Sunday, 21 October 2012

Baking My Very First Wedding Cake...



Last month I made my first ever wedding cake.

Earlier this year, two very brilliant friends of mine, K and A, asked if I would bake their wedding cake. After a sharp intake of breath and a large gulp of the wine I handily had in my hand, my response was:

 'Really? Are you sure? M&S do ever such nice cakes you know'

Once persuaded, it transpired that K and A had two requirements: no cream and no bananas. 

Banoffee Pie discarded, I spent a happy few months researching different cakes before beginning to plan a three tired chocolate and raspberry cake. A couple of practice attempts at variations of the basic sponge over the summer, to the delight of my work colleagues, the purchasing of an obscenely large round cake tin and three delicate, fragile boxes of chocolate cigarellos later and the wedding day arrived.



I'd been baking until 1am the night before the wedding (mental note to self: be more organised when it comes to wedding cakes. And life in general, please). When the alarm went off at 5.30am to catch the train from Devon I was a little bleary eyed. Paddington Station is a ten minute walk from us but with a suitcase full of cake and two large bags of icing, fruit, decorations and so forth I'd arranged a taxi cab.

The friendly taxi driver, assuming with my bulky baggage that I must be heading to catch the Heathrow Express train to the airport, kindly enquired: 'Off on holiday are you?'

To which, half asleep, I replied 'Yes, yes that's right'

'Where to?' came the response.

Now at this point, I panicked.  I don't why. The correct response should have been: 'I'm off to Devon for the weekend with a suitcase full of wedding cake'. 

Instead I said: 'I'm going to Mexico'

I've never been to Mexico, never had a burning desire to go to Mexico and haven't the foggiest as to why I replied 'Mexico' rather than 'Devon'. It just came out.

To which the taxi driver became extremely animated, explaining he and his family had a wonderful sunny holiday in Mexico only last year and he could provide many tips and advice if I could tell him exactly where in Mexico I would be. 

To which I replied, rather desperately: 'Oh you know, just one of the resorts'

Thankfully, before I could be quizzed further on exactly which resort in which part of Mexico I would be staying, we had arrived at Paddington Station. I leapt out of the taxi cab to warm wishes for a brilliant holiday in Mexico ringing in my ears.


Thankfully the remainder of my journey to Mexico Devon was most uneventful and the cakes and I arrived in one piece. A lovely morning assembling and decorating followed. I'd planned a three tier cake, but due to the beautiful warm weather and heat in the the amazing Big Top Wedding Tent, I layered just two and kept the third top tier for the caterers to slice to serve.

                             

It was a brilliant celebration on a beautiful day:


Just look at the delicious picnic basket canap├ęs prepared by the bride and groom and their families for all the guests to enjoy:




The wedding cake on display in the Big Top:


And thankfully the cake went down well. 

Phew! 

Now onwards for cake planning for our own wedding!

Top tier ingredients
(8 inch cake; 18 slices)

Cake:
225g unsalted softened butter
225g golden caster sugar
4 medium eggs, lightly beaten
100g sifted plain flour
225g sifted self-raising flour
Zest and juice of 3 clementines
2-3 tbsps milk

Syrup:
20g golden caster sugar
Juice of 2 clementines

Icing:
125g softened unsalted butter
175g icing sugar
50g best quality cocoa powder
1-2 tbsps milk

To decorate:
3-4 tbsps raspberry conserve
Approximately 70-80 dark chocolate cigarellos
One punnet (approximately 150g) fresh raspberries

Bottom tier ingredients
(10 inch cake; 40-45 slices)

Cake:
350g unsalted softened butter
350g golden caster sugar
6 medium eggs, lightly beaten
175g sifted plain flour
350g sifted self-raising flour
Zest and juice of 5 clementines
3-4 tbsps milk

Syrup:
25g golden caster sugar
Juice of 2 clementines

Icing:
175g softened unsalted butter
250g icing sugar
100g best quality cocoa powder
2-3 tbsps milk

To decorate:
5-6 tbsps raspberry conserve
Approximately  100 dark chocolate cigarellos
One punnet (approximately 150g) fresh raspberries

Method
(Applicable for both tiers)
1.       Preheat the oven to 170C/150Cfan/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line the cake tin with baking parchment.
2.       Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, this will take 8-10minutes.
3.       Add the eggs, a little at a time, whisking after each addition. Add a 1tbsp of the plain flour if the mixture begins to curdle.
4.       Fold in the flours, zest and juice of the clementines. If the mixture does not fall off the spoon easily, add a little of the milk.
5.       Spoon into the prepared tin and level the top with a spatula.
6.       For the top 8 inch tier bake for 1 hr 10 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. For the bottom 10 inch tier bake for 1 hr 20minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If either cake is beginning to turn brown around the edges before the end of the baking time, cover over with foil.
7.       For the syrup: Pop the syrup ingredients into a small pan and heat gently, stirring regularly before bringing to the boil. Simmer for a minute before removing from the heat. Using a skewer, prick the cake all over and gently pour the syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool in the tin.
8.       For the icing: beat the butter and zest together, adding the cocoa powder and icing sugar a little at a time until completely combined. Add the milk and beat all together.
9.       Remove the completely cooled cake from the tin and slice in half horizontally. Using a palette knife, spread the raspberry conserve and a little of the chocolate buttercream on one half before sandwiching the two layers back together. Ice the sides and top of the cake with the rest of the buttercream.
10.   If making both tiers, once both have been iced, stack the top tier on top of the bottom tier. Stick the cigarellos, which may need cutting to size with a sharp knife, to the buttercream around the edge of each tier. Decorate the top and the edges of the cake with the raspberries


Baker's notes...

