Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The story of the wedding cake (day 1)

First of all, huge apologies for leaving it so long between posts. I spent the first half of August doing  (and the second half of July preparing for) a trip to southern Belarus, volunteering with Chernobyl Children's Project (UK), and without any access to the internet (or non-radioactive ingredients, but that's beside the point). Some Belarus-insipred recipes will doubtless follow, but in the meantime the next few entries will surely make up for the recent lack of action on my part.

My first culinary project since returning has been the challenge of creating a three-tier maderia wedding cake to feed about 130 people, for my friend A's Hindu wedding ceremony. Welcome to the story of the wedding cake...

Day 1

1. The first step was to bake the top two tiers - 6" and 9" madeira cakes, made according to my 'perfect madeira cake' recipe. Luckily these just about managed to fit together on one shelf of my oven, leaving the top shelf free for a baking sheet to shield them, and the oven floor clear for a bowl of water to ensure that they would be super moist.

2. Whilst these were baking in the oven, I started making the icing roses to decorate the cake. Before leaving for Belarus, I had already mixed the perfect shade of deep red icing, using the red of the cake ribbon and the silk petals that the bride was using for table decorations as a colour reference.

I had initially thought about hand-making the roses from scratch, but soon realised that for the amount I would need, this would be an impossibly time-consuming task, so I invested in a silicone rose mould - worth every penny! Just squelch the icing into the mould, wiggle out, and you're done! Rubber gloves are highly recommended for this stage, since the gel food colouring is so potent that it can easily dye skin. Many thanks to M for her slave labour assisting with the roses!

3. As a side project, I started thinking about what I could do with the juice of the 10 lemons I'd zested for the wedding cake (but that's another story entirely).

4. Top two tiers successfully baked, and time to start on the almighly bottom tier, for which a whopping 15 eggs were needed. The lemon in the bottom picture gives and idea of the scale of the thing when it came out of the oven.

And with the newspaper removed, you can see just how much the cake rose above the line of the tin...

So - day one ends. All three tiers are baked and wrapped airtight. The majority of the roses are moulded, and I have cut some rose leaves out of ivory coloured icing, ready to paint gold tomorrow.

The kitchen is covered in the compnonent parts of a wedding cake, and the whole house smells like a confectionary shop. Sweet dreams!

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