Wednesday, 22 December 2021 | 5.8°C Dublin
The Homemade Wedding Cake by Natasha Collins
The Homemade Wedding Cake by Natasha Collins
Impress your guests with the ultimate personal touch - a homemade wedding cake. This tangy, choc-tastic three-tier creation has a heart of gold
Going for Gold chocolate & orange wedding cake
This cake is golden in more ways than one. I always associate oranges with sunny golden climes, and in this cake the cheerful tanginess of oranges marries perfectly with the richness of the chocolate, all wrapped up in overflowing gold.
I have to admit this is probably one of my favourite flavour combinations; I'm sure it will please your guests equally well. Whatever the weather on your big day, this cake is sure to bring out the sunshine.
Going for gold at a glance
Going for gold wedding cake from The Homemade Wedding cake by Natasha Collins, published by Murdoch books
It can be a little tricky to create the sharp edges needed for this cake, but even if you can't get them perfect it will still look great.
How far in advance can it be made?
You can bake the cake up to five days before the event and then cover and decorate it up to four days before the wedding. The cake layers can also be made up to three months in advance of the day and frozen. Leave them to defrost to room temperature before filling. The ganache can also be made up to a week in advance and stored in the refrigerator. You can warm it gently before you need it to soften it up. Just heat it in a microwave on the defrost setting until it is the desired consistency.
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18 cm (7 inch) tier, 20 portions; 23 cm (9 inch) tier, 33 portions
This will vary depending on whether you bake each layer of each cake separately or three layers of one cake at a time. Up to 3¾ hours if baking individual layers or 1ª hours if baking three layers at one time. You will need to bake three layers for each tier, a total of nine layers altogether.
Simply transport the assembled cake to the venue and place it on display. This shouldn't take more than 15 minutes to set out, as the cake is stacked and decorated beforehand so all you need to do is place it on a stand.
This cake can be set up the day before the event as long as the room temperature is normal (16-20°C or 60-68°F) and will not be subjected to any swings in temperature.
Cake drums are cardboard cake boards thick enough to carry the weight of a cake, even a tiered cake. They are usually 12mm (ƒ inch) thick. The cardboard is covered with a foil coating, normally silver or gold. I always cover these boards with fondant icing and hide the edge with a ribbon; my pet hate is an uncovered board under a beautiful cake.
You do not have to use a cake drum, the cake can be set straight onto a stand or plate. However, using a drum will make it infinitely easier to work on the cake, to transport and set up.
If you use a drum that is larger than the cake it will protect any decoration on the side of the cake while you are transporting it. I usually use a drum that is 5cm (2 inches) bigger than the diameter of the cake, so a 20cm (8 inch) cake would be presented on a 25cm (10 inch) drum. For a tiered cake, use the size of the bottom tier to calculate the drum size.
Glue a cake board that is 5cm (2 inches) smaller underneath the larger drum to make it easier to pick up and set down the cake. Then, at least one day before you prepare the cake, prepare the drum. This is to give the fondant icing on it enough time to sufficiently firm up.
660g (1lb 7½oz) fondant icing (I always use commercial, ready-made, ready-to-roll fondant which most supermarkets now stock)
1. Sprinkle the work surface with cornflour or icing sugar. Knead the fondant icing for a few minutes until it is pliable and smooth. Don't overwork it or it may crack when you roll it.
2. Roll out the fondant using spacers - these are long, thin plastic strips that you use to get an even thickness. I use 5mm (ƒ inch) spacers (you can make your own from strips of wood or plastic) so that it's slightly larger in diameter than the drum you want to use. If there are any air bubbles on the surface, prick them with a pin and smooth out with your palm.
3. Lightly moisten the cake drum with water.
4. Lay the fondant on top of the drum and smooth it over with smoothers or the palm of your hand. Trim the edge of the fondant to the size of the drum using a sharp knife.
5. Smooth out the fondant again. Then trim the edge very carefully, keeping the blade of the knife flush to the board. Run your finger around the edge of the fondant to smooth it down.
