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Making my first ever wedding cake

Friday, August 5, 2016

This is the first time I have ever made a wedding cake. This has to be the scariest thing I have ever faced in the kitchen. It was a real labour of love for my niece and her new husband. Here is the recipe and the details of how I got on...


A recipe for red velvet chocolate cake and the resulting wedding cake!

To be honest with you, I have never ever made a wedding cake. I have made hundreds of cakes in my day but a wedding cake is in a different league altogether.

My niece, Kirsten, asked if I would make one for her and her fiancé, Michael. I tentatively agreed on the basis that they were keen to have a naked one. For anyone who doesn’t know what a naked cake is- it’s really not rude. It’s a tiered cake without all the formal white icing on the outside. They look really pretty but their biggest advantage is that they don’t have all the complex work involved with that same white icing.

I felt I could tackle it but as often happens, things evolve and I was sensing a requirement for a different sort of cake that would suit the vintage style wedding that they planned.

It has to be said that Kirsten is probably the most organized bride that I have come across. She set up a craft club consisting of her bridesmaids, Mother of the Bride, Mother of the Groom, Aunty of the Bride (that’s me!), Grandmother of the Bride and Sister-in-law of the Groom. During our regular get togethers, we stitched, cut, crimped, chopped and glued our way to making hold the date cards, wedding invitations, evening do invites, orders of service and decorations for the venue. We even wrapped the favours. With all this activity, I had put the cake to the back of my mind- loads of time I told myself until slowly but surely the anxiety crept in!

I shared my fears with my sister, who I have no doubt was more anxious than me at the lack of activity. She told me about her friend Ruth who is a cake maker and decorator extraordinaire. Better than that, she told me she was a lovely person who had offered to and was happy to help show me what to do. I was ecstatic! We arranged for her to come to my house to show us how to make sugar craft flowers.   Ruth was a marvel. She arrived with a car boot full of cases, boxes and containers full of strange looking cutters, crimpers, rollers and pliers! She showed us how to mould the icing round the flower wires and use tiny little rollers to shape the carefully cut petals then glue them to the icing on the wire. We definitely were a bit slow on the uptake but when we saw the results appearing before our eyes, we had a renewed vigour. I had naively thought that one session would do it with the three of us involved but how wrong could I have been. This just showed me how far I had to go if I wanted the cake to have any impact at all.

Ruth was kind, patient and persistent in her pursuit of my excellence. She really genuinely wanted me to do well and wanted no credit for her involvement. She really encouraged me, showing me which techniques worked for which flowers and made me go the extra mile with the finishing touches. If it hadn’t been for Ruth the cake would have had a few sugar craft roses and not much else! It became an absolute labour of love with making and storing these beautiful flowers. Best of all it was a family effort, with my sister, Diane having made some of the flowers and my mum painting all the ivy leaves for me. All this and I hadn’t even baked a cake.

I had been doing a bit of research on wedding cakes and a little known fact is that usually there are a couple of fake tiers, iced and decorated to look like the real thing. Quite often the entire cake is fake and the real cake is kept out the back already cut into slices ready to be served to the guests- who knew?

I decided that a compromise could be had. I would have a couple of fake tiers but the real thing too so that they could actually cut into the cake in front of their guests. One madeira, one lemon drizzle (the grooms favourite) and one red velvet chocolate cake. The fake tiers allowed me to have most of the cake decorated and the sugar craft flowers all in place (with Ruth’s watchful eye monitoring and gently suggesting the best way to do it) This took the fear away for me, knowing that if the top layers looked OK, people were less likely to notice my mistakes)

I themed the cake according to Kirsten’s chosen colours, mint and pink. The flowers were made in pink, and white and a few mint with green leaves. These looked stunning set against the white of the icing. Ruth went one better and made 2 beautiful butterflies, delicately painted in a mint green colour. These looked amazing but were so fragile and dainty- they definitely were beyond my capability level! She even helped me put together a little selection of flowers to decorate the cake knife, which was a lovely touch.

Once the cake was delivered, I felt a huge sense of relief. I hadn’t really realized how anxious I was about it. It was laid out in its full grandeur at the venue, Tullyveery House and served by the lovely caterers, The Fatted Calf, who did a sterling job on the day.

The wedding could not have been more perfect.  All the planning paid off in spades.  The bride and groom looked beautiful and handsome in turn and beyond excited to be married.  The sun was shining, the venue beautiful and the food delicious.  All this and the happy couple were surrounded by their loved ones.  Thank goodness the cake lived up to the high standards of the day!  It was very well received and I was thrilled by the lovely comments! My huge thanks to Ruth who equipped me with the skills to do this. I am so very grateful.

My favourite tier of the cake was the Red Velvet Chocolate cake. I have used it since for several special occasion cakes and it is delicious. I have included the recipe and instructions below if you want to have a go.

 

 

Ingredients

  • 300g butter (room temperature)
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 25g red food colour
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • pinch of salt
  • 250g plain flour
  • 15g baking powder
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • FOR THE BUTTER CREAM
  • 200g Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 125g butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 650g icing sugar

Instructions

  • cream together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy
  • mix in the eggs
  • add the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt- mix well
  • mix in the food colouring and vanilla essence
  • pour the mixture into a lined tin
  • bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes When it is ready a skewer should come out clean when inserted and the cake should spring back when touched
  • leave to cool and split into 2 layers
  • prepare the buttercream by creaming together the cream cheese, butter, icing sugar and vanilla
  • sandwich the 2 layers together and cover the cake with the rest of the mixture
  • decorate as you like

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