Project Wedding Cake: The BEAUTIFUL Day!

16 Sep

There’s something about weddings which alwaysssssssssss makes me emotional. What a beautiful afternoon it was. I’ve never seen the bride and groom so happy, they brought new meaning to ‘glowing’. I won’t go into immense detail about the cake making unless I get requests for specifics (I think everyone is very bored of hearing me talk about cake), but here’s the low down:

  • Every handbag I own contains sketches of wedding cakes. On tissues, gym passes, receipts, train tickets… name it.
  • Friday night was spent cutting out grease proof paper to line tins (doubled it up for the larger cakes to prevent the sides scorching).
  • Saturday/Sunday was spent making sure I had everything, and doing last minute calculations and cleaning cake boards.
  • Monday was spent freaking out about whether or not I should make the big cake on that day, or just wait. I waited.
  • Tuesday was spent making 12″, 10″ and 8″ cakes, and icing the 15″ cake board (for those that are interested – rub the board in shortening before applying the fondant, it helps it to stick).
  • Wednesday was spent making the 6″ cake and the most frosting I have ever seen in my life (unfortunately the sheer amount also resulted in the death of my trusty electric hand whisk. It was a tearful moment.), cutting the cakes with my lovely cake leveler, frosting a crumb layer, freaking out because I had slightly misplaced the middle tier of the largest cake resulting in an unsightly bulge, refrigerating, doing the final frosting layer, getting a little OCD with my ruler and set square to make sure that the sides were equal, then refrigerating again. Wednesday was pretty much an upper body work out. Who needs the gym?
  • Thursday was spent doing the royal icing…attempt one resulted in failure. The fondant cracked (I used silverspoon) both times I tried to work with it, and despite very accurate calculations (think rulers and string), when lifting to apply to the cake the weight of it just ended in disaster. Cue tearing all icing off the cake, retouching the frosting, re-refrigerating and rushing to the supermarket to buy a different brand [Tesco’s own fondant is actually FAB. Next time (next time??!!) I will use this one for every layer; I had thought that the silverspoon would be best (fantastic example of how marketing can sway you), but turns out own brand wins hands down (it is marginally more expensive)], rushing back home, re-icing the 12″, tearing it all off and re-icing again because it wasn’t perfect, then icing the 10″, 9″ and 8″. Cake smoothers are your best friend here.

By now as I’m sure you can imagine, I was pretty tired, and it was dark outside. Due to a slight problem with our plumbing leaking through the ceiling, only half of our kitchen lights are functional, so PD set up his light-as-the-sun-desk-lamp (which is also nearly as tall as I am) to allow me to actually see what I was doing. Definitely a lesson to share – make sure you have GOOD light for this stage.

Anyway, no rest for the wicked – the ready mix royal icing was next. I’d practised making this up a couple of days before and it was much too runny to do what I wanted to do with it. Definitely practise first. I also practised with some different designs on grease proof paper and stuck them to the fridge to see whether they would run down the side of the cake. They did. Definitely, definitely practise. By half midnight I was pretty flippin’ tired and grumpy and so-exhausted-I-was-ready-to-cry-tired and adamant I would never, ever, EVER make a cake of this size again. Especially when PD and my housemate wandered in joking that they were going to stick their fingers in the top layer (which was slowly developing little air bubbles around it’s sides – panic) and eat it while I wasn’t looking (they realised pretty quickly that this was not the time for joking, and there followed lots of swooning and compliments about cake. Ha.).

Finally the icing was done and I painted over it with lustre dust mixed in with rejuvenator spirit (at this point I was so tired I was nearly delirious and I was wondering whether rejuvenator spirit might actually cause rejuvenation if I were to drink some of it. Clearly cake brain had taken over at this point.). Despite the tiredness, the painting part was actually pretty therapeutic.

