It is now almost a month since our lovely Steph Clarke became Mrs Greaves and I was pulled out of cake decorating retirement to create a special wedding cake featuring lifelike sugar roses for the happy couple. So, after all the work I thought I would share the finished project with you.
As you may know I changed career from professional cake decorator to IT about 10 years ago and apart from the occasional demonstration or family cake all my efforts have gone into web design and helping to run Partyanimalonline, but when daughter Steph got married it was a great opportunity to dust off my cake decoration and sugar flower making kit and go back to the kitchen to design and create a cake for the special day. I love making sugar roses and other flowers so that was definitely going to be a large part of the cake design.
We had a fabulous trip out to Santorini to be at the wedding ceremony where, thank goodness an English wedding cake was not required! But we had “Part 2” back at home in Lancashire with all the family and friends to celebrate all over again. That in itself required transporting the cake and sugar roses sprays up the M5 and M6 motorways from my home in Gloucester. I’d almost forgotten how every bump makes you wonder if it will all stay together for the whole trip!
Steph had a few requests including the sugar roses spray. She requested it to be in pink, ivory and eucalyptus. She also wanted the world map in silver showing the two venues with tiny pink hearts. But otherwise I was left to create the final design.
Baking & Covering the Cakes
Since I would be away for the actual wedding I decided to make the cake from Rich Fruit cake – a recipe that was very popular when we had the shop. You can find the recipe here. This meant that I was able to bake and marzipan the cake in advance and concentrate on the decoration when I got home. For those who didn’t like fruit cake (they don’t know what they’re missing!!) I also baked a couple of cutting cakes – one chocolate fudge cake covered with fudge frosting and the other a lemon madeira cake filled with lemon curd and lemon buttercream and covered with sugarpaste.
I placed each rich fruit cake for the wedding cake onto a board the same size as the cake. This meant that they would stack easily without marking the cake below. Because the fruit cake is quite firm I didn’t use dowels although if you decide on another recipe or to have some of the layers made from a different type of cake I would recommend using dowels to make sure the layers do not sink.
I covered each cake with Renshaws Marzipan and left to set up. They were then individually covered using Renshaws White Sugarpaste. I love Renshaws Sugarpaste as I find it firm and easy to use and it tasted great too. Obviously however it is each to their own taste when it comes to sugarpaste!
All the cakes were left to set up separately before starting the decoration.
Decorating the Cakes
I created the world map with a stencil. It was fixed to the cake side and I spread slightly softened royal icing across it. Once covered I carefully removed the stencil before the icing set. I then used Rainbow Dust Light Silver Metallic Paint to paint the royal icing once it was dry. Finally I piped 2 small pink hearts with royal icing in the position of Santorini and St Annes, Lancashire.
The decoration for the bottom tier was base on the beautiful embroidery that Steph had on the bodice of her dress which included small silver beads and gems. To get the effect I piped the detail in Royal Icing using a No 1 piping tube. Then once dry I painted the beads with the Light Silver paint. I also fixed a few edible diamonds into the design to represent the gems that were on the dress.
I left the top tier plain and the final tier was painted all over with the silver paint. This was done by pouring the paint onto a palette and using the Easy Cover sponge to dab the paint all over. It needed 2 coats to get a complete finish. (For more details of this technique pop over to the Metallic Cake Finish blog)
The Lifelike Sugar Roses & other Flowers
The flower sprays included full sized lifelike sugar roses and buds in pink and ivory. Also foliage including ruscus, rose leaves and eucalyptus was used in the wired sugar flower spray. I added a few small blossom sprays to soften overall arrangement and give the impression of gypsophylia. The large spray was fixed to the top edge of the map cake using a large posy pick and a small arrangement was added to the top tier to complete, again setting it into a large posy pick.
Wired sugar flowers are great to do as you can do them well in advance. Just as well because they are time-consuming! Make sure that you keep them in a dry place ideally covered – a white cake box is ideal. Do not keep them in a damp bedroom or kitchen because damp will cause the flowers to soften and sag. You can then wire them together once the cake is complete. As a tip I would say always make more than you think you will need. At least then if you have a disaster you have replacements. If all goes to plan you may get another small spray for a future cake. Kept well these flowers will keep for years.
The special finishing touch was to add Peter and Steph’s much loved chickens! They were modeled with flower paste and then textured with royal icing before being dusted with Sugarflair petal dusts to give their distinctive colouring and added to the cake, Nugget and Fluffypants were fixed with royal icing while Jellybean was given long spaghetti legs as she is a Polish Chicken and needed to stand taller!
The cake was of course very heavy when complete so we transported it in 2 halves. The bottom 2 tiers with the sugar roses spray fixed in place was in one large box. We carried the upper 2 tiers separately and slipped them into place when we set up the cake. The top cakes of each section were fixed to the cake below with a fine snails trail piped around the bottom edge in Royal icing using a 1.5 tube.
If you are going to transport the flowers in place it is very important that they are securely wired. This will ensure that they don’t bounce around as this could cause breakage.
If in doubt I would recommend boxing them separately and putting in place once at the venue. Each method has it’s own drawbacks! I tucked a few pieces of bubble wrap between the large sugar roses as an added precaution while moving them.
Well I hope you join with me in wishing the new Mr and Mrs Greaves all the best for the future.
I hope you have enjoyed looking at the cake. Keep your eyes open for tutorials in the future and I will show you how to make the lifelike sugar roses and other flowers and foliage in the sprays.