It worked! I made a wedding cake for my friends and it wasn’t a disaster!!

Woooooooooooooooooo

swiss meringue buttercream wedding cake no

This is the biggest cake I have made to date, and to say I was a little nervous about the execution of it would be an understatement.

The cake literally took over my fridge in the two preceding days before the wedding whilst I prepped, stacked and doweled the layers, and my partner and I had a very slow and tedious drive to the venue in Norfolk on the day itself.

Once it was there though, the relief was well earned and very much enjoyed.

Drink please!

swiss meringue buttercream wedding cake no

So planning went like this:

W-day minus 3

  • Get the x6 pre-baked sponges out of the freezer and let them defrost overnight in the fridge.
    I baked the sponges ahead (because I have such a little oven -and kitchen- and because it makes life less stressful for a novice like me!). Once they were completely cold, I wrapped them in cling film, then foil, then cling film again (PARANOID!) to make sure no moisture could sneak in. 
  • Base cake drum plus 2 other thinner cake boards for upper tiers drilled for centre dowl to sit in.

W-day minus 2 –

  • Sponges out of the fridge to be unwrapped and filled.
  • Swiss meringue buttercream batches (x2) made to crumb coat all 3 layers.
  • All three tiers put on required thin boards with pre drilled holes.
  • Tiers go back in the fridge to chill overnight.

W-day minus 1 – 

  • Swiss meringue buttercream batches (x2) made to cover the cakes.
  • All three layers back out of the fridge to be covered and finished.
  • Support dowls cut and slotted into base and middle tiers.
  • Bottom tier carefully slotted on to centre dowl and bottom thick board.
  • Middle tier then slotted onto bottom tier and centre dowl.
  • Single top tier and two connected bottom tiers back in the fridge to chill overnight.

W-day- 

  • Ribbon attached with pin to the bottom of each layer now the buttercream has hardened.
  • Two boxes prepped for transport with the front cut down to get them in/out more easily
  • A SLOW drive to Norfolk
  • Top tier assembled at venue. Set out to display.

 

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I had brought my Polaroid camera with me to snap a couple of pictures of the Bride and Groom, and their two little girls. After they developed, I popped them on each layer and finished with a rose.

Simple but personal.

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Each layer was different. I went with:

2 x 6 inch vanilla sponges filled with raspberry conserve

2 x 8 inch chocolate sponges filled with Nutella

2 x 10 inch lemon sponges filled with lemon curd

All of these were sandwiched with Swiss meringue buttercream to tie it all together. I also finished the cake with a gold ribbon at the base of each layer to hide a little bit of untidiness from when I was stacking them on the centre dowl.

swiss meringue buttercream wedding cake no

What do you think?

Do you like it?

I know there are a few dings here and there but I am pretty proud of myself. 🙂

I had the right sized bases (unlike here) and I think the finished product was where I had imagined it to be.

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I have one more wedding cake to do before my own which is due to be even bigger than this!

Things I have learnt from this one that I will definitely remember for the next:

  • Don’t go to bootcamp the same night that you plan to finish the cake. Especially on upper body night. You will feel like your arms are going to drop off and they will shake just when you want to be super precise.
  • Do eat dinner before you start decorating so you aren’t tempted to stick your finger in…
  • Don’t delegate cake box buying to your boyfriend so you end up with an extender rather than a box! …We had to use regular cardboard boxes with the fronts cut down in the end
  • Do stack the whole cake before you travel. I used a centre dowl to hold everything together and it definitely would have held. In hindsight, I would have had only one box to worry about and hold then, rather than two.

Wish me luck for number two!!

Because I don’t need much of an excuse to bake a cake…

Mango_Cake_Swiss_Meringue_Buttercream

Rob’s work had just moved office so I decided to bake them a “happy new office cake”. Obviously.

This bake was actually from a little while ago. If you follow me on Instagram (take a peak here) you will have seen me post this bake back in May! Admittedly, it’s been a while getting round to posting it on Bitesize Bakes-but I am back at it properly now. Promise. 🙂

(Cue catch up posts on a few more recent bakes over the next couple of weeks) 

Mango_Cake_Swiss_Meringue_Buttercream

Two fluffy, high-risen Vanilla sponges were sandwiched together with mango puree (I must confess this was shop bought, not homemade -HORROR!) on both the 8inch and 10inch rounds. Then, I lathered on the swiss meringue buttercream (it is fast becoming a firm fave in the Bitesize Bakehouse kitchen) with a rustic finish.