  • The part I was ratttttttttther worried about was stacking, and I had put off placing the big cake on the cake board for as long as I could, so I just had to get on with it. Luckily I had done the cake board long enough in advance that the icing was rather rock-solid and a little more forgiving. I stared at the cake and the cake board next to each other for a good five minutes. I lifted the big cake up, hovered above the cake board, and then chickened out and put the cake back down again. Then I looked at the clock and realised that I really needed to go to bed, so I picked up the cake and actually managed to get it onto the cake board without any damage. Yes, there was a little smug happy dance in my head.
  • Then came the dowelling process. After my slight mishap with different length dowels previously, I was pretty anal about this. Cue ruler again. If it wasn’t so late I was even going to get the nail file out, but by this point I was pretty sure there was going to be no cake at the wedding if I didn’t get to bed. The knife would have to do.
  • The cakes were boxed up and put somewhere away from prying eyes and fingers, and I finally went to bed. And slept straight through. For the first night of the whole week (yes, I had been that worried about the cake that I couldn’t sleep).
  • Next morning and off to Uni I went, a little too over excited and utterly spent from so much cake making and stressing. I managed to pay attention for as long as necessary, headed home, checked my baking box and check list of emergency cake things (royal icing in a piping bag x 2, cream cheese frosting in a piping bag, palette knife, string, nozzles, massive spatula, ribbon etc. etc. etc.), packed my bag (plus a LOT of make up to cover the large dark shadows) and packed up the car. Luckily PD was driving as I think I would have fallen asleep at the wheel.
  • The drive was good (thank you for going at snail pace over the speed bumps darling -xox-), luckily it wasn’t ‘too’ hot that day as our aircon doesn’t work particularly well. I was going to have to buy a few bags of ice and hope that the cake would survive the journey if it had been. We did however take a couple of wrong turnings and yes, I did become a little bit of a stress head, and I did force PD to pull over so I could jump out and check on the cakes at least once, but we arrived an hour and a half before starting time which was perfect timing all round.
  • A table had been set up in the room, and after checking that it was for me I brought the cakes in. At this point it would have been a good idea to check that the table had been finished with the table cloths and such required….as it happened, I didn’t. And it resulted in a slightly nervous moving of the already stacked cake onto a different table. Eek.
  • Soooooo……….stacking. Terrifying. Big cake out first, cream cheese frosting over the dowels, trembling hands and the 10″ was somehow on top of the 12″. You really can’t think about it too much at this stage, or you’ll freak yourself out. Sadly I did get one little fingerprint dent in the 12″, but I was able to fill this with the emergency royal icing and smooth it out with a palette knife, and it was very difficult to tell. Then the whole process was repeated for the 8″ and 6″.
  • Ribbons were attached using some little pins around the back of the cake, and a splodge of royal icing. A note here – we had chosen a sheer, transparent-ish ribbon. In hindsight, it should probably have been a block colour as the transparency really hid no mistakes! A block colour would hide any small gaps between cakes, and it would be nice to tie the colour in with the flowers.
  • The flowers had been left with the hotel and arranged specially by the florist. They came in a little black container with a little pokey-thing which sat atop the large cake. They were gorgeous!
  • Finally……….IT WAS DONE. I did a little happy dance and some jumps for joy, much to the amusement of the staff who were putting the finishing touches to the room, tidied up all of my things, and went to get myself a much-needed-icing-sugar-cleansing-shower, put my party dress on and get ready to enjoy the arvo.

Whadda-ya-know, seems like I pulled it off. In fact, two people actually asked me if I did it professionally. Ha. *smug face*. Despite my 1am so-tired-I-almost-cried-adamant-I’ll-never-do-it-again-moment……I would (but don’t tell anyone). Just because it made them happy. And I like making people happy. And I like cake.

Top Tips

  • Plan, plan, plan
  • Practise, practise, practise
  • Get an idea of how many people you’ll be serving – four tiers was probably too much this time round! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before, but you can make a ‘fake’ cake out of styrofoam and ice it like a proper cake. Not only will this mean your cake still looks awesome if you like the big and beautiful look, but it also seriously reduces the stress of needing to make and ice so many tiers quickly (as you can do the ‘fake’ cake weeks in advance!).
  • If you’re doing a sponge, make sure the caterers don’t put it in the fridge before serving. I know that I had a few hissy fits about the cream cheese frosting, but I found a ‘shelf-stable’ recipe which is safe out of the fridge for around 24-48 hours. It’s something to do with the ratio of cream cheese : sugar : shortening. It also might be an idea to see if they would be able to wrap each piece in a napkin to prevent the sponge from drying out if it’s going to be left out for a while.
  • If you find a brand which works, use it (aka fondant disaster).
  • Block colours for ribbon.
  • If you don’t want the fridge-cream cheese frosting freak outs, do a butter cream, or flavour with cream cheese frosting oils, or use a ganache for the ‘frosting’ layer, it will give you sharper edges for applying the fondant icing.
  • Run a piping bag with royal icing around the bottom of the sides of the cake before putting the fondant icing on – it will help it to stick.
  • Figure out your timings, especially if you’re really busy. It does take a long time – I think it took me around 21-24 hours, which meant that there were many late nights after Uni trying to get everything done and keep up with work. If you plan your time well, you can make it work.
  • Figure out pricing – cakes work out surprisingly more than one may expect, especially if you need to buy all of the standard cake-making materials in addition to the ingredients. However it still works out one heck of a lot cheaper than it would to buy a cake from a baker.
  • Be nice to your friends. They will be putting up with nothing but cake chat for weeks, along with the cake-related-freak-outs.
  • Don’t eat too much cake. You will feel sick. Especially if you insist on licking every frosting spoon available, and eating left over royal icing.  *groooooooannn…………….*


7 Responses to “Project Wedding Cake: The BEAUTIFUL Day!”

  1. mydearbakes September 17, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    Aww, this is a brilliant piece of work! =D

  2. DrinksAndNibbles September 17, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    Thank you! 🙂

  3. Caroline September 17, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    You wouldn’t have known you went through so much stress …it was beautiful and very tasty…. And I’m sat here eating it right now for dinner because, well, I can 😀

    • DrinksAndNibbles September 17, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

      haha, love it! Yum! So glad you enjoyed it. Was sooo good to see you and meet the lovely Ben 🙂

  4. ulipek86 September 17, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    This cake looks amazing!! I went through a very similar process recently when making my own wedding cake – luckily it was only 2 tiers, I don’t think I could have handled any more stress 2 days before my wedding 😉

    • DrinksAndNibbles September 18, 2012 at 7:03 am #

      I don’t know how you managed to do your OWN cake! I’d love to be able to do that when the time comes…!


  1. Griddled Courgette with Chickpea Salsa « DrinksAndNibbles - September 23, 2012

    […] is something that PD made up for me a couple of weeks ago when I was pretty busy making up the wedding cake, and it was honestly one of the nicest vegetarian dishes I have had in an incredibly long time. It […]

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