Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Lighthouse Wedding Cake

I am writing this while under the weather so i'm slightly delirious and doped up on headache pills, so please excuse any stupid jokes/general nonsense.

Never one for keeping things simple, I recently gave myself the massive task of creating a wedding cake (my first ever) with a massive lighthouse on the top.  I was told that the newly-weds would be spending their honeymoon in Cape Cod and so, to prepare them for all the lighthouses there, i thought i'd put one on top of the cake, so they know what to expect.

After a few scribbles, i came up with this plan:

Pastillage is a type of icing i had not worked with before this project.  There are a number of different recipes for making pastillage.  Mine was a combination of royal icing, icing sugar and gum trag. Cornstarch and gelatin can also be used.  Once it was left (wrapped tightly in plastic) for 24hrs it was ready for use.

Patillage is often used for intricate modelling as it dries very hard, much more so than sugarpaste, gumpaste or marzipan.  However, it is still very fragile and is just as likely to leave you in tears...ahem, i mean disappointed when your detailed work cracks in your hands. before you very eyes. right infront of you. after hours. and hours. sigh.

SO, you need to be very careful when working with pastillage and make sure you give it a good 24hrs to dry before you start fiddling with it, because you'll feel very silly when your impatience causes a mega breakage.

Royal icing however, is always a good friend and can fix many breakages.  It is also very good for filling in little holes, creases or joins.

The reason why pastillage can be such a challenge to work with, is that it dries incredibly quickly.  From the moment you unwrap it and start rolling it out, it's starting to dry up on you.  For this reason, you should know exactly what you're doing beforehand.  Drawing a plan or cutting out template are good ideas.  Also, you should only work with the smallest amount possible at a time.

Once completely dry, pastillage can be sanded down with very fine sand paper so that you are left with a really smooth surface, smooth joins between parts and clean edges.  For tiny bits, you might find it easier to use a clean nail file.

Good old fruitcake, done over the hob was in the middle of all the icing and marzipan. An absolutely delicious recipe which i have managed to steal off of my friend Laura.  Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time when making fruitcakes as they often take several hours to cook so a wedding cake with several tiers could take you all blimmin day.

I used a mould to create little shells to go in the corners of the cakes.  I decided to use flowerpaste to get a good firm shell that would pop out of the mould easily.  Before using a mould, you should rub a tiny bit of trex (white fat) onto it.  This will help the icing to be released and ensure you get a really clean imprint.

And this was the final product...