Picking just one cake for our wedding was mission impossible. I don’t like fruit cake, but it’s Dad and Dean’s favourite. I wanted sponge cake – but it can’t be made ahead of time. We both like chocolate mud cake and it’s a crowd pleaser.
I had decided to go with the fruit cake and mudcake. I had been dreaming up decorating ideas for months, honestly years, and both could be made well ahead of time. But somehow it all got left to the last couple of weeks. Moving farms certainly slowed me down.
I managed to overcook the first fruit cake – something I’ve never done before. Dean didn’t mind though, he got stuck into it. It just wasn’t “wedding quality”. Recook.
Then my quadruple batch of mudcake didn’t quite work either. By this point I was less than a week out from the wedding and I didn’t have it in me to go again. I wrapped up the not perfect muds and got stuck into the millions of other jobs brides have in the week before their wedding.
I was also hatching a new cake plan. By Wednesday I’d turned the muds into balls for cake pops. Thanks to my lovely bridesmaid Alicia and her mum Irene for finishing the rolling and the decorating on the Thursday.
In a situation of the bride is always right – I got my sponge cake. I baked it the morning of the wedding. The photographer couldn’t stop laughing, saying in all the weddings he’s ever shot, the bride has never baked on the morning of the wedding.
I actually found it soothing. Cracking eggs, whisking, measuring. The smell the sponge gives off letting you know it’s ready. It was all familiar and comforting – just what I needed in the middle of the craziness of the day.
When I thought it was getting close I sat staring into the glass door of the oven. I wasn’t taking my eyes off it – and it was a nice warm spot on a cold, wet day. I gently opened the oven door, gave it a little love tap to see if it was ready and breathing deep to absorb the smell I carefully took the two tins out of the oven to cool.
There was a brief moment of panic as the side of one sponge stuck to the side but it was only for a moment. Thankfully my wedding cake curse had lifted. But I’d forgotten about cooling time. It sat aside as my makeup was touched up, as Shellac was reapplied to three of my finger nails I’d managed to damage, as I printed off my speech and as I tried to whip up the cream. My whisk had been pilfered the previous month to mix up calf milk and I wasn’t game to stick my newly fixed fingers in water to wash the Kitchen Aid bowl and whisk I’d used to mix up the sponge.
At this point my cousin Wayne walked in and had a fork and a bowl of cream thrust at him. He looked a bit dubious but dutifully started “forking” at the cream in an effort to whip it. Eventually it was given away as a stupid idea (did someone say “bride brain”) and the Kitchen Aid was used.
I layered homemade rhubarb and blueberry jam with plenty of cream – assembling the cake to a choir of “Natasha, you HAVE to get in your dress”. And then to everyone else’s stress I disappeared. Barefooted, in just a low drizzle, I ducked into the front garden and cut the prettiest pink roses I could find. They dried inside the house as the ceremony was taking place and I’m not sure who placed them on the cake in the end. But I was very grateful for your help.
The moral of this story? Let the bride bake sponge cake.
SHORT AND SWEET: My sponge cake recipe was first made by my mother to feed to a gluten intolerant shearer back in the early 1990s. He always missed out on the obligatory scones so mum looked into something he could enjoy too. It was extremely uncommon back then. But with two celiac bridesmaids, it not only came in handy for a safe food on the day – it remains one of my favourite simply because of the taste. Just remember to read your corn flour packing well – contrary to commonsense, some corn flour is made out of wheat products.
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