I love food, I love cooking, I love baking!!! There is just something about the smell of freshly baking cookies and cake that seems to call to me every time. It is almost an obsessive need to flow with that scent that lingers in the air and just have it all around you all the time. Baking was something I had grown up around and pretty much forgotten about since awhile. I have had my mum experiment with so many different cakes and dishes which made me want to try some for myself.
5 x ingredients for Easy vanilla cake (see 'Goes
well with' recipe below)
5 x ingredients for Basic vanilla buttercream
(see recipe below)
340g/12oz jar strawberry jam , optional (I used
Tiptree Strawberry & Champagne)
340g/12oz jar apricot jam , warmed and sieved
4kg white ready-to-roll icing (I used Regalice)
15cm, 23cm and 30cm thin round cake boards
40cm thick round cake board
palette knife a roll of baking parchment a flat baking sheet or cake lifter icing sugar , for rolling out string , for measuring 8 x long plastic dowels
3.5m x 1.5cm white satin ribbon
tube of UHU glue , or similar
TO STACK AND INSERT THE FLOWERS
2cm and 15cm polystyrene cake
dummies 18-gauge floristry wire , cut
into about 20 x 10cm lengths
15-20 white and pale green
hydrangea heads (get some smaller, some larger, if you can); your florist can
40cm, 30cm and 18cm cake boxes
with lids, if you're transporting the cake
1.MAKING THE CAKES: Make the basic Easy vanilla cake recipe (see 'Goes well
with'), following the instructions below for each tier, then cool and drench
with the syrup. The cakes can be frozen ahead, without icing. However, if you
bake them three days before the wedding, the cake will be fine until the big
2.For the bottom tier, triple the quantities for the basic cake mix, then
spoon into a ready-lined deep round 30cm cake tin. Bake for 2 hrs 15 mins on
the middle shelf until risen and cooked through as before. While this cooks,
make up a quadruple batch of the syrup - this will be enough for all three
cakes. Cool and drench the cake with syrup as before.
3.For the middle and top tiers, double the quantities for the basic cake mix,
then spoon it into ready-lined 15cm and 23cm cake tins, filling each to about
two-thirds full. Bake them together on the middle shelf, taking the small cake
out after 1 hr 15 mins, and leaving the larger cake to cook for 1 hr 30 mins in
total. If you know that your oven has hot spots, quickly move the cakes around
after 50 mins. Cool and drench with syrup as before.
4.LAYER AND COVER THE CAKES: Make the buttercream as in the basic recipe. You
will need 5 x basic quantity - this is a lot, so split your weighed-out
quantities in two before you start mixing. You may have some left over, but
better too much than too little. Weigh out the buttercream - you will need
approximately 400g for the 15cm cake, 600g for the 23cm cake and 1.3kg for the
30cm cake. Spread a little buttercream over the 15cm cake board. Level the top
of the cake if you need to, then upturn the 15cm cake onto it. Split into three
using a bread knife. I like to mark the front of the cake on each layer before
lifting it off, using toothpicks, so I can reassemble it in exactly the right
way. Take the top third off first (what was the bottom of the cake) and set
aside. Carefully cut the middle layer and set that aside, too. A flat baking
sheet or cake lifter can be very helpful here to slide the cake layers off and
then back onto each other.
5.Spread a layer of buttercream over the cake on the board. Return the middle
layer, lining up the toothpick markings, then spread another layer of
buttercream on top. Add a little jam if you like, dotting it over, then
spreading evenly. Top with the final piece of cake, then dust off any crumbs on
or around the cake. Now brush the whole cake with a thin layer of apricot jam.
This should stop you getting too many crumbs in the buttercream. Sit the whole
cake on a large sheet of baking parchment.
6.Spread the rest of the buttercream over, starting with the top, then smooth
and paddle it around the sides and down to the board. Repeat the whole process
with the remaining cakes, using the corresponding boards and the different
quantities of buttercream. The cakes are now ready to be iced. You can leave
them overnight if needed, loosely covered with cling film.
7.COVERING THE CAKE WITH ICING: You will need about 500g icing for the 15cm
cake, 1kg for the 23cm cake and 1.7kg for the 30cm cake. Dust the work surface
with icing sugar, knead the icing until pliable, then use your rolling pin to
roll it into a circle large enough to cover the sides and top of the cake, with
a little left over. Use string to check the size. Use your rolling pin to help
you lift the icing over the cake.
8.Smooth the icing around the cake with your hands, easing it over the edges
and down to the board. Then trim off the excess with a sharp knife, flush with
the bottom of the cake board. Smooth any marks with the flats of your hands,
buffing the icing to a slight shine. Once you've iced all the cakes, cover the
thick base board. Lightly brush with cooled boiled water, then lay the icing
over. Trim to the edge of the board with a knife (I tend to do this like I
would a pie crust, holding the board in my left hand, and knife in my right),
then leave the board and the cakes to dry overnight.
9.STACKING THE CAKES: Dowels, which are basically plastic sticks, provide
stability and strength to tiered cakes, and polystyrene blocks allow you to add
a 'floating' layer of flowers. By measuring and cutting the dowels to the same
length as the polystyrene, you'll provide an even platform for the next cake to
sit on, even if the cake below is a bit wonky.
10.Sit the 15cm dummy centrally on top of the biggest cake. Insert four of the
dowels into the cake, around the outside of the dummy, in a square shape. Push
them right down until they meet the cake board. Mark with a pen where the top
of the dummy comes to.
11.Carefully pull out the dowels; then, using scissors, score around each
dowel where you marked it. Snap the plastic cleanly. Re-insert the dowels in
their original holes, rounded end down. Repeat the process with the 23cm cake
and the 12cm dummy. Position the biggest cake in the middle of the covered
board. Run a thin line of glue around the base board and fix the ribbon around
it. Fix the ribbon around each cake, using a spot of the glue on the ribbon to
secure it to itself. If you're moving the cake to a venue, put the cakes into
their boxes now. Make a little kit to take with you - glue, scissors, etc -
just in case you have to re-do anything.
12.ON THE DAY - STACKING AND DECORATING THE CAKE WITH FLOWERS: I used
hydrangeas - they're beautiful, in season and you can achieve a dramatic effect
with relatively few blooms. On the day, save putting the flowers on the cake
until as late as you reasonably can. Cut the stems of the hydrangeas to about
2-3cm. Split your least-favourite bloom into smaller pieces - this will help
you fill any awkward gaps later. Make sure you save one beautiful bloom for the
13.Insert a length of floristry wire into each stem (or wind it around the
stem), leaving a spike of wire about 3cm long. Push this into the polystyrene
dummy. Repeat until the two dummies are surrounded with a halo of flowers. The
bottom cake should be in its permanent position now - out of direct light and
away from any radiators. Lift the 23cm cake onto the bottom polystrene dummy,
taking care not to squash any petals, then repeat with the top cake. Fill any
gaps with the broken-up flower head you reserved earlier. Sit the final bloom
on top of the cake, and you're done!
14.CUTTING THE CAKE: Cut the cake across, in a grid, rather than into wedges.
You should be able to get 50 servings from the large cake, 30 from the middle
and 12 from the top, when cut into 2.5 x 5cm pieces.