Ahhh yes, the cake.
Have I mentioned that my dad and I are coeliac (no gluten)? Yeah…that makes this whole “cake thing” a bit more interesting.
A lot of people who make cakes aren’t used to making gluten-free ones. It is a difficult mixture to work with, and many times out of 10, it just crumbles into a crumbly mess.
I tried to make gluten-free quiche for The Great Comic Relief Bake Off at work and…it failed. A big ol’ gluten-free mess.
Gluten free FAIL. I give up. / Personal photo
It would be nice to cut into a slice of my wedding cake that I could actually eat, but the risk in doing that would be that it could just crumble, and that would be a bit…awkward.
So when I looked at people to speak to about making my cake, it was the first thing I asked about. I saw a couple of wedding-cake vendors at a wedding fair, and most of them just said, “Yeah, yeah, we’ll just switch the flour. It’ll be fine.” Um…no. It’s not really that simple.
One girl stood out from the rest, though. Tess of Chatter Cakes had a beautiful stand and when I talked to her about gluten-free options she was very confident. “I just did a gluten-free vegan cake last weekend!” she said, and there was something in the way she presented herself that I knew she knew what she was talking about.
Chatter Cakes stand / Imge via Facebook
We chatted for a loooooong time (she complimented my hair, which is always a surefire way to make me like someone), and by the time I left I was eager to get together again to discuss the cake.
We emailed back and forth a few times, and Tess suggested a “cake party” for me to try some samples of flavours and icing. So of course I booked her in for the weekend my parents were down. She arrived armed with four different flavours of cake and five different flavours of icing. When she took the cupcakes out for us to sample, my mum commented that we were gluten free. “Oh, these are all gluten free!” she exclaimed. My mum couldn’t believe it. She’d never been able to make gluten-free cupcakes that rose the way those ones did. I could see my dad was excited that he’d be able to eat a decent piece of cake.
We started off with a vanilla sponge, followed by lemon, strawberry, and chocolate. My mum very clearly loved each and every bite as she kept exclaiming how she’d never enjoyed gluten-free cake before. The icings were equally delicious. Vanilla, chocolate, white chocolate, lemon, and OMG-salted-caramel. Nom.
Once we’d scoffed our faces we got out the magazines and started looking at styles. I found a number of pretty cakes I liked, but the more we discussed what we wanted the more our ideas changed.
For starters, our wedding cake will be served as dessert with fresh fruit and cream. So although the lemon was my favourite, chocolate seemed more like a dessert cake. Then we began to think about icing. Again, fondant icing would create some beautiful results, but what about flavour? Wouldn’t buttercream be better for a dessert?
Clearly, Tess is very talented at decorating cakes as well as making them taste delicious, as this picture shows.
Image via Chatter Cakes
Mum was worried that just a standard buttercream cake wouldn’t allow her to be as creative and she wouldn’t have a cake that she could “be proud of” as much as her other creations, but she told my mum not to be silly and that we should get whatever we thought best for our wedding. She did, however, point us toward a picture of a slice of cake with ruffled buttercream icing, and it looked amazing when it was cut and served up. We threw around a lot of questions, and by the end of it we’d come up with another idea.
How about a layer of raspberry sponge cake and a layer of chocolate sponge cake, with vanilla or white chocolate buttercream?
I took a forkful of chocolate, strawberry (as it was the closest we had at the time), and some white chocolate.
Yes. Just…yes. What a combination. Chocolate—good. Moist fruity sponge—good. Complimentary white chocolate icing—gooooood. I think we were on to a winner.
When Tess left we were beaming. She’d been absolutely brilliant and so attentive to every idea that was flying out of our mouths. She didn’t make us feel stupid when we were talking about things we clearly had no idea about, and she offered great suggestions. All in all, it went perfectly and we were 100% happy.
We had already booked in to see another cake shop the following day. They specialised in gluten-free cakes, and I figured it was worth going to see them as they offered a wedding cake. Their cakes are very nice, but it was clear from the moment we stepped in that they were a cake shop that offered a wedding cake, and they didn’t really do much else in terms of moving away from their standard issue wedding cake. Which was fine—they’re not really in the wedding cake business—but it was good for us to see the difference in the two, and it firmly concreted our feelings that Tess was the girl for the job!
We did have a cheeky cupcake, though. Dad really was in gluten-free heaven this weekend.
Is anyone else serving up their wedding cake as dessert? How did your cake journey go?