Love is in the air – and in this intricate 18-tiered wedding cake with flavours of rum, vanilla and nuts.
For the marshmallow fondant:
Heat marshmallows on high in the microwave until just melted. Stir in hot water and natural vanilla essence until smooth. Move to mixing bowl with a dough hook. Add icing sugar and knead until a sticky ball of dough is formed. Remove and knead with lots of coconut oil to a smooth ball. Divide into four balls. Flatten, wrap in glad wrap and chill overnight in the fridge.
(Use about 450g for smallest cake, 600g for next cake, rest for largest cake).
Colour 450g of fondant grey using gel colour in slate (1-2 drops).
Make gum paste birds and a heart using template.:
Colour gum paste stone grey for birds, use red gum paste for heart.
Cut out 2 bird shapes and one heart shape. Skewer on firm wire or wooden skewer.
Allow to dry in the turned off warm oven. Paint birds with silver food paint. Paint claret dust over the red heart.
For the cakes:
Preheat oven to 180°C, fan forced.
Tier one: vanilla, sour cherry, chocolate and Chambord cake with hazelnut and almond praline (prince regent style).
Cream butter with sugar, salt and vanilla bean paste until light and fluffy. Beat eggs together and add gradually to the mixture until combined. Sift together flour, cornflour and baking powder. Mix into creamed ingredients until just combined. While batter is mixing, mark out 10 9-inch circles on baking paper. Line 3 trays at a time with paper, marked side down. Spread mixture (2-3 tbsp) thinly over each circle. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until just done. Do not overbrown. Remove cakes and cool on rack then stack with paper still in between. Prepare 9-10 layers.
Baumkuchen (tree cake) – tiers 2 and 3.:
Turn grill setting on in oven without the fan, at about 220°C – bake on the second rack from the top and keep the third rack slot free to adjust as needed.
Lightly grease and line one 5 and one 7-inch cake tin with baking paper on the bottom.
Separate the 8 of the eggs and place the whites in a clean mixer bowl for later. Mix together the remaining yolks with four whole eggs until combined.
Cream butter in a large mixing bowl using the paddle attachment.
Add sugar, vanilla and salt and beat until fluffy and light, and until the sugar has largely dissolved.
Gradually dribble in the eggs until beaten in. Do this slowly to avoid curdling the mixture, having them at room temperature also helps prevent this.
Beat in the rum or alternate spirit. If using milk, add this later with the flours.
Using a hand whisk, whisk then sift the flour, cornflour and baking powder together. Gradually beat into butter mixture until just combined (with the milk if using).
Beat egg whites with a hand beater or the whisk attachment of a stand mixer to soft peaks and fold into to mixture until there are no white parts remaining.
Spread about two tablespoons of batter at a time into the base of the tins. Use less for the smaller tin but make sure that the bases are evenly covered right to the edges, using more or less mix as needed.
Grill until just browned, about 2-3 minutes. You want to avoid burning it on top and having raw cake underneath, and you also don’t want to overcook and dry the cake out too much.
When the layers are cooked, take the cakes out, spoon more batter on top and let it sit for a moment to partially melt. This makes it easier to spread. Use the back of a tablespoon to very gently spread the batter evenly to the edges of the tin. Again use more or less batter so that everything is covered. Be sure not to press down too hard as this tends to take off the underlying brown layer.
Return to the oven to bake. Continue this process until all the batter runs out or you have reached the top of the cake tin. The cake will shrink a bit from the edges, just keep pushing the batter toward the tin with each layer.
Adjust the height of the tin and the temperature to ensure cake is evenly browned and cooked through in the time frame as you add layers and they move closer toward the grill.
When cooked, remove, cool slightly then upend onto a cooling rack and remove the baking paper.
If the cake is still a little uncooked, you can put it back in the oven for a few minutes. Take care though not to dry the cake out – I usually don’t do this step and make sure the cake is cooked as I go.
Cover cakes in a layer of dark Chambord chocolate ganache, ensuring a smooth even coat and place in fridge to chill. Cover with a second layer of ganache and chill again.
Once chilled cover with a layer of fondant.
Use white fondant for the middle cake and grey fondant for the top cake.
Make fillings while cake layers are cooking::
For chambord ganache, heat cream until just about to boil. Pour over chocolate. Allow to sit for a few minutes. Mix until combined then gradually mix in butter and Chambord until smooth. Chill in fridge until set.
For sour cherry paste:
In a pot place 500g pitted sour cherries (frozen) with 200g sugar and juice of one lemon.
Bring to boil until just cooked through and add pectin powder (1 tsp) or jamsetta. Boil until thickened.
Break down using a hand blender. Cool.
For vanilla custard buttercream:
Make the crème patisserie, heat milk in a saucepan with vanilla and half the sugar until close to boiling point. Beat egg yolks with remaining sugar until fluffy then beat in cornflour. Add in some of the hot milk and whisk, then return to pan and bring to boil, stirring. Thoroughly mix in the butter. Cool custard to room temperature by spreading on a tray and covering in glad wrap. Whip buttercream in two batches using 250g butter whipped until fluffy and half the custard each time. Whip butter until white and fluffy. Add custard (at room temperature) one tbsp at a time until fully incorporated.
For the praline:
Warm oven to 200°C. Roast nuts on a tray in the oven until golden. Move nuts to a large saucepan over a burner set to medium high and gradually sprinkle in the sugar until it turns to a dark toffee. Move nuts to a silicon mat and cool. Process coarsely in a food processor.
Place each cake on a cake board with a blob of ganache to secure.
For the bottom tier, place a well-shaped layer of cake on the bottom. Spread with a thin layer of buttercream to cover. Cover with a layer of cake. Spread with sour cherry paste then a layer of buttercream, then cake, then a layer of ganache sprinkled with praline, then cake spread with buttercream, then cake spread with cherry and buttercream, then cake spread with ganache and praline, and so on until all the cake is used, finishing with a cake layer.
Dirty ice with dark chocolate ganache and chill well. Make sure ganache gets into any gaps between layers and evens the whole cake out.
Cover top two tiers with ganache to rough coat. Chill then apply a second layer to ensure cake is even. Chill well.
For the fondant:
Roll out a thin layer of white fondant for each of the two lower cake tiers using a piece of string to determine the size needed for each cake, adding extra for trim. Roll fondant over cake and smooth using a fondant smoother. Patch up any holes. Colour remaining fondant a silver grey colour (as per above). Cover small cake at top with this colour making sure it is very smooth and even.
For rice paper feathers:
Cut triangles out of rice paper for feathers.
Apply slightly overlapping triangles to lower two cakes starting at the top in a row and working down. Use a thin smear of sugar glue applied by hand to secure each piece of rice paper. Don’t use too much or paper will disintegrate.
Cut 3 pieces of dowel for each lower cake tier.:
Stack cakes evenly.
For royal icing:
Beat together icing, egg white and lemon juice until a stiff, pipe-able icing is formed. Add colour a drop at a time to make a light silver grey icing. Pipe around base of top cake and other two if needed (and visible), otherwise cut a silver ribbon and secure at the base of the bottom two cakes using a small dot of royal icing.
*This recipe has not been edited or tested by the Bake Off Food Department
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