Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Wedding cake

navy vines and ivory rose wedding cake
Em and her new husband Matthew

18months ago I was asked to make my first wedding cake. This wedding cake is the reason that Back Of Beyond Baking, 'the business', started and is probably one of the most important (emotionally) cakes I will ever make because it was the wedding cake of my beautiful niece Em.
Em is my God daughter as well as my niece and she and I have always been close. We look similar, are both babies of our respective families and have lots of shared passions. There is even a family joke that Em is actually my daughter who my sister adopted as I was only 17 when she was born (my sister keeps asking when I am having her back!)
Anyway, rewind 18months and a very exciting phone call from Em to say that her then boyfriend had proposed while they were visiting Harry Potter studio tour (one of our shared passions) and celebrating Em's 22nd birthday. During this conversation Em asked if I would make her wedding cake. My initial response was "you know I don't really do cake decorating, what sort of thing do you have in mind?" Em's response calmed my palpatations and sweaty palms, "I just want a plain 3 tier cake with navy blue ribbon around each tier".
"Okay" I replied "I'm pretty sure I can manage that".

 As soon as I got off the phone I hit Google and started watching as many videos and reading as many hints and tips as I could get my hands on. One month on I got another wedding cake commision, this time from my nephew, Em's brother.  You can read about that cake here  and suddenly I was spending all my time perfecting my fondant decorating skills.

As the wedding grew nearer and my skills and confidence grew Em revised her original design and asked for navy blue vines climbing the side of three circular tiers with roses on each tier. As is tradition these days each tier would be a different flavour; chocolate, vanilla and the smallest tier, fruit. I baked the fruit tier in January and fed it weekly until a week before the wedding when I marzipaned the cake ready for decorating. I kept my diary clear of cake orders the week leading up to the wedding which is what I have done with previous wedding cakes which I feel I need to be able to produce a cake fit to be star attraction at the wedding reception. I was glad of this forward planning after a mix up and a miscommunication lead to me having to make the roses twice and left me going from feeling ahead of myself and rather smug to feeling like I was running to catch up!

With a loose design brief I was banking on my knowledge of my niece to create the image she had in her head of her dream cake. I am thankful to say that when we finally arrived and set up the cake and allowed Em to see it there were tears of joy and a declaration that the cake was as she imagined in her head!
The wedding day itself was perfect with sunny weather, the bride and her bridesmaids looking radiant, the groom, best man and ushers (including Master Vander-Cave) looking handsome, the only brief hiccup when the brides father couldn't find his suit trousers which made the bride late. But from there on it was plain sailing with the perfect blend of tears and laughter and so much love flowing around the whole party. My brother in laws "father of the bride" speech was particularly poignant and I don't think there was a dry eye in the house.

The cake didn't get served until the evening reception to go along with a magnificent hog roast. There were lots of complimentary comments about the cake and in particular the chocolate cake which has become my go to chocolate cake recipe and is one shared by Lindy Smith on her website. You can find Lindy Smith's website here
Chocolate fudge cake
This makes a 20cm (8in) round cake 7.5cm (3in) deep – ideal for celebration cakes
 225g (8oz) unsalted butter
 225g (8oz) good quality chocolate
 1 (15ml) tablespoon instant coffee granules
 450g (1lb) caster sugar or soft brown sugar
 150ml (5 fl oz) water

4 large eggs
35ml (1.1fl oz) vegetable oil
100ml (3.4 fl oz) sour cream or you can use natural yoghurt or Crème fraiche

125g (4 .5 oz) self raising flour
 125g (4 .5 oz) plain flour
 50g (2oz) cocoa powder
 1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) bicarbonate of soda

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C (315 degrees F, gas mark 2-3)
Line the 20cm (8in) deep cake tin with baking parchment
Slowly melt the butter, chocolate, coffee, sugar and water in a pan, once melted allow to cool.
Add the eggs, oil and sour cream to the chocolate mix and stir well
Sift all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre.
Pour the chocolate mixture into well and mix until thoroughly combined.
Pour the batter into the lined tin and bake for 1 hour 45mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin.

Remember all ovens are different, so do check your cake towards the end of its cooking time