Thursday, 12 April 2012

Wedding Bake

Back in October last year when my sister told us the very exciting news that she was was engaged I knew immediately that I wanted to make her cake, I'd always fantasised about making a wedding cake and making one for my sister would be a very special challenge. The planning began straight away and when I look back through my lecture notes over the 6 months leading up to the wedding the margins and spaces on the pages are crammed with drawings and plans, getting more detailed and frantic as the wedding day in march approached and I realised quite how big a challenge it was going to be!

I think the challenge with a wedding cake is not only making it beautiful but managing to make a potentially very large cake taste good throughout, and have a good texture.  So I did some research into potential recipes (we didn't want a traditional fruit cake recipe) and decided on a madeira sponge; a solid cake that would stack well and would also improve with age so could be make in advance.  The cake would be filled and coated with a lemon and passion fruit curd and a vanilla buttercream and decorated with fondant icing.  Instead of using marzipan beneath the icing as you would on a traditional fruit wedding cake my middle sister suggested using a coloured fondant icing that would give the cake some colour when sliced, brilliant!

The process of making and decorating the cake took about a week, and involved vast amounts of ingredients including about 10kilos of fondant icing! 

The caked baked, filled and stacked.

Then coated in buttercream and covered in a layer of coloured icing; the top was fuchsia pink, the middle purple and the bottom pale pink. To match the wedding colours.

Then on with the white icing, ready for decorating!

The most intricate decoration was on the bottom tier, and it involved cutting out about 1000 tiny white icing daisies, (something everyone helped with) I then glued these in diagonal lines around the cake using royal icing - it took about 4 hours, but worth it I think :)

The other two i decided to simply dress with ribbon and some fresh flowers arranged by the florist to match the bouquets.  

The finished cake!


Tuesday, 30 August 2011


Last year I began a tradition of taking my cakes to festivals.  It all started at a lovely little music festival in Gloucestershire called 2000 trees when I baked more cakes than even my friends and my eager appetites for cake eating could devour.  So we took them around the festival and gave them to people we met, if they managed to beat me in arm wrestle...(my biceps were in better shape back then).  It proved to be a lot of fun, and a great way to meet lots of lovely people - a testament to the power of cake!

This year for Green Man Festival in Wales I went all out and baked about 30 cupcakes of 3 different varieties; pink grapefruit, chocolate and beetroot and chocolate, beetroot and blackberry.  My biceps not feeling quite up to the challenge this year, we made people work harder themselves for the cakes.  This mainly involved press-ups or doing something stupid, or sometimes we just rewarded a friendly smile (even from the stewards doing SFA...).

The pink grapefruit cupcakes were from a recipe I came across online and had really wanted to try, they have some greek yoghurt in the mix which I am a big fan of as it make the sponge fluffy and moist and moreish.  The pink grapefruit flavour was a really tasty alternative to the more traditional lemon flavoured citrussy cakes.  For the decorations I went very girly for half of the cakes and a bit jazzy for the other, swirling some ruby red food colouring into the wet icing, the latter were my favourites.

The chocolate and beetroot cakes are a tried and tested recipe, one of my absolute favourites.  I took it from Fiona Cairn's beautiful baking book 'Bake and Decorate'.  I added some fresh blackberries to half my mix though as an experimental twist and also put some blackberry juice into the icing (stewed blackberries with a little sugar pushed through a sieve) which adds to the colour and taste.

The chocolate, beetroot and  blackberry cakes were topped with blackberry and beetroot icing, white and dark chocolate and blackcurrant sherbet.  

The plain chocolate and beetroot cakes I topped with a simple chocolate buttercream.  

The fantastic boxes I used were from Morrissons, two for £2; I highly recommend their baking section it is full of little gems like these.  

Good cakes.  Good festival.  Good times.



Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Time for tea

Some 'tea-cup-cakes' I made last week as a well deserved treat (particularly for Emily the driver) after driving several hundred miles around London, Derbyshire and Surrey emptying our flat.  The silicon cases were a birthday present from a very lovely Miss Connie Szecsei.  I had been looking forward to trying them out after the dreaded end of year exams were over and they didn't disappoint, I think they are beautiful! 

I filled the lovely cases with some lemon drizzle cupcakes and topped them with some italian meringue, lemon zest and fresh berries from the garden, simple, but pretty and delicious :)

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Speaking of birthdays...

...I had my own birthday not so long ago and it happened to coincide with the birthdays of some other lovely people, so we had a bit of a do in a nice camden pub.  We were presented with some beautiful, and delicious, cakes :)

I  love giraffes, it was difficult bringing myself to cut the first slice of this one, made by the highly talented Francesa Mitchell. 

I also made a few little cakes for the other birthday girls:

Passion fruit meringue cupcakes: Greek yoghurt sponge with passion fruit curd and italian meringue on top, decorated with some of my hoard from the sweet shop in Haslemere :)

Monday, 8 August 2011

Birthday Bonanza

This weekend was my sister's 30th and I had the task of making the cake, something I eagerly volunteered for - planning it had kept me occupied in many a dull lecture over the past few months!  Like myself, my sister adores passion fruit so that was the basis of the main cake, and for a bit of extra fun I did some indulgent millionaires shortbread.  It was a lot of fun to do and the plates were cleared fairly quickly, which is always an encouraging sign :)

The main event; passion fruit chiffon cake with a passion fruit cream filling (a recipe I hadn't tried before, tasty but I think I prefer a more traditional english sponge mix - if I did it again I'd use the passion fruit cupcake recipe from Susannah Blake's cupcake book, it's delicious)

Millionaire's shortbread 'cupcakes'; I made them individually in a deep muffin tin

Monday, 30 May 2011

Sunday, Monday, happy daze

May is the most generous month for holidays, and even more so this year.  It may only be one extra day, but that pleasant drift from Sunday into monday, avoiding the horrible usual sinking Sunday evening feeling, never fails to disappoint - no matter what you do with it.  This bank holiday weekend, as you would expect, I spent a large amount of my time baking.  It may not have been the sunniest of holidays, but I tried to brighten it up with some summery cakes, these were my final offerings:

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes, with some more violets pinched from the garden.  :)

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Flower Power (2)

Flower cake no 2 was for the birthday of Miss Poppy French.  The cake was a blueberry soured cream cake , I addd a few less blueberries ad put in some raspberries for extra colour and taste.  

I topped it with cream cheese/sour cream icing (my cream cheese was low fat which is why it looks quite runny, but it still tasted good and I think the drizzly look suits the cake).  Then I scattered on shards of meringue, piles of fresh raspberries and blueberries, some more meringue crumbs and some fresh flowers and herbs from the garden.  I used little violets (I looked them up to check they are edible and gave them a gentle wash), and some mint sprigs.  

I finished the cake off with some drizzles of peach sauce; I made the peach sauce by heating some chopped peaches to soften them, blitzing them and then pushing the pulp through a sieve.  The remaining juice I then heated on the hob and dissolved some caster sugar in to taste, don't overheat it or it will congeal and loose its pretty pinky colour.  

Any fruit/flower combination would work beautifully on this cake - just make sure the flowers aren't poisonous!