2013 – the year of the wedding

At my age weddings are a bit like buses – none for years, then suddenly three of your closest friends get married within 4 months of each other. It’s been a really lovely summer of tipsy hen dos, tireless dress shopping, weepy ceremonies and suitably celebratory receptions and I’ve had the honour of getting involved in the making of cakes and favours.

I should point out at this stage that I don’t make wedding cakes on a commercial basis – no one would want to pay the true price once you factor in the days of work and I know I’d resent the aching back at the end of it. But when the bride and groom are very special to you, it’s one of the best presents you can give and the hours spent over the mixing bowl give you a chance to reflect on happy times together.

Our first wedding of the year was the marriage of Laura and Steve, whose cupcake wedding cake I blogged about back in June.

Our second wedding of the year was Sam and Tim’s for whom my other half was the Best Man. The logistics of a wedding in central London meant that I wasn’t able to make the wedding cake itself, but I was thrilled to be asked to help Sam make a traditional Sri Lankan Love Cake. We used Sam’s own secret family recipe, posted from Sri Lanka along with packets of candied pumpkin and rose essence by her Auntie. Naturally I’m not about to disclose that particular recipe to the world, but I have included an excerpt from one of Sam’s Sri Lankan recipe books should you want to try making a similar version.

The cake takes 3 weeks to mature, so we had to wait for the wedding day itself before trying it, but it was worth it. The ground cashews gave it the lovely damp texture of a lemon and almond cake, while the rose essence, nutmeg and cardamom gave an unmistakably Southern Asian aroma. It’s time consuming to make, but would be a wonderful alternative to Christmas cake too.

Our final wedding of the year was Lianne and Mike’s where I played the role of Maid of Honour. The first wedding-related cooking challenge was to help Lianne make their “spread the love” apricot jam wedding favours. We had a great day cooking up two big batches and enjoyed a sunny lunch in the garden in between. We based the recipe on Sarah Raven’s article in the Guardian, though we used a sugar thermometer to make sure the jam had reached its setting point of 105⁰C, rather than leaving it to chance. This was another case of having to wait to taste the end result, though this time it was several months! It‘s a great jam though – the vanilla gives a sweeter taste than usual, so perfect for the sweet-toothed. It would make an amazing Bakewell tart variation, though we’ve just been enjoying our little pots with warm croissants at weekends.

My biggest wedding challenge of the year by far was constructing their pumpkin wedding cake in line with the autumnal theme. The cake inside was my trusty ginger cake recipe that I used for Laura & Steve’s ginger cupcakes, while the mini pumpkins round the outside were made with an egg-free sponge so that the egg-allergic groom could enjoy part of his own cake on the big day. I thought I was going to have a bit of a disaster when I left the petal paste leaves to set overnight only to discover that our cold, damp living room had made them go floppy by the morning. Luckily the reception venue’s air conditioning dried them out just in time for the build to take place.