Making my own wedding cake

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Neil and I got married two weeks ago, and it was perfect. I never imagined everything could go so smoothly and the house and garden look so much better than I could have imagined.

I have had to keep off the blog for a while, as any cooking or crafting I was doing was ALL wedding related, and I didn’t want to ruin the surprise for any guests… But now, as all the secrets are out be prepared to be spammed by cake, dress (yes I made my own dress, and it was as stressful as that sounds…), invites and bunting galore!

_DSF3406This cake was actually quite easy to make, I used Frances Quinn from the Bake Off’s recipe in her book ‘Quinntessential Baking’, and it’s a lemon, mascarpone and raspberry cake (well technically eight of them) layered with some impressive structural engineering… (I got my brother to help place the rods in as he actually is an engineer.

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The picture above shows my genuine amazement that it stood up! (and did so for the entire afternoon!)

Everyone was really pleased with the cake, and as was I! I have never made anything higher than a Victoria sponge before. I made the sponges in my Aunt’s new high tech super oven (it has a touch screen and beeps!) on the Thursday morning, wrapped them up in loads of cling-film and then assembled it with mscarpone icing, home (aunt) made lemon curd and fresh raspberries. I added home grown lavender around the edges and dried flowers on top.

I’m rather proud of it.

 

Flowers are happy things: Yes, I made a wedding cake!

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So, last weekend was a bit of a craft fest! It was my cousin’s wedding, I wore a me-made dress (see Elisalex blog post) AND I made her wedding cake!

Last July, while having breakfast in a Norfolk B&B, my cousin asked me to make her wedding cake! WOW. Of course I said yes, but then I began to panic – I’d never made a HUGE cake before, never decorated one with anything other than a sprinkle of icing sugar or a dab of butter cream, never made *anything* out of fondant… but hey, how hard could it be?

They also wanted it allotment themed.

ah.

Here is the epic (mainly picture based) tale of the journey of the cake.

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It’s a carrot cake, with Swiss meringue butter cream. I used Ian from the Great British Bake Off’s carrot cake recipe x 2.5 quantity, and cooked it in 2 batches in a 12 x 12 inch tin and sandwiched them together.

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I made a trial run of the cake – full size, and practiced the green grass stippled effect and took it into my work colleagues who very graciously devoured the whole thing 🙂

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I decided to double the spice quantities (only 1.5times the cloves as they’re quite strong) because everyone loves extra flavour right?!

Together with my aunt, cousin, (now) cousin-in-law, both his parents AND my mum, we settled down on Boxing Day to make the fondant veg and flowers – it took ALL day…

My aunt later made the shed – icing a mini-fruitcake, and my cousin made the minion – the wellies were a last minute addition being made only the night before assembly!

I made the actual cake and iced it on the Tuesday before the Saturday wedding, drove it down to Kent (terrifying), assembled it on the Friday (took about 4 hours) and drove it to the wedding venue (even more terrifying) ready for the Saturday wedding.

I’m pleased to report that all went according to plan, the wedding venue AND photographer were super impressed, which left me feeling AMAZING for the whole day, and the cake was *still* moist and tasty on the Saturday night!

Congratulations Mr & Mrs B!

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Spiced apple cake – feeling wintery

 With Storm Desmond shaking the windows and rain smattering down it’s definitely a weekend to stay in at home, this is my home happy baking face:  

We’ve put up some twinkling lights and a few decorations and with carols blaring on the radio the afternoon called for a tasty warming apple cake. 

I found this recipe online as I really wanted something to use up these lovely apples that I got from my parents’ garden – my normal apple go to is a tarte tatin, but for once I wanted something a little lighter and less pastry based 🙂

  
  
  
  
You can find the recipe on the Hairy Bikers’ website.

With cinnamon, allspice and I added some extra ginger as well it was really warming and perfect for a chilly witner’s afternoon.

Toria

Pecan toffee cinnamon swirls – and tangent about how cook books and thunderstorms are connected

These gorgeous bites go out to our American cousins across the pond! In (early) celebration of Thanksgiving, and because my work colleagues are always keen for baked goodies, I decided to make these delicious sticky pecan toffee cinnamon swirls.


Now I don’t want to start any arguments here, so for the Brits amongst us, these are modified Chelsea buns, and for the American’s – cinnamon swirls.


I’m please to say they went down very well at work! I had to take them all into work otherwise Neil and I would be at risk of heart attacks!

I got these out of the Great British Bake Off: Big Book of Baking, which actually has a funny story about it:

Tangent warning* – So on the way back form visiting my parent’s there was horrid weather – I mean terrible: gale force winds, sideways rain, all sorts of things blowing across the motorway. Now I had already done my stint of driving (I hate driving…) and so in my capacity as chief navigator I missed the turning for the M6 so we ended up on the M6 Toll. This however was a really good thing in the end as the rain got to the point where we had to slow down to 30mph on the motorway as we couldn’t see a thing! As the conditions were so dangerous even on the nice empty M6 toll we stopped off at the services – where there was a Smiths, where they had the GBBO book on sale for a fiver… thus bad rain storm = cookery book YAY – Tangent over.


Anywho – these are those pecan toffee cinnamon buns and they are/were tasty!

