Sugar Rush

A Pastry Chef's Wedding Cake

Two weekends ago, with the gorgeous Phoenix sunset and mountains as a backdrop, I got married.

I married the greatest guy ever. A Southern version of Julia Child's ever supportive husband Paul Child, he schleps my pastry equipment and supplies, does delivery runs for my business, treats my friends and family well, takes me on date night once a week, and doesn't let me drink gin martinis because he knows it does not end well.

I am not a typical bride who dreamt of the day and wanted every detail to be just so. My catchphrase throughout the process was, "Do whatever you think is best." It's not that I didn't care, but details like "Do you want sparkly or shiny beige shoes for the bridesmaids" are not things on my radar.

Now cake. That is a different story.

See also: 9 Best Desserts in Metro Phoenix

A mandate from on high was issued to me, forbidding me from making my own wedding cake. Yes, my mother and fiancé both nixed that idea from me pretty quickly. What am I going to be doing on the day before or the day of that I won't have time to make my cake? I asked. "Trust me," my mom said, "you'll be busy."

Turns out, I was busy right up to the wedding. Thursday night I was rocking a Salt Smitten dinner with my chef friends Stephen Eldridge and Marisa Lown of Gertrude's and Aaron Eckburg of go lb. salt. It was delicious fun and a great experiment in salt love.

Friday was all about last-minute details, finishing cupcakes for wedding favors, beauty overhaul, rehearsal for the wedding (walking never felt so complicated!), and rehearsal dinner.

Saturday was hours of makeup and hair prep before photos, the wedding, the reception, and finally collapsing into bed.

My mom was right: There was no time for me to make a cake.

Cake is my thing. It's my proverbial bread and butter. I can't have people show up and eat bad cake. In the end, the cake that came in the wedding package we purchased was okay. It was that rich, gritty frosting that claims to be buttercream but is not ethereal in any way. It doesn't hide the sugar in the fluffy whipped butter; rather, it is abrasive with its sweetness and laden with chemical fats. The cake itself was My Little Pony pink, and the filling was, er, I don't even remember, nor could I taste my way through it.

In my angst of cake sadness, one of my friends offered to make one for me. Monica Castillo, maven ice cream maker from Churn is one of my closest friends, and together we somehow came up with the idea that an armadillo cake was in order for this wedding -- for the bride, not the groom.

Armadillo cake? Yes! If you have never seen the 1989 movie Steel Magnolias, get on Netflix and watch it. An armadillo cake with a red velvet interior, sliced off by the ass, is just what a wedding calls for. It's a fun conversation piece, and I'm pretty sure there are more photos of the armadillo than of myself and my Mr. Paul Child.

The guests loved both cakes, coming up to me all night and giving me the pros and cons of both. Some people were running around stealing pieces of cake off of other tables. Friends and family were drunk. My 5-year-old niece started a very organized dance party near the bar. No one cared what color shoes the bridesmaids were wearing. Everyone left with a Pistol Whipped Pastry cupcake in a beautiful box. And Rachel slept happily ever after.

Rachel Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, and single-handedly keeps her local cheese shop in business. You can get more information about her pastry at, or on her blog at

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Rachel Miller
Contact: Rachel Miller