Mango_Cake_Swiss_Meringue_Buttercream Mango_Cake_Swiss_Meringue_Buttercream

In true amateur fashion, and as you can quite obviously see from every photo, I didn’t have the correct base sizes for my cakes.

Must. Try. Harder.

…but hey. I do this for fun, and don’t get paid so there is only so much people can expect!

Mango_Cake_Swiss_Meringue_Buttercream
It looked a tad disheveled with it’s messy finish and massive boards. So, to help distract from this, I couldn’t resist finishing the sponges with a generous sprinkling of edible silver stars and a light spray around the bases of silver as well.

The beautiful art of sparkly distraction.

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(NB: I have a four strong bubble straws in the base layer to stop the top layer weighing down on it)

I’m not a huge fan of the rustic look. It just looks like I haven’t quite finished it yet. Are you?

Do you have any tricks to make it look a bit better but at the same time keeping it’s rough and ready feel?

 

I did it!!!

I made my first wedding cake and it survived the car journey to the venue! swiss meringue buttercream wedding cake no

Full post to follow when I have more pics, but for now – PHEW and YAY!

Homemade_Cruffins

We live in the UK and there is just nowhere nearby that we can get to (that I know of) in order for me to try a proper, freshly baked, crispy, buttery Cruffin. So, I had the bright idea that I wanted to bake some Cruffins at home instead… how hard could it be to recreate the croissant/muffin craze of last year?…

*Cue internet search for the best recipe*

*Cue breakdown at the crazy length of time and faff that was required to bake said Cruffins*

*Cue contemplating relocating to New York instead just to buy one more easily *

*Cue accidentally stumbling across Lady and the Pups and her drool-worthy food blog, solving all my woes in one hit*

Homemade_Cruffins

Ok, so the recipe (here) is still a tad faff-y, BUT, it’s a lot less faff-y than the other “proper” Cruffin recipes that I came across -which in some cases can take you up to 3 days to prepare (Hell. No.).

Homemade_Cruffins

Mandy Lee, of Lady and the Pups, has a recipe that sort of fast forwards the process by using a pasta machine. WIN. Plus the photos are beyond glorious. I could just sit and scroll through her site for days and swoon at the imagery. (Note to self: I have a loooooong way to go in capturing my bakes by all accounts)

Homemade_Cruffins
Homemade_Cruffins

So I followed it blindly. No changes. No swaps.

The only thing I was very grateful for half way through was an extra pair of hands when I was rolling the dough through the pasta machine as it go so long I couldn’t handle it alone.

She has a super handy diagram to run you through the rolling process so there is no confusion – and the tasting notes were spot on (i.e it’s more savoury than you would think so add her recommendation of sugar if you have a sweet tooth).

Homemade_Cruffins

…and the outcome?

Homemade_Cruffins

YUM.

Just as Mandy promised – flaky perfection. The dough doesn’t yield many Cruffins, so be sure to get in there quick!

I will definitely be making them again – next time, I will listen when she says more sugar. This batch were rolled in a cinnamon and sugar mix once baked which was delicious, but I was also thinking a forest fruit jam would be amazing to run through it as well.

Have you made Cruffins before? Or managed to buy a real one?

I am well overdue a trip to NYC to get my hands on the real thing, but for now, these will do very well to sate me!

 

Wedding cake prep is well underway in the Bitesize Bakehouse and you can definitely tell!

Cake_prep

You know I recently said I was going to be making some of my friends wedding cakes this year (here)? Well, the time has finally rolled around.

Arghhhhh.

Cake_prep

I am making two sets of friends their wedding cakes this summer – just two weeks apart from each other – and then my own wedding cake shortly after that! So, to prepare, we brought a small chest freezer and I have been slowly baking the sponges ahead of the dates so that I am (somewhat) ready when the day to prep arrives.

Cake_prep

I only have a small, single oven, so it’s one batch at a time for me. Slowly but steady progress. These have all been baked, cooled, cling-filmed, foiled, clingfilmed again (because I am paranoid about the defrost process and need it to work out ok!!!) and popped into the new freezer to lie in wait for their crumb coat dates in a few weeks.

Do you have any tips for cake prepping? Or just getting ahead to simplify finishing on the big cakes? Would love to know if you do…

Right, I am off to bake a few more.

