Beach Theme Wedding Cake

Last month I attended a Wedding Cake Basics class at Kitchen Window in Minneapolis, led by a local baker. I had many hopes for this class and thought she'd provide pointers on building, assembling, stabilizing and designing wedding cakes...unfortunately she didn't... at least not proactively. 

Although, there were dowels nearby we didn't get to use them and they weren't even mentioned until I inquired.  The response was that we wouldn't get to use them because the cakes we would construct weren't going to be high.  I guess that makes sense, but it would have been great if a discussion about the topic was at least planned (w/o my probing).

Also, although she distributed handouts on how to cut a wedding cake (pulled off of Wilton's website), there wasn't any discussion about it, or pricing, or transporting, or design trends or much of anything else until students probed.  Basically the class felt like a beginners course where we were given the great opportunity to put a small cake on top of a larger cake, ice it, throw on a few designs and take it home to feast on (I'm being sarcastic if you couldn't tell).

With that said...here's what I want you to know:
1) I will be following up with additional post on constructing wedding cakes within the next week. Check back!
2) Here's my final product.  As my friend said, it's a "hurricane" themed beach wedding cake (due to my sad looking tree).
  • Palm Tree
    • insert wooden skewer in tootsie roll leaving about 2" or more exposed at bottom for inserting in cake.  The longer the exposed part, the more stable the cake will be. 
    • as for making the palm leaves...as you see I didn't do a great job, so I'll wait to I nail it down, before I give you tips.
  • Sand
    • used brown sugar. However the taste of  the sugar with each bite wasn't good.  
    • next time I'd go for crushed cookie (shortbread, graham....)
  • Blue Waves
    •  on parchment paper add white buttercream. Using the back of a small spatula, pick up some of the cream.  The apply thin coat of white cream to side of cake using upward motion, but only go 3/4 of the way up.
    • once white strokes have been applied, using the remaining buttercream on parchment, add a bit of food coloring (I used powder) to side, and with spatula, spread everything around (loosely) to incorporate color into buttercream unevenly.  You don't want the color to be uniform. It's okay to have some lighter and darker areas.
    • using the back of spatula, pick up some of the color and add thicker coat of cream using upward motion, but this time only go 1/2 - 2/3 of the way up