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Archive for November, 2011

Wedding Cake 101

17 Nov

Our older sister Tinx is getting married to the super cool Minx on NYE and they have asked us to make their wedding cake. We were extremely honoured to be asked but also a little scared because

a) we have never made a wedding cake before and

b) the wedding is not in Sydney, so we were concerned about baking in a new kitchen.

After a bit of research on the net and finding other people who were in the same situation and had receieved heaps of advice we used the same advice and learnt ALOT.

1) It is possible to bake cakes in advance and freeze them.

2) Dowels should be used to support tiers and prevent them from squashing bottom layers

3) The cake should be assembled on site to minimise disasters en route.

Since the cake requested by the bride and groom is a secret family recipe obtained when Dan married Chris and we knew it worked we just had to make sure it would taste just as good after being frozen. It did!

So the past few weeks we have been baking cakes to test baking times for both 7″ and 8″ square tins in 2 different ovens. Now this particular cake recipe is a very liquidy batter so when we used the same quantity that makes a 9″ x 13″ cake in a 7″ square pan it collapsed in the centre. :(

We learnt that because the batter is runny it lacks the structure needed to hold itself up. So we halved the quantities and it was OK. Yay!

The next step was to test a few different icings. Of course we had to make a few cakes to cover in the icings. (I think this was when my spare tyre started to inflate.) We made a buttercream, a Swiss Meringue buttercream and a chocolate ganache.

I thought that the buttercreams, although they made the cake look lovely, white and weddingy, all I could taste was butter. There was also the issue of crumbs making the icing speckled.

The chocolate ganache however was heavenly. Now I know a brown wedding cake is not very traditional but I think taste is more important than appearance. whatcha think?

So after working out baking times and the icing the next step was to bake 10 cakes, freeze them, defrost them in the esky (which is how they are going to be transported to the wedding) and trial the whole assembly with the dowels and cake boards.

We have discovered that using the exact same recipe with the same size cake tin we get different sized cakes from our different ovens. Dan’s cakes rose higher and were more domed than my cakes. Hmmmm no problem I’m going to make the 7″ cakes and Dan is going to make the 8″ cakes. We also found that the 8″ cake board I bought is bigger than the 8″ cakes which are the top tier. It sticks out and needed to be covered with ganache. That’s not a major issue though. I can just buy a 7″ cake board and it should be fine.

The assembly begins with laying out four 7″ cakes on the 16″ cake board. Followed by a layer of ganache. Then another layer of 7″ cakes.

We then had to insert our precut dowels. You can just see them in the picture on the right. This was followed by another layer of ganache. We spread an 8″ cake with ganache, stacked another 8″ cake on top of it, then positioned both on top of the now 14″ cake. More ganache was spread over the whole cake.

Our only problem now is that when the top tier is removed to be sliced and served it takes off some of the ganache from the first tier. Perhaps after spreading the bottom tier with ganache we should stick it in the fridge and then put a piece of baking paper down under the top tier’s cake board. It’s worth a shot. I’d love to hear any other suggestions you have to solve this problem.

Next steps:

Bake the cakes the week before Xmas and freeze.

Defrost in the esky on the road trip up to Warwick.

Make the ganache and assemble on site the day before the wedding.

Decorate with edible flowers

What seemed like a massive task initially has been broken down into manageable steps. This cake is totally doable. I can see now why wedding cakes are so expensive. They are hard work! BUT so worth it!!!

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