Archive for the ‘Wedding Cakes’ Category

My First Cakes in Sydney!

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
Some of the first cakes I've made in Sydney

Some of the first cakes I've made in Sydney

It’s been a while since my last blog post. I’ve been very busy making the big move to Australia and settling in. There was also the task of setting up the business, sourcing ingredients and equipment, getting used to my new oven, and also tweaking recipes to make them work with Australian ingredients!

One of the hardest things I’ve been struggling with is making my fondant (sugarpaste). Icing sugar in Australia is VERY different to the UK and my fondant has been coming out very sticky and weak. A lot of the equipment so readily accessible to me in London is not supplied here in Sydney such as 12 inch cake drums, Sugar Flower Paste, and Sugar Dough. I’ve had to use cake boards instead of drums and learn to make my own flower and modelling paste. But since arriving 2 months ago, I’ve managed to make some really fun cakes! Here are a few of my favourites.

Almost immediately upon arrival, I started work on a wedding cake which was a massive 9 tier cupcake tower consisting of 144 cupcakes in 3 different flavours plus a 6 inch top cake. Each cupcake had a handmade red sugar gerbera and the top cake had 3 large sugar gerberas. It was a LOT of work and I had red colouring paste staining my hands for quite a while, but the end result was worth it as the happy couple loved it!

9 tier red gerbera cupcake tow

9 tier red gerbera cupcake tow

A lot of my work in the UK involved classic cakes, but so far in Sydney there’s been more demand for novelty cakes which are a lot of fun to make. Here is one of them, a hand carved sugar BBQ cake with snags and burgers hand made from fondant. The “charcoal” marks were made with diluted edible black colouring paste painted on.

BBQ cake with sugar sausages & burgers

BBQ cake with sugar sausages & burgers

The next cake is a pretty simple cake, but it was my first real sugar modelling work with my homemade sugar modelling paste. Plus I had no idea what In the Night Garden was or who Makka Pakka was so it was quite a challenge! I used pictures from the internet and managed to create him, right down to the different coloured circles on the pads of his feet and a pile of his little stones also made from sugar. The little stack of rings on the top and sides of his head were quite tricky on such a small scale.

Hand crafted sugar Makka Pakka with sugar stones

Hand crafted sugar Makka Pakka with sugar stones

I absolutely love to do sugar modelling, so the last cake I want to share with you was such a delight for me to make. I hand crafted 7 characters from the Muppets and Sesame Street for a cake toy box. I studied quite a lot of pictures of each character on the internet and tried to get every detail (even Fozzie’s eyebrows – I never knew he had any!). The easiest was Elmo, the hardest was Animal. I don’t have my sugar gun with me, it’s in a box along with a load of my stuff being shipped by slow boat from London, so I used a garlic press to make Animal’s wild hair. Each character took around 1.5 hours each! The one that took the longest was actually Fozzie. Hand cutting out all the little pink circles for his scarf was quite time consuming, and getting his hat just right took quite a few tries. I might blog in more detail later about making these guys as this cake has proved extremely popular.

Hand crafted sugar Muppet & Sesame St toy box cake

Hand crafted sugar Muppet & Sesame St toy box cake


Making a Fruit & Chocolate Stacked Wedding Cake

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
My final cake in London - a 2 tier double height stacked wedding cake

My final cake in London - a 2 tier double height stacked wedding cake of fruit & chocolate cakes

My final cake order in London was for a wedding, which was such a nice way to leave London! It was a big order too – wedding cake, cupcakes, and mini cheesecakes. The wedding cake comprised of 2 double height tiers, a 6 inch fruit cake tier and an 8 inch chocolate cake tier. I don’t get a lot of orders for fruit cake (or double height tiers) so I thought I’d blog a bit of a step by step guide on the creation of this cake to show the differences between covering a fruit cake versus covering a chocolate or sponge cake.