6. Cover the edge of the drum with a ribbon. (It's best to do this after the cake has been placed on it and all the decorations have been done, to prevent any staining.) I find that 17mm (» inch) wide ribbon is a good size. Place a strip of doubled-sided adhesive tape around the edge of the drum and adhere the ribbon to the tape. If you are using rough or thick ribbon you may need a hot glue gun to attach it. I have been using washi tape more and more as it comes in such fabulous patterns and is really easy to use
Ingredients are for one layer: you require three layers for a tier
12cm (5 inch) layers: bake for 20-25 minutes:
Zest and juice of half an orange
18cm (7 inch) layers: bake for 20-25 minutes:
Zest and juice of half an orange
23cm (9 inch) layers: bake for 20-25 minutes:
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).
2. Grease and line the relevant-size cake tin(s).
3. Beat the butter and sugar together with the orange zest for at least 5 minutes. The mixture should become noticeably paler and take on a fluffy appearance.
4. Add the eggs (one at a time) and beat them in well. If the mixture stars to curdle, add a spoonful of the flour and beat again.
5. Sift the flour into the mixture and use a large spoon to gently fold it in.
6. Stir in the orange juice.
7. Spoon the batter into the cake tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The cake is ready when the top feels firm but springy to the touch and a cake tester or skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
8. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store the cake overnight to settle.
Prep: 5 minutes to make each batch
(you can make them altogether to save time), plus up to 2 hours cooling time
350 g (12 oz) dark chocolate (54pc cocoa)
175 ml (5½ fl oz / 2/3 cup) orange juice
500g (1 lb 2 oz) dark chocolate (54pc cocoa)
250ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) orange juice
950g (2 lb 2oz) dark chocolate (54pc cocoa)
475ml (16 fl oz) orange juice
1. Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. If you are not using buttons or drops, then make sure to chop the chocolate into very small pieces.
2. Put the orange juice into a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Pour it over the chocolate.
3. Use a wooden spoon to beat the mixture together until the chocolate has melted and the two ingredients have combined together to create a beautifully glossy ganache.
4. Allow to cool for 2 hours until the mixture is thick enough to spread but not solid.
Note: If you wish you can squeeze fresh orange juice to make the ganache; however, this will need a lot of oranges and be very time consuming. So I just used a good quality packet of juice, the kind with 'bits' in for added oranginess.
4 LEVELLING & FILLING THE LAYERS
Prep 24 hours ahead. Covering the drum, 10 minutes; 10-15 minutes per tier, plus 20-30 minutes chilling per tier
28cm (11 inch) covered cake drum
28cm (11 inch), 23 cm (9 inch) and 18 cm (7 inch) cake boards
18cm (7 inch) and 12cm (5 inch) thin cake boards
Cake leveller, or cocktail sticks (toothpicks) and a serrated knife
Small palette knife (also known as a spatula. Cake decorators use smaller palette knives, usually 10-12.5cm (4-5 inches). I would advise investing in one for this project as it will make it much easier, but you can still achieve a desirable effect with a substitute such as a butter knife. Use the flat side rather than the serrated edge)
Cake scraper or alternative (This is a flat rectangle of thin plastic or metal that is used to create perfectly straight sides when covering a cake with buttercream or ganache. You can use anything that is long and flat as a substitute. I have found that one of the best alternatives is a child's 15cm (6 inch) clear plastic ruler).
Marmalade: 12cm tier, 1½ tablespoons; 18cm tier, 2½ tablespoons; 23cm tier, 3½ tablespoons
1. Process the marmalade in a food processor until the peel has been broken down and the marmalade has the consistency of a purée.
2. Measure the depth of the thinnest layer. This will be the size to which you will need to level all the layers. A cake leveller will make each layer of the cake totally flat and level. It looks a bit like a cheese grater. The simplest version of this equipment is fairly cheap. However there is a 'make do' way to achieve the same effect. You will need cocktail sticks, a tape measure or ruler and a large knife, preferably serrated. Take a layer of the cake and measure 2cm (¬ inch) up from the base; insert a cocktail stick into the cake at this point. Repeat at intervals of around 5cm (2 inches) all around the cake. Then, using the sticks as a guide, use a serrated knife to trim away the top of the cake.
