So I’ve already documented how I tackled my first wedding cake (with a degree of panic and trial and error) but it didn’t matter so much, it was a wedding cake not for a wedding. So for my latest and biggest cakey challenge, the pressure was really on as I agreed to make a wedding cake for one of my best friends, wedding. Oh, and I was her Bridesmaid so there was no chance of keeping a low profile.
Annie (the Bride) runs a wedding stylist and decoration business in the North West so I knew that her wedding would be spectacular and the decoration details would be carefully planned and measured to the nth degree. Months before Annie’s wedding we were discussing the cake and she was thinking about ordering one from M&S but before she did, she asked me if I’d consider making it. I thought about the practicalities – I’d have to take a couple of days off work, bake the cake in her kitchen (she lives about 250 miles away) and come up with a fitting design and I was unconvinced I’d be able to do it. Annie then showed me a broach she had sourced to use in the decoration and alongside other bits and bobs she had bought for her vintage film inspired wedding, my cake brain started thinking.
It seemed such a shame to order a bog standard cake (as lovely as they are) when I thought a cake maker could really go to town with such a striking theme. So, rather recklessly, I agreed to take on the challenge with the proviso that my cake might not be as perfect as the M&S cake, but it would certainly be more personal.
Between making that decision in May and the actual wedding in September I had many sleepless nights about the cake. Specifically what should be under the fondant. Duncan, the Groom, is allergic to nuts, so marzipan was out the window. I then spent a lot of time googling alternatives and found myself in cakey hell comparing the various merits of chocolate ganache verses buttercream. After producing test cakes and generally fretting about smooth icing, I decided to go with buttercream as something I’ve used many times before.
So when it came close to the big day, the plan was for me to travel up north on the Wednesday night, bake on Thursday, decorate on Friday, deliver on Saturday and the wedding was on Sunday. A sponge cake for about 100 people, 3 tiers – simple, right? Well, best laid plans and all that – I ended up being quite ill and was not able to travel till late Thursday evening. I had to call up the bride and ask her to make her own wedding sponge. Luckily Annie rose to the challenge, I had left my cake tins with her during a bridesmaid dress fitting, and under careful instructions she made the necessary 9 cakes (and 4 extra spares that went to very receptive family members…).
I set about stacking the cakes and decorating early Friday morning. I didn’t really know what my final design would be, but I had a few ideas and a general aesthetic in mind. Having iced and stacked the cake I started on the finishing touches.
I made 3 huge art deco fans, inspired by the broach, that I wanted to go up the cake. They were fragile and the gum paste needed 24 hours to set so I wasn’t able to stick them on straight away. Having added the ribbon to tie the cake in with the wedding colours, I wanted to make the middle tier more elaborate so piped beads and pearls using royal icing. I decided to leave the fans off the cake until I got to the venue as we had a 40 minute drive to deliver it.
It was quite risky to wait to put the cake all together design-wise, as certainly without the fans, the cake wasn’t impressive enough. I had some black feathers as a back up in case the fans didn’t survive the journey. I assembled the cake at the venue, was happy with the result and then had to quickly leave as there was another wedding about to happen. All I could do then was to hope the fans would stay put, the venue didn’t use it by mistake for the Saturday wedding(!) and the cake would be ok for the big day.
Luckily my worrying was unnecessary and the cake survived in one piece.
I couldn’t have done it without Annie and her patience but I am very grateful that she and Duncan believed in me enough to let me do what I liked for their big day. They even took a tier on mini-moon!
As I predicted, the wedding was beautiful and Annie’s attention to detail was astounding. I was very proud to be a part of their big day.