Guns n' Roses
Friday nights are always chaotic at The Little Daisy and last Friday was no exception. We had lots of people picking up their custom orders, others getting cupcakes and treats to take to their various events, and the bakers prepping for a busy Saturday morning. At 6pm I was headed out the door and I was late for my son’s championship baseball game. Taliah called my name to come up front.
“There’s a woman on the phone asking for a cake for 100 people tomorrow. It’s for some slasher,” she said.
“Is that a horror movie?” I asked?
“I don’t know. I told her we couldn’t do it on such short notice but she said a manager would want to hear this.”
I picked up the phone and the woman on the other end began,
“Hello we need a sheet cake for 100 people by 4pm tomorrow.”
“We normally need more notice for a cake for 100 people,” I warned.
“I totally understand but I’m with the Guns N’ Roses tour and tomorrow is Slash’s birthday and we need a cake. The band just rolled in to town and I just found out.”
I was silent as I tallied up all the reasons why this request was impossible. The words “I’m sorry, we can’t do it” started to slowly form but the sounds that escaped my lips sounded exactly like, “sure, we can do that.” This was Guns N Roses after all. Axl Rose. Slash. I was in 9th grade when “Appetite for Destruction” was released and I knew every word. I was doing that cake.
Welcome to the Jungle
Saturday morning 4:30am
I scurried across the dark parking lot and unlocked the back door to the bakery. I flipped on the lights and the oven switches. The whir of the oven fans revving up filled the empty kitchen and signaled that the day of baking was about to begin.
It’s been quite some time since I was on the morning shift, but we had four bakers out on vacation last weekend. The memories of early morning baking came flooding over me and I kicked right back in to rhythm and routine of filling the bread pans and the cupcake tins with batters, scooping whoopie pies and arranging cookies on their trays. It felt just like old times. I used to play a game in my head like I was in a TV competition and the goal was to get everything baked and ready well before we opened. This felt like a rerun of that show and an authentic one because Christina was my partner for opening that morning. Christina has been with The Little Daisy since our first Thanksgiving 5 years ago, and we used to open every day together. It was like getting to relive one of my most vivid memories, but this time around I got to use all the knowledge I’ve gained from that time up until now. How many other situations in life would I like to relive knowing what I know now?
"Tomorrow is Slash's birthday and we need a cake”
After all the bakery items were nestled in the oven, I lifted 2 full sheet pans (25 x 18) off the pile and filled them with vanilla cake batter. I took an offset spatula and spread the batter across the pans until it was even. I slid the two ginormous cakes into the oven and glanced at the clock. It was going to be a race to get a cake this size baked, crumb-coated, final-coated, and decorated by 4pm.
The sheet cake had cooled and was crumb-coated and was chilling in the fridge. I prepped the buttercream for the final coat of frosting. This was Guns N Roses, which meant black frosting and lots of it. I put a few drops of black coloring into the big bowl of white fluffy buttercream. I mixed it up well, but the bowl only turned light grey. I put a few more drops in and mixed again. Still grey. I turned the large bottle of coloring upside down and really let it fly. I mixed again and the frosting was still not black. I dumped another heavy dose of black coloring in the bowl again. This time I got it. Black. I looked at my hands and they were stained black. My fingernails were black. The spatula was black. Everything went black.
I final-coated the cake in the black buttercream frosting, which we don’t recommend for anyone other than a rock band. Black and red icing look cool, but when guests eat the cake their mouths all look like they are bleeding or are zombies. But this is Guns N’ Roses and there is no other acceptable option but black and red icing. I carefully moved the final-coated cake on to a large wood board that we had specially cut. We’ve learned that because the cake is so large and heavy it has to be on a wood board to keep the cake from bowing and cracking. I could barely lift the cake and I struggled to get it into the fridge. I shut the door, but the door bounced back open. The board was too big for the fridge and there was no way to maneuver it in! That’s when Sam, one of our bakers, had the idea to put it in the freezer instead. After all, it’s 100 degrees out today. We jockeyed frozen raspberries, blueberries and ice for iced coffee around on the shelves and voila, the board slid right in and fit.
I took a piece of parchment out to sketch out the design.
Slash’s guitar. Check.
Slash’s hat. Check.
Profile of slash complete with hair. Check.
GNR logo. Check
While waiting for the cake to set up I switched gears from rock n roll to strolling the Champs-Elysees and decorated a sweet little bon voyage cake with an Eiffel tower on it.
After an hour of chilling, the oversized cake had barely set up but I needed to get going on the decorating. I had an hour and a half now until pick up. I sketched out the guitar first with a toothpick. Guitars are harder to draw than one would think. There are a lot of components to them and a lot of shapes that all have to be in proportion and flow. I did the handle first, then the body of the guitar, then the strings and then the details. It still needed some work with the details and the shape but I’d have to come back to it.
I started in on the sketch of Slash. That went fast and easy. I put a smoky outline around the edge of him to make him pop from the black icing. It ended up looking like he was emerging from smoke, which was unintended but had an even cooler than planned effect. I put on the Guns N’ Roses logo and started in on the #GnFnR on the front of the cake. That’s when the promoter called and said she was on her way. That phone call felt like Justin Willman, the host of the “Cupcake Wars” TV show, yelling out “10 minutes bakers!!” I quickly put on red roses around the edges and green vines. I was starting back in to work on the guitar when the promoter arrived to pick up the cake. “Time’s up! Bakers put your hands up!” I hear Justin say in my head and I stepped away from the table.
I stood back and looked at the cake. For the time given to complete the cake, I loved it. I still wanted to do more, but the show must go on…
Even though the promoter was out front and silent, I could feel the time pressure she was under. I brought the cake out and showed her and then I realized we didn’t have a box for this big of a board. We had the board specially cut and it’s bigger than a full sheet box.
I panicked. My husband Andrew happened to be at the bakery at that moment and we sprung into action and taped two sheet boxes together to encompass the wood board. It wasn’t pretty but it did the job.
We loaded it into the band van and away it went. Sweet Cake O’ Mine.
Happy Birthday SLASH!
I went back into the kitchen and looked at the decorating table. There was black and red frosting everywhere. We had so much black frosting left over I thought about calling Metallica to see if they were coming to town soon and might need a cake.
It felt pretty cool for a small bakery like ours to make a cake for a band like Guns N’ Roses and a rock legend like Slash. That was an amazing opportunity!
PS: Mr. Eddie Vedder if you are out there somewhere and need a cake, the ovens at The Little Daisy Bake Shop are pre-heated and waiting. Just sayin…