A Christening Cake with a history. 3 years on our final tier of wedding cake transformed.

Christening cake. Two tiered iced fruit cake with duck egg blue polka dots and bunting

Christening cake with a history. In a previous life it was a tier in our wedding cake. 3 years on it’s had a make over and tasted great!

As you may recall I got a bit carried away when baking our 5 tier fruit cake for our wedding almost 3 years ago. I ended up baking 8 cakes in total (!) We managed to eat most of the cakes but had one 7 inch round cake left.  So I carefully wrapped the cake in greaseproof paper and tin foil and popped it in a biscuit tin and put it in the back of the  cupboard and forgot about it. It managed to survive our house move and kitchen renovations too!

image of 3 year old fruit cake preserved in brandy ready for transforming into christening cakle

The original 3 year old wedding cake, full of booze and deeper in flavour and colour.

It’s a well known English tradition that you save the top tier of your wedding cake for the christening of your first child. Fruit cake keeps extremely well, provided you give it a good drink of booze every now and then. It also needs to be kept in a dry cool environment.  It’s important to store it in a tin,  not a plastic container, as the cake will sweat in plastic. And sweat means mould which you really don’t want! A layer of greaseproof paper and tin foil helps to stop the cake from drying out and keep the booze, which preserves the cake, in.
Every time I moved the cake (about once a year) I had a quick peek in the foil and topped it up with the orange brandy liqueur that I used in our original wedding cake. Drizzling just enough booze over the top of the cake to make it slightly damp (about 2-3 tbs). After 2 years I replaced the paper and foil.

Cutting the cake!

The actual wedding cake in it’s moment of glory.  (Any excuse to include another photo of it…)

I was a bit nervous about feeding a 3 year old fruit cake to my family but on close inspection the cake looked absolutely perfect just much darker than when I first baked it from absorbing all that delicious brandy.

I had such high ambitions and a million ideas on how to decorate the cake but with very limited time and a 5 month old baby who needs feeding every hour or so my ability to make fondant hot air balloons and elephants totally escaped me. And to be honest sugar craft has never been my strong point!

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I gave up sugar crafting and instead ate a lump of marzipan with a cup of tea.

As a compromise I opted for the smoothest finish I could manage of white fondant with duck egg blue polka dot design (much simpler and quicker!) And a year later I realise I’ve clearly got an unhealthy obsession with duck egg blue polka dots as I’ve just decorated the little one’s room in them too!

Image of duck egg blue and gold polka dots on bedroom wall

Polka dots galore

And don’t tell anyone but I cheated and bought a polystyrene 6 inch round to decorate for the top tier to give extra height and interest! As I was baking loads of chocolate cupcakes, flapjacks and brownies for my non fruit cake loving nieces and nephews I didn’t want to bake another round cake to ice as sponge cake can’t be iced a month in advance!

Our traditional English christening cake. 3 year old wedding fruit cake

Our traditional English christening cake. 3 year old wedding fruit cake

I iced the fruit and fake cakes a month in advance to give it a chance to dry and set. Making the cakes more durable and easy to transport. I iced them directly onto half inch thick drum cake boards for extra height with a layer of marzipan and fondant.

To hide any rough edges I pinned white ribbon into the drum boards around the edge of the cake. And found some beautiful grey polka dot ribbon that my friend gave me which worked perfectly to make a decorative bow on the top tier. As the cakes were on their drum boards I used dress making pins rubbed with brandy to pin the ribbon directly into the board without fear of the pins rusting.

Once the cakes were iced, buffed and smoothed (method here) I dabbed the small fondant polka dots (cut out with the round end of a fine piping nozzle) with a spot of brandy to help it adhere to the fondant.

I stored the cakes in cardboard cake boxes to protect them and help them dry and then all I had to do was make the bunting cake topper using some glitter sticker letters and paint my cardboard letters. So you definitely know our little one’s name!

I was so impressed with the cake. It actually tastes better than I remember. The orange brandy really popped and had intensified throughout the cake which was moist and rich. Fruit cake definitely gets better as it ages. The more mature the better. I’m so pleased I saved the cake. Not only did it save me from having to bake one whilst clutching a small baby but I managed to slice it into half inch fingers and feed our 50 family members and keep a couple of pieces for me to enjoy and savour later on!

Traditional, tasty and time saving. What’s not to love?

Liked this post? You can read about our epic wedding cake adventure here…

Part 1 – My 5 tiers of fruit wedding cake – My biggest booziest cake yet 

Part 2 – How many sugar flowers does it take to make a wedding cake?

