With the beginning of a new year and a new decade, I can’t help but reflect upon the year that has just drawn to close. 2009 was a year filled with personal highs and lows and became one of the most challenging years of my life. In fact, “challenging” is the single most descriptive word that I can think of for 2009. The recession had taken a personal toll, with husband, Andrew, out of work. Youngest daughter, Karen, completed her college education in April with outstanding grades and high praise from her professors, but was still being challenged in her quest to find work.
Spring held the promise of better things to come. With great anticipation and much planning ahead, I had the wedding of my oldest daughter, Andrea and her fiancé, Stephen, to look forward to. I had been personally commissioned by Andrea to make a four tiered wedding cake. Months had gone into the planning of this cake to be, testing flavours, choosing the design, building a beautiful silver cake stand, purchasing the pans and ingredients. It had been decided that all layers would be citrus infused carrot cake, with one layer being completely dairy free. Square layers, adorned with rich purple ribbon and flower shaped “broaches” would give the cake a retro 1920’s look. Then, nine days before the wedding, the unthinkable happened.
While out for a leisurely bike ride, my bike went over a slick plastic pipe that was partially protruding from the ground and the bike crashed down hard to the left. My left arm went out to brace my fall and was broken at the elbow as a result of the fall. The next few days were painful and stress filled. On one hand, I was thankful that the accident hadn’t been any worse. On the other hand, I had a wedding cake to make! At first, I didn’t believe that I could still make the wedding cake and was scrambling to find alternatives but by Monday morning, the pain had subsided with the help of pain meds and I began to believe that it could be done.
The biggest difficulty would be the marzipan and fondant coverings for the cake. I called Anna Ferraro, cake decorator instructor extraordinaire and asked if she could spare an afternoon. She kindly agreed and the plan was set. Through the week each layer was prepared and baked, wrapped carefully and refrigerated. I was greatly surprised at how much I could do with just my right arm. Help was there whenever I needed it. Andrew and Karen helped tremendously throughout the week. Anna came on Friday as promised. That day Anna, Andrew and I split the layers and filled them with buttercream icing, crumb coated the outside of each layer, rolled, measured and cut the sections of marzipan and lastly, the layers were covered with beautiful, silky white fondant.
On Saturday, each layer was carefully boxed and the cake was transported to The Old Mill Inn, in Toronto. In the hours before the wedding, the cake was carefully assembled and with more help from another wonderful person, Liz Thompson, the deep purple ribbons and broaches were attached to each layer. Dark purple calla lilies were placed on the top layer and pansies placed around the bottom edge.
The wedding day was wonderful from beginning to end. The bride was gorgeous; the groom handsome, and a good time was had by all. The cake was cut in generous sized slices and was delicious! The challenge had been met and was a success! Thanks to all who helped make it possible. As far as the rest of year; Andrew landed a contract with a great company in June. Karen is rethinking her options for the future and may return to school. My broken arm continues to be a challenge. The healing process will take more months of physiotherapy and exercise in order to achieve a full recovery. In reflection, I learned that I can face difficult challenges and overcome them. What’s that old saying? Oh, yes. “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” Here’s to a healthy and strong 2010.