Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Wedding Cakes!

The wedding cake.

After 'What's the Dress like?', it was the second Most Frequently Asked Question About Our Wedding. Perhaps it was because I'm known for my insatiable sweet tooth. Possibly it was because I write a baking blog. 

Of course, firstly, I contacted the experts. Unfortunately, Mary Berry was busy writing her one thousand two hundred and fiftieth cookbook. Dan Lepard was down under. And both Nigella Lawson and Paul Hollywood were too distracted by affairs of the heart occupying newspaper headlines  (it would seem terribly inappropriate to discuss wedding cakes, of all cakes, under such circumstances).

So I turned to the rich-n-famous. I could be inspired by fashion, Hollywood glamour and influenced by royalty. Or simply be overawed by height (a seven ft for a wedding cake, really?!). 

In the end we I decided on a Cake Table. Much to the disappointment of some of our more literal guests, this wasn't a table made out of cake but a table groaning under the weight of all our favourite cakes!

Long evenings were spent narrowing down our favourites and compiling and testing recipes. The baking proved very much a family affair. While I excitedly finished work, deliberated the ratio of bikini to mosquito spray for the honeymoon (2:3) and considered a last minute fake tan (I went for the English Rose Welsh Daffodil look in the end) Mum began the baking. We arrived home to full-to-bursting freezer. The day before the wedding we commenced the 'Welsh Cake Production Line', made pounds upon pounds of various flavour icings and tried desperately not to taste-test too much of the tiffin. Dad sliced, my sister, sister-in-law and I iced and my brother packed and stacked.

Talk about team work. The Apprentice's Lord Sugar would be suitably envious.

We had Carrot Cake, heart-shaped Welsh cakes (aww!), Brownies, mini Victoria Sponges, tiffin, Bara Brith, Coconut Squares, Coffee and Walnut cake, battenburg, Cupcakes, Lemon Drizzle Cakes and a lovely two tier iced Fruit Cake for cutting (pictured up top)! Each were placed on lovely glass cake stands and the table decorated with blue hydrangeas and yellow bunting.

On the glorious Wedding Day itself, the cakes were the dessert during the wedding breakfast. Each table were presented with a three tier cake stand with a delicious selection of the cakes to pick-n-mix from. I was informed afterwards that it became very competitive on certain tables!

The Welsh Cake recipe can be found here. The carrot cake recipe here. If you fancy a bit of Bara Brith, here's the recipe. And we used Delia's fine fruit cake recipe and Nigel's recipe for Brownies which proved so popular, as always. And as for the other cakes I will post them here over the next few months.

Terrific Wedding Day Tiffin
(just seen in the bottom left of the photo above)
For the biscuit base:

100g raisins
2 tbsps orange juice
50g mixed peel
250g Digestive biscuits
100g  dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
150g unsalted butter
2 tbsp golden syrup

To decorate:

150g melted while chocolate

1. Line a 20cm x 20cm square tin with cling film. Pop the raisins in a small dish and pour over the juice. Set aside for a few hours if possible to nicely plump up the dried fruit.
2. Place the biscuits in a food bag and bang the biscuits to crush them into gravel sized pieces with a rolling pin. Perfect for pre wedding stress.
3. Melt the dark and milk chocolate, butter and syrup in a small glass bowl suspended over a pan of gently simmering water
4. Stir in the biscuits and all the dried fruit
5. Spoon the mixture into the square tin. Pour the white chocolate and pour over the biscuit base. Pop in the fridge for a few hours to set.

Bakery's notes...

  • Previously on What Kate Baked... Soured Cherry Tiffin 
  • We cheated with the macaroons. With twenty-fours before the happiest day of our lives and with my history of disastrous macaroon making, Mr Marks and Mr Spencers came to the rescue.
  • What was your wedding cake like?

Monday, 22 July 2013

Hello! The Newlyweds Return and Tea Time Treats...

One wedding. One hundred and forty cheering guests. Three handsome best men. Two patriotic Welsh hymns. Three beautiful bridesmaids. Six Church bells ringing. One packed dance floor. Five great speeches. Several (hundred) 'happy-tears' episodes. One unexpected but exciting helicopter ride. One scrumptious evening souvlaki BBQ. One hundred midnight sparklers. Two Hundred and Thirty home baked individual pieces of delicious celebratory cake. Two delighted newlyweds.

Thirty glorious days on our honeymonth. Six thousand  two hundred and thirty six miles from home. Ten flights. Three countries. Approximately eighteen sea turtles swum with on the Gal├ípagos Islands. Two hours cycling in thirty five degrees Miami south beach heat. Thirty minutes sniggering at the name of a local bird: the 'Blue Footed Booby'. A Delicious Seventeen course (!) tasting menu sampled at Peru's best restaurant.  One of which: guinea pig (sampled with slight horror). Two days trekking to Machu Picchu. Six hour Peruvian cooking class devoured. Two glorious sunsets over Lake Titicaca. Ten hour luxurious train journey on the Andean Orient Express. Fourteen mosquito bites. Ninety minutes of daily thunderstorms in the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest. Numerous Pisco Sour Cocktails drunken. Over two thousand photographs. Forty minutes waiting with US Homeland Security because of dodgy fingerprints. 

And that's pretty much what I've been up to over the last five weeks or so! It's been utterly joyful. 

While I promise there won't be any recipes for 'Guinea Pig Five Ways' appearing on What Kate Baked any time soon, as the summer rolls on, I'll write a little more about our adventure.

In the meantime I've got two suitcases containing four weeks of washing to be getting on with. To put off this unenviable task and with only a few days of the month left I wanted to share my entry for this month's Tea Time Treats blogging challenge. My lovely fellow host Karen from Lavender and Lovage picked a fruity theme this month and my entry is this decadent Chocolate and Summer Fruit Birthday Cake. In the middle of all the wedding planning, it was Mums sixtieth birthday last month. We all headed home for the weekend and had a great time celebrating.

Decadent Summer Fruit Chocolate Cake

For the cake:
100g chocolate, chopped
120ml boiling water
300g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 vanilla pod, seeds only
175g unsalted softened butter
225g light muscovado sugar
3 large eggs lightly beaten
150ml buttermilk

For the ganache and decoration:

200g dark chocolate
220ml double cream
3 tbsps strawberry jam
chocolate cigarellos and a selection of summer fruit to decorate

1. Grease and line 2 x 20cm round sandwich tins and preheat the oven to 180C/fan 170C/350F/Gas Mark 4
2. Pop the chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour over the just-boiled water. Stir until melted and set aside to cool
3. In a bowl sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and vanilla pod seeds together and set aside
4. Beat the butter and sugar together for 5-7 minutes until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg, adding a tablespoon of the flour mixture if it begins to curdle. Add in the chocolate and buttermilk
5. Gently fold in the flour mixture and divide the mixture between the two prepared tins, smoothing the tops
6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until firm on touch. Leave for 5 minutes to cool in the tins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely
7. To make the ganache: Pop the chopped chocolate into a bowl. Place the cream in a small pan and heat until simmering point, stirring throughout. Remove the pan from the heat and pour over the chocolate, whisking the mixture until the chocolate has melted and it is smooth, glossy and thickened. Set aside to cool for 1-2 hours, or until thick enough to spread over the cake.
8. Use half the ganache and jam to sandwich the two layers together and smooth the remainder of the ganache over the top and sides. Decorate with the cigarellos and fruit

Baker's notes...

  • Cigarellos can be bought online or from any good cookshop. Otherwise use chocolate biscuit fingers or Cadbury's Flake Bar to decorate
  • If you would like a recipe for Guinea Pig, well, the internet can of course come to the rescue