The Country Cupboard Cake + Café is always humming with activity, but none more so than when there are wedding cakes to be made. Owner April Wysocki and her two-woman baking team of daughter-in-law Jessica Wysocki and Michelle Donovan are the masterminds behind each and every cake the Long Lake bakery produces. While April meets with the couples to determine their confectionary concept, all three have a hand in every step of the process.
April has been a baker for 25 years, and she opened the Country Cupboard in 1996. Jessica came on board 13 years ago and Donovan has been part of the team for nearly two years. (She has a baking certificate from Minneapolis Community & Technical College.) Despite their different backgrounds, the three women have an easy camaraderie between them. When they’re all in the kitchen together, “it’s usually pretty loud in here,” laughs Donovan.
1. Using an industrial mixer, Donovan adds almond extract to the batter. Depending on what type of cake she’s trying to create, the ratio of butter to eggs is what changes. For a white cake, she uses egg whites while a yellow cake contains the whole egg and more butter.
2. Before the batter hits the pans, each is coated liberally with shortening and flour to prevent any batter from sticking to the sides. Of all of the ingredients the Country Cupboard goes through, April says they use the most of the eggs, butter and powdered sugar.
3. For this cake, the batter is poured into 6”, 10” and 14” round pans. A cake of this size yields 110 servings, which includes eating the top tier. Save the top for your first anniversary and you’d get 100 servings.
4. Jessica fires up the oven—typically set around 325 degrees—and places the cake pans inside. A three-tiered cake such as this one takes up to 60 minutes to fully bake all of the tiers, then 60–90+ minutes for the layers to cool completely, both in and out of the pans.
5. Once cooled, a flat spatula is April’s preferred utensil for frosting a wedding cake. Each tier is coated in crumbs with buttercream, then covered with fondant. Every step is key—especially the buttercream—since using sugar on top of sugar acts as a glue, says April, keeping the fondant attached to the cake.
(Country Cupboard makes all of its buttercream frosting from scratch, a task that April’s husband Rich has mastered. The engineer by day has also been known to make last-minute grocery runs, like picking up fresh strawberries for a summer bride on his way home from work.)
6. Before fondant can be applied to the cake, April and Donovan first knead it on a wooden surface slightly dusted with cornstarch. Fondant can be kneaded on a metal surface like stainless steel, but a layer of parchment must be put down or the fondant will pick up the color of the metal. The fondant is kneaded until it’s close to the same temperature as your hand.
7. April rolls the fondant with a rolling pin until it’s ¼” thick. Larger bakeries use a “sheeter,” which April likens to a ravioli machine. The sheeter creates huge sheets of fondant quickly and of a uniform thickness.
8. Fondant cutters (reminiscent of plastic cookie cutters) of various sizes create lifelike flowers and leaves from the rolled fondant. The flowers are typically 1/8” thick while the leaves are 1/16”. Once cut, the shapes can be bent to look more realistic and are laid flat or curved (which allows for a 3D effect) to dry.
9. April calls fondant “the play dough of the pastry world.” She carefully lifts it and place it on the cake working quickly to make sure the entire tier is covered in a smooth sheet, eliminating any air pockets, before using a knife to trim the excess.
10. To create a grapevine and ivy pattern, April pipes royal icing or fondant onto the cake while Donovan adds fondant flowers and leaves. Typically, one person—April, Jessica or Donovan—works individually on one cake tier at a time; each tier contains two layers of cake.
A raspberry ribbon adds final flourish at the bottom of each tier and secured with pearl-tipped pins. Country Cupboard’s cakes are typically 85 percent complete when they leave the bakery, with only a few final touches to be added once it arrives at the reception site.