When my friend Andy got engaged two years ago I jokingly said I would bake his wedding cake. However, when it rolled round to the planning and he checked I was ok to be added to the spreadsheet – I was officially making his wedding cake! What I hadn’t banked on when I agreed to doing the cake was running a marathon and moving house the two weeks leading up to his big day.
The wedding cake was designed to be the pudding for everyone, so the pressure was on. My brief was a wedding cake to serve about 70; lemon drizzle on the bottom; carrot in the middle; coffee on top. Carrot is one of the cakes I think I’m ok at, I did it as my signature bake with my WI bake club a couple of years back. Lemon and coffee however, were new flavours to me, and on a scale I hadn’t baked before.
To serve 70 people I did a 12 inch bottom with 4 layers, an 8 inch middle with 3 layers and a 6 inch top with 2 layers. It was a huge challenge and whilst I’m pleased with how it eventually turned out, I would never offer to bake someone else’s wedding cake again!!!
The lemon drizzle cake
The bottom tier was the one I was most worried about. Not only did it have to be 12 inches, bigger than any cake I’d make before, as the bottom tier it had to be sturdy enough to support the other tiers and taste good as it would feed the most people.
After a couple of practice runs I eventually settled on this good housekeeping recipe, my rationale being they triple check every recipe, so it must be ok. The baking of the cake was fine, although it took quite a while longer in the oven than the recipe said. I baked it over two nights and then wrapped in clingfilm before freezing until the Friday morning before the wedding.
The cake defrosted perfectly and after evening off the tops I fed it the lemony sugar syrup before icing. For the icing I did a lemon and vanilla buttercream plus a heap of lemon curd. I thought it was a really nice combination, and just the right amount of lemony-ness.
The carrot cake
I had banked on this being my easiest bake, having baked it several times before. I’m not sure what I did differently this time round but I found it not to rise as much as I remembered. However, with three layers and being short on time I hoped for the best and froze it the same way as the lemon drizzle before defrosting again Friday morning.
Again the cake defrosted fine and once I topped with the cream cheese frosting I think it had enough height. I think in hindsight I should have made slightly more frosting than I did make to fill in the gaps around the edges as I think it looked a little scruffy.
The coffee cake
When I had a WI meeting a few weeks back it was someone’s birthday so a few of us brought in cakes. I decided it would be a great opportunity to practice my coffee cake, settling upon a Nigella recipe. Whilst women at the WI were polite enough about the cake I don’t think it was that great and I searched for another recipe. Eventually I settled upon a recipe from BBC good food website, a great resource as you can read all the reviews from other people who tried it.
The recipe was really good, although in hindsight I should have probably reduced the amount going into the tin as I was using a 6 inch instead of the recommended 8 inch. The frosting for this recipe was incredible, I’ve never made one with mascarpone and I was honestly licking the bowl. So, so good.
I was pretty worried about getting the cake to the venue in one piece, and then stacking it for the photos and cutting of the cake. Eventually, having stalked pinterest and reading a few other websites I decided to use cake dowels and perch each tier on a cake board on top of the dowels.
The first set of dowels I used weren’t tall enough for my lemon cake so I had to order some more from eBay which luckily arrived in time. Using the dowels was simple enough. After putting plenty in the cake I took out the one that was at the tallest part of the cake and measured half a centimetre above where it came out of the cake. I then used this dowel as the template height for all the others for each tier so I was semi confident the next cake would have a flat base to rest on!