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Hank: Things I never thought we would use to make a wedding cake, but did: a power saw, a metal sewing ruler, dental floss, a shish kebab skewer, a Sharpie marker, pantyhose.
Linda: When torting, one of us would turn the Lazy Susan, and one would slice. The turner would tell the slicer which way the knife needed to be slanted. But, really, you could never get a perfect read on it.
(Photo Illustration by Francisco Caceres)
If you screwed up, you'd wind up with two slanted layers, or one fat layer and one skinny layer, or, worst of all, one fat layer and one skinny layer with a hole in the center from where the knife poked through. Hank and I didn't like each other very much when that happened. And it happened often, whether we went fast or slow, Hank or me, straight or crooked.
Hank: Torting is like performing delicate surgery. I'm of the school that you just have to make the cut, quick and sure. Linda always kept saying stop, slow down, back up, move the knife, keep it level, lock your elbow. I feared for the patient every time. Our early cakes were all about malpractice.
Linda: Hank was not a good scraper, and it drove me mad to hold the bowl and watch. He always missed parts. Plus, scraping was my favorite! So he let me scrape. And my parchment-paper circles to line the pan were always jagged and pathetic, and the Sharpie I used to trace them would leak onto the cake. Hank was much more methodical about circles, and he thought to use pencil, so that became his job. Which I felt bad about, because it didn't look like fun, certainly not as much fun as scraping.
Hank: One Cake Night in April we decided to just go for it and use whatever skills we'd acquired thus far. We made a small two-tier cake, torted it, added fruit filling, covered it in white Wilton-brand fondant and built it with plastic dowels. We decorated it with blue candy wafers along the edges and blue ribbon. The cake was oddly shaped and sort of sad. We fed it to our respective new boyfriends, who raved about it, not entirely truthfully. What I liked about this moment was the realization that Linda and I had acquired boyfriends along the way. Nice boyfriends who weren't flaky, who weren't dry, who weren't tasteless, who weren't emotionally frosty. I sometimes wonder if the act of making a wedding cake had somehow made the act of falling in love seem possible.
Hank: Sorry. Sugar rush.
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Linda: Even the most obsessive bride has no idea how much architecture goes on behind that frosted facade. I loved this. You have no idea, I'd tell people. After we cut the hollow plastic dowels to just the right size and attached them to the little parchment-lined platform on which the next tier would sit, I'd push the whole contraption firmly but gently through each layer of the cake and feel a satisfying, smug blip as each new layer was penetrated.
Hank: I secretly don't like weddings, and it turns out, neither does Linda. It's not because I don't love the couple. There's always this abstract sense of dread while parking my car and walking into the church alone. I'm usually the funny gay friend the bride knew in college. The invitation is almost always addressed to me, and me alone.
Linda: There was so much cake. We fed our colleagues, we fed our neighbors, we fed our boyfriends. I never tired of licking the batter -- sometimes we would scoop it from the bowl to our mouths in handfuls, our faces dripping over the sink -- but I did tire of eating cake. We would occasionally just slide an entire tier into the trash can, because there was no homeless shelter next to my apartment, and we had plain run out of people to feed.
Hank: A few times, I brought slices of our test cakes over to Michael's house and put them in the refrigerator, and then popped some Advil and crawled into bed. The next day, his female housemates would eat the cake. When Michael told them how Linda and I were going to make a wedding cake for a couple, they reportedly got tears in their eyes. They thought it was the sweetest, most touching thing. All I saw was bad cake.