Part 3 – Where to start icing a 5 tier wedding cake?

Part 4 -The Final Frontier – Decorating & assembling my 5 Tier wedding cake

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How many Hydrangea Sugar Flowers does it take to make a Wedding Cake?

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After you’ve spent an inordinate amount of time baking 8 enormous boozy fruit cakes, how do you decide which wedding cake design to go for? Do you opt for a classic look, a fashionable design or something to match your colour scheme?? For those that know me, you will know that there has never been a colour scheme in my life. I don’t manage to match things very well. In fact if things clash that’s probably for the better. (

I couldn’t bring myself to decide on just one colour for my bouquet, as I love so many colours so I went for a bit of everything. It was only a last minute decision to leave out the bright pink roses from the bouquet. I decided it may be a little bit too much.  You can even see the blue hydragena flowers peeking out between the hyacinths. It was touch and go as to whether these flowers would bloom with it being a December wedding. It was clearly meant to be!

My wedding flowers

My wedding flowers – a little bit of everything

Part of me longed for a classic cake that I would love forever and part of me me wished for an entire room of different types of cake from around the world. Unfortunately there is not enough space in my freezer to create such an awesome display unless I baked them all the day before the wedding which in reality, was never going to happen.

Petite Italian Lavender Meringues

Petite Italian Lavender Meringues

As a compromise I baked as many extras as I could possibly manage. Opting for petite Lavender Meringues

Mini Brownie Bundts and Madeleines

Table Treats – Mini Brownie Bundts and Madeleines

and mini bundt brownies and madeleines to adorn the tables with.

I found so many gorgeous cake designs flicking through endless pages of Pintrest and magazines but many were way out of my skills set. One favourite was an impossibly beautiful white damask lace design on a pale green fondant  I made many many trips to my local cake decorating shop and experimented with different technniques,  I was never going to be able to use a stencil. (I practiced with a little one I had in the house and I always managed to smudge it or it oozed out of the sides.)  I was then going to make millions of sugar roses, but I made about 4. It took me ALL night and I felt angry. It was way too fiddly and my roses always turn out ridiculously enormous and ‘rustic’ looking.

Green Damask Lace Cake – The Cake Parlour

Another of my favourite designs was a tiered cake with a cascade of hydragena blossoms. Little did I know that both of these cakes were designed by the same woman the amazing Zoe Clark. (I have since purchased her books as I love her designs!)

I continued in an experimental vein ordering lots of plastic sugar tools online and waited a month for them to arrive. I attempted to make fondant pearls by hand but didn’t think about how they needed to dry so ended up with one lump of sugar pearl. That would never do.

One lump of pearl for me please

Just the one lump of pearl for me please

Back to the drawing board and my two favourite designs. My Mam invested in a hydrangea cutter and mould for me (thank you Mam) rather than watch me struggle with trying to do everything for myself.

Zoe Clark’s design used pink blossoms which is lovely but I’m not much of a pink girl. Instead I experimented with a few different colours including, lilac, baby blue, teal and finally decided upon ‘hydrangena blue’. I coloured some florists paste with food colouring and added a little more to get the right colour. I also left some to dry for a couple of weeks to see how the colour developed as it can fade as it dries out fully. I had found my winner. I made 3 slightly different shades of hydrangea blue paste to give the flowers more of a natural look and variety in the final cascade.

Using a tooth pick add a dot of your chosen food colour gel to the florists sugar paste and knead it until it's the colour you need.I chose hydrangea blue. Beware adding too much colour in one go, once it's in you can't take it out! You may need to colour your paste in advance to allow it to dry a little so it's not too sticky!

Using a tooth pick add a dot of your chosen food colour gel to the florists sugar paste and knead it until it’s the colour you need. I chose hydrangea blue. Beware adding too much colour in one go, once it’s in you can’t take it out! You may need to colour your paste in advance to allow it to dry a little so it’s not too sticky!

When adding food colouring gel to sugar paste it always makes the paste sticky. I find it much easier to handle if I colour it a few days before I need to use it.

