It’s stir up Sunday this weekend apparently. This is a good thing. It means I get to bake a Christmas cake, which is of course really quite exciting in itself. It also means I can justify writing a blog post I should have written in August.
Those of you who listen to the Electric Sheep podcast will know that my friend Hoxton got married this summer and that I made her wedding cake. I’d never made a wedding cake before. I was fairly confident about the cake baking. I’ve made a lot of fruit cakes in my time and to be honest baking fruit cakes is not that hard. It’s not like making a Victoria Sandwich.
Decorating the cake, on the other hand, was more of a worry. I did lots of research on the internet and had several long conversations with the very helpful owner of a local cake decorating shop (Sugarcraft Boutique – if you live in South London and have a cake to decorate I highly recommend you go there). I had all the necessary kit and felt reasonably well prepared. There were some things, however, that the internet didn’t tell me about making a three-tiered wedding cake and I feel it my public duty to share them here now:
1) Make sure your cakes are really quite flat before you start. Mine were gently domed. I thought this would be OK. It wasn’t.
2) Use a thick enough layer of marzipan. I don’t really like marzipan, so whenever I marzipan a cake I naturally seem to scrimp on the marzipan. This is a mistake. If you want a smooth cake you need enough marzipan to cover up all the raisin bumps.
3) Leave plenty of time to ice your cake. Don’t leave it to a few days before. You never know when your youngest child might start vomiting, thus making it completely impossible to ice a cake (unless you want to risk giving 100 wedding guests gastro-enteritis)
4) When making a tiered cake each tier sits on its own board, a piece of cardboard the same diameter as the cake itself. In order to make sure there aren’t huge gaps between each tier you should ice each tier on its own board. This means that the icing will go right to the bottom. In retrospect this seems obvious, but I didn’t think of it at the time.
5) Buy a lot of ribbon. You can cover up a lot of bumps/gaping holes/general wonkiness if you have enough ribbon.
Here is the finished article (the flowers were provided by the wedding florist):
This photograph captures, I think, the essential wonkiness of the cake. The official wedding photography managed to make it look perfectly straight. Wedding photographers are very clever.
So, how is this related to Christmas? Well, yes, the link is a little tenuous. After many years of making Nigella’s Christmas cake I have decided this year that I am going to make the Dan Lepard cake I made for the Hoxton wedding. It was a really delicious cake. Not quite as boozy as my usual Christmas cake, although I think I might play a little with the original recipe (which is online here). I’m going to add some pecans. I decided last year that a Christmas cake is better with nuts in it. And I will definitely feed it with bourbon. Lots of bourbon. It wouldn’t be my Christmas cake otherwise.