Friday, 7 December 2012

Handmade wedding - the cake.

So, this is all about the cake. The actual cake. The edible cake. The square or round cake. The tiers or separate cakes cake. The two or three tier cake. The save the top tier or not cake. The get a chunk on the night and lots to keep afterwards cake. The lets have lots of photographs of it being cut cake. The goodness how big is the cake knife cake. The do not make me pretend to cut this cake anymore cake.The takes two grown men to lift it when I decide to change the tablecloth cake. The please do not drop it cake. The let us hope it is cooked cake. The does it taste nice cake. The oh is it not chocolate small child disappointed cake. The do we have a big enough tin for the leftovers cake.The no knitting involved cake (well, in the decorations, there had to be a little bit!). The how beautiful is that cake cake.

Some decisions about the cake were very easy to make. We knew we wanted to have fruit cake with marzipan and icing. We knew we wanted three tiers. We knew that we were not going to buy it. I was all prepared to get making when I received some wonderful offers of help from my mum, my sister and my very creative friend. As very creative friend is artistic and has done a cake decorating course she was elected chief of cake and was put in charge.

My mum made the bottom layer and my sister made the middle layer, they marzipaned and iced them. The bottom layer took 12 hours to cook! Very creative friend made the top layer, the decorations, assembled the tiers and made an extra cake that I could take along to my knitting group. Big thanks to them all.

Each tier had navy grosgrain ribbon placed around it which was then decorated with knitted flowers. All I had managed to specify was that I wanted flowers in autumnal colours and I was amazed with what I got. I can not tell you how to knit the flowers as the pattern is very creative friends but you could use a pattern from the book mentioned in a previous post or just experiment and make one up. All the flowers had button centres and some had ribbon added too which gave a really lovely effect.

The flower placement on each tier was staggered which showed off all the flowers in their glory and also made it look a little less formal which was in keeping with the mood of our wedding. We decided that we wanted to keep the look quite simple so had matching flowers on the top of the cake.

Here you can see a close up of the flowers and a little bit of detail of the cake stand. It was an ornate silver 1920s cake stand which was totally gorgeous, I loved it. It was hired from the local bakers, what an object to own!

I wanted the cake to be on an embroidered tablecloth for several reasons. I love them and collect them. I like to imagine people sat in their living room embroidering little sections day by day. I like to think who those people may have been, who they were making it for, why they choose to use that particular transfer or that combination of colours. I like to look at the needlework and imagine someone making those stitches. I do not even mind if they have the odd stain as I wonder what it was and hope that they were having a good meal when it happened.

They also remind me of my grandma. She had a few such tablecloths that used to sometimes come out at tea time. There was always a chocolate cake on a cake plate and very often jelly in a big glass bowl. Grandma had a crinoline lady tablecloth which was my favourite. I have it now and pick up others when I see them. Sometimes we used the crinoline lady china set at the same time. My sister has that. The tablecloth used was not Grandmas as I did not want to worry about it on my wedding day. But I know she would have approved and it was a way of having her there in spirit.

If anyone knows why there seemed to be a crinoline lady obsession on tablecloths, napkins and china in the 1930s and 1940s do let me know.

One great thing about having three people each making one layer of the cake is that every layer is a different recipe. They all taste marvellous but not the same with variations in fruit, amount of fruit, type of sugar and type of alcohol used to soak the fruit or to feed the cake. We are enjoying having a cake to cut at and offer to guests. It is like a little piece of wedding joy every time.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Handmade wedding - table centres.

I love a good cup of tea and a nice piece of cake. The tea is best when served in a vintage china cup and saucer, preferably when I can choose my teacup from a selection. I would probably have Earl Grey tea.The cake is best when homemade, I'm not fussy what flavour it is, although it is hard to go wrong with some version of chocolate. I like my cake on a proper cake plate, served from a larger cake plate or cake stand. I don't mind if my plate doesn't match my teacup, in fact I often prefer it as I get to see more beautiful china that way. Maybe add a doily or two. Always have milk in a jug. Make it an occasion and enjoy. Add some fabulous friends. Have a good conversation. Appreciate the moment.

So, when I was thinking about how I would like my wedding to be I realised that I wanted to have afternoon tea because it is my favourite way to combine the good cup of tea, the china and the nice piece of cake. Plus you get to add in fancy sandwiches and possibly a scone (or two). Our venue enjoyed turning my idea into reality. Several members of staff made the cakes - mini battenburgs, a super chocolaty brownie, carrot cake, lemon drizzle cake. We had fruit scones with butter and jam and cheese scones. The sandwiches were coronation chicken, local ham and salad, smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise (because it reminds me of children's birthday parties , happy times) and hummus and grated carrot. It was served on cake plates and cake stands, with cake plates and teacups. Nothing matched, though some tables had a set of china, but it was all beautiful.
The place names were handmade by a fabulous and talented friend.
She hand painted each one.

I was ready to beg and borrow china from friends and family and seek it out for myself. Despite Mr O's belief that I could supply a cafe with my own collection it would not stretch to a wedding, even a small one. However, the venue then managed to purchase someone else's china collection. I don't know how they let it go although I am thankful that they did. So my china stayed safely with me and we enjoyed seeing more.
I was mulling over decoration ideas, as you do, and realised that there was a very happy way to combine my favourite pastimes of cake eating and knitting. Yes, knitted cakes on cake stands for the table centres! When I did my craft badge as a Girl Guide I knitted a battenburg cake and a jam waffle and they looked fabulous. This obviously stayed in the back of my mind and came out as wedding decorations. I stumbled across a fantastic book full of patterns for knitted cakes and that was it, ready to go.

I have to say at this point that I was not responsible for any of the knitted cakes. I delegated so that I could make other things! So huge thanks go to my great friend and bridesmaid and to my mum. My friend, who had only knitted in garter stitch before, surpassed herself and made the most beautiful array of cakes. She began on the swiss rolls as they were easiest and worked up to angel cakes and heart shaped raspberry cakes. I was amazed. My mum is a great knitter so she got the harder patterns from the outset and produced beautiful doughnuts and slices of fruit flan. The fruit flans were quite a late addition so my dad and sister were roped into a production line to cut out the cardboard bases, stuff and sew!

Between my mum and myself we had enough cake stands to have one on the centre of each table. Each table got a selection of cakes arranged on the stand. I stood the stands on a tower of ladybird books which I had been collecting up with a half formed idea that they would be part of the wedding decorations, although I was not quite sure how until about the week before. I should have said that the ideal tea and cake scenario would also involve reading a good book so I wanted my love of reading to be reflected in some way.
I loved them. Mr O loved them. Our guests loved them (except the guest who picked one up to eat thinking that they were real!). They proved to be a great conversation starter and added a lovely handmade flavour to our afternoon tea.