23 dec. 2021
LEAVE THE FLAT! Let’s talk about the wedding cake
By MaryAnn Miano
The wedding cake takes center stage at the reception, unlike the bride, of course. The bride and groom today have many options; their cake can reflect their own style, can be glazed in bright colors and flavored in an exotic way, and can take any shape or size they wish.
The wedding cake began as a tradition during the Roman Empire. However, the cake was a loaf of bread. In the Middle Ages, bread turned into scones. The guests each brought a little bridal “cake” to the wedding where these cookies were stacked on top of each other. The bride and groom had to lean over the top of the cakes to kiss each other in order to bring good luck to their marriage.
The evolution from bread to cake occurred between the 17th and 19th centuries. In England, breads were enhanced with sugar, spices and dried fruits, accompanied by icing. British royalty were the first to create architectural sculptures from raised cake beds. These carvings were used as tall centerpieces for wedding banquet tables, leading directly to the classic three tier wedding cake prototype, which has become the standard for all wedding celebrations.
Other traditions surrounding the pure white wedding cake bring new representations. The joint task of the bride and groom cutting the cake is believed to symbolize the consummation of their married life. The gesture of giving cake to each other is a symbol of the commitment the bride and groom make to each other.
Creative couples may wish to bake their own cake in a labor of love together. A homemade wedding cake can seem like a tall order, but it is not impossible if you give yourself enough time and practice beforehand.
Your cake and filling can be your choice. Here is the method to use to assemble the cake in layers, as well as some tips.
For 100 people, use a 7, 10 and 14 inch cake pan. These sizes will create a well-proportioned cake. Cut a piece of plywood, cover with foil and build the wedding cake.
The home baker can purchase plastic cake rings and studs (for supporting tiers and pillars) cut to the size desired for the tier and lock the studs into the rings. Decorate it the night before the wedding, store it in the fridge in a spare with the shelves removed, and time the cake to transport within an hour of taking it out of the fridge.
ASSEMBLY OF A HOMEMADE WEDDING CAKE
1. Using a long, serrated knife, cut off the top and bottom “skin” of the cake layers. Cut off the top of the cake to create a flat surface. Wrap the remaining cake rings in plastic as you assemble one layer at a time. Start by looking at the cake and your knife hand to make sure you are holding the knife blade level. Squat at eye level with the cake and turn the cake with one hand to mark the outside edge and mark where you are going to make your cut.
2. Cut the cake into 3/8 inch to ½ inch thick layers. The thicker the layers, the more rustic the look. Cutting a round cake into several thin layers requires more skill, more topping, and more time, but the look is sleek and refined. Each round of cake should give two to three layers, depending on the thickness of the cut, the filling of your molds and the height of the cake in the oven. Special insulated baking strips are available to moderate the temperature of a cake pan and help cakes bake evenly, without a pronounced rounding in the center. Using these strips can help reduce the amount of cake you will need to cut to get a flat surface.
3. Before adding topping or frosting, brush each cake layer with simple syrup. Pay special attention to the edges, as this is where the cake will start to dry out.
4. Spread a generous layer of filling on each layer of cake. If you’re using a soft filling, like mousse or whipped cream, place a circle of buttercream around the edge of the cake to contain the filling.
5. Neatly stack your next cake layer on top of the frosted or filled bottom layer. Squat at eye level to make sure you stack the layers evenly. Brush the layer with syrup and spread the filling.
6. When you’ve added the top layer, brush with syrup and add a generous dollop of frosting. Don’t worry about the crumbs; you will spread this layer of frosting quite thinly and refrigerate the cake to create a “layer of breadcrumbs” that will seal the cake and toppings before frosting and decorating the cake.
7. Refrigerate cake for at least an hour, until frosting is firm to the touch. Note: Butter and cream cheese frostings will firm up more than shortening frostings. If you are using whipped cream as the frosting, you can apply a thin layer of jam to help contain the crumbs. Frost round cake to create a smooth, even coating.
8. Refrigerate the finished cake and repeat with the remaining levels. The filled and frosted cake layers can be refrigerated for up to two days before the wedding without losing quality, but it is better to use a separate refrigerator so that the cake does not absorb the strong smells of other foods in the refrigerator. .
DECORATE A WEDDING CAKE
1. Before stacking the cake tiers, you need to add additional support. Use cake pegs, no more than a quarter of an inch above the top surface of the cake. Or you can “stack” the cake: the layers are stacked directly on top of each other, with no pillars separating the levels.
2. Carefully lower the next level onto the base layer. Position yourself directly over the base layer to make sure it is centered. A long, staggered spatula can help you avoid digging your fingertips into the frosting.
3. When all the cake layers are in place, it’s time to touch up any flaws and mask the space between the layers with piped frosting. You can make a seashell border or round beads. For a very special touch, you can use a parchment cone for fine detail work.
4. If you don’t have a traditional cake decorating, you can decorate the upper level with sweet fruit, flowers, or intricate piping. The designs that look like intricate lace patterns are made by passing a single fine wavy line that loops back but does not touch or cross. (Practice on a plate or sheet of baking paper if you’ve never tried it before.)
5. Add flowers or fruits that match the season, the flavors of the cake or the color scheme. Make sure to use non-toxic flowers without pesticides. Examples: Marzipan candies, strawberry candies, Austrian peach cookies, frosted cranberries, frosted raisins.