Toria

Roll with it – rye rolls with garlic butter

Omnomnom – so I’ve had a pretty wholesome day today. After a failed attempt to teach myself to crochet I decided to do something that might have better results 🙂

Was anyone else watching the Hairy Bikers’ tour of the Balkans – Northern Exposure it was called? I thought it was fab – I always love the Hairy Bikers, they’re so happy and ‘real’ if you know what I mean? I love that everyone they meet can’t help but love them too even if there is normally a language barrier involved!

One of the things they mad on the programme was Pampushki (Baltic Buns) – they made them to eat with borscht, but I’m having these with sausage casserole.

I found the recipe on the BBC Food website.

I was initially a bit worried about them rising properly as the flat’s about as warm as an igloo…

But I’m pretty happy with the results, and had a nice afternoon knitting while they were proving, and I think they’ll be great dunked in the sauce from the casserole.

Toria

First steps into Sugar Craft: the terror of fondant

A couple of weeks ago my cousin asked me to make her wedding cake – now this is a huge deal, a cake, to feed 100 or so people, that needs to get from Manchester to Kent and be decorated to look like an allotment, AND be impressive enough to not only make my cousin and her fiancé happy, but also to impress my aunt who my cousin calmly told me – used to examine the City and Guild Sugar Craft exams. No. Pressure.

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I’ve never really tried decorating cakes before, nothing beyond smoothing some icing over the top of a cake, or wrapping a battenberg with marzipan (recipe to follow)… Still I’ve got six months to learn – I’m not particularly phased about the cake part – I’m good at cakes (plus Neil gave me a 12″ square 4″ deep adjustable cake pan for my birthday, so we have capacity covered).

But icing, is a whole new adventure.

I started with the basics last week – a YouTube tutorial on flowers, a quick trip to Lakeland for some white fondant modelling paste and a few modelling tools and off I went.

It’s not all that hard! Yes it needs patience and lots of deep breathing but that’s what flour and faff is all about, spending a little longer to make something better.

And here is the result of my first ever foray into the world of cake decoration. Next stop: cabbages and some sunflowers climbing a garden shed…

(I had to make some quick chocolate fairy cakes so I had a good background to show off the flowers!)

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Tarte tatin – the apple pie to beat all pies

I have tried many different attempts at tarte tatin, from Mary Berry and Raymond Blanc’s making the caramel first and then lining with apples before baking, or BBC food one where you are asked to grate the pastry over the apples.
IMG_1407This one is the best I have found, and it comes from the sticker which came with my Silverwood tarte tatin tin – it’s beautifully simple and produces the most amazing results.

The idea is the caramel is made with the juice from the apples – divine.

Now the first few times I made tarte tatin I did it in a frying pan and hoped for the best, the results were always tasty, but never attractive (and I burned my hand on the handle as I’m apparently incapable of understanding that just because it’s a frying pan the handle gets hot when you put it in an oven!). The proper pan for the job can be used on the job, put in the oven, has a nice heavy base and decent lip for flipping the tart over.

But don’t take my word for it – try it yourself: (and because it’s old school I make it in oz)

Please note it is SO important to stack your apples up vertically so you the most amazing and deep squidgy caramelised apply goodness and none of this flat tarte rubbish.

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Linda Collister’s TARTE TATIN
from ‘The Baking Book’ Serves 6

8in Tarte Tatin Pan

PASTRY: 6oz plain flour; 1oz caster sugar; 3oz unsalted butter, chilled and diced; 1egg yolk; 2 tablespoons icy water; a pinch of salt.

FILLING: 3oz unsalted butter; 6oz caster sugar; 3lb (about 8) dessert apples, such as Cox’s Orange Pippin, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Egremont Russet.

It is best to use tart eating apples for the filling – cooking apples release too much liquid – and to pack them together tightly. Don’t put the pastry onto the apples until they are sitting in a good brown caramel or the tart will be soggy and insipid-tasting.

Make the pastry dough by hand or in a food processor: Put the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of the processor and process until mixed. Add the diced butter and process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. With the machine running, add the egg yolk and icy water through the feed tube, and process until the mixture binds together to form a firm but not dry dough. If there are dry crumbs, gradually add a little more water. Wrap and chill while preparing the apples.

Cut the butter into thin slices and arrange to cover the base of the pan completely. Sprinkle over the sugar to make an even layer.

Peel, halve and core the apples. Arrange in the pan, on top of the butter and sugar, so the apple halves stand up vertically. Pack the apples tightly together so the tart will not collapse in the oven. Put the pan over a moderate heat on top of the stove and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the butter and sugar have formed a richly coloured caramel, and all the moisture from the apples has evaporated. Remove from the heat. While the apples are cooking, preheat the oven to 220C (425F, Gas 7).

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a round to fit the top of the pan. Roll up the dough around the rolling pin and lift over the pan. Gently unroll the dough so it covers the apples completely. Quickly tuck the edges of the dough down inside the pan, then prick the pastry lid all over with a fork. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Cool slightly, then loosen the pastry edges and turn out the tart upside down so the pastry is under the caramelised apples. Eat warm or at room temperature, with ice-cream, crème fraîche or fromage frais.