Saturday, 11 August 2012

Wedding Cake

My stepdaughter was planning her wedding.  

I had made a wedding cake for her sister some years ago, (see the spiky cake in this post) so offered to do the same for her.  

I only make wedding cakes for family or close friends, or if somebody has twisted my arm a long way up my back.  

I enjoy the process of decorating special cakes, and certainly enjoy the challenge of making something unusual, but am always very aware that it's a big occasion and if I get it wrong it will spoil things for the bride, so it can also be stressful.

I sent the bride a selection of images to get her thinking about kind of cake she might like, 
and she fell in love with a cake by Maggie Austin.  

Well, as Maggie Austin is in the US and we are in Wales, we clearly couldn't buy the cake from Maggie.  I had a good look at the image on Maggie's website, and thought I had a fair idea of how it might have been made.  I contacted Maggie and asked if she could confirm my thoughts, so that I could try to make something similar, as it would not be possible for us to be customers. Both Maggie and her sister were really kind and helpful - and it turns out that they had spent some time near Aberystwyth and really loved it, so there was a link to Wales...

The bride wanted chocolate cake, the groom wanted chocolate orange, and there had to be a fruit cake too. I made a 12 inch chocolate fudge cake - the biggest cake I've ever made, I had to mix it in a washing up bowl! I also made a 10 inch chocolate orange cake (experimented with this, it tasted yummy), and an 8 inch fruit cake, which was well drizzled with armagnac - weekly, for several weeks.

All I can say about the way the cakes tasted is that there were trimmings from levelling all the cakes before icing them, and I and my son and his family did some quality control. We don't think any of the guests were likely to leave cake on their plates.

I covered all three cakes with 
fondant icing - I did wonder if Maggie's cakes 
are covered with frosting of some kind, because that would make it easier to attach the decorative icing.  

The cake is decorated by attaching strips of icing. All the strips of icing have a blushed edge, and most are slightly ragged - blushing and distressing added quite a bit of time to the process. I 'glued' each of the 200 or so strips on with royal icing. This work has to be done in small batches, as the icing dries out quite quickly. The completed top tier (above), was my 'test piece'. I was happy enough with it to carry on...

As you can see from the photos, the icing is graduated in colour from top to bottom, which meant mixing the right green to tone with the bridesmaids dresses, then adding more and more white until I had 6 shades of green. 

On the day of the wedding, I loaded the cakes into large boxes and took them to Clearwell Castle, where the reception was being held. Needless to say, by the time I arrived, there was a little damage to one or two of the strips of icing - done getting the cakes in and out of the boxes rather than damage caused during the drive.  

I was glad I had taken my cake 'repair kit' with me.  It took me about 45 minutes to assemble the cake, make the repairs, add the ribbon to the bottom, and position the flowers.  The flowers were fresh, and individually wired.  Ideally, there should have been a few more of them, and they should have been a bit bigger, but they look pretty good.

The bride and I had decided a clear glass stand would make the cake look as if it was floating, but the maitre d'hotel needed reassurance that it was strong enough....

I loved the way the cake looked, but the location made it impossible to get a photo of it without something distracting in the background!

This is probably my favourite picture. I'm thinking this is the view the bride and groom had when they cut into it.  Wonder how they felt when they did that?

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