Most of us will agree that the British summer can be pretty unpredictable – to say the least! One minute it is tipping it down – the next we are all expiring in the heat – and these last few weeks have been no exception.
As I sat in my cake studio shivering a little and watching the incessant rain I thought about the awful heat that we had just experienced – 37 C in London. A complete nightmare for any wedding cake maker!
I had been thinking about writing a blog post on a number of topics when it occurred to me how hot and bothered I would have been baking in all the heat so thought it might be useful to give some tips on how to avert any disasters befalling your beautiful wedding cake if you are getting married in the summer months.
- Transporting Cakes
My first tip is to have your wedding cake delivered by your cake maker. This may seem obvious – but they have considerable experience in delivering and setting up cakes. It’s advisable whatever the weather – a luxury wedding cake is an investment and not worth risking a bad delivery.When I deliver wedding cakes in hot weather I transport them in an air conditioned vehicle with the air con on full bast! If the cakes can be delivered separately and stacked at the venue I put each tier into individual cardboard boxes which in turn are placed into a special cooler box with frozen ice blocks placed around the cardboard boxes. Buttercream cakes come straight out of the fridge so are well chilled before being boxed for transportation. If the cake has to be stacked because of the design it is important to ensure that it has proper internal stability – so my tall cakes will have a central dowel running through the middle of the tiers so that the cake cannot move. The polystyrene cool boxes have height extensions so I can transport fairly tall cakes and keep them cool.
- Whether your wedding is indoors or outdoors – keeping your bespoke wedding cake cool is a priority
Most cake makers like to deliver the cake in plenty of time for setting up to avoid traffic delays and preferably in the morning when it is cooler; but this is not always possible because of the timing of the ceremony. With correct transportation the cakes will still be cool when they arrive and then be decorated with fresh flowers – or just placed on a stand.If your wedding is indoors and there is no air-conditioning it is advisable in extremely hot weather to ask that the cake be placed in the venues cool room. This is usually a walk in larder which is cooler than the outside area but is not as cold as a refrigerator. The cake will need to be brought out in advance of serving to bring it down to room temperature. If the cake is served too cold the cake will not be at its best – and could even taste dry.Never place the cake in direct sunlight – for obvious reasons!If you are having the reception in a marquee it is especially important to have the cake put into a refrigerator room – most caterers will have one and will bring it out for display at the appropriate time when the temperature has dropped sufficiently for it to be put on display. This is especially important for buttercream cakes in extremely hot weather!
- Ganache or Buttercream Cakes in the Heat
Ganache has a higher melting point than buttercream so if you have a wedding cake that is covered with sugarpaste (sometimes called fondant) it is advisable to cover the cake with ganache before coating with sugarpaste. It stands up to the heat better and can eliminate unsightly bulges occuring of the sides of the cake due to excessive heat. So iced cakes are generally safer for the hottest months of the year.Buttercream and semi naked cakes look lovely – but unless you have access to some sort of refrigeration they are better suited to cooler months.
- Fresh flowers or Sugar Flowers
If you are having fresh flowers on your cake in the summer months you should talk to your florist about which flowers withstand the heat and last throughout the day. Roses are normally a good bet as they have good water retention. It is really sad to see flowers that have wilted by the time the cake is being cut. Equally important is to ensure that toxic flowers are never placed on your cake.
- Dummy Tiers
One solution that I recommend to avoid heat related disasters is to use dummy tiers, with cutting cake in the kitchen. If a cake is carrying a lot of weight, even if the cake is correctly dowelled and supported internally, problems can arise if the cake fillings are melting in extreme excessive heat. So fake tiers are a great option. It can also speed up the cake cutting process for the caterers – which they love!Summer weather isn’t always kind on cakes but with a little bit of extra thought and planning your wedding cake should be abolutely fine.