The cutting of the wedding cake. Gorgeous, serene photos that everybody treasures. Not so idyllic when you’re told you have to create the show-stopper to share centre stage with the bride and groom!!!
The brief came in from the bride, Hayley and having never baked anything quite so large before, perhaps I was a little blasé. After a fortnight of people asking me if I was nervous… I began to realise… That maybe I should be.
There were 4 key areas that are worthy of note from the adventure leading up to the cutting of that cake.
1. Structural engineering!
Traditionally the tiers of a wedding cake might reflect their respective weights. Not our bride’s brief. An orange-scented, heavy, rich carrot cake on top… Squashing down on top of a moist, tangy and sticky lemon drizzle… All perched on top of a light, airy and fluffy Victoria sponge base! Ahh!
So I had to work with internal supports… A first for me. Basically, they are large strong hollow straws that you push into each layer once iced for the next layer (carefully constructed on a cake board) to sit on. Therefore, no cake actually bears the weight of the one(s) above. On a positive note, that’s 3 great flavours to work with… One for each tier and not just Hayley’s favourite… But universally loved, what could go wrong!
2. Working in an unfamiliar kitchen.
Filming on location is always a tad trickier than in the comfort of your own home or studio. You have to think and consider everything and have a contingency plan up your sleeve for when things don’t go quite to plan. I mistakenly thought that at least using a professional kitchen at the venue would eliminate some of those concerns. Until, after a 5-hour drive down to Lyme Regis with a car full of equipment, I was greeted with a warm welcome from the venue manager and a verbal warning that the oven was a tad temperamental because it heated from the bottom and tended to burn the base of cakes. This warning was repeated by the caterers when they arrived and again for a third time by the head chef! There was no time to relocate (besides, we only had an AGA at our rented accommodation) I’d just have to proceed with caution!
A few ways of getting around this…
– I baked one cake off first as a test before getting too heavily involved with baking volumes. If it didn’t work out… I’d still have plenty of ingredients to try again.
– I baked the cakes at a slightly lower temperature for slightly longer… It was the higher temperature where the oven was more volatile.
– For fear of losing the bottom of the cake, I also baked an extra base cake. I had planned to slice each cake in half, but for the largest cake only the top half was the quality I wanted for the final perfect cake. So we had to nibble on the rest, mind you, the team setting up the day before didn’t seem to mind!
3. Layering VS Stacking VS Decorating… a balance of time.
I got all 3 layers of each tier stacked with meringue buttercream, carefully levelled and iced on top and a light scratching around the outside. I even went all out and made vanilla for the middle layers of the bottom tier, lemon flavoured for the middle and orange for the top. At this point, I cut the supports to size and inserted those, then eased them into cake boxes and left them in the fridge to set-up overnight.
The following morning (the day of the wedding) all that was left to do was stack the tiers and decorate. then get it back into the fridge for another hour or so until just before the meal. It was crucial to have the cake at room temperature for a few hours before cutting and serving so that it wouldn’t be fridge cold. But out too long and the icing would start to melt and the flowers would wilt.
4. Flowers and berries
I have enjoyed edible flowers before, but never bought or used them personally. So I went straight to a reputable source and bought them from Maddock’s Farm Organics. They delivered them in a cooler bag the day before the wedding (although I was stupid enough to give them the address we were staying at, not the one we’d spent all day at actually baking!) and we stored them in the fridge overnight. The following morning, I took great care in spreading them around the cake, making sure the colours were varied. If you want to know more about edible flowers then check out our other article here.
I’m used to presenting bakes to a single angle… the camera. This cake had to look stunning from 360 degrees! I also worked with a number of berries (blueberries, raspberries, redcurrants and gooseberries) and positioned those around the cake in groups of odd numbers.
The 9 layered, 3 tiered cake was topped with an amazing clay model that Barry’s Mum made… a brilliant depiction of Barry and Hayley at the moment that Barry proposed. It sat proudly on top and finish the wedding cake off perfectly.
All that was left to do was let the happy couple cut it and everybody to tuck in!
We think Ben did a pretty solid job there! If you agree, let him know on Twitter.
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