Wish me luck!

cream cheese brownies

Hey! It’s been a while… I have been buried under wedding prep for the last month or so but I am back now…

…and I made brownies.

cream cheese brownies

Cream cheese brownies.

🙂

cream cheese brownies

Now, i’m not a normally a massive fan of brownies. They tend to be a bit too heavy and claggy (is that a word?) for me. I’m not normally a massive fan of cream cheese either. Why did she even bother to bake these?, you ask. One of my friends had sent me a pic of some brownies she had found on her travels so I thought i’d give them a go. The pic I was sent looked so good… and I hadn’t baked any I can’t remember how long… and once my interest is piqued, there is no going back.

cream cheese brownies

I figured, I give most of my baking away so I was sure I could find them a good home if it came to it.

cream cheese brownies

Turns out, all brownies before these were just not good versions of brownies… I absolutely loved them. To the point that none were given away!

cream cheese brownies

Recipe can be found here if you fancy giving them a go yourself, which I thoroughly recommend.

It was, surprisingly, my first ever Martha Stewart recipe attempt since I started baking. They whip up in no time at all and bake in just shy of an hour. Super simple if you ever need a cheeky offering to take to someones house and taste fab.

cream cheese brownies

The only changes I made were to swap in milk chocolate for the bitter/semi-sweet (personal preference) and to use one slightly heaped cup of caster sugar rather than the stated one and a half cups.

This link is now safely lodged in my favourites as a go to now and I think it should be in yours too…

cream cheese brownies

So… I’m making one of my close friend’s wedding cake this Summer too.

I love all the experimentation and the practice bakes and I really want to make sure I create exactly what she has in mind so I thought I would have a little homemade taster session (read: another excuse to make cake, hang out and eat it all).

wedding cake tasting

For our “wedding cake tasting” I made:

(Top Left) A vanilla sponge filled with fresh cream and raspberry compote covered with fondant icing
(Top Right) A lemon sponge filled with lemon curd and covered in a swiss meringue buttercream
(Bottom Left) A chocolate sponge filled with salted caramel and covered in a milk chocolate ganache
(Bottom Right) A vanilla sponge covered in fresh raspberry buttercream

We had a taster of each and chatted through ideas for sizes and design. We settled for 3 different flavour combos on 3 different levels all covered in a vanilla swiss meringue buttercream so that the whole cake when put together looks the same. I am so excited about getting started on it!

There was SO much cake left over though! I had hugely overestimated the amount we would consume, so I send them home with the remainder. I think (if I do this again) that next time I will create mini cakes for the tasters rather than full size. Maybe cupcake sized so that we can try more flavour combos a the same time.

Have you done anything like this before?

I loved it every minute of it – I wish I could do this everyday!

(Sorry in advance for these photos. I mean, they aren’t normally “top notch” on Bitesize Bakes –i’m still learning– but I fear these are particularly bad so bear with me…)

banana cake with walnut buttercream
Our “5 month ’til the wedding” cake was a Banana cake (Again! see my other recent Banana Cake here). This time though, I made it much bigger, and swapped out the brown sugar buttercream for a walnut variation.

banana cake with walnut buttercream
This tasted great…but was an absolute arse to coat with ganache. I really struggled to leave a smooth finish under those big ol’ chunks of walnut -so much so that I ended up over-working the ganache as it cooled and was left with a weird elephant skin like texture.

banana cake with walnut buttercream

I had purposefully left the walnut chunks large to ensure you got the crunch with your slice, but in hindsight maybe I should have chopped them a tad smaller.

It is a shame because the flavours really worked well together. The walnut helped balance out the sweetness and was a nice texture that cut in too.

banana cake with walnut buttercream

Do you have any ganache saving tips you can impart onto me for next time? Would LOVE to hear them if you do….

banana cake with walnut buttercream

If you fancy a go at the Banana sponge (which I do recommend), here’s what I used:

180g butter
200g caster sugar
100g light soft brown sugar
4 eggs
1tsp baking powder and bi carb
460 self raising
575g banana mashed (the older and softer the better

Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Then fold in the banana, flour, baking powder and bi carb. Pop it in the oven (mine filled x2 8 inch rounds) at 180 degrees for around 45mins or until a skewer comes out clean and it is golden brown in colour.

The toppings were a tad experimental on this one. Below is the buttercream I used, but I have left out the ganache. It didn’t set right and would be weird to share something that I didn’t think was quite right. 