Roll out the colourful florist's paste on a lightly dusted surface - making sugar flowers hydrangea

Roll out the colourful florist’s paste on a lightly dusted surface

You can add a little icing powder to the worksurface when you’re rolling it out but not too much as it will dry the paste out and it will crack. Florists paste isn’t cheap but it has a special ingredient (albumen) which allows you to work it into much thinner and more delicate shapes than normal sugar paste. It also dries really hard quite quickly so it keeps it’s shape. I tried to make my own (I know this was not my best idea!) I thought it would be cheaper to buy powdered albumen and knead it into sugar paste. In reality this was an extra faff on that I didn’t have the time for. It was much easier to just buy pre made florists paste and mix my own colour. If you’re feeling extravagant you could even buy yours in the shade you really want.

strategically press your cutter into the paste and carefully lift it away from the paste - sugar flowers hydrangea

Strategically press your cutter into the paste and carefully lift it away from the paste

My hydrangea cutter and mould instructions informed me that I needed vegetable fat to smear on the silicon mould to prevent the paste from sticking to the mould. It was late, I was all ready to cut out some flowers so I wasn’t going to make it to any shops. Improvising I took some pearl lustre powder and popped it in a shallow bowl.

Pearl Lustre Powder makes a great alternative to vegetable fat and icing sugar

Pearl Lustre Powder makes a great alternative to vegetable fat and icing sugar

Using a brand new clean blusher brush I coated the mould liberally with a combination of edible pearl and baby blue lustre powders.

Dust like your life depends on it

Dust like your life depends on it

Et voila. I have satisfactorily released flowers with a touch a sparkle and glamour that I was going to have to paint on afterwards. Success and time saved!

Using a clean blusher brush first the mould with lustre powder to stop it sticking. You can use trex but I discovered this saved me a job later on!

Using a clean blusher brush first the mould with lustre powder to stop it sticking. You can use trex but I discovered this saved me a job later on!

The little mould that I loved to hate. The first 50 flowers were a breeze but your fingers do start to ache after so much cutting, folding and pressing! The trick is to fold the mould over carefully so you don’t dislodge the flower inside. Or if the paste is too thick it oozes out of the sides of the mould when pressed…

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There is a lot of patience and gentleness required in this process…

The pressed Hydrangea Blossom

The pressed Hydrangea Blossom – look at that beautiful detail

If you’ve lustred up the mould enough it should pop out quite easily but you might need to coax it out if it’s a bit stubborn. (Spot the cocktail sticks in the background). Flipping over the mould allows gravity to do the work for you and release the lovely detailed blossom into your palm.

Gently coax the flower out of the mould by peeling the mould away from the flower or let gravity do it's job

Gently coax the flower out of the mould by peeling the mould away from the flower or let gravity do it’s job

The final result! I also added a little baby blue edible lustre powder to the mix to ad depth and variation to the blossoms. I was glittering for a week after this!

Hey presto! You have a sugar flower all sparkly and full of lustre which helps bring it to life

Hey presto! You have a sugar flower all sparkly and full of lustre which helps bring it to life

I found a good way to make the flowers look more realistic was to gently roll themeach one in my cupped hand before leaving them to dry. This gives more shape to the petals, so they don’t appear too flat and fake. Then repeat times a million… This is probably an extreme exaggeration but I lost count of how many flowers I actually pressed. I used about 2 and half 500g packs of florists paste to create maybe around 150 hydrangea blossoms. Not all of them ended up on the cake however as I dropped some on the floor… Some snapped after they dried. They are quite delicate little flowers! And some flowers just weren’t that pretty (sorry flowers but some had to be prised apart and suffered the consequences) so they didn’t make the cut.

Gently roll the flower in your hand to encourage the edges to bend in slightly and create a bit of variety

Gently roll the flower in your hand to encourage the edges to bend in slightly and create a bit of variety

The flowers need to be held in shape whilst they dry. You can splash out on a special sugar paste foam mat if you like, or you can wrap an egg box in cling film and pile them all up like me. Crinkled up tin foil works really well too. It may also be a good idea to add layers of cling film to stop the flowers sticking together. I know I’m biased but don’t they look pretty all sparkly and delicate??

Line an egg box with cling film and pop all your pretty flowers in to hold their shape whilst they dry. Repeat repeat repeat...

Line an egg box with cling film and pop all your pretty flowers in to hold their shape whilst they dry. Repeat repeat repeat…

It takes about a day for the flowers to dry out. I made mine in stages so I could spend an hour or two at a time pressing hydragenas until I thought I had enough. Then  all that’s left to do is ice the 5 tiers of fruit cake and assemble it all.

The Final Result! The Wedding Cake

The Final Result! The Wedding Cake

This is part 2 of the 4 stages of wedding cake baking! You can read more about my epic wedding cake adventures here…

Part 1 – My 5 tiers of fruit wedding cake – My biggest booziest cake yet 

Part 2 – How many sugar flowers does it take to make a wedding cake?

Part 3 – Where to start icing a 5 tier wedding cake?

Part 4 -The Final Frontier – Decorating & assembling my 5 Tier wedding cake