Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Wedding Cake Saga - Part 2 - Baking

Yesterday was the great cake bake. Seven hours it took me in total. SEVEN.

That works out at just over an hour per cake, which was pretty accurate. Because the pans were so deep the cakes took aggges to cook through. I was worried this might mean the crusts would darken too much, but when they were leveled off everything was fine.

We had no major disasters. The last 6'' lemon sponge was a bit touch and go when I pulled it out of the oven after an hour and it was still completely raw in the middle. No idea how that happened. But it seems fine now.
this cake batter won't be self leveling, but will keep wonderfully moist for days
I also misjudged the amount of eggs I'd need for the largest tier. The first time I used 4 eggs, but this only yielded a cake about 2'' thick, whereas the others were at least 3''. So the second time I used 5 eggs, and that worked out really well.

you're looking for a very thick batter
Overall, I was really pleased with how it went - I had the right amount of ingredients, and although it was very hot work (the kitchen was 28 degrees WITHOUT the oven on), and very tiring (lots of standing around mixing, waiting and whisking) the results were well worth it. But the proof will be in the eating...

The cake recipe I used is a tried and true one I've been using for every cake I've made for the last two years or so. It's super simple and easy to remember. I thought this would be perfect for a test run wedding cake, I wouldn't be faffing aournd with three separate cake recipes that I didn't know exactly how they'd turn out. My recipe is simple, a form of old styley pound cake recipes; equal measures of eggs, (weigh these first!) butter, sugar and flour, plus a sprinkling of baking powder for luck. It can be made into a chocolate cake mix easily by the addition of a few scoops of cocoa powder. The hardest part of baking the cakes was working out haw many eggs, and so the quantities of the rest of ingredients, that I would need. I made an educated guess of 2 eggs per layer of the 6'' top tier, 3 per layer of the 10'', and 4 per layer of chocolate (though, as I mentioned above I should have used 5 instead). All tiers worked out perfectly after the slight chocolate layer issue, and were a really good thickness. So I guess it works out roughly at about one egg needed for each three square inches of cake you need, the cake tins being 3'' deep (3'' by 3'' x 2 eggs = 6'' pan to fill etc.)

Wedding Cake Sponges

eggs (2 for each 6''x3'' layer, so 4 in total for a top 6'' tier, 3 for each 10'' layer, 5 for each 12'' layer.)
butter, softened
a teaspoon of baking powder
flavours; cocoa, vanilla essence, almond, lemon zest etc.

1. Weigh your eggs, this will vary depending on the weight of each of your eggs, and will even give you slightly different measurements for layers of the same cake. A very rough guideline is that one egg weighs 70g, but you should always check this!
2. Weigh out your butter, flour and sugar, in equal quantities to the eggs. Cream the butter and sugar well until pale and creamy. Turn your mixer to slow and add in the eggs, one at a time, giving time to incorporate them into the butter and sugar mix.
3. Spoon in your flour and baking powder, (and cocoa powder if using, enough to give a rich chocolate batter, about 3-5 tbsp) a few spoons at a time, alternating with a splash of milk. Milk measures aren't exact, but you're looking for a thick batter that isn't going to be self leveling when poured into the cake pan.
4. Spoon batter into prepared cake tins. Bake at gas mark 3 until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, timings depend on the size of your layers and the exact temp. of your oven, but can vary between 1-1.5 hours. The lower than usual temperature helps prevent excessive drying of the crusts of the cakes, and stops them getting too dark too quickly.
5. Turn out cakes onto wire racks to cool. To get flat surfaces so I wouldn't have to trim too much off the tops (I didn't want to waste all that perfectly good cake!) I turned the cakes upside down on the cooling racks, put the corresponding cake tins on top of them, and put cans of beans inside the tins. The pressure helped to flatten uneven layers, and the small amount of steam trapped by the pans helped keep the cakes really moist. If you're worried about your cakes turning out wet, though, and I can't see any reason why they should! you can just turn the layers upside down and the weight of the cake itself will help flatten any uneven tops.

Once cool, wrap your cakes in cling film and put in a cupboard until you're ready to fill and ice them.

Click here to see part 3, filling!

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