The cake is the centrepiece of the wedding reception so to undertake to make and decorate a cake for a wedding is a challenge that many would decline. Yet a cake made with love and affection is so much more special than just another shop-cake. And it’s not impossible for even the most self-doubting of mothers or friends of the bride or groom.
A simply-decorated cake is easy to make and is generally more effective than an elaborate spectacle of a cake. And it’s cheaper too, and any saving is a bonus when weddings cost so much these days.
We asked Jenny to talk us through the wedding cake she made for her son and his bride.
First things first
I’d made my daughter’s wedding cake but hadn’t been confident enough to try and ice it so we had that done by a lady who lived nearby and who ran a very Small Cake Business. When my son and his fiancée set their wedding date I offered to make the cake for them too.
My future daughter-in-law said she wanted, ‘Something very simple and plain with maybe just a few fresh flowers on top.” That sounded easy enough so I decided to do it all this time.
Making the cake
About 2 months before the wedding I made three Fruit Cakes of differing sizes. I hired the cake tins from the local sugarcraft and baking supplies shop, and used my favourite rich fruit cake recipe. When they were baked and completely cold I laced them with brandy and wrapped them in several sheets of greaseproof paper and foil. Over the next two months I gave them occasional brandies to help with the maturing process!
Preparing the cake
I bought ready-made White Marzipan and Icing from a local baker who specialised in wedding cakes. About 1 week before the wedding I unwrapped the cakes and trimmed away any bumps and rough edges. I wanted them to be as smooth as possible.
I warmed some apricot jam to make it runny and easier to spread and covered the three layers of cake with it. After kneading the marzipan on a work surface dusted with icing sugar I divided it into three unequal pieces and rolled each piece out thinly enough to completely cover the top and sides of a layer. After gently patting and smoothing it, I trimmed away any excess from around the base, then left the marzipan-covered cakes out to dry off.
- Tip: If you ice the cake too soon the oil from the marzipan may seep through the icing.
Icing the cake
I repeated the kneading, dividing, rolling and covering process with the ready-made icing so I ended up with three smooth white cakes. And that was as far as I could go for the time being.
The bride wanted peonies on the cake but as the wedding was in April they were difficult to find. Instead I ordered freeze-dried petals and flowers from a supplier on the internet. I bought some ribbon from the sugarcraft shop, where I also enquired about supporting the cake.
I had assumed the three layers would just rest on each other but I was told that they’d sink down if I did that! Instead the top two layers had to have their own neatly-fitting thin boards, which would be supported by wooden pegs buried in the layer underneath. I was a little uncertain about this but was assured this was how it was done!
Getting it there and putting it all together
We lived one side of the country; the wedding was happening on the opposite side. Fortunately the wonderful sugarcraft shop also sold cake boxes! So the day before the wedding we travelled across country, with many exhortations to ‘drive carefully!’ coming from me.
The bride and groom had had the lovely idea of serving champagne and wedding cake in the church hall straight after the wedding so that friends and others not invited to the wedding reception but who wanted to attend the service could join in the celebrations. It was a modern church with a large kitchen so I was able to use that to put the cake together and add the finishing touches.
I wrapped ribbon around each layer and pinned it in place. After cutting the wooden pegs down to size and poking them in the bottom two layers, I placed the cakes in position on top of each other. I’d taken some spare white icing with me and I rolled that out and, using a special little petal-shaped cutter I’d bought, cut out loads of petals, which, when arranged to overlap, covered the joins between the layers.
Three peony heads were put in place on top and petals scattered around the tiers and tablecloth. Looking back I think we should have used fewer petals but the overall effect, though lacking the perfection of a shop-bought cake, was appreciated by the bride, groom and guests.
But do remember to remove the wooden pegs before serving to guests!