Making a Wedding Cake: Part Four – The Big Day

Saturday was the Big Day.  We made our lists and checked them twice, gathered our supplies, took the cake out of the fridge Friday night, and the icing out on Saturday morning.  We loaded the cake layers, lemon curd, and icing into large coolers and headed over to the wedding site.

Despite pounding rain and thunder, everyone involved in wedding preparation was in great spirits, and we busily got to work with more than one interested onlooker.  Our first task was whipping the cold icing back into warm fluffiness with our hand mixer.  I had read that this would be no problem – just give it a little beating to restore the texture.  I readied the first layer while Brian beat, until he stopped, gave me a panicked look and said, “Something is wrong!” Our gorgeous, creamy Swiss Buttercream icing was weeping liquid. Oozing, really, and it was the texture that of runny scrambled eggs.  Not good. And of course, the radiant bride walked in at that very moment to check how things were going.  Brian literally hid the bowl and muttered, “Great!” We smiled, continued beating and hoped for the best.  After a tense five minutes, the icing returned to a smooth creamy texture, thank goodness. (A more experienced baker friend told us today that we probably broke our meringue!)

The rest of the cake assembly seemed like, well, like cake!  Layer after layer of cake was edged with icing, and the center was filled with alternating layers of jam or lemon curd.

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And stacked very, very high…

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Our two naked cakes, ready for decoration!

After the ceremony (for which the rain stopped and the sun shone!), I gathered lemon balm, lavender, violet leaves, chamomile blossoms, and roses, which were arranged on the cake like so…

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And like so…

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It’s funny how this cake almost took on a life of its own. Part of that is probably my doing. I have to admit that I got a bit obsessive about making this cake.  It just seemed so important to make the most delicious, most beautiful cake we possibly could.  And, not to brag too much, but it really was one of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever tasted.  So moist, flavorful, tangy, and sweet.

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The kids agreed!

As we were preparing to leave, I went into the dining room to check if I left anything behind.  There sat the remainder of the cake – just a quarter of a tier, really – calling out to me.  I found myself a Ziploc bag, cut off a small chunk, and took it home to eat for breakfast today.  Just perfect.

If you feel inspired to make your very own Lemon Wedding Cake, here are links to the recipes we used:

Lemon Cake: From Martha Stewart Weddings  We multiplied the recipe by six for enough batter for two of the following: 8, 10, 12 and 11 inch rounds. We sifted almond meal and used it in place of 1/4 of the flour called for in the recipe.

Lemon Curd: Another Martha Stewart recipe. We made seven batches and still had plenty left over.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Martha again!  We doubled the recipe to make 10 cups.  Read the tutorial on this site if you’re planning on trying this recipe for the first time!

Simple Syrup: We brushed this on the cake sides to keep them moist.  Bring 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a boil.  When the liquid cools, add 1 tsp vanilla or lemon juice.

Jam: Take your pick!  We used Blueberry, Apricot and a Blueberry-Strawberry mixture.  Divine!

 

Making a Wedding Cake: Part One – Planning

Making a Wedding Cake: Part Two – Tasting

Making a Wedding Cake: Part Three – Baking

Making a Wedding Cake: Part Two – Tasting

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Thursday night we prepared our first test cake, a Lemon Wedding Cake courtesy of Martha Stewart.  It baked up beautifully golden brown and slid right out of the 8″ round pan. Friday, I carefully sliced the cake horizontally in half, and then in a semi-circle so we could experiment with a four layer cake. On each cake layer, I edged the cake with a thin circle of swiss buttercream icing, and then filled with alternating layers of jam or lemon curd.

We asked our friends Mike and Julia to join us for a sunset cake tasting Friday night. Part of the goal of this tasting was to experiment with jam-curd flavor combinations. An informal Facebook poll hinted that lemon-blueberry might be the favored combination, but what about strawberry?  Or apricot-lavender?  So I decided to divide the cake into thirds, and spread each jam flavor on a section.  Here’s how it looked from the side:CakeTasting2

And believe me, it tasted as good as it looks.  Of course there were slight modifications necessary: for one, in our quest to accurately follow the recipe, we completely forgot the almond meal that we had decided to add for a more moist, dense cake.  I was also less than thrilled with the icing, so I’ve decided to try a different recipe.  But overall, the cake had a nice light lemony flavor that was accented by the sweet jam and the tart-sweet curd.  And as for the jam?  We’re going with a tier of each, so everyone wins!

Our plan is to bake the cake layers on Wednesday, cool, slice, and then wrap them in layers of Saran Wrap, and freeze them.  We’ll tackle an enormous batch of lemon curd on Thursday, and probably put the icing off until Friday.  Saturday, we’ll bring the cake and ingredients to the wedding, assemble on-site, and decorate with edible flowers from the bride’s garden. It will be so lovely.

Also in the works this week are the final touches on our summer accommodations.  Our tent is up and waiting for a bed, our outdoor kitchen has shelves and running water, and we are slowly moving our belongings out of this house and scrubbing it clean.  In a few short days, we’ll be living on the land, and the next stage of our adventure will begin.

I’ll leave you with a sunset view overlooking the garden.  Wishing you a wonderful week,Teri

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Making a Wedding Cake: Part One – Planning

Making a Wedding Cake: Part Three – Baking

Making a Wedding Cake: Part Four – The Big Day