3. To create strong support, each tier of the cake will need to be placed on a cake board. The bottom tier can be placed on an uncovered board and then transferred to the iced drum once the covering has been applied. However, the middle and top tiers need to be placed on thin boards before filling and crumb coating. This will give the cake support when it is dowelled. The covering you apply will completely cover the board as well. This means when the tiers are merged you should not be able to see any of the boards.
4. Brush off any loose crumbs and then brush sugar syrup (or an alternative) onto the cut sides of each layer to keep the cake moist for longer. Take the layer that was the top of the cake, turn it over and place it on a board that is at least 5cm (2 inches) larger than the cake, so that the part of the cake that was the top will be at the base of the cake (hiding the roughest surface). Stand the cake board on a turntable if you are using one.
5. Use a palette knife to create a ledge of ganache around the edge of this first layer. Then spread the marmalade over the cake, up to the ledge.
6. Take the middle cake layer and place it carefully on top of the filling on the bottom layer. Add a good dollop of ganache and spread it to the edge.
7. Take the remaining layer, turn it upside down and place it on top of the cake.
9. Spread a layer of ganache over the top and side of each tier using a palette knife. Run a cake scraper around the side of the cake to create a flat surface. The side of the cake needs t be straight at a 90° angle to the board. Use a palette knife to smooth out the top of surface of the cake again. This needs to be as flat as possible and make sure the edge of the cake has a good, clean line. Stand in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to harden.
10. Spread a thick layer of ganache over the top and sides of each tier with a palette knife. Smooth to an even thickness all over - the layer should be around 1cm (« inch) thick.
11. Use a scraper to create a flat surface of ganache. Place the lower end of the scraper flat against the cake board, with the thin side flush to the ganache on the side of the cake, and run the scraper around the circumference of the cake. You may need to stop at intervals to remove excess ganache from the scraper. If you can see areas where the scraper has not touched the side, then add more ganache with a palette knife. Keep checking that the end of the scraper is on the board. Continue until the edge of the ganache is straight.
12. Pull the scraper over the top of the cake and make sure that it is level. If there are any bumps on the edge, flatter them with a palette knife. You can leave the cake as it is or make marks to add texture. The cake will look more professional if you create a straight edge first, and then work the texture on top.
Prep 5-10 minutes per tier
1/3 -¾ of a 25 ml (1 fl oz) bottle of edible gold paint for each tier
1. Pour the gold paint onto the top of the cake tier. The layer of paint should be fairly thin, but thick enough so that you cannot see the ganache underneath. Spread it out with the paintbrush continuing up to and then over the edges.
2. You should find that drips are starting to form. Use the brush to control the drips, encouraging some to drip more by pulling them down a little; if you feel a drip is dripping too far, scrape a little of it off. If there are gaps in the line of drips then pour a little more paint in the relevant spaces. Leave the paint to dry overnight.
To support the tiers of the cake you will need to use dowels. These are available from cake decorating suppliers and can be either plastic or wooden. Plastic dowels can be hollow or solid, and can be cut easily with a serrated knife or scissors. Wooden dowels can be cut with a wire cutters or small hacksaw. The top tier will not need any, unless you are using a heavy cake topper.
1. Place the bottom tier of the cake on the covered cake drum. Take a cake board or cake tin the same size as the next tier up and gently press it into the centre of the bottom tier. You will be left with a faint impression that will be your guide to placing the dowels so that they are hidden under the layer above.
2. Insert the first dowel into the bottom tier, about ƒcm/ª inch inside the guideline. Use an edible ink pen (or ordinary pen, making sure not to touch the cake and that you wipe it off the dowels before inserting them) to mark the point where it emerges from the cake. Take this dowel out and use it as a measure to cut the dowels for this tier to size. Insert the dowels into the tier so they are evenly spaced.
3. Spread a blob of ganache on the top of the cake before adding the next tier. Carefully lower the second tier onto the one below, making sure it is as central as possible. Lean the furthest part of the board onto the bottom tier and slide your hands out. You may need to add a little ganache and smooth it in to cover fingerprints.
4. Repeat the dowelling process in the next tier, then add the third tier. You may need to add a little more ganache between the tiers if there are any gaps.
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