I can hardly believe it was a whole year ago that Hannah and Bill got married, but it was exactly one year ago today that we celebrated their wedding day at Gosfield Hall. And it was such an amazing day. The venue was stunning, and everything was brilliantly organised and executed. Hannah had wanted her closest friends involved in various aspects of the day, and as you can guess, I was entrusted with the task of the wedding cake! I had only done one wedding cake before this, but this didn’t stop Hannah requesting some things that seemed a little out of my league!! As we talked about ideas, Hannah’s enthusiasm wore off on me & I agreed to quite a tall order! But Hannah & her mum Elaine were a great help, sourcing & buying all the extra bits and even hiring the cake tins for me to use.
My starting point was to bake a 14″ round fruit cake – the largest size I could fit in my oven!! This turned out to be very stressful, but with hindsight is now the funniest part of the process!!!… I had baked slightly smaller fruit cakes in the past, and had struggled to lift them out of the oven with my oven gloves on, as they end up so heavy. So as this was even more mix (including a whole litre of whiskey!!!), I had to find a massive washing up bowl to prepare it in as no mixing bowls were large enough! I also had to coordinate it with James so that he could be at my house to remove it from the oven for me, as I was worried about lifting it myself. I started preparing one Saturday afternoon and by early evening had the large cake in my oven, with the tin wrapped on the outside in newspaper to stop the edges getting too crispy, as it was going to be in the oven for several hours. Towards the end of the cooking time I also wanted to cover the top to stop it browning too much, and in the past I’ve always used baking paper for this. However, on this occasion it lead to a bit of a disaster! As I placed the paper over the top of the cake, the fan in the oven blew it up, and as the oven had already been on for several hours, it was obviously just so hot the paper immediately caught alight as it touched the top of the oven!! I realised and pulled it straight out and managed to get to the sink without burning myself, but as I returned to the oven I saw the rest of the paper in there had also caught alight!!! Terrified, (and swearing quite a bit!!) I carefully lifted it from the oven & cut the burning paper off & stomped on it to put it out….. Still shaking, I tried to assess how bad the cake was, and it was scorched just on the surface around the edge, and had lots of remnants of burnt paper on it! I could have cut the very top, burnt part off and carried on, but I didn’t think that was acceptable for a wedding cake! So, I decided to leave it out of the oven and start over again the following day… I cracked the kitchen window to get rid of the burnt smell & headed to the train station to collect James, who got in my car & greeted me with “Hi! Why do you smell like a bonfire?”!!! Still upset, I told him about my incident as he pulled bits of burnt paper from my hair! Once back home, I had a proper look at the cake… I sliced off the top layer which was scorched, and cut out the very middle which needed longer to cook.. We tested the rest & it was pretty nice! So I cut it into pieces and put it in tubs to take to share with my friends I was seeing the next day.. When I saw Hannah & Bill I told them everyone was getting some samples as I had set fire to it!!! They took the news calmly, & I’m glad they didn’t loose their faith in me because of it! I had to keep the hired tin an extra day, but the second attempt was perfect, & I now cover all my cakes with foil & not baking paper!!
I finished this tier as it could be done ahead of the wedding day, and found more struggles, but none as hindering as my first problem! This cake was so large, that I struggled rolling fondant large enough to go over it, even though I had bought the largest rolling pin I had seen on amazon! However I did manage it, and after a few evenings (adding the marzipan and fondant on separate nights) I had the bottom tier ready. I loved the striking contrast between the deep purple & the crisp white strips I added, probably helped by the fact purple is my favourite colour!
The second tier I baked was a 12″ Victoria sponge, filled with jam and buttercream, which I covered with white fondant and decorated with just a few small white & purple flowers. The top tier was from a new recipe I hadn’t tried before – a sticky ginger sponge. It was delicious! Again this one was covered with white fondant, and was to be covered in lots of small white dots. I achieved this using a special tool to imprint a pattern for this to ensure they were all evenly spaced, and then piped over each indent with royal icing. Luckily James was on hand to help me with this, and he followed me with a damp brush to pat down any dots that had a ‘tail’ on them & weren’t sitting in the right shape. As you can imagine this took quite a while and was somewhat tedious, but I was pleased with the effect once it was all done!
This was all of the work complete until the day of the wedding, and I had to be well prepared so I could stack & complete the cake at the venue, so I packed everything up ready & arrived at the venue in plenty of time. However, as prepared as I was I felt quite under pressure as I was assembling the cake by the stair well, where lots of early-arriving guests passed and saw me!! I also had the videographer filming me as I was putting the tiers together, which I wasn’t keen on as I didn’t want people seeing the incomplete pieces!! But, once it was all stacked & the ribbons were attached, I stood back to look & was really pleased with it!
Hannah had got lots of ‘extras’ for this cake, so it had a beautiful stand to go on, with artificial flowers arranged around the base of it, and two sets of ribbon around each cake – one personalised purple ribbon with their names and wedding date on, and one diamanté. The two biggest features on the cake were the vase between the top and middle tier, filled with lights and purple petals, and the ceramic topper of a dancing bride and groom with a large heart behind them.
The cake looked really grand and I nervously waited to hear Hannah & Bill’s reaction to it… Fortunately they loved it!! It matched the colours they used elsewhere in the decorations – such as on the stairwell as you can see below – and really suited the beautiful venue. Hannah & Bill loved their day, as did all their guests!