1 tsp vanilla bean paste
250g butter
300g icing sugar
approx. 2 handfuls of walnuts, chopped

The buttercream was a standard vanilla buttercream (vanilla, butter, icing sugar whipped until smooth, to taste). After those ingredients are completely combined, fold in the chopped walnuts. Sandwich the two layers together with the walnut buttercream and leave it to set in the fridge, whilst you make the milk chocolate ganache to cover it.

To finish, I covered my cake with milk chocolate ganache and finished with some gold stars.

Again, if anyone has any chocolate saving hacks, I am all ears!! There must be a way to save it in the future!!

This cake was born out of convenience.

banana cake with brown sugar buttercream

I had aging bananas that need to be used, and a baby shower to attend the next day. I wanted something a little more up market than my regular banana bread go-to’s (here and here) to turn up with (they are a tad casual for this occasion I thought) and so this cheeky two tier 8 inch was born.

banana cake with brown sugar buttercream banana cake with brown sugar buttercream

I found the original recipe here and amended the amounts slightly.

Having very ripe bananas (which always come out sweeter), I decided to lower the added sugar content and had other plans for the topping so ignored that entirely. I was also taking this cake to a baby shower so omitted the walnuts as I wasn’t sure whether there would be any nut allergies in the room – better to be safe than sorry!

banana cake with brown sugar buttercream

Here’s the recipe in case you wanted a go:

300g banana
75g butter
150g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp bicarbonate and salt and baking powder
225g self raising flour

Normal routine: Combine the butter and sugar. Mash the banana in a separate bowl. Mix together all the dry ingredients in another separate bowl. Whisk in the eggs to the butter/sugar mixture. Fold in the dry ingredients and then fold in the mashed banana. Pop it into a greased and lined tin (this filled one 8 inch round tin which I then split in half) and bake at 180 degrees for around 60 minutes (or until its golden and a fork comes out clean).

banana cake with brown sugar buttercream

The filling and topping was brown sugar buttercream which I had found a base recipe online ages ago (really sorry I have lost the original site to link to!). This is my adaptation of it though, in case you want to recreate:

1/2 cup salted butter
1 cup light brown soft sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 cups icing sugar

Melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat so that the sugar starts to dissolve. Bring to the boil and add the heavy cream. Take off the heat and cool. Whisk the cooled mixture together with the icing sugar.

NB: I used about two thirds of the brown sugar syrup to mix with the icing sugar and then drizzle the remaining third on top as a bit of decoration.

banana cake with brown sugar buttercream

I used an icing comb to get the texture on the final coat of buttercream after the crumb coat which I am really pleased with. Super simple but effective. I didn’t use any food colouring in the buttercream so it helps to lift what could be quite a drab looking cake, I think.

banana cake with brown sugar buttercream

banana cake with brown sugar buttercream

Flower_Rose_Sugar_Craft4

Class two of my sugar craft flowers course was mostly finishing off our roses.
(Class one can be found here)

Flower_Rose_Sugar_Craft

I spent as much time as I could with my head burrowed down, furiously thinning and curls the petals to get them looking as “natural” as I could muster.

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We made closed bud roses, half roses and roses in full bloom.

Flower_Rose_Sugar_Craft1

It was much more fiddly than the previous class as the roses are so delicate and you have to work the sugar paste out to be much thinner.

Flower_Rose_Sugar_Craft2

Thanks to a fab teacher, I now have a bunch of gorgeous roses I could use just as they are on a cake already.

Flower_Rose_Sugar_Craft3

Sugar roses require fast finger work so the paste doesn’t get too warm or wet and then they need another week to dry out before you can colour them up. Once dried out though, they can be stored and kept for long periods of time.

Flower_Rose_Sugar_Craft6

I chose to make these practice roses all yellow so that I could use them as a reference going forwards – you can easily spot the folds and joins so that when I make them again I know what I am doing.

As soon as I find some free time, I am going to make up a bunch more so that I have them on hand for cakes going forwards. They are simple, but could be so effective as a cake decoration – and they can just be grabbed out of a box and will be ready to go whenever you need them.

Flower_Rose_Sugar_Craft7

I’m super keen for these to all dry out so I can start to play with colours!

What do you think? Do you like them?

I am definitely going to try some in a deeper red colour soon, and maybe a soft pink base as well so I can play with colouring those up afterwards with highlights too.