Writing about this cake seems like a bigger task than actually making it but, until baking becomes my job, I will remain pretty proud of this and tell the world of my own little (huge) achievement.
So about a month ago now I made a wedding cake for my cousins wedding. The wedding was a lovely lovely day full of smiles, colourful flowers and an overflow of happiness and positives vibes, not to mention a beautiful bride and groom. Congratulations to them both! A few months before the big day I was asked if I would like to make the cake (no pressure). I jumped at this, not really thinking practically that we have two small ovens and my catering parents also had a job the same day for 120. I have one oven now everyone. Just one. Practical Shmactical. But how much fun would planning, testing and making a wedding cake be! They were lovely enough to leave it in my hands and trust me to come up with the flavours and decoration. Although there were but a few small factors to dwell upon; feeding 120 for a dessert sized portion, preferably something with fruit in it, not royal icing or fruit cake (…more my request due to being rubbish at using royal icing; is it actually possible for human hands to get things so neat?!), the venue is 2 hours drive away so please do get it there in one piece andddd preferably it will taste and look great, not either or…
I cannot count how many cakes I made in the lead up to the day. Experimenting is a great excuse to make and eat cake on a regular basis. The staff room got to benefit from this also, so the only one losing out might potentially be my wallet, but we’re okay with that!
Over this time I may have had a slight bake-life crisis where I questioned my whole being when 3 of my sponges were NOT LIGHT AND FLUFFY. But I did really enjoy a tally chart that someone set up in the staff room; voting between two elderflower sponges; minor differences, the most obvious in little and large. Surprise surprise, most the men voted the bigger cake of the two, not that I’m trying to gender stereotype at all here.
Finally! Finally. I decided on my three tiers of flavours. These were as follows; layer one was an elderflower sponge hiding blackberry and lime jam and smothered in elderflower butter cream; layer two was an earl grey tea sponge layered up with raspberry jam and covered in a rosemary buttercream; layer three presented a hazelnut sponge cake sandwiching honey and mascarpone and finished off with a brown-butter buttercream. I need a cup of tea and a breather after that. Or maybe a slice of cake for energy.
Oh, I almost forgot, there were also gluten-free guests! Of course! Have you not heard we all should be healthy now and not eat wheat. I think there were only two guests so naturally I made enough cake for 40. I don’t want anybody feeling cake-less and empty.
I began with these two cakes on the thursday before the wedding. Easy. Done. Dusted.
Lucky for me, and maybe the couple and the guests, it was half term the week of the wedding, giving me a whole free friday to get started. So I got up wonderfully early to begin my new project. It was all a blur; I sang, I danced, I inhaled unnaturally large amounts of icing sugar, I whisked and I weighed. Despite everyone’s doubts and predictions I stayed sane and really enjoyed myself buried away in the dining room. My insides might now be made of sugar but who ever said that was a bad thing? I’m not even sure I had any mishaps and disasters. Except the scales breaking. And the gluten free cake did the opposite of two become one and may also have broken. No-body panicked.
Cakes iced and air-con on full blast even the 2 hour car journey was smooth(er than my icing).
I brought essential supplies with me, namely MORE buttercream. (If anyone is ever lacking in icing sugar, I have enough to feed all of London so come holla).
Decoration was simple and fuss free in the form of fresh flowers. I was told there was no colour scheme as such so I went safe with neutral pinky tones and dark green leafyness to spin and twirl and swirl around. I aimed for that “I haven’t even tried, I woke up like this, effortless random beauty” with the foliage tumbling down one side of the cake. I want to say I nailed it…
The first cake is more or less this one that I created for a 30th. The difference being the icing:
Elderflower Buttercream (doubled)
800g Icing Sugar (sifted)
6tbsp Elderflower Cordial
Cream the butter with half of the icing sugar until fully incorporated and fluffy. Gradually add the remaining sugar followed by the cream and elderflower cordial. Mix until smooth. Maybe taste as you go along too.
The second layer:
Earl Grey Tea Sponge
12oz caster sugar
300ml strong earl grey tea
12oz plain flour, sifted
Preheat your oven to 180C.
Start by creaming together the butter and sugar until it turns really fluffy and pale in colour.
Slowly add your eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat. Then pour in a third of the tea, beat and follow with a third of the four, beat again. Continue this twice more.
Pour the mixture into greased and lined cake tins and bake in the oven for 30 minutes; the top should be golden and slightly springy when touched. Ovens vary and the size of your cake tin will also make a difference so keep an eye on it!
1kg fresh or frozen raspberries
1 lemon, juiced
1kg fruit/jam sugar
Place half of the raspberries into a large pan and add the lemon juice. Turn on the heat and mash them up then continue to cook for roughly 5 minutes. Once they have been cooked, tip the mixture into a sieve and drain the juice into a bowl, carefully pushing most of the pulp through also. You will probably have to do this in batches.
Now tip this back into your pan, adding your sugar. Gently heat and add the rest of the raspberries.
Bring the pan to the boil and boil for about 5 minutes. After this, take it off the heat and test the jam to check it will set; the jam should thickly coat the back of a spoon or you can chill a small plate in the fridge and when you think your jam may be done, drop a small amount onto the plate, if you push your finger through it, it should wrinkle and your jam should set.
800g icing sugar, sifted
6tbsp double cream
6tbs rosemary sugar syrup
(I made my own sugar syrup by boiling 1 cup of caster sugar with half a cup of water and 3 sprigs of rosemary, I left it to simmer until all the sugar had dissolved and the syrup began to thicken. I then left it to cool with the rosemary still infusing, taking them out only when ready to use.)
Cream together the butter and half of the sifted icing sugar until combined. Slowly add the remaining icing sugar and continue to beat on a high setting.
Finally add the cream and sugar syrup and beat once more.
And the final layer:
3oz ground hazelnuts
10oz plain flour
2tsp baking powder
2.5oz caster sugar
4oz maple syrup
1tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
Mascarpone and Honey Filling
4tbsp double cream
100g icing sugar
4tbsp runny honey
800g icing sugar, sifted
6tbsp double cream
Oven preheated to 180C and line two round cake tins.
To make the cake, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, follow with the eggs, adding them one at a time. Next add the vanilla extract, maple syrup and lemon zest and incorporate well.
In a separate bowl mix the flour, hazelnuts and baking powder together. Sift over the rest of the cake mix and gently fold in. Don’t over mix at this point.
Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tins and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
For the icing, beat all the ingredients together making sure not to over whip.
Finally to make the butter cream you need to start by making the brown-butter. Place the butter in a heavy-based saucepan and heat over a high heat. The butter should melt and start smelling nutty, at some point it will start foaming, when this happens keep heating for another 5 minutes. It smells so tasty and part of me wants to drink it but that would be wrong on so many levels so don’t do that….
Pour the melted and burnt butter into another bowl and place in the fridge to set.
Once set, add to you mixer with half the icing sugar and beat together. Gradually add the remaining icing sugar, followed by the cream. Keep mixing until you have a smooth, soft butter cream.