Tag Archives: dessert

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.

WE WOULD BAKE CAKE.

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

Apparatus

Only Part 1
electric whisk
big tins
Henry
1 port glass
blender
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
fork
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:








P5150011

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!

Pre-accident:

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!

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Recipe for Chocolate Dipping Sauce

Using a rolling pin, crush one 100g bar of plain chocolate, still packaged. Open the package and empty into a pyrex measuring jug. Boil ~3 cups full of water and pour into a deep pan. Stand the measuring jug in the pan over the heat so that the water comes about halfway up the side. Add 1 rounded dessert spoonful of margarine or butter. Stir as the chocolate melts.

Dip another dessert spoon in the boiling water for about 20 seconds and then use the hot spoon to add 2 or 3 big dessert spoonfuls of golden syrup. The hot spoon should mean the syrup glides off easily.

When the mixture is smooth and uniform, leave to cool. The sauce is good hot or cold: whilst it thickens on cooling, it should not set (unless you haven’t added enough golden syrup) and can always be reheated.


A Piece of Cake

We’re making our wedding cake on Thursday and Friday, but I’ve decided I can make the little white flower-like decorations to go on the side early: we have the rollable icing, and we can leave them to go hard before affixing to the cake using egg white (which is what I’m using to attach the ribbon – it can be pretty sturdy).

So I thought we’d talk about cake. Everyone loves cake. I’ve had a little browse on the net and found some pictures to help me with my flower making. None of these pictures are of shocking wow-factor cake because we’re going for something fairly simple. Partly because we’re making it, partly because that’s what the Fiance wanted, and partly because none of the wow cakes hit the right buttons for me. Especially flowers on cakes: they look pretty, but they don’t do it for me.

And so, having said that, I’m looking to put a few flower bits on our cake, chiefly the bottom layer. So our cake should look something like this.

https://i1.wp.com/farm5.static.flickr.com/4144/5103237394_e70c5a52f5.jpg

Except round, 4 tiers, and definitely no bow. I was planning to have the flowers more at the bottom kind of trickling upwards a little. Sort of like the inverse of this:

https://i2.wp.com/www.fairyfabulouscakes.co.uk/gallery/weddings/White_Flowers-Spectacular_wedding_cake.jpg

But with fewer flowers, all the same kind, and more spaced out. Rather like:

https://i2.wp.com/www.mywedding.com/blog/wp-content/gallery/p_316/white-cake-flowers-a-simple-cake.jpg

I have lots more inspiration pictures. This one shows all kinds of floweer shapes/types:

https://i2.wp.com/blog.jennyscakes.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/PetalCakeCloseup.jpg

Originally, I was thinking about fairly generically-shaped simple curved flowers, like these:

https://i0.wp.com/www.theweddingcake.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/white-flower.jpg

But the more I have googled around, the more I like the spikier looking flowers, of which these are my favourites:

https://i1.wp.com/www.thelittlecakeshop.co.uk/live/galleryphotos/221aB.jpg

I’m not sure whether I want the flowers to lie flat, like in the first picture, or curl out a little bit, as of the last. I will either make the Fiance decide (*ask his opinion*), or we’ll make our minds up when it comes to putting the thing together – but if the latter, the flowers will have to be kept moist once I have made them, which could prove tricky.

Another thing worth pointing out is the flower “centres”. I want flowers with no centres. Most of the above pictures either having little icing/silver balls in the centre of the flowers, or look like they’ve been attached with pearl pins. Laying aside the fact that neither I nor the Fiance like pearls at all, this is quite a clever way to ensure that your icing flowers stick to your cake and remain in place, although two problems do occur to me:

1) The pins would have to be stuck through whilst the icing was still moist, i.e. as the flowers are being made. This means either you’d have to make your wedding cake well in advance of the wedding and decorate it gradually whilst the central sponge quality deteriorates, or you’d have to make your flowers in advance, stick the pin through whilst moist and then pin the thing to foam or oasis whilst it dries and/or waits for the cake to be ready.