For the top tier, I baked two 6 inch fruit cakes. The good thing about fruit cakes is that they can be baked and decorated reasonably far in advance as they keep for so long unlike sponge or chocolate cakes, which are the  two most popular cakes I make. I made a HUGE amount of white fondant and coloured it a cream colour, reserving a little of the original white to create circles with later on.

To cover the top tier, I first had to cover each cake individually with fondant (normally I would use marzipan but the bride’s brother has a nut allergy). I’ll go over this process now for the first cake.

The very first step is to turn the fruit cake upside down and secure it on the cake board with some royal icing or wet scraps of fondant. The bottom of your cake always has a nice flat surface with fewer lumps and bumps which is better to cover and decorate. The top of the cake often has a small “hump” caused by the sides of the cake cooking faster than the middle due to contact with the heat from the tin. So when you place the cake on the board upside down, this hump causes a small gap between the cake edge and the bottom of the cake board. To fix this, take a piece of fondant or marzipan, whichever you are using, and roll it into a sausage shape then wrap it around the bottom of the cake to fill in the gap.

Next up, I inspected the fruit cake for any large holes and patched these with small bits of fondant. Then I used my smoothers to make sure the fondant bits and the bottom sausage of fondant were lying flush with the surface of the cake. Doing this should give you a nice smooth surface to cover with the marzipan/fondant.

Patching holes in a fruit cake with fondant

Patching holes in a fruit cake with fondant

After rolling out the fondant I then brushed the cake surface with sugar syrup. This does 2 things – helps to make the cake more moist and makes the surface sticky to help secure the fondant.

Brushing fruitcake with sugar syrup

Brushing fruitcake with sugar syrup

Then I covered the cake with the rolled out fondant and trimmed it to size, then went over it again with my smoothers. I covered the second fruit cake with it’s first layer of fondant as well then left both cakes overnight to dry.

The next day, I stacked one fruit cake on top of the other, using royal icing to secure the cake board of the top cake to the bottom cake, then I brushed the cakes with sugar syrup and covered them both with one big, thicker layer of fondant to create the illusion of one very big cake. White ribbon was wrapped around the base of the cake.Then this was again left overnight to dry.

While the fondant was drying, I cut out some circles from white fondant and let them dry slightly as well. Once the fondant on the cake was nice and set, I used sugar glue to stick on the circles, very carefully measuring the distance between each circle and the distance of each circle from the bottom of the board to make sure they were all accurately spaced and at the same height. This sounds easy but takes quite a while if you want to be exact! I found a side scribing tool very useful in height placement.

Circles accurately placed on the top tier

Circles accurately placed on the top tier

Once all the circles were on, I made a batch of royal icing and filled a small piping bag fitted with a number 2 tube with some of the icing. Then I piped small dots around each circle in a kind of starburst pattern. This can be quite time consuming, especially on a larger cake. By the time I had done both the 6 inch and 8 inch tiers my arms were quite sore!

Piping dots around the circles on the cake

Piping dots around the circles on the cake

Close up of the dots being piped

Close up of the dots being piped

The next day, it was time to bake the two 8 inch chocolate cakes to make the bottom tier. I cut each cake in half, secured one to a cake board with wet fondant, brushed each layer with sugar syrup, then stacked them on top of each other with chocolate buttercream in between each layer. Notice that I did not put a cake board in between cakes or layers, this cake is quite light and spongy so the cake boards were not necessary. Here is a picture of the first 3 layers stacked and buttercreamed (yum):

Stacking and buttercreaming the chocolate cake layers

Stacking and buttercreaming the chocolate cake layers

Then I covered the top with chocolate buttercream, smoothed it out with a large palette knife, then put loads of buttercream on the sides. Using a turntable and a metal side scraping tool, I got the sides as smooth and perfect as possible. I didn’t have to patch any holes here with fondant, firstly because you don’t get as many large holes due to lack of fruit and nuts in the cake, and secondly the buttercream will fill any holes that are present. If you get the buttercream incredibly smooth you don’t have to roll the fondant out as thickly as there are virtually no lumps and bumps to hide with a ghastly thick layer of fondant.

