Two years ago one of my best friends asked me if I would make her wedding cake. Of course I said yes without hesitation – what an honour! And given that we were part (most) of the way through a bottle of wine and the wedding was two years away I wasn’t worried in the slightest…
Fast forward 18 months and all of a sudden I had to work out the logistics of a making a naked wedding cake (no icing to hide any flaws), transporting it from Winchester to Somerset in one piece (who knew there were so many corners to negotiate??) and being in to two places at once (I had the dual role of cake maker and bridesmaid!). Here is my account of my first foray into wedding cakes, naked cakes and splitting myself in two…
The bride decided on lemon cake for the bottom and top tier and vanilla sponge for the middle. All the cakes were to be filled with buttercream and it needed to feed about 60-70 people. Being a novice I had no idea how big the cakes needed to be so I did what I always do when I’m not sure – hopped onto Pinterest! I found a really helpful guide and decided on layers of 10, 7 and 4 inches.
My next decision (based on only having one tin of each size) was whether to bake the layers whole and slice them or whether to divide the mixture and bake separately. Since the layers are so key in a layer cake I decided on the latter. This took much longer of course but if you have the time I would recommend this way unless you have steady hands or a special tool to ensure your cutting is dead straight!
Once the cakes were baked and cooled I needed to keep them fresh for two days so I wrapped them in baking paper and cling film and stacked them in cake carriers. The cakes lasted remarkably well wrapped up like this and the wrapping cushioned them for the journey.
The next logistical challenge was the buttercream. When I practiced this I made it the day before and left it in the fridge overnight but, even after HOURS out of the fridge the next day, it was like concrete and impossible to spread so I decided to just store it in a tub in my cool-bag with some ice packs. This worked really well – cool enough that the buttercream held it’s texture and did not melt but was still easily spread onto the cakes.
After an extremely nerve-wracking journey to Somerset (I’m not ashamed to admit to talking out loud to the cakes) I was relieved to find that the cakes had all survived (small victory dance).
I had wanted to fill the cakes on the day of the wedding to ensure they were as fresh as possible but due to not having come up with a solution to the need to be in two places at once (damn) I had to fill them the day before. If you have the option I would recommend filling them on the day as my cakes were slightly more moist than I would have wanted but if you can’t then filling the day before is fine – in fact I think I was the only one who noticed!
On the day of the wedding itself I managed to sneak off during the photos to stack and decorate the cake with the help of my sister (thanks Claire!). I used cake dowels in the bottom and middle layers to support the tiers and used very thin cake rounds between the layers. I used cake rounds which were one inch smaller than the cakes as this provided the support I was after with no chance of seeing the rounds peeking out from the cake (I would like to take credit for this ingenious idea but I can’t – thanks hubby!).
With the structure in place Claire and I then went nuts with icing sugar, fresh fruit and flowers. There was no real logic to the decorating – I think these sort of things look better when they are a bit off-the-cuff! We managed to get the last of the flowers in just as the first guests arrived to take their seats and my sister dragged me away from my frantic final tweaks to enjoy the wedding breakfast!
I was too busy dancing the night away to remember to try any of the cake (doh!) but I got lots of amazing feedback from the guests and, most importantly, the bride and groom. This was definitely the most stressful cake I have ever made but also one of the most fun and I hope I get another chance to make a naked cake again soon!
Do get in touch with your naked cake and wedding cake experiences – I’d love to hear about them!