2) Your caterer would have to know exactly how many pins you have put in so that, on serving, she can count them all out and ensure nobody is accidentally served a pin in their piece of cake… as that would not make for a very happy wedding day. One of my teachers at school had a lump on his neck, which rumour told was because some kids put a pin in his sandwich one, and it got stuck and had to be removed! Never found out whether that particular rumour was true. It honestly might have been…

Cake without centres to flowers:

https://i1.wp.com/www.divinecakedesign.co.uk/images/Yellow-white%20flower%202%20tier%20wdding%20cake.JPG

And one last cake picture. I am not particularly in love with this cake: it isn’t a design I like at all, but I do love the colour. This deep, midnight blue just excites me when I look at it, and although we’re having a white cake (out of necessity really: it’s very hard to dye fondant, and with 5kg and at £2.28/kg and the price doubling for buying the coloured stuff, we’re sticking with white. Besides, finding the perfect shade is no easy task, and all our ribbon – which we have miles of left – is blue). Cake:

https://i1.wp.com/www.cakepicturegallery.com/d/50970-1/Four+tier+round+dark+blue+wedding+cake+with+white+flower+patterns.JPG

So, this morning and this afternoon I got to work on my icing flowers. I thought about making a cutter, but decided it would be too long and time consuming, besides of which, I couldn’t guarantee making it neatly, or it cutting smoothly when it was complete. So I went with the template idea: significantly trickier and more time consuming, but I have 5kg of icing sitting in my kitchen: if it went wrong I could keep rolling it out and trying again. Although hopefully I would be fast enough to mass produce.

I searched the web for flower templates, and after many explorations and frustrations came across these:

https://i2.wp.com/i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/RowenaFW/P5150001.jpg

I printed the patterns off in many sizes so that I could have a look at the prints and decide which was appropriate. I could always turn the paper round and print many copies of the favoured size overleaf, I decided – and then went ahead and cut it out anyway.

https://i0.wp.com/i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/RowenaFW/P5150003.jpg

Conveniently, I got by with the one template. It did get fairly soggy and stick to the icing at times, but I always managed to get it off without tearing it. The black gradually began to wear away, so by the time I was finished it was quite speckledy!

To make the flowers all I did was dust a board with icing sugar and use an icing-sugared rolling pin to roll it out nice and thinly.

https://i1.wp.com/i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/RowenaFW/P5150004.jpg

I then cut it into squares a bit bigger than the template and on each square I pressed the template to leave a faint outline. Sometimes I used the flat side of a pointed knife to do this, other times my fingers were sufficient. Because my board is ribbed, the side I rolled upwards had to remain upwards, so I was careful not to make any mistakes and “use up” squares.

Taking the Fiance’s non-serated point-tipped narrow-bladed knife, I cut out the templates carefully. As you can see from the results, some were neater than others, which generally depended on the quality of template impression and how moist the icing was. I suppose it also depended on how patient/impatient I was, and a bit of experimentation with technique.

https://i1.wp.com/i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/RowenaFW/P5150006.jpg

Spare icing went back into the original pack, which I sealed up inside two plastic bags to keep it moist for Thursday.

Progress was very slow. I listened to 3 discs of ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ whilst I was working and consumed 2 cups of green tea (and maybe a little icing).

I also found that the squares of icing were drying out as I did this, so I sent the Fiance to get me some tissue. Here is a clever trick for keeping pastry or icing moist without just wetting it… Take two pieces of tissue the same size, big enough to cover/lie over the top of your materials – kitchen paper is best if you have it. Dampen one piece. I do this by draping it over one hand, wetting the fingertips of the other hand under a running tap and then shaking my fingers over it. The water spreads quite quickly and it will try to disintegrate a bit, which is why you don’t want to soak it under full flow. Lie this piece of tissue over the dry piece and lie the double-layered tissue over your materials with the “dry” side down – which will now be damp, but not actually wet.

To ensure my icing wasn’t too sticky for cutting and peeling off the template, I laid the tissue over for about half an hour, then removed it, exposing the icing to the drying air again.

https://i0.wp.com/i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/RowenaFW/P5150012.jpg

To work out how many flowers I would need, I worked out the circumference of my lowest layer of cake, assumed each flower would take up 1 inch round the outside, that I would need two layers, and then a few extra crawlers. Here is how many I made:

https://i1.wp.com/i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee408/RowenaFW/P5150011.jpg

I then had to hide the icing in a drawer away from the chat, because I was afraid that if I didn’t she would sit on it. And there aren’t many places she doesn’t go!