Very smooth buttercream coating allows you to roll fondant thinly

Very smooth buttercream coating allows you to roll fondant thinly

I let the buttercream crust, rolled out a reasonably thin layer of cream coloured fondant, spritzed the cake with water to make the buttercream slightly tacky so the fondant would stick to it, covered the cake with fondant then placed the ribbon around it and left it overnight to dry. I repeated the circle sticking and dot piping process, then inserted dowelling rods to support the top tier. The top tier was a monster, weighing in at 2.5kg, so I decided to err on the side of caution and used my usual 4 dowelling rods near the edges of where the top tier would be plus an extra one in the middle.

As the top tier was unusually heavy I also decided to be cautious in transporting the cake too and transported the tiers in separate boxes and stacked them at the venue. You can see the dowelling rods in the pic of me assembling the cake at the venue below (they’re the white “dots” in the middle of the cake):

Stacking the cake at the venue

Assembling the cake at the venue

Here is a pic of the finished cake along with the cupcakes I made on the dessert table at the wedding reception:

The cupcakes and wedding cake at the wedding venue

The cupcakes and wedding cake at the wedding venue

The bride left a lovely comment about my cakes on my Facebook page the day after the wedding, which was so sweet of her. She seemed really pleased with my work, which makes me so happy! A great way for Delicious Cake Design to end it’s tenure in London wouldn’t you say!

Finally Made My Own Wedding Cake!

Sunday, May 9th, 2010
3 tier lily wedding cake

3 tier lily wedding cake made to celebrate my marriage

Those of you who have read this blog before probably already know that I didn’t make the cake for my own wedding overseas a couple of months ago. I made the sugar flowers and leaves used to decorate the cake (see my blog post Sugar Flowers for My Own Wedding Cake), but the actual cake itself I left to a local baker we hired in Hawaii. I don’t regret that decision at all, I was so busy in the week before the wedding that I’d hate to think how I would have coped trying to make a wedding cake on top of everything else I had to do!

But as a professional cake maker, you do feel a bit ashamed if you don’t make your own wedding cake. I wanted to remedy that. We knew we were going to have a small celebration on our return to London for people who couldn’t make it to Hawaii for our wedding. So my plan was to make a proper 3 tier wedding cake complete with hand crafted sugar flowers for that celebration (even though there were only about 40 people going!). I made a 6 inch fruitcake tier (for my husband who loves fruitcake, I loathe it), 9 inch chocolate cake tier, and 12 inch sponge cake tier.

Crumb coating the 12 inch sponge cake layer with buttercream

Crumb coating the 12 inch sponge cake tier with buttercream

Design wise, I wanted to do something different from the cake at our wedding. A style I have always loved is a cascading floral arrangement going from the top of the cake in a diagonal line right down to the bottom, so I decided to do that. I also wanted to steer away from roses – I love roses and think they are perfect for weddings, but we had roses on our wedding cake in Hawaii and roses are the most popular flower I make for Delicious Cake Design. This was an opportunity to make some different kinds of flowers. I chose lilies – beautiful yellow throated white oriental lilies and elegant calla lilies.

Some of my hand crafted oriental and calla lilies

Some of my hand crafted oriental and calla sugar lilies

As I make a lot of cakes, I have developed some tried and true recipes and methods that always work. But I am addicted to cake making so do a lot of reading and research on various other techniques. I decided this would be a good opportunity to try some new methods and play around with some of my rolled fondant recipes, as the cake wasn’t for a paying client so the only person I would be disappointing if things went wrong was myself. So I experimented, and let’s just say that now I know now not to experiment again!

