The BSG and I are in charge of the cake for my sister’s wedding. Just to clarify: we are making it, filling it, icing it, decorating it and then driving it the two and a half hours to Norfolk where we will assemble it.
Nervous? Not a bit.
Perhaps it has something to do with us having absolutely nil experience in that department. Some might call this a disadvantage, but it has meant that at every turn we have researched, checked and double-checked. Now, for example, I know not to put a freshly baked and cooled cake in the fridge. No sir, the fridge environment is the nemesis of a light and airy sponge, making it dense and claggy. I will now be storing my cake, sealed in a tin or box, in a cool, dry place. Eureka!
This zilch experience also means that we’ve never reached the end of the process before, only to have the finished article collapse/melt/get dropped/consumed by the family pet, which means that we’ve had a pretty impressive unblemished 100% track record thus far… Perhaps that’s why Clem and Rich have trusted us with such a task.
It’s not a traditional fruit cake, but a lemon cake (so we’re hoping people will actually eat it: it has to taste good). Dan Lepard’s Lemon Butter Cake to be precise. We tried a few out – like one on the Nigella forum from a US reader which, while delicious, should have carried a health warning for butter content (the batter looked like buttercream icing). Though we tried a drizzle cake whereby the lemony syrup permeates the cake, with the large volume of sponge we are working with you’d need more of a deluge to inject any flavour whatsoever. This recipe beat the rest of the field hands down for taste. I don’t know much about Dan Lepard, (except that he is Australian-born). Short and Sweet, his book on baking, is clear and written with authority; it dares you (well, me) to try things you mightn’t otherwise, including breads. It was so packed with good new things to bake that I gave it to my sister-in-law Jemima, who probably knows all there is to know on the subject.
Though the cake looked a little dense when we cut into it, it was light and m…. (I won’t say that word on here) and the condensed milk holds in the moisture whilst giving a delicious flavour – a humectant, apparently. We ramped up the zest by 1 lemon, and seeing as we will be scaling up the recipe even further, there might be a bit more tweaking to be done still. We’ve baked a small trial version which we’ve filled with lemon buttercream, covered with ready-rolled (hallelujah!) fondant icing and are keeping as a control for 4 days. Fingers crossed it stays fresh.
If it does, we’ll be scattering it with crystallised rose petals that we’ve thieved from a few pretty gardens. Tonight we try rolling out enormous blobs of fondant as the ready rolled doesn’t come in extra large.
How hard can it be?! We’ll let you know…
PS: For the recipe, please visit the Guardian page on the link above which says Lemon Butter Cake. It appears that I got into trouble with the cyber-police for reproducing it here to my enormous readership.
PPS: The cake was cut, eaten and served to the very happy wedding crowd, all of whom are still with us. So that's a relief.