I pre-assembled most of the cake before we left and packed it up into four separate boxes. As all four of us were also attending the wedding (my husband was best man) I had a stress-inducing drive down the motorway and into to London with the car parked to the ceiling, expecting to find a smashed mess of crumbs and buttercream. It survived. Phew.
I’m not going to detail the recipe here – I used one from Good Housekeeping, as the tin sizes/volume matched perfectly. You can access that recipe here. I also cheated and bought-in buttercream, but I will explain how much I used in case you need to know this in order to buy the correct amount.
As the cake needed to be covered in fruit and flowers, I wondered what to put on the top of the cake – it seemed wrong not to have something. Traditional wedding cakes all have something, even if it’s just the slightly clichéd bride and groom figurines. I saw a few cakes with some banners or names of the bride and groom poked into the top of the cake. I didn’t like any of these but this gave me an idea, coupled with the slightly vintage-y theme to the wedding and I created some mini bunting.
- As mentioned above, I used the recipe from Good Housekeeping to make the cakes.
- I made a 10″/25cm cake for the base tier, an 8″/20cm cake for the middle tier and a 6″/15cm top tier.
- Each tier was comprised of two sponges each cut in half to make four layers per tier.
- Cake dowels, for keeping the layers stacked (otherwise the cake will collapse in under its own weight)
- Cake boards to fit the three tiers (a thicker 10″/25cm board, a 8″/20cm board and a 6″/15cm board)
- The bunting (see below for how to make it)
- Jar of apricot jam
- Sugar syrup – lemon and vanilla
- Put 500g of caster sugar and 500ml water in a pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Then boil (not on a very high heat) for one minute. Leave to cool.
- Divide into two bowls of cups – have roughly 2/3 in one and 1/3 in the other. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to the larger amount and 1 teaspoon lemon juice to the smaller amount. Swirl and set aside
- Paint the vanilla sugar syrup onto the top of each of the layers for the middle tier (that’s four 8″ sponges) and the top tier (that’s four 6″ sponges) using a pastry brush
- Do the same for the lemon sugar syrup on all four of the 10″ sponges
- Six 400g buttercream tubs (you could get away with five if you are using all the same flavour I think):
- For the base tier, I used one and about a third 400g tubs of vanilla buttercream and one 400g tub of lemon. I put the vanilla between layers one and two, then lemon between two and three and vanilla again between three and four
- For the middle tier I used one and about a half 400g tubs of chocolate buttercream (I had a little bit left over from two tubs). I made this tier completely chocolate all the way through
- For the top tier I used one tub of salted caramel buttercream and the rest of the vanilla buttercream left over from the base tier. I put the salted caramel between layers one and two, then vanilla between two and three and salted caramel again between three and four
- I used two punnets of redcurrants (I wanted white currants too but couldn’t find any). Remove the first few currants (the end that would have been attached to the bush) so that there is a 5cm or so stem. This is so you can push the currants into the cake to secure them
- A punnet of raspberries
- Edible decorations:
- Roses and rose petals – to match the colourway of the wedding. Leave a 5cm stem on the roses
- Lavender – a handful of the prettiest sprigs you can find, shorten the stems to 5cm
- Mini meringues. I made some lemon mini meringues to my own recipe – which you can find here
- “Semi-edible” decorations
- Gypsophelia (or Baby’s Breath) featured a lot in the wedding and in the bouquets so I added some. The flowers are edible but the stems are not (though they are non-toxic and can be used on the cake). Baby’s breath is also brilliant at covering the bases
To construct the layers and tiers:
- Set aside or mark out the best ‘top’ for each of the three tiers – that’s one of each size
- Trim any domed layers (apart from the very top 15cm/6″ layer) with a bread knife so they are as flat as possible. Brush off excess crumbs
- For the base tier:
- Place the first 25cm/10″ layer on its cake board and brush with the lemon sugar syrup. Spread on a layer of apricot jam then pipe or spread on the vanilla buttercream
- Place layer number two on top and brush with lemon sugar syrup. Add a layer of lemon buttercream
- Place layer three on and treat the same as for layer one: lemon sugar syrup, jam and vanilla butter cream
- Place on layer four (the one you identified as the best) and brush with lemon sugar syrup. Do NOT add buttercream
- For the middle tier
- Place the bottom layer on and brush with vanilla sugar syrup and cover with chocolate buttercream
- Place on layer two, again add vanilla sugar syrup and chocolate buttercream
- Place on layer three also has vanilla sugar syrup and chocolate buttercream
- Top with the fourth (best) layer and add the vanilla sugar syrup. NO buttercream!
- For the top tier
- Place the bottom layer on its card and brush with the vanilla sugar syrup. Top with the salted caramel buttercream
- Place on layer two and add vanilla sugar syrup and a layer of vanilla buttercream
- Place on layer three, cover in vanilla sugar syrup and top with salted caramel buttercream
- Finally add the last layer (the one you reserved and did not trim) and cover in vanilla sugar syrup
- This is the point that I boxed up the cake – I did the final assembly at the wedding venue
- You will need to cut out enough diamond shapes from coloured card as the letter you need to use. The diamonds need to be about 3cm tall and about 1.5cm at their widest part. Alternatively if you have a graphic programme you can print out diamonds with the letters on (which is what I was able to do). I used ‘just married’ and the couples’ first names
- Remember each strong of bunting has to fit on a 15cm/6″ cake (the top tier) so don’t use more than about twelve letters per string or it will be too wide
- Cut out and fold over the diamonds so that they turn into triangular flags. If you weren’t able to print them out, space them out on a table and draw on your letters as neat as possible
- You will need two wooden skewers for each row of bunting and a length of nice string (I used kitchen butcher’s twine)
- Lay out one long length of string and glue the inside of the paper for the first letter fold the paper over the twine. Press down on the bunting flag so that the glue fixes, but ensure the twine is at the top where it folds.
- Make sure you get your letters in the right order (and that all the letters are on the same side!) and complete your first bunting string
- Put a blob of glue near the top of a skewer and tie the twine to it as close as you can to the first letter. Repeat with the next skewer close to the end letter. Trim the loose ends of the twine
- Set flat until the glue is dried. Repeat if you are making two bunting strings
- Taking the dowels, you will need about 5 to 6 for the bottom layer. Push one dowel in to the cake about a quarter of the way in from the edge and mark where the cake stops. Withdraw the dowel and cut it to size. Use this to trim the other dowels. Push them all in, spacing them in a circle halfway into the cake.
- Take a little of the leftover buttercream and put a blob or two on the top of the cake. Set the middle layer on the bottom layer and make sure it’s central
- Repeat the dowels on the middle layer – you’ll need one less (unless you’re very cautious). Place the top layer on the middle layer one the dowels are in
- Shake a little icing sugar over the layers (not essential)
- Take your fruit, flowers and edible and non-edible decorations and arrange on the cake as you see fit. The stalks you left on the currants and flowers can be pushed into the cake or between the layers or boards to set them in place. Use a little leftover buttercream to fix the mini meringues on to the cake
- Reserve your nicest flowers for the top tier
- Place the bunting in place by pushing the skewers into the top of the cake