more than enough.