Wednesday, 11 January 2012

the night before and the tale of the smashed cake

The most beautiful sky

I don't know if you'll agree with me or not, but I feel that this blog is more than just a place for pretty pictures. I like to tell stories, and so alongside the pictures I'll be choosing the most interesting bits of the day to tell you about. I promise to try and keep it entertaining.

We arrived at our venue, Huntstile Organic Farm in Somerset, the day before the wedding. Our little old red VW was jammed to the rafters with stuff. It had been a fairly eventful drive down with two small mishaps - a misunderstanding about the presence of hay bales at the ceremony space, and J's parents forgetting the confetti.

At this point, I had given up. I didn't want to kick up a fuss for either thing; to be a b****zilla. I was going to let both go. Then, both times, J took the phone off me and did something that no woman to be could ever do, lest the evil B word be used. He politely but in a firm, no nonsense fashion got the hay bales sorted. And to his mum, who was only a little way from London but almost in tears at the confetti incident, told her it would be OK, but it was one of our main decorations and we had made litres of the stuff, so they did have to go back and get it. It would only add an hour onto their journey. (We weren't to know that they were driving at 50... and it added two and a half...)

So we arrived at the venue something magic happened. I felt pretty much all stress leave my body. I felt calm and capable. I had two dresses. I had J. All I was worried about was everyone arriving safely.

And slowly, people began to arrive. And those usual day-before things got done. Bunting was hung (we had twice as much as we needed). Things were set on tables. Hair trial. Make up trial (left until this last minute because I had to find new people at short notice).

And then, while I was having my nails painted, my mum came into the room.

Mum: Don't freak out, but something's happened.
Me: [thinking the worst: motorway pile ups, child fallen off trampoline in garden, ambulances] What? What is it?
Mum: It's the cake. It's a bit... smashed.
Me: Oh thank god. Is it stil edible?

All I could think was: phew. It's just a cake. I promised L (best lady and courageous bringer of cake) that I wouldn't care if something happened to it. I knew whatever it was wouldn't be her fault. More than the cake, I needed to find her (my mum having told me she was very upset) and tell her it was OK.

Then the amazing wedding organiser and farmer's partner Lizzie came into the room.

Lizzie: So your cake. It really is quite trashed. I need to tell you that before you see it. I guess everyone here is telling you it's OK but honestly... it's not... you should prepare yourself. But I've got a friend who might be able to fix it. So I'll call her, you go and look and we'll think of a solution.

I still didn't care. I was starting to find it a little bit funny. Hey the cake got trashed! If this was the worst thing that happened, we'd be OK. It would be a funny story.

Here's the cake:

It's wrong how hungry this makes me

That's the victoria sponge cake layer there. On top were to be carrot cake, and green tea, ginger and vanilla. My god, it smelt amazing. Still, despite a tiny stomach flip when the box was undone (it does look a little surprisingly smashed, no doubt about it), nothing could shake the calm - the same one that descended as soon as we arrived. That was it. It had happened. Never mind. The top two layers were less smashed. We could still put those on the table to cut in case anyone cared about the photos. Done. Move on. It's just cake.

L had been hugged and reassured as much as humanly possible. It was a freak accident. Just the extreme heat of the car. No one could have done anything differently. I could tell she still felt awful but I meant it. Not her fault.

So we went for dinner - delicious dinner, beef stew and then chocolate bread and butter pudding, catered by the farm. We sat upstairs in an old barn and got rather tipsy and then both parents brought out huge albums and packets of awful baby and child photos of J and I. Such a lovely evening. At some point. Lizzie's amazing mate arrived and began working on the cake in another building - I believed that she was patching up what she could.

Do I look like a girl worried about cake?

The next morning, as we ate breakfast, Lizzie invited me into the kitchen to see the cake. All decorations and icing had been removed and then carefully reapplied. The entire cake was re-iced and redecorated, and the bottom layer was an iced cake tin. The smashed layer would stay out the back and be served up - no one would be any the wiser.

And this is the cake we had the next day:

I know. That's pretty awesome, right? It was returned to every bit of its former glory - you would never know a thing (unless you tried to eat the base.) It turned out Lizzie's mate was actually a professional baker. Her forte? Rude cakes. As Lizzie put it "ladies in bikinis and corsets for stag parties and men's bums." What a brilliant woman. They had stayed up until almost 3am, drinking sloe gin, gossiping and redecorating.

The credits

The baker par excellence was Victoria Glass. The cake collapse was not Victoria's fault in any way. She did everything right and bless her, even offered to make us another cake as a gesture - even though it really wasn't her fault, just the extreme extreme heat and a very unexpectedly long car trip.

Her cakes are DELICIOUS of the highest order. Her flavour list is incredible (peanut butter and jelly wedding cake? No problem!) - and when you book her, you get a CAKE TASTING which will be one of the greatest afternoons you will ever have. Before we found Victoria (she did our friends' wedding cake) we weren't going to have a cake at all. That's how good she was - converted a couple of non-wedding cake fans into buying a pretty bloody big, awesome cake. I only ever wanted a tasty cake and I've said it before, but even the smell was intoxicating. I could have put my face into that smashed up bottom tier. Best. Cake. Ever.

The cake fixer was a lady by the name of Kate Legg. Now I can't find a thing about her online, but if you ever want a rude cake in the Somerset region, I suggest you call Hunstile Farm and ask Lizzie to call Kate.

All photos, bar the last one, are taken by friends and family. The last photo is by the wonderful photographer Hannah Dornford-May. More of hers to come...!


  1. What is with things going wrong on the drive there?? My make-up artist's Mum called to say she couldn't make it!

    The cake looked amazing, and that photo made me hungry too... I love cake!!

  2. Wow. The cake looks amazing in the end and I am guessing looked that way pre-smash too. The bunting is quite wonderful as well.

    It is a great story - and I love that the calm descended and stayed. That is fantastic.

  3. The cake is amazing. I would've been tempted just to pick up a fork when I saw it all smushed up!
    I had the calm too. You stop caring about the small things. As you said, you had dresses and you had J. What more do you need?!