It’s been another very buttery and satisfying week. My relationship with Italian meringue buttercream has grown immensely and I fear it will become a permanent and caloric fixture in my life. My old school friend Sarah announced her engagement to Patrick one year ago. I volunteered my buttery skills immediately and I’m very glad I did. The loved up couple don’t particularly enjoy thick white fondant icing, so making a suitable buttercream was a necessity. I researched buttercreams and decided Italian meringue buttercream would do the job, it is more stable than American buttercream (which I tend to make) and also sturdier in heat. Italian meringue buttercream starts with a simple meringue base, combined with a hot sugar syrup and an enormous amount of butter. The result is a very smooth, less sweet buttercream which is perfect for decorating. Here is the recipe:
- 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup of glucose (or corn) syrup
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 5 egg whites
- 450g unsalted butter (room temperature)
- Vanilla essence (or whatever flavouring you prefer)
Mix the sugar and syrup together into a paste and place on a medium heat. Bring the syrup to the boil and give it a good swirl every now and then. When the syrup starts to bubble, start making the meringue by whipping up the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean, dry bowl. I use a KitchenAid for all my baking, but it’s particularly important for this type of buttercream as there is a lot of whisking involved. Stop whisking once the egg whites form stiff peaks. Bring the syrup up to a consistent boil, the temperature should reach 115°C before taking off the heat. Start whisking the meringue and slowly pour the syrup in. Keep mixing until all the syrup is incorporated, and then blast it on a fast whisk for 10 minutes or until the mixture is cool. Chop up the butter and add it ALL slowly, bit by bit. After lots of mixing, a beautiful Italian meringue buttercream is born. Add flavour and mix, è finito. Not so tricky after all, I do recommend a sugar thermometer.
The wedding cake flavours were lemon, carrot and vanilla (working top to bottom). I have to say the carrot cake recipe has also stolen my heart. I’m having a very good week for being wooed by food. The recipe is on the BBC Good Food website, please see link below. The cakes were baked, cooled, carved and buttercreamed. The bottom and middle layers were dowelled to death, there was probably more wood in there than cake! Can’t afford tier slippage at a wedding….. heaven forbid. A good buttercream crumb coat is necessary before adding the final layer of buttercream. Refrigeration is important to let those layers get hard for extra buttering. Neat, smooth lines are very desirable.
The theme of the cake was Lego to honour the groom’s Danish heritage. I bought a silicone Lego mould to make individual fondant pieces to build the cake board. The side of the cake was simply built with rectangles of coloured fondant icing. I got very sticky whilst putting this together and I flicked buttercream everywhere. I can’t take credit for the cake topper, the Lego people are the real deal.
A massive congratulations to the bride and groom. Wishing you both a very happy and buttery future together!
How cute are these wedding ‘I do’ muffins? I was having a good play on pinterest and this was one of many ideas I want to try out. These muffins were eaten so quickly, I didn’t get to try one! So I’m going to take that as a confirmation of their deliciousness.
To achieve the buttercream swirl, you need a good piping bag with a wide set star shaped nozzle inside. I sometimes find myself rushing when I pipe, but I remind myself that the buttercream only comes out as fast as you squeeze it, so I take my time to get it right! The roses are made from fondant icing, I made five flat circles out of pink icing and then curled them round each other whilst they were pliable to make a rose – no glue required! I made a lot of mess making the little brown ‘I do’ signs, there were tiny paper triangles all over the place. I think everything looks better on a doily. 🙂
Another wedding cake request came my way this Spring. The bride and groom requested a giraffe and monkey because that’s how they see themselves. There was also a poem at the wedding which explained it better than I did just then.
This three tier cake was vanilla and jam flavoured with a layer of Regal icing. I added texture to the wedding cake with lots of Royal icing. It was really easy to do and it travelled very well. The wedding was in Devon and the cake survived a 5.5 hour drive sat on a big grip mat!
Many congratulations to Mr & Mrs Thompson on their big day!!!!
Spring has officially sprung! What could be more fabulous than a spring themed wedding cake? I have to say, for my second wedding cake I’m very proud of myself! Working from the top to the bottom, the tiers contained almond cake, lemon cake, chocolate cake and fruit cake. This cake can feed up to 134 people or 120 without the top tier. The flowers and butterflies were prepared by myself and the help of my sister in January out of modelling paste. I coloured the sweet peas to the colour of the bridesmaids dresses and kept the whole cake very dainty. Everything was cemented in place with Royal icing including the topper which was ordered from Weedots & Just Toppers based in Essex (link below). Such lovely bunting! All of the piping detail on the cake was also done with Royal icing with different sized piping nozzles. I lost a bit of sleep over delivering the cake to the venue as I thought the butterflies might flutter away during transit. Luckily, only one butterfly was sacrificed during the journey and was promptly replaced by a spare one I had made!
Many congratulations to Mr & Mrs Percy on their wedding and a big thank you to Pam Percy for asking me to make it!
