On making your best friend’s wedding cake (and driving it 200 miles)….

Last week my best friend got married. From the moment she phoned me a year ago to tell me she was engaged, I knew her wedding would be one of those days in life that are good for the soul. Where family, love, life, and culture are celebrated through laughter and tears, in a beautiful place with amazing food. To quote an Elbow song, “One day like this a year would see me right”.

 

Katy is not just any friend. She has been in my world since age 4, and if I’m very lucky, she will never leave it. She is a quirky mix of beauty, intelligence, positivity and sunshine which is very rare these days. This wedding cake needed to be special. And more importantly it needed to somehow encapsulate Katy and Stu and everything their wedding was going to be.

 

Earlier this year we sat around my dining table tasting different flavours of cake and discussing the plans for their day. We talked of their vision of an ‘English coastal adventure’ which also drew on their respective Mexican and Scottish heritages. It was to be a bright and exciting celebration, or perhaps more accurately “fiesta”. We talked about marriage and what it meant. About how by dispensing with much of the tradition, what you are left with is something a whole lot more meaningful, individual and real.

 

Over the weeks that followed we explored different ideas for the cake. Because their wedding was so original their cake needed to be too. There were many designs and lots of sketches, but in the end they decided on a 4 tier bright yellow cake with hand painted floral details in the style of the oil cloth table runners they had sourced from family in Mexico.

 

I had a lovely couple of days making the cake. They chose to go for 3 flavours. The first, and Katy’s favourite, carrot cake with zesty orange buttercream; a classic treat and good for those with less of a sweet tooth. Followed by coconut and blueberry cake with creamy coconut buttercream and blueberry preserve; a Cakeri original recipe which is proving to be very popular! This tier was gluten-free too, thus ensuring everyone at the wedding got to enjoy the cake. And finally the top two tiers were dark chocolate and salted caramel cake; a modern-day classic and my current favourite. On the second day, after a busy morning school run and tired children on the last day of term, spending 4 hours in peace, painting and gradually seeing the beautiful design emerge, was the perfect tonic. Once I’d finished I photographed the cake and sent the images to Katy and Stu. And the message back read “SOOOOO BEAUTIFUL! So much better than I ever could have imagined. Thank you so much!!!!!! You’re a complete legend”. Messages like this make for a happy cake maker.

 

And then for another school run and the small matter of packing for the wedding (I have a total aversion to packing so always leave it until the last minute), and transporting the cake 200 miles to the seaside for the wedding. Needless to say the next few hours were not the most fun. My other half drove (so I could be on cake watch/ensure children and cake were nowhere near each other duty) under strict instructions to drive ‘nicely’. With the speed limits I had set, the car achieved a new best mpg! Although after that journey (and the trailing cars behind us) I vowed to investigate the possibility of a ‘wedding cake on board’ sign for the car. None of this ‘baby on board’ business, babies like bumpy journeys; cakes on the other hand, most definitely do not.

 

After a few hours of slightly raised blood pressure and sharp intakes of breath over speed bumps and around tight corners we arrived in beautiful Swanage and all was right with the world once more. The next morning, after waking up to the sun pouring in through the window, the sound of seagulls and the smell of a good English breakfast, I drove the cake its final 2 miles to the reception venue. In the same way that my little boy squealed with delight at the sight of the zip wire and playground for him to use, I was equally excited by how beautifully Katy and Stu had made the room. From the boldest brightest papel picado (Mexican bunting) to the paper flower wall to the potted plant centre pieces, it was all just perfect. Just so ‘them’. The cake was done and in place. Now for the serious business of getting to the end of the pier in time for the ceremony.

 

What followed was nothing short of extraordinary. In amongst the tears, laughter, music, singing ‘It must be love’, prosecco, ice cream, seaside walks, steam train rides, photos, hay bales, charcuterie boards, fairy lights, ceilidh dancing, paella, Jenga, speeches and story telling, was the cutting of the cake outside in the low evening sun. It was a perfect day and I loved every minute of it.

 

And to steal a quote from the mother of the bride’s speech (which was taken from an article in the New Statesman), “…it’s those other weddings, the ones where you can tell that the bride and groom love one another to the point where they want to climb inside one another and reside there forever, those are the ones that make the heart swell…”. This was one of those weddings. I hope you all like the cake. ❤️

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