  • The cigarellos can be purchased on various online cake and decorating websites- a google search for cigarellos will provide a multitude of results 
  • My top tips? If possible make a couple of the tiers up to three months in advance and freeze them to save 1am night-before-the-wedding baking. Also, if possible, try and ice and decorate the cakes as close to the reception as possible, especially in unseasonal warm British weather. Taking my time, without rushing and with a teeny-weeny glass of champagne in hand, it took a couple of hours to decorate this
  • I also made a more traditional fruit cake for the wedding, based on this recipe
  • This cake would also look yummy with cascading British summer berries
  • For our own nuptials we're planning a groaning table of cakes- a whole bunch of favourite bakes- ideas and inspiration most welcome!

22 comments:

  1. Wow! This is scrumptious! Well done! :)

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  2. your mexico anecdote deffo brought a smile to my face, so hilarious.
    well done on the wedding cake, i would certainly buckle under such pressure!

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  3. Lovely looking cake - you did a fab job.
    Glad to hear it's not just me who surprises even themselves with the mad answers that sometimes just pop out!

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  4. Wow - what a stunner. I bet your friends were rightly impressed with their wedding cake - I hope you were suitably proud of yourself! And what a good idea to leave off the top layer with the weather. You did make me laugh though - I wonder why on earth your brain chose Mexico!!!

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  5. Fabulous cake...you did a great job! I know how nerve wracking wedding cakes can be...I was petrified the one I made was going to be a disaster or fall over at the reception but thankfully it all went swimmingly too! Devon is lovely but I think I'd quite like to head to Mexico too! ;-)

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  6. Well done honey!! Always a mammoth task doing wedding cakes. Bet it tasted amazing! I'd be happy to contribute to your wedding cake table! Loads of you favourite cakes is a genius idea. Xx

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  7. Well done Kate, it looks so delish! raspberry and chocolate is one of my fave combos! love the strawberries all around the bottom too, and clearly on a subconscious level you were after some Mexico sunshine rather than Devon drizzle! haha

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  8. This looks sensational, you did a great job keeping your nerve, expectations of wedding cakes are always so high. I bet it went down a treat.

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  9. this looks lovely...much nicer than a traditional wedding cake....& I love those picnic basket canapes!

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  10. This looks absolutely amazing, your lucky friends :-) I've debated long and hard about whether to make my own wedding cake and decided not to (in fact I posted about it this morning, how funny) - seriously impressed that you're planning to make your own!

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  11. This looks beautiful Kste and I bet it tasted amazing as well. : )

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  12. You are ever so brave! What a great wedding cake too ... really puts mine to shame ;0)
    Well done.

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  13. Absolutely fabulous Kate! Love it! Karen

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  14. I hope you are proud of what you achieved. It looks sensational! I have never made a wedding cake before and imagine it took quits some planning on your part. I think your idea of lots of different cakes for your wedding is a great idea. And the story about blurting out "Mexico" is so funny!

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  15. Congratulations to the happy couple and to you for making such a stunning cake! Love your Mexico story too. Funny what late night baking and lack of sleep does to you!

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  16. Mexico indeed! I always have a guffaw whenever I read your posts. The cake looks fabulous. I would have liked a slice or maybe two or three.

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  17. Well I have heard that Devon is the new Mexico (not really but you never know, stranger things have been said). The cake looks beautiful, stunning but not flashy, gorgeous!

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  18. Oh well done Kate. Brilliant cake. So glad you enjoyed your trip to, err, Mexico! the wedding must have been favoured because I think we only got about 2 sunny days down here this summer. Love those picnic baskets, what a fabulous idea.

    Whatever you say, to take undecorated cakes down to Devon with everything required to decorate them and pull it off is a great piece of organisation.

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  19. That's a beautiful looking cake !!
    Well done, I would have had serious collywobbles if anyone had asked me to bake their wedding cake.
    Taxi drivers are such easy targets. You could tell them absolutely any old rubbish and it wouldn't matter. The last time we were in a London cab we got into a long discussion about camping in Turkey. I have never been to Turkey !!

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  20. What a lovely looking wedding cake. Have you tried making anymore wedding cakes?

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  21. This looks amazing!! Well done you! And ha ha ha @ lying about mexico - ah well, Mexico and Devon are pretty similar right? ;p

    I too made my first wedding cake a couple of months ago and it was the most nervewracking thing in the whole world! I don't know if I'll accept to do another one for a long time - it's a huge responsibility isn't it?

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Thank you very much for your comment- I appreciate every single one of them!