I made a pearl wedding anniversary cake with a pair of flumpies on! The bottom tier is a lemon & poppy seed drizzle cake and the top tier is a vanilla sponge smothered in lots of chocolate ganache. I love making chocolate ganache, it’s an excellent medium to spatula onto a cake. The best part is licking out the bowl though, and later finding it all over your face after having had several long conversations with different people throughout the day. Hmmm… anyway, I always use dark chocolate with 70% cocoa solids for a good strong flavour. I let the cake cool before icing it to give a solid surface to work on so that the cake looks nice and smoooooooth.
I gave this cake to my boyfriend’s parents to enjoy as a surprise. This cake was also put together to celebrate a new engagement in the family, thus I popped a horse shoe on it as well! Maybe I should start putting horse shoes on all of my cakes… after all, everybody needs a little bit of good luck.
This cake has been a labour of love all week. I worked out that I have spent 28 hours making roses and leaves out of sugar and a further 37 hours shopping, ordering supplies, baking, assembling and icing this monster of a cake. I have to say I am pretty tired, but it is the best kind of satisfied tired I have been in a long time.
I have learnt many lessons whilst making this cake. The most important lesson was letting the iced tiers dry separately before assembling together. Secondly, one must use a large pizza peel to move the cakes about without marking them. And thirdly, Royal icing is now my favourite icing as it sealed up any gaps between the tiers and smoothed over any unwanted cracks. If you are ever asked to make a wedding cake, think about where you buy your supplies from as you can easily cut costs by ordering cake boards, icing and boxes from warehouses. Making flowers takes time and should be started weeks before the wedding day, I accidentally dropped a few (which was heartbreaking) and it is a good idea to make more than you think you’ll need. Doweling is ESSENTIAL and shouldn’t be overlooked. I worked out that the cake weighs about 30kg and that poor fruit cake at the bottom has to support quite a lot of that weight. One must respect the fruit cake and stick many a dowel in it so that no caketastrophes occur (that is what Juliet Sear calls them).
Cakes should be transported SLOWLY and on a flat surface in the back a car (balancing a 30kg cake on a car seat is a disastrous idea). I was a great lover of google this week as every cake query I had was fixed in a matter of minutes. Now I know what to expect whilst making a wedding cake and I think the next one will be a lot easier (but not necessarily any lighter).
Well I’m having a fabulous rainy Wednesday prepping the wedding cakes I made yesterday. I have used 63 eggs and am too scared to calculate how much the total amount of cake weighs. I have foraged for ingredients, baked, shaped, buttercreamed and marzipaned the cakes over the last 48 hours. So far so good.
Making a cake this big is surprisingly physical, I shall be incredibly beefy by the time I am finished.
Now for icing, assembling and decoration…. but maybe a nap first.
It’s almost wedding cake time! I’ve been practising flower arrangements on a polystyrene dummy. It’s very comforting to know I have made enough roses over the last two weeks. Also, rather conveniently I have tested two wedding cake flower sets at once as I have two cakes to do.
Advice to anyone making flowers out of modelling paste for a wedding cake…. start EARLY! They are fiddly and time consuming. They also need steaming to bring out their colour as they’re covered in icing sugar and look pale. Once dry they are very brittle and it’s heart breaking when you drop them and they break into a thousand bits! It’s all good though, just don’t sit on them. Wow, I should get paid for this advice… 😜
I’ve been making flowers all weekend out of petal paste for some wedding cakes I will be making in the next few weeks. It’s a time consuming and fiddly venture but so so rewarding. It’s also something one can do whilst burning quickly through Ally Mcbeal DVD box sets. I’m definitely in a 90’s mindset today. It’s all short skirts, Britney Spears and hair clips in this house today.
I have to say I’m a bit of a mess now, I’m covered in sugar and food dye. My hands look like I just murdered someone but I can assure you that this is because my quest was to make purple and that came at a small cost. I’m sure my work colleagues will be asking what on earth I’ve been up to. I reckon having sugar flowers instead of real flowers in a bouquet at a wedding would work out cheaper and you could actually keep them afterwards. Alas, my mind drifts. My main point is, make flowers out of sugar, it’s very calming if you don’t flick food dye down your white t-shirt or knock edible glue everywhere. Happy Sunday everyone!
I made a 12 inch fruit cake today. I was amazed by how much was in it. 16 eggs, several kilograms of fruit and sugar. Trying to find a bowl big enough to fit all of these ingredients was my biggest challenge today. I ended up using a sort of bucket like pan used for steaming veg normally.
My dad wandered into the kitchen whilst I was stirring manically and said I looked like something out of Macbeth. Thanks… I guess. Hmmmm. This cake is for a bottom layer of a 4 tier wedding cake I’m making so I’ve made a few weeks before the wedding so that it matures properly. It’s all baked and wrapped up nicely in a corner of the kitchen now. What a good way to spend a Sunday. I’m looking forward to icing it!