Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mazel Tov

I'm sitting here somewhere between having no idea who I am any more, and being more sure than I've ever been. Between the pouring rain and the raging swampy heat, the cold ocean and the primordially un-air-conditioned baking gig, I lost everything, and somewhere in the midst of all that water, I found it again. Along the way, I started two new jobs, gave notice at another, and asked the man I love to marry me.
Three tiers and an extra 9" cake waiting in the refrigerator under their first coat of buttercream.
He said 'of course.' Which is more or less what I assumed everyone would say after all these years. But being engaged turned out to be somewhat of a bigger deal than I had anticipated. I don't mean that it became a burden, or that anyone hired a skywriter. I mean what happened to me, and to Matt; the subtle shifts of responsibility and of commitment, the pleasure of our families, and the making of plans. Wedding plans may be a long way off, but in some new way, even more than before, we're planning the way we'll live our lives together. Some of it has been beautiful. Some of it has been very hard, I won't lie.  But in a deep, deep way, I feel like my life is beginning to move forward again, to break up the logjam, to grow.
Bowl, sieve, and spatula after straining roughly two quarts of lacquer glaze.
After the first glow of that 'of course,' Matt revealed the same exact question had been on his mind. In fact, he'd even started the process of ring shopping before he left for Avignon. Instead of being upset that I'd stolen his thunder, he was delighted that we had found ourselves in almost exactly the same place. If it weren't more than a little ass-backward, it just wouldn't be us.
The pristine perfection of the top layer, pre-transport.
And there there was wedding cake. Right in the middle of everything, in times so intense I feared things would go all Like Water for Chocolate on me, I made a three-tiered chocolate wedding cake for Jessica and Christopher and took it for the ride of its life (in crates, in the back seat, precariously balanced on bottles and old clothes) . Based on Rose Levy Beranbaum's Deep Chocolate Passion Wedding Cake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes, the cake was, as I've already described, Rose's German Chocolate Cake base, filled with passion fruit curd and passion fruit mousseline buttercream (light, spongy, marshmallowy, and tangy), and covered in a shiny lacquer glaze. The glaze is poured on warm, which allows it to form such a smooth, shiny layer.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to re-warm my extra glaze when assembling the cake at the wedding venue, so I accepted a few wrinkles and drips in the finished product. Any fears I may have had about the tower's look vanished as another friend of the bride arrived with boxes upon boxes of home-made sugar flowers, the loving work of several months. Together, we made one another look so good, and made the cake an impressive spectacle. I was so grateful to have the flower-maker on my team, and hope very soon to pester her into teaching me how she did it all.
The finished monster, covered in flowers.
While I was tiering and touching up the cake, the catering staff kept scaring me by asking me if that was all I had brought (it was), and if anything else would be served (not that I knew of, it turned out there were some truffles). I should have trusted Rose, though. Using her measurements, there was plenty of cake for all, in comparatively generous 'wedding-size' portions. In fact, the top tier managed to escape wholly unharmed, but only lived until the following day, when the newlyweds ate it for breakfast.
I have compared this cake to an upscale packaged snack cake on several occasions, but in practice it became something a little more--still light and fluffy, but served on fancy plates and placed on marble mantelpieces, it became elegant. I couldn't have done it alone though--without Matt to drive, position, photograph, and support me, without the faithful tasting crew and the online advice, without the friends who exempted me from all other wedding duties, and without the flower-maker who made it look so good, I would be nothing. Luckily, I have them all, and so I'm quite, quite, pleased with myself. Mazel tov, Jessica and Christopher, and thank you for your complete and unwavering trust in me.
Beautiful, no?
In these turbulent times, I want to wish joy and congratulations not just to the bride and groom, but to all of us figuring out our lives--to the friends finishing and starting dissertations, the friends moving from city to city, the friends walking across the UK, the friends starting new jobs, beginning new careers and new families, and becoming distinguished, the family old and new who loves me more than I can believe. To all those I treasure who struggle for and with love, who fight and sweat and treat each other right, and hold each other tightly. With Saturn returning for most of us soon, I couldn't be in better company, or more proud, happy, and grateful to know you all.

I'm gushing. But it's a good gush. As my mother says, it's always good to take advantage of any opportunity to celebrate a simcha. And this is certainly a simcha, which some would say is a mitzvah. Or a kosher beer. Or a pimp.
All photos in this post by Matthew Korahais.
L'chaim.

8 comments:

Liana said...

Congrats to you and Matt! May you live happy, die happy, and never drink from a dry cappy!

Jenn said...

Oh my, what a beautiful beautiful post Katya. I almost teared up. Congrats to your friend and to you and Matt. What a cute engagement story. The cake is gorgeous - beautiful slice. And I love that last photo of the scale with the little crumb on top - it's poetry in a picture!

evil cake lady said...

beautiful cake, lovely post. congratulations katya!

i love that your friends ate the top tier for breakfast. now that's what i'm talking about.

Monica said...

Ohh congratulations Katya.. and oh my! have you been busy missy.

So let's start:

May your new job be everything that you expect and more

May you and Matt enjoy your engagement to the full extend and then celebrate your union with lots of blessings and love, we are all sending you virtual huggs and squeals your way.

And that cake looks sooo good, that I want a piece right now.. like this second now...

Catherine said...

l'chaim l'chaim l'chaim indeed.

Joan said...

Cake and love. A holy duet! Sweet post
love dad

breadbasketcase said...

I'm so glad that Matt said yes! Congratulations and warmest wishes to you both.

Miriam said...

*a cappy is a cup.