Back in March I made some cupcakes for my friend Claire’s birthday (see blogpost here) and she asked me if I’d make her wedding cake. I was very excited to make my first wedding cake, but also very nervous as the responsibility of making the cake for someone’s big day felt very big! But fortunately Claire was one of the most chilled out bride’s ever and said she would just be happy that I’d made it for her, however it turned out, so the only pressure came from… Me!
The wedding colours were grey and white, and Claire and her fiancé Simon had seen a white cake with a large grey bow that they really liked. Claire had also mentioned a cake with snowflakes on and thought that would tie in well with the winter wedding theme, and they’d also seen a candle cake they liked, as well as a cake with ‘love’ on the top. So I came up with a design that incorporated all the different ideas they liked.
This cake had a few added complications… The first was that the wedding was in Cornwall, 250+ miles from London, and they were going down the weekend before the Thursday wedding, so the cake needed to be made at the last minute to keep it as fresh as possible, and also need to be assembled and sturdy enough to make the long journey in the back of a mini! Being a complete amateur, I phoned the venue in advance to check their fridge was big enough to store the completed cake, only to discover they had a walk-in fridge (being a hotel!) so no need to worry about that!
Another complication was that we only have a small kitchen at home (not specific to this cake – it’s always small!) so I only have just over a metre of workspace to make everything on, plus our home was up for sale while I was doing this cake, so that meant four viewings that week. Trying to make a three tiered cake in a small space whilst trying to keep the place in show-home condition in between was not an easy task!!
The first bit I started on a few days before pick-up was the bow. I’d seen a great YouTube bow tutorial ages ago by Lesley Wright from The Royal Bakery, so hunted it out again and followed that. I used fondant for the bow and put it through a pasta machine several times to roll in thin and even. I took too long on the first attempt of the bow and it started to crack, so I abandoned that one. Attempt 2 went well, and I made a third also so that I’d have a spare and could pick the best one out of the two for the finished cake.
I made the ‘love’ at the same time. I used the pasta machine again to make sure the fondant was all the same thickness. I found a ‘love’ font on the computer that I printed out at the right size and cut out to use as a template. Again I made two so I could pick the best and have a spare. A couple of days later I sprayed them with pearl edible lustre spray to give them a silver effect.
The bottom tier of the cake was Chocolate Mud Cake with Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting, the middle tier was Orange Cake with Passionfruit Buttercream, and the candle tier was Sour Cream and Vanilla Bean Cake with French Sour Cream Buttercream. All three recipes are ones that I’ve used several times now and love, and are from Summer Stone’s great Cake Paper Party blog. Although the first orange cake had to go in the bin… Turns out that if you miss one part of the flour out of the recipe whilst being distracted by hubby and two year old who both want your attention, it makes a BIG difference to the cake…
I covered all three cakes in dark chocolate ganache to give them a firm surface ready for the sugar paste/fondant icing. For the candle tier I cut a hole in the top layer of cake so that it would leave a recess to hide a tea light in, giving the candle a real flame. I covered the bottom two tiers in Carma Massa Ticino Tropic fondant (which I’ve fallen in love with because it’s so lovely to work with and no longer want to cover cakes in any other fondant now!)
I covered the candle in modelling chocolate. I’ve always had issues with modelling chocolate before, so haven’t used it that much. Previously I’ve had issues with the consistency (too crumbly) and having small hard lumps in it. I found a YouTube tutorial on how to make modelling chocolate the FOOLPROOF way, by Shawna McGreevy of McGreevy Cakes. As I love her and her work, I completely trusted her and followed her tutorial with no back up plan, other than covering the candle tier in fondant instead. Thankfully, when she said foolproof, she meant it, and for the first time ever I had beautiful, smooth, easy to work with modelling chocolate!
Using modelling chocolate meant I could wrap it round the candle to cover it, and then blend the seam at the back. It also meant I could add the drips and blend some of the join lines. I cut snowflakes out of modelling chocolate also to add to the candle to fit in with the winter wedding theme.
The ribbon round the bottom of each tier matched the ribbon on the flower girl’s dress, and the ribbon round the base matched the invitations.
As the cake was travelling such a long was. I put a wooden dowel through the whole cake to try and stop it from shifting at all. I also used bubble straws in the bottom two tiers to support the tiers above.
I’m not sure what other people do normally when making wedding cakes, but I sent the venue an information sheet about the cake, explaining what flavour each tier was, listing all the ingredients for each cake in case any of the guests had allergies, and explaining how the cake had been put together (i.e. about the dowels and supports).
Fortunately the cake made it in one piece all the way to Cornwall! And had plenty of space sat in the cool room waiting patiently for the big day 😉
Congratulations Claire and Simon!