In February I had the utmost pleasure of making the wedding cake for one of my best friend’s on her wedding day. I have never EVER made a wedding cake before, and given I had only got married myself in October last year, I knew how much pressure there is for it to be perfect (after the annoyance we went through with ours, but that’s another story).
Megs had asked me whilst we were heading to the big smoke for my hen’s night back in August so there was plenty of time to sort out everything. All that had been decided is that it would be a Red Velvet Cake as I had made many (over 300 at last count) Red Velvet Cupcakes in the past.
After Christmas, Megs popped around and we chatted about possible options. To tier or not to tier? How many layers in the cake? What to decorate it with. After many a Google image search and taste tests of the cake and possible icings, it was decided. There would be two separate cakes, one 8″ the other 12″, with the 8″ cake being on display and used for the official cutting, with the larger stored in the kitchen for eating. There would end up being 5 layers in the cake (originally we were going for more but it wasn’t going to work), filled with a raspberry filling (Chris’ favourite flavour) with swiss meringue buttercream roses piped all over the outside, inspired by a post I saw on the “i am baker” blog here.
Once locked down, I thought it would be best to make a test cake (great move!). As my birthday was just around the corner, and our rule at work is to bring our own birthday cake, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give it a go (especially as how hubby and I didn’t really need the whole cake for ourselves).
The test cake ended up being 3 fairly chunky layers of cake and icing, with the outer icing about an inch thick as I used a large nozzle for the roses which in turn made the icing ridiculously thick (meaning it was left on a lot of plates).
However, the overall flavour was pretty good.
So with my lessons learned from the test cake, it was only a couple of weeks before I had to make the real deal. I took two days off work to make the cake, thinking I would be flat strap the entire time, but it was actually pretty easy going (and for this control freak that is saying something). So on Thursday morning I went shopping for all of the ingredients (grossly overestimated the quantities of everything I would need so I have lots of leftover butter, sugar, flour and red food dye). I was able to order the red food dye directly from Queen which was great as the supermarket never has enough of the little bottles when I want them, and it was a lot cheaper to order it in the 500ml bottles direct. Highly recommend going the direct route if you are after a large quantity (or come to me as I have 9 bottles of the stuff!).
With the ingredients at the ready, it is time to start baking!
As I mentioned, I was expecting to have to make a lot more cake than I thought (was estimating about 8 batches). But even with a couple of disasters, I only made 5. My first two 8″ cakes ended up looking more like giant Yorkshire Puddings as they completely sunk in the middle (I was too keen and moved them before they were cooked).
As you can see above, one of the Yorkshire Pudding cakes was used for taste testing purposes.
Next it was time to move onto the icing. The recipe I use for my Red Velvet Cake comes from Magnolia Bakery in New York (the version I use is here), and their creamy vanilla icing starts off with a flour and milk base which you can see below.
Half a kilo of butter and some sugar get whipped and then this mixture is added. The result is a beautifully light frosting which isn’t as sickly sweet as some buttercreams tend to be. Into this, the fresh raspberries were mixed through for the filling between the layers and some was left plain to use as the crumb coat. (Next time, I think I would use the buttercream instead of this frosting for the centre and leave it for the cupcakes.)
And so ends day one.
On day two, the 12″ cake was assembled and crumb coated and the most divine swiss meringue buttercream was made. This is now my favourite recipe for buttercream and I found it at Christmas when I was looking for a chocolate filling for my Bûche de Noël and it is by none other than Martha Stewart.
Once the buttercream was finished and chilled a little, it was time to pipe the roses with a much smaller nozzle.
There were a couple of spots that didn’t turn out quite as well as I hoped, but overall I was pretty happy with the result. And the bride and groom were also happy and that is the most important thing!
On Saturday morning, the cakes were loaded onto the lid of a plastic storage container, complete with non slip matting, covered and then took a very careful car ride (the longest half an hour of my life) to the reception venue.
Overall, the experience was no where near as stressful as I (and my husband) thought it was going to be, and I was really thrilled by the lovely feedback I received.