Just kidding. Some of the new techniques worked quite well, others were flat out disasters. The rolled fondant recipe tweaks were filed under the “must-never-do-again” category. But it’s good to try these things out! One great new technique I will definitely use again was covering the wires on the flowers with lots of florist tape to make sure the wires didn’t come into contact with the cake itself then inserting them into the cake without flower picks. Much more secure and flexible!

Placing the sugar lilies on the cake

Working out placement of the sugar lilies on the cake

I was really pleased with how the cake turned out. Perhaps the biggest compliment I got was that the guests all thought the flowers were real! They were amazed when they found out they were actually sugar and I got asked a lot of questions about how they were made. And then of course they were clamouring for the chance to eat one!

And despite having such a huge amount of cake for such a small number of people, there weren’t actually that many leftovers!

Sugar Flowers for My Own Wedding Cake

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Handcrafted Sugar Flowers of Cream Coloured Roses and Frangipanis

Handcrafted Sugar Flowers for my wedding - Cream Coloured Roses and Frangipanis (on a dummy cake)

Hi folks, sorry it’s been such a long time since the last blog post, I’ve been really busy preparing for my upcoming wedding which is now just a week away! It’s been very stressful, particularly in the last 2 weeks, but now most of the work is done and all that’s left is the excitement and anticipation of the big day!

So I am getting married in Hawaii, which is pretty far away from London! Everyone asks me if I am making my own cake. Well, I’m not. There are several very good reasons: I have no access to a kitchen there, nor will I be able to bring over all my cake making equipment, plus I really don’t want the added stress of finishing up a 3 tier cake the morning of my own wedding (see my blog post on Tips on making your own wedding cake). So I have hired another professional cake maker in Hawaii to make and ice my wedding cake. I opted for a rolled buttercream cake, as the only fondant / sugarpaste I like the taste of is the one I make myself. However, I really wanted to make my own sugar flowers to decorate the cake with, as this is something that can be done months in advance. So we hired someone who makes nice cakes but doesn’t do a lot of sugarcraft and usually uses fresh flowers, and I said I would provide sugar flowers.

In some ways, I regret that decision! Being so busy with work and the wedding planning, I didn’t have as much time for my own wedding sugar flowers as I would have liked, and it’s really added to my stress levels in the past 2 weeks! I decided on classic ivory coloured roses for the cake, plus frangipanis as our wedding theme is frangipanis. Frangipanis are very easy to do, however roses are very time consuming (if you want to do them petal by petal, which is how I do them). We were flying out to our wedding destination a week before the wedding, so I was desperately trying to finish all 20 flowers and accompanying leaves right up till the night before we left! I then arranged them on a polystyrene fake dummy cake and photographed them to show my cake maker in Hawaii exactly how I wanted them arranged.

Then came the headache of how to transport them to Hawaii on the plane. To make my flowers look as realistic as possible, I roll the flower paste very thinly. They look great, but it does mean they are incredibly fragile. Sometimes it seems like I just look at them hard enough and they break! So my fiance and I ended up wrapping each individual flower in layers of paper towel and putting them into 2 large tupperware containers filled with cotton wool and carrying them on the plane as hand luggage (along with my wedding dress, my fiance’s suit, the best man’s suit, the cake toppers hand made for us by a friend, and our 2 large backpacks with our laptops and camera equipment!).

The flowers did turn out great, and I’m really happy with them, so in the end I am glad that I at least contributed the hardest and most important part of my own wedding cake!

Close up of hand made sugar cream coloured roses and frangipanis

Close up of hand made sugar cream coloured roses, leaves and frangipanis

Hand crafted cream coloured sugar rose

Hand crafted cream coloured sugar rose

Close up of hand made sugar cream coloured roses and frangipanis

Close up of hand made sugar floral spray of cream coloured roses, leaves and frangipanis

Tips on making your own wedding cake

Monday, October 26th, 2009

One of the hardest things about planning a wedding is trying to achieve the wedding of your dreams on a budget. At Delicious Cake Design, we are very mindful of this and aim to provide couples with a wedding cake that meets their budget as well as their design requirements. There are several things we can do to help this process, such as opting for flowers that are simpler to make, providing extra undecorated cutting cakes, or simplifying designs so they are still stunning but less time consuming to create.

