I want to start this blog by saying a huge thank you to my lovely friend and her brand spanking new husband for asking me to do their wedding cake for them! It was such an honor and I’m grateful they both trusted me, a fairly amateur baker, to do it for them.
The first time I ever made a semi naked cake was for my friends birthday and I got so stressed out, my kitchen was too hot and the buttercream I used was equal parts butter to icing sugar so it was too soft for the desired outcome. I think the cake sensed my fear. The first thing I said was “this needs to go in the fridge.” The second time I tried it was for my cherry cake – find the recipe here. It went much better, I was calmer, but didn’t have the right equipment. I used to knife to ice the cake and so ended up just scratching layers of cake away rather than applying icing. The third attempt was when I trialed the top tier for this cake and I was so pleased with the outcome! Find the recipe here or keep reading this post. I still don’t think I have the technique quite right as there was still a lot of crumb coming off into the buttercream. Think next time, if I ever try it again, I will use some milk to slacken my buttercream and use a denser cake.
This is the largest baking project I have ever done. I read loads of articles on making wedding cakes and how far in advance to bake, ice and decorate the,. I read about how to stack cakes and how to transport them. I researched the best icing to use for a semi naked cake and watched videos of other people doing this technique. I also left my top tier trial cake out on the counter (covered) to see if it would start to melt or slide. But everything stayed where it should have. With all the preparation I felt ready and excited. Not nervous or anxious, which is a huge thing for me – you’ll know this if you’ve read any of my other blogs.
I did my first ever Tesco home delivery for the ingredients, there was no way I was going to carry 13 blocks of butter home in plastic bags. It worked out really well, and the delivery driver even helped me unpack everything onto the kitchen counter.
It was pretty easy picking the flavours and design for the cakes. My friend and myself have very similar tastes and preferences. I told her to send me ideas and pictures of cakes she liked the look of. We settled on a three tier cake, each a different flavour – lemon and elderflower, chocolate and then lavender. Because this was my first time making a wedding cake I was glad she didn’t pick anything too fancy!
So, I started the bottom tier on Wednesday because it was going to take the longest to bake and cool. Thursday I baked the next two tiers and then on Friday I iced, stacked and decorated them with real flowers that matched her bouquet. And then, Saturday morning came the scary part! Transporting the cake to the venue. Luckily her brother was on hand to come pick me and my cake up and get us there safely. Once the cake was at the venue a set up I finally felt I could relax (until people started to have a look at it/eat it).
The cake tins I have used for these recipes are 6″ deep. So instead of making two sandwich cakes, it’s just one big cake that needs sliced. This means the cakes take longer to bake but I believe doing it this way means there is less waste when slicing in layers. They are also loose bottom tins so easy to get the cakes out! Thank you to my dad for buying these so me.
All three cakes were baked at 130 degrees Celsius in a fan assisted oven.
Lemon and Elderflower.
Lemon is quite a popular cake for weddings recently, but we wanted something a little extra special. Elderflower is a shared favourite of mine and my friend, especially in gin!
850g Salted Butter
850g Self Rising Flour
125mls Elderflower Cordial
4 Lemons – zest and juice
Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffly. Because this is such a large quantity I made sure the butter was nice and soft first.
Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to mix well in between. Then add the cordial, lemon zest and juice. Slowly add the flour into the mixture.
For the tin I greased it with butter then lined the bottom and sides with grease proof paper to ensure the cake would come out in one piece!
Bake the cake for four and a half hours (lol I know, it’s a long time). With a cake this size it’s important to cook it low and slow so that it doesn’t burn on the outside but stay raw in the middle. I let mine cool in the in over night.
Who doesn’t like chocolate cake, right? I wanted the chocolate cake to be rich and decedent. So rather than just using cocoa powder I used real dark chocolate. One of the eggs actually had a double yolk! It might of knocked my recipe off a bit but I was cracking the eggs into the cake mix whilst the mixer was going so it was too late to scoop it out haha! I am going to say it’s a sign of good luck!
400g 70% Dark Chocolate
450g Salted Butter
400g Plain Flour
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
2 tsp Baking Powder
4 tbsp Cocoa
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. Very satisfying to watch. Once melted take the bowl off the pan and set aside to cool slightly. Using the stand mix bowl, measure out all the dry ingredients and give a mix. Pour in the melted chocolate and give a good mix together.
Add the eggs one at a time. Again, I greased the tin with butter and lined the bottom and sides with grease proof paper. Bake for three hours and let cool in the tin.
The top tier was let open to ideas. I suggested doing lavender as my friend was going to have lavender in her bouquet! We both loved the idea of making the cake a little more personal.
200g Salted Butter
250g Plain Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Lavender Essence
Mix together the butter, honey and sugar until it becomes light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time.
Add the the flour, baking powder and lavender essence. Line the tin in the same way as the two cakes before. Bake for two hours and leave to cool in the tin.
For all three cakes the total amount of butter I used was 1,350g and 2,220g of icing sugar! I obviously did not make this all in one go!
Each cake layer I cut into three slices and poured over some simple syrup, which is just equal parts sugar to water. For the lemon and elderflower cake I used half elderflower cordial and half water to make up my recipe. Simple syrup helps keep the cakes moist, especially important when the icing design doesn’t fully cover the cake to keep the moisture in. Someone commented that the cakes were lovely and moist so my syrup technique was a success!
So, I started with a cake board on my cake turntable (thank you to granny and bamber for sending me the money for this), put a dot of buttercream on this to help the cake stay put. One layer of cake, a drizzle of syrup, a layer of buttercream (letting it come over the edges slightly), and so on until the final layer of buttercream. I used a pallet knife for this. Do this for all three cakes, remembering the cake board for each cake. I haven’t taken many photos of this process, probably because I was so tense and trying to get it all right. I also don’t think the cakes looked any good until they were all together and decorated with the flowers haha!
Once all three cakes are on their cake boards and iced it’s time to stack them. I used thin plastic dowels to help the cakes support one and other and not sink. These only need to be put in the bottom and middle tiers. Then pop it all in the fridge and forget about it for a bit, aka have a cup of tea and watch some telly annnnd breathe.
For the flowers I simply cut the stems short and covered the ends with tin foil – this is to create a barrier between the cake and the flowers. There is a much more technical way of doing this but I don’t have the knowledge, skills or equipment to do this and to be honest, it worked well! It is also best to use a florist, rather than getting time from your local Tesco. On the morning of the wedding I checked to see if any flowers had wilted and they all seemed okay, however I decided I would take some spares with me just in case there were any casualties during the journey to the venue. Luckily I had bought a few too many so was able to do this.
The venue supplied the wooden log that the cake is sitting on and I think it totally completed the look! The center pieces on each of the tables were sitting on smaller wooden logs so everything tied together nicely.
I’m so happy it went well and that people actually ate the cake went the night time buffet came out! I think I sat watching everyone go up to the table and pick up a slice haha. I think me and my stand mixer need a rest, and to not see any buttercream for quite some time!