A Piece of Cake

We were determined to make our own cake.

I know what everyone says – that it’s too hard and too much work close to the day (especially if, like us, you want sponge not fruit). That we’ll just end up stressed. But I continued to read about other brides making their cake, and I really really wanted to.

We couldn’t believe the costs of cake, and I wasn’t convinced that any were that good (knowing how long they left them out, and trying a few samples). We didn’t want “meh” cake: we wanted excellent cake.

When I am stressed, I bake. I baked all the way through my exam revision (much to the delight of my housemates). My cooking style is high speed and manic, so people often think I’m stressed. I’m not. I translate internal stress into physical actions: I create things, and creating takes the stress away. What better thing to be doing on the lead up to the wedding! And furthermore it would be something we would do together, we could work together on in the lead up to the day. Because that’s important, and when you’re organising a big event, “you (pl)” time is not necessarily on the cards.


Here are some pictures of our trials.

After extensive research, and the subjecting of many innocent people to lots of cake testing, we decided on our four layers:

We had 11inch, 9inch, 7inch and 5inch tins from TK Max and bought dowels and boards from Halstead Icing. We made the cake boxes ourselves with tape and cardboard (Tom had to remake one because I had underestimated originally).

The chocolate raspberry port cake was especially popular during the trials. I put some on the table and everybody took a polite share. Then I said I had more, put out some extra, and it was seized!

For completeness, I include my recipes (to scale) here. Each of these recipes have been tried and tested, with different quantities of ingredients and methods to get the softest, yummiest sponge that keeps okay for a couple of days.

Victoria Sponge

For the whole cake (mixture should be halved so that the two halves may be stuck together):

150g sr flour
150g soft margarine
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
Vanilla essence

180°C/Gas Mark 4

Sticky Rum and Vanilla Pudding

For each half of the cake:

100g sr flour
100g soft margarine
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
Vanilla essence
Rum flavouring
100g of crushed walnuts (or walnuts and flaked almonds)

Overall topping
125g clear honey
250g caster sugar
200ml water

180°C/Gas Mark 4

Put all the syrup ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon.

Limoncello Indulgence

For each half of the cake:

150g sr flour
150g soft margarine
150g caster sugar
40g dessicated coconut
1½ lemons (grated rind)
3 eggs
1½ tbs milk

Overall topping
3 tbs caster sugar
3 lemons (juice)
Limoncello to taste

180°C/Gas Mark 4

Cook for 45 minutes and allow to cool for ~5 minutes before lifting from the tin.
Mix and warm the sugar and lemon juices, make holes in the top using a fork and cover spoonwise.

Raspberry Chocolate Port Cake

For each half of the cake:

200g of cooking chocolate
2 port glass full of port – combine in Henry
150g butter/margarine

2 punnet of pureed raspberries

4 egg yolks
12 tbs sugar – combine

4 tbs sugar
4 egg whites – beat together

COMBINE ALL + 12 tbs sr flour

165°C/Gas Mark 3


Only Part 1
electric whisk
big tins
1 port glass
a small grater
a lemon squeezer
a cup
a rolling pin

All/Only Part 2
2 mixing bowls
small tins
bowl scraping out tools
butter knife
pastry brush
table spoon
a small, non-stick pan
a wooden spoon
weighing scales
pestle and mortar (if nuts are whole)

NB. an extra 2 eggs are needed to use the white for sticking on the ribbon.
Henry is my pyrex measuring jug. His real name is Henry III.

Making the real thing:


I get the impression a few people were on tenterhooks as I updated my facebook status on the amount of cake we had produced. On the Thursday before the wedding, we did the chocolate and lemon layers, then we did the top two at Cecily’s the day after.

The lemon layer did collapse a bit – and I realise I should have shaved off the tops to make them sit less wonkily together. We had the top two layers removed before the breakfast as the lemon layer was so bad! So we cut a somewhat dimished cake. But – here is the final thing!


And post-accident:

Again, I don’t have any pictures of the cake being served and eaten, but it looked very exciting being circulated on massive round trays with an assortment of colours. Guy and I had some of all four layers and took a massive leftover piece of the rum layer on honeymoon, which was consumed for lunch on the Eurostar the next day! Guy’s dad also managed to wing an extra slice, and was very pleased with himself about it!

As had always been my priority, the cake was delicious. Guy said afterwards how pleased he was that we had done it: as it was displayed and as we watched it go out and everybody tuck in, we could think, “We made that. We did that.” So even a wonky, tumble-cake was so worth the effort, and I would urge anybody considering it to have a go!

And if you will, here are a few tips! …

– Test your oven many times to see ‘how’ it cooks your cake. We made the top two layers at Cecily’s and just had to trust her oven – luckily it was amazing (and these were the least risky layers by composition and size! – and we had time for repeats).

– Give yourself times for repeats!

– Don’t put the icing on your cake when it is still warm, even if you’re struggling for time. This is what I did with the lemon layer aiding it’s collapse. It will mostly be fine, but the weight may be too much for delicate sponges at this stage

– Test putting together layers in advance (we should have done this)

– Skim off the rounded top of your cake (don’t just try to squash it a bit) to help them stack better

– Talk to a good cake shop person and get advice and ideas

– Test the stand can hold the weight of your cake (we had fun with this)

– Try your recipes lots to get an idea of variation

– Get lots of help. Guy and I had Tom for the first ones and Cecily and Tom for the second ones

– Buy LOTS of icing. We had 1.5kg left over (we bought 5kg)

– Enjoy it! Everyone loves cake!


About RowenaFW

I am a Fish. But you wouldn't know it just from looking at me. View all posts by RowenaFW

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