My First Wedding Cake – Bananas Foster!

by moderndomestic on August 31, 2010

Wedding Cake 11

Bananas Foster Wedding Cake - Banana Cake with Caramel Rum Filling and Salted Caramel Vanilla Bean Buttercream

When Alison first approached me way back in May about baking her wedding cake, I was totally honored. And freaked out. I mean, yes, I’ve made cakes before. I’ve made two layer cakes. Maybe three layer cakes if I wanted to get ambitious. I even made wedding cupcakes for Mary (aka The Arugula Files). But wedding cakes? They’re a whole different ball game.

Not just any cake will do for a wedding cake. Because the cakes are so big, you can’t use a cake recipe that will turn out soft and crumbly. The cake has to be strong enough to support the weight of the upper tiers – but it can’t be so strong and full of structure that it turns out dry. And have you ever tried to frost a 12 inch cake layer? Let me tell you – they’re frickin’ heavy. I could barely hold the bottom layer in my hand. And it’s a wedding, so it has to be perfect – or as close to perfect as I can get.

After some discussion, Alison and I decided on a bananas foster cake – a banana cake with caramel buttercream. Yes, it’s a little unusual for a wedding cake, but Alison needed a cake that was chocolate free, and without any “weird’ fruit filling. She suggested banana cake, and I immediately thought “bananas foster” – so we opted for a caramel buttercream.

I ended up incorporating some other elements of bananas foster – caramelized bananas flambéd in rum and served over vanilla ice cream – into the cake. I added some rum to the caramel filling for the layers, and added vanilla beans to the salted caramel buttercream. I used the banana wedding cake recipe from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, doctored up a caramel buttercream recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, and added some rum to this caramel filling recipe from Bon Appetit. I also decorated the sides with caramelized sugar that I ground up in the food processor – it kind of reminded me of tiny pieces of amber.

Of course, the course of every wedding cake never runs smooth. My first snafu was when I tried to mix a triple recipe for the bottom layers in my 5 1/2 quart mixer  – I quickly realized that all the batter was never going to fit, and had to figure out how to divide up all my pre-mixed ingredients. One of the bottom layers didn’t bake through all the way – a fact I only realized when I went to assemble the cake – so I had to bake another one on the fly. And at 20 to midnight the night before the cake was due, I couldn’t find the straws I had picked up for internal cake supports. Thank God Safeway stays open until midnight on Thursdays.

Despite the hiccups, I loved making this wedding cake – and I was very honored that Alison asked me to make such an important part of her wedding day. Would I do it again? Absolutely! Who has a wedding coming up?

Here are some more pics of the final cake construction. I was much more nervous than I appear in the photos – promise!

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A slice of the cake - from the test layer I baked last week. It is seriously delicious, if I do say so myself.

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Final three layers, chllin' in my fridge. I wanted them to be nice and cold before I assembled the final cake.

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Placing straws in the second layer, to help support the cake.

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Preparing the top layer to be transported over.

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Putting on the top layer. This actually wasn't too bad - the hardest part was putting the bottom layer on the cake stand because it was so heavy!

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Piping on the final buttercream decorations.

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Done!

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The finished cake, hanging out in the fridge.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Alanna September 1, 2010 at 6:08 am

I’ve been a loyal reader of your blog for about a year or so now, and when Alison told me that she asked you to bake the cake I was really excited to finally get to try some of your baked goods. That cake was seriously amazing! I could taste all of the different flavors and it was so much more fun than a traditional white cake.

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moderndomestic September 2, 2010 at 10:10 am

Aww, thank you so much! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it – and I’m totally flattered.

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lemmonex September 1, 2010 at 8:32 am

I am seriously impressed with this. It looks amazing. I love banana cake; so thrilled to see someone use it for their wedding.

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moderndomestic September 2, 2010 at 10:18 am

Thank you! I’ve always been a fan of banana bread, and it works really well in a cake.

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Jennifer Phelan September 1, 2010 at 8:34 am

It looks amazing! My third cake ever was for my bosses wedding, and I only had to do a 6 inch topper because he had a cupcake tower. I was so nervous wondering if I would make it to the reception without getting rear-ended. Then worrying how it would look in all of his wedding photos, which they’d be looking back on over the years. I’m not sure I’d do another wedding cake. Love your blog/site!

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moderndomestic September 2, 2010 at 11:46 am

Believe me, I was SO GLAD I wasn’t transporting this – the bride and groom picked it up themselves. But the cake was suprisingly sturdy – I turned my refrigerator down as cold as it could go, so by the time it had to go in the car it was very chilled and hard. Thank God I have no desire to make gum-paste flowers or anything like that – talk about a transportation nightmare.

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Bri September 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I love the mosaic-like crystallized sugar on the sides! What a creative idea. Well done Jenna!

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Deb September 1, 2010 at 2:42 pm

So, so beautiful!

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Tammy Gordon September 1, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Drooool. That looks so delicious! I’m so proud of you for doing a wedding cake… after this one, they will be less scary and I have no doubt you’ll improve every time!

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Phil September 1, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Looks great! I have to ask…are you making a dessert with Natty Ice too?

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moderndomestic September 2, 2010 at 11:46 am

Hahaha. No, thank God.

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kat September 1, 2010 at 4:54 pm

i am very impressed. beautiful work!

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Megan September 1, 2010 at 7:19 pm

You did a beautiful job on this cake! You should be so proud and happy with the finished result.

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moderndomestic September 2, 2010 at 10:38 am

Thanks Megan! Did you ever do wedding cakes at Flour?

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Namita September 1, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Gorgeous, Jenna!

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Brooke September 1, 2010 at 11:27 pm

It’s beautiful!!! Nicely done! :)

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Mary September 2, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Ha! I love the pics of the cake next to thre Natty Ice. So busted!

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Bonnie September 2, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Not only BEAUTIFUL, but sounds so good, i.e salted caramel buttercream frosting.
What’s Natty ice?

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Dad September 2, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Jenna: This wedding cake is truly amazing. I can’t believe you make all this stuff in your tiny kitchen.
Looking forward to seeing you week after next.

Dad

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moderndomestic September 2, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Thanks Dad! I just wish you guys had been here to see it.

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Becca September 2, 2010 at 1:21 pm

I bet you have more friends who tell you they’re getting married now that they know you can make them a cake like this! Sorry I missed happy hour last night (I am honestly terrible) – hope you’re doing well!

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Sylvie September 2, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Love the big case of beer in the fridge. I bet you needed one after all that work! :)

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moderndomestic September 2, 2010 at 2:18 pm

You have no idea. Well, and the next day was the DC State Fair Homebrew contest – so the craziness didn’t really end until several days later!

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Kaydee September 2, 2010 at 4:21 pm

What a beautiful cake!

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Alison September 3, 2010 at 7:39 am

Jenna, the cake was gorgeous and if everyone thinks it *looked* delicious? Let me tell you, you have no idea. It was so good I actually remember eating it, which is more than can be said of anything I ate at any other point that weekend! I’m incredibly grateful that you baked our cake. Our guests loved it and it was so beautiful. The “amber” crunchy caramel bits really made it.

I’ll send you the beautiful, perfect pictures the photographer took of the cake as soon as I get them!

Thanks again,
Alison

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cait October 27, 2010 at 2:23 am

Yum!! Are you sharing your ‘docotored’ caramel buttercream recipe? I want to make this today!

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