Being asked to bake and decorate a wedding cake is something which creates a giant rollercoaster of emotions inside me.
Let me explain:
Stage 1 – Happiness to have been asked. Also, mild panic. But, with the wedding some months away, the panic is just a niggle at the back of my mind (to be forgotten/pushed waaaaaaaay back until roughly one month before the wedding day)
Stage 2 – Self doubt. Can I do this?! Do I have the skill?! Do I have the time?! Do I even have the patience?! This stage basically continues from the moment I’m asked to do the cake, until basically the day the cake is finished!
Stage 3 – this occurs closer to the wedding day, when I realise that I’ve only gone and blooming well agreed to do a cake. This stage is called mild hysteria. It’s the realisation of all the hours work I’ve got ahead of me. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love baking and decorating cakes, especially wedding cakes. However, so much blood,sweat and tears go into them (not literally, clearly that’s gross), that I occasionally have a split second thought of whether I have the energy in me to do them. I of course carry on and do the cake, regardless of whether I actually have the energy. I often don’t, but I get my cake decorating head on and just get on with it. The problem sometimes is that because I have a non-cake related day job, I don’t have a massive amount of time to get cakes done. So my evenings and weekends are often filled up with cake projects and my poor oven groans as it realises it’s got to work some magic yet again.
Stage 4 – This stage takes place when the cake is complete and set up at the wedding venue. Relief. Relief that it’s done. Relief that I might be able to get a decent nights sleep without worrying and dreaming about wedding cakes! (I recently dreamt it was the day of the wedding and I hadn’t even started baking the cake yet! I woke up in a bit of a panic I must admit. However that night I also dreamt I was stuck in a cave and there was no way out, so maybe I just have an overactive brain…)
Mixed in with this massive sense of relief is fear. Fear that the stacked cake won’t stay standing long enough for the bride and groom to see it let alone cut the thing! Maybe even a little bit of regret. Regret that I maybe should have spent that extra half an hour on that particular part of the cake, rather than going off to bed or grabbing a quick bite to eat. You see, that’s what most people don’t realise about cake making. I often don’t get chance to eat a proper meal if I’m working on a cakey project. It normally ends up being a quick bowl of cereal or slice of toast while I wait for a cake to bake, or for some icing to set. I’m often on my feet for hours on end, so by the time the cake is finished, I’m drained both physically and mentally.
I’ve had three wedding cake projects since I’ve been seriously baking. My cakes are by no means perfect. But, having said that, I’m told they taste good and people seem to approve of my decorating efforts. I still have a long way to go before I’d consider any of my cakes to be perfect. That could be the everlasting self critic in me I guess, but maybe one day I’ll stop giving myself such a hard time!
My first ever wedding cake project was to be a surprise for the bride. They’d decided not to have a wedding cake and so the cake was arranged as a surprise present. As my first ever wedding cake I was utterly terrified of the prospect of it! It was around a year of planning before the big day, which probably actually made my nerves much worse because I had so much time to over think it all! The design was kept simple, with the cake ribbon matching the wedding colours, along with handmade sugarpaste calla lilies and ivy leaves on each tier of the cake. To complicate the situation even more, I decided to bake a different flavour sponge for each of the four tiers. Maybe a silly and unnecessary decision, but totally worth it!
My second wedding cake was very similar to the first, however this time no flowers as the bride and groom had already chosen a cake topper. I matched the cake ribbon to the colour of the bridesmaid dresses, and added some diamanté ribbon for a bit of bling.
My third and most recent wedding cake project was for a work colleague and friend who had told me a couple of years ago she’d wanted me to do the cake for her wedding, but we didn’t come to any decisions until quite recently. The design she had chosen had calligraphy writing piped on the side of each tier using icing. I had planned to also use this technique, however once I’d started work on the cake I realised that to pipe the icing wouldn’t create the look I was after. I’ve recently started learning how to do calligraphy writing, however it’s always been on paper and on a flat surface, not on the side of an iced four tier cake!
I wanted the cake to appear quite delicate and not too “in your face”. The cake topper they had chosen was a focal point, and I didn’t really want any attention to be taken away from this. So I kept the design simple. Bright white icing, with a simple diamanté ribbon around each tier, and calligraphy writing hand painted directly on to the icing. The words chosen were “and they lived happily ever after”.
I didn’t think anything else was needed other than this, so I didn’t add any extra detailing to the cake.
There were setbacks with this cake, as there always is. Luckily in most cases I can try to find a way around it without anybody noticing, however this time around I did need a little help. When I arrived at the venue, on a beautiful sunny day, I had the slight issue of the room being a little on the warm side for my cake’s liking. This ultimately meant that when I secured the cake topper with a little royal icing, it preceded to slide right off the cake. Worst nightmare really. Luckily with some quick thinking from the groom himself, we managed to secure the topper with some skewers provided by the venue staff! I of course felt like they were just glaring me in the face whenever I looked in the general direction of the cake, but at the end of the day they did the trick and saved my ass!! Note to self – next time you’re setting a cake up, make sure you take some skewers just in case!
So there you have it! My wedding cake experiences so far! I’m sure there will be more (at least I hope there will be!) and I will face the new challenges when the time comes. People always ask me who will do my wedding cake when the day comes. Me of course! As if I could let anybody else take on that cake project! 😂