Making your own wedding cake requires attention to detail and a steady hand

Making your own wedding cake requires attention to detail and a steady hand

But what if you have a budget that won’t buy even a basic wedding cake from a professional cake maker? Some brides (and grooms!) in this situation make their own wedding cake to save money. This can be a good idea, but there are many things to take into consideration before coming to a decision.

Firstly, do you have the time? Bear in mind that you will most likely still be putting finishing touches on the cake during the week leading up to the big day, and if you are not making a fruit cake and are opting instead for sponge or chocolate, the cake (or cakes) will all have to be baked no earlier than 3 days before the wedding. This gives you only 2 days to decorate the cake. With all the other things you will have to do that close to the wedding, will you have time to spend a whole day baking cakes, and up to a whole day (or more!) decorating? Not forgetting as well you will have to put time aside to go and buy all the ingredients and source all the decorative elements, which is not an easy task.

And more importantly, do you want to put up with the stress of making and decorating a cake when you’re trying to fit in dress rehearsals, manicures, last minute dress alterations, guests arriving from afar, and all the other bits and pieces that tend to pile up in the week before a wedding?

Do you have the necessary skills to make a wedding cake? At the very least you should have some competency in baking. An eye for detail and design plus a steady hand would be advantageous as well. If you are the kind of person that considers cooking to be making toast, which you somehow always seems to burn, perhaps it is not a good idea to take the risk!

If you do decide to take the plunge and make your own wedding cake, preparation is the key. I would recommend doing some research as far in advance as you can. There are many good books out there that give clear, step by step instructions on covering and decorating cakes. If possible, make at least one practice cake that you have baked yourself and covered and decorated. The last thing you want is to try it for the first time the day before your wedding and find yourself with a lopsided cake that has pleats and folds in the icing when it’s too late to do anything about it!

Although mass produced rolled fondant (also known as sugarpaste or regal ice) doesn’t taste anywhere near as good as the homemade kind, rolled fondant can be very tricky to make especially for first timers. It might be best to stick to the store bought variety in this instance.  Avoid the kind you get in supermarkets if possible as they are very difficult to work with and taste awful. Specialty cake decorating shops sell much better brands which taste better and are less finicky to use.

Covering a cake with rolled fondant can be very difficult for beginners, especially achieving a smooth, perfect finish. One of the most common questions I get asked is “How do I get the pleats/folds out of the icing when I cover the cake?”. This takes quite a lot of practice! So in the months leading up to the wedding, practice covering the back of cake tins until you get it right, then try it out on a real cake. Covering a real cake is a very different experience to covering a tin as you will have crumbs and imperfect surfaces to deal with.

Be mindful of food safety and hygiene in the kitchen. You don’t want to end up giving your guests food poisoning, or end up with grains of last night’s supper in the cake.

If you know someone who would be willing to take on the task of making your wedding cake (mothers are often a good source for this!), and who you trust to produce a result that you will be happy with, then an alternative is to ask this person to make the cake. You can even suggest they make the cake as a wedding gift.  Be understanding if they say no, as making a wedding cake is a huge responsibility which they may be reluctant to take on.

And of course, don’t be afraid to get a quote from a professional source, such as Delicious Cake Design. I aim to be as accommodating as possible in trying to fit your budget and you may be surprised at what you can get for your money!

Good luck, and happy baking!

The Super Busy Wedding Cake Weekend

Monday, October 5th, 2009

What a hectic couple of weeks it’s been! I had to make two 3-tier wedding cakes for delivery on the weekend, which kept me super busy and super stressed! Having never had to deliver 2 wedding cakes in one weekend before, it was quite an experience. Sleeping and eating became a thing of the past. I’ve never been so exhausted and my feet, back and legs were very very sore from being on my feet so much. Thankfully the two weddings were not on the same day, one was on Saturday and the other on Sunday. I definitely would not accept two orders for wedding cakes that were to be delivered on the same day. Celebration cakes, maybe, but not 3-tier wedding cakes!

CAKE 1: Light ivory 3-tier wedding cake with floral spray of red tinged roses, sugar leaves and bear grass

CAKE 1: Light ivory 3-tier wedding cake with floral spray of red tinged roses, sugar leaves and bear grass

The first wedding cake was quite large with 8inch, 10inch and 12inch sized tiers, plus an extra cutting cake. The cakes had burgundy ribbon at the bases. The top tier had a floral spray consisting of 3 large light ivory roses, sugar leaf branches, and bear grass accents.

It was a Chinese wedding, so the bride and groom did not want white flowers as white flowers are traditionally used for Chinese funerals. The colour red is considered lucky in Chinese tradition, so they wanted some tinges of red on the roses. I originally tried lightly dusting the centre of the roses, but the intensity of the colour was lacking and looked more orange than red. Adding more petal dust ended up making them look too red rather than red tinged (it reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, painting the roses red!). So I re-made the roses and as I made each centre petal, I hand painted the edges of it with red petal dust using a very fine paint brush dipped in water to make the colour more intense . This worked out much better, but was very time consuming.

For the leaves I used some purple coloured petal dust to give the edges some darkness and definition, then over dusted with green petal dust.

CAKE 2: White wedding cake with pearl beads at bases and round posy of white roses

CAKE 2: White 3-tier wedding cake with pearl beads at bases and round posy of white roses

The second cake was smaller with 6inch, 8inch and 10inch cakes with pearl beads of different sizes on wires at the bases. It was quite a challenge finding those beads! But I managed to find them at a wholesale wedding warehouse outside of London.

This cake had a round posy of medium sized white roses for the top tier with no leaves or bear grass accents. This was more straight forward than the other floral spray, but also time consuming as it required a lot more roses! I spent several nights sitting at my work bench making rose after rose after rose. I then dusted the centre of each rose with a little yellow petal dust to give each flower some warmth and depth. It was very nerve wracking arranging the posy as I roll the flower paste quite thinly, so the roses are very delicate and fragile and break very easily.

All the cakes were made of my specialty butter cake. Many people request sponge cakes, but I get them to try my buttercake and they usually end up choosing it which is good as it is a much stronger cake to work with. Baking so many cakes was quite a challenge! It made me very grateful for my wonderful new KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer.

Delivery of the first cake was not fun. A friend kindly agreed to drive me to both venues as my other half was away for the weekend, but her car was very small. We used blankets and cushions to surround some of the cake boxes and minimise movement in the car boot. Driving was slow and excruciating with one cake tier balanced on my lap while I held the top tier in my hands and held my breath at every turn and pothole. The venue didn’t have parking or a driveway, so we had to park on a street nearby and walk each tier over. FYI, 10 and 12 inch cakes are HEAVY!!! I assembled the cake and floral spray at the venue, with my emergency repair kit and spare sugar roses and leaves on hand in case of disaster. Amazingly, these things were not needed.

Delivery of the second cake was surprisingly easy, because the cakes were smaller and there were only 3 instead of 4 cakes to transport. The venue also had parking right out the front – yay! I again assembled the floral spray at the venue, which was very nerve wracking given the fragility of the flowers, and again didn’t need to use my emergency repair kit. A miracle! Though I nearly had a small heart attack when the event staff then decided to pick up and move the entire cake display table to the centre of the room. Thankfully the flowers made it intact.

So delivering two 3-tier wedding cakes in one weekend was a very rewarding and challenging experience. But would I want to do it EVERY weekend? No, I like being able to sleep and eat!