October 10, 2015


wedding cake2

The Alphabakes Challenge this month is for the letter “W”.  White chocolate is an obvious choice of ingredient, also walnuts or possibly whisky, but there are plenty of other choices too.   Whisked sponge, wholemeal…..numerous possibilities in fact.  Just thinking about it made me realise how much I miss our walnut tree chez nous in France and feel rather sad.

This time last year there was a magnificent walnut tree in the garden.  It was fully laden with walnuts which fell to the ground in quantities that we could hardly keep up with and we gave them away to everyone who came to the house.  Our kitten Daisy had a fine time chasing them around the garden.

Unfortunately our walnut tree was doomed.  There was nothing wrong with it, it was a beautiful, healthy tree.  Sadly it fell foul of our need for a new “fosse septique” – something we were obliged to do by law when we bought the house.  The roots of the walnut tree were in the way of the extensive pipework so it had to go - there are legal limits as to how close a tree can be in order for it to comply with the regulations.  Which all seems rather a shame when so many other people in rural France are still using antiquated systems which often consist of little more than a big concrete box with a hole in the bottom.  They seem to work perfectly well – as long as you don’t worry too much about where your waste goes.  Hey ho.

wedding cake3

Putting all thoughts of walnuts and plumbing behind me I looked in the index section of my recipe books for anything to bake that begins with “W” and another thing that crops up frequently is “wedding cake”.

wedding cake4

I have only ever made one “sort of” wedding cake and that was for my friends Elizabeth and Colin.  They were married in England last September and held a second party for their friends and neighbours in France a few weeks later.  I offered to make a copy of their wedding cake for the party and I wanted to make it gluten free so that Elizabeth would be able to have a slice herself.

She sent me photos of her original cake, which was a beautiful two tier sponge cake, covered in marzipan and decorated with fresh flowers.  We settled for a smaller version – a one tier sponge cake, covered in buttercream – my marzipan and icing skills being minimal.

I used my tried and trusted gluten free almond sponge sandwich cake recipe here, doubling up on quantities to make two 23cm cakes.  I sandwiched them together with cherry jam and some whipped cream, and made a simple buttercream to cover the cake.  When we arrived at the house for the party we selected some flowers from Elizabeth and Colin’s beautiful garden to decorate the top.

wedding cake 2a

It looked lovely on the table.  I can’t see me ever getting involved in sugarcraft or making wedding cakes that are covered in fancy icing, but I was pleased with this one.  It was a reasonable replica of the original wedding cake and when decorated with the fresh flowers looked just right for a gathering of friends and neighbours on a lovely sunny day in early October, to celebrate the wedding of two very special people.


You can see the challenge run by Caroline of Caroline Makes and Ros of The more than occasional baker and you can see the details here.

Gluten free summer wedding cake.

I made two cakes using a 23 cm springform tin, baking them individually.  The recipe will fill each tin with a little left over which I used to make some cupcakes.  ( I suppose if I was really clever I could have calculated the ingredients needed to fill the tin twice exactly – but I didn’t trust my arithmetic that well for something as important as this!)  For the buttercream I adapted this recipe, increasing the ingredients by half.


For each layer

185g softened butter

185g caster sugar

4 eggs

200g ground almonds

125g gluten free self raising flour

150ml crème fraîche

½ tsp almond essence

For the filling and icing

5 tblsp cherry jam

250ml double cream

200g softened butter

400g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3-4 tblsp milk


Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°fan/gas mk 4.  Grease and base line a 23cm springform tin.

Put the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat or whisk until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time and beat well with each addition.

Add the other cake ingredients and fold in gently until evenly combined.

Spoon the mixture into the tin, filling to about two thirds full and bake for 30-40 minutes until the cake is done.  Remove from the oven, turn out and cool on a wire rack.  (There will be some mixture left over which can be used for cupcakes or buns.)

Repeat to make a second cake.

Whip the cream until firm and spreadable.  Spread the jam on one of the cakes and spread the whipped cream on top.  Put the other cake on top.

To make the buttercream, put the butter into a medium bowl and beat until creamy.  Sift in a third of the icing sugar and beat in.  Add the rest of the sugar with the vanilla and enough milk to make it spreadable. 

Spoon about a third of the buttercream on the top of the cake and spread it over.  Use the rest to coat the sides of the cake.  Decorate with fresh flowers (remove these before eating).

Cuts into 16-20 slices.  Keep refrigerated because of the fresh cream.


  1. simple and beautiful, made with love and no doubt very tasty!

  2. I thought I recognised the cake at the top!! Thank you for bringing back very happy memories! You did us proud; the cake was, indeed, delicious. A Gluten Free delight!

  3. I can vouch that the cake looked wonderful and was delicious. I''ll keep you in mind for my next wedding, Jean... ;o)

  4. Oh, what a shame about your walnut tree - I bet you were upset. Your wedding cake is beautiful. I've been wondering what to do for W and never thought of wholemeal - now I have something tI might be able to use :)

  5. That looks so pretty and sounds delicious.

  6. Lovely cake. Making a special occasion cake is always a bit scary but that looks just right. Really sorry about the walnut tree. At the moment some friends of mine are having a fosse septique upgrade and, although their walnut tree is safe, there's definitely a threat to their fig tree. I'm crossing my fingers for them.

  7. What a pretty cake - I love how you've decorated it too

  8. What a pretty cake and a lovely thing to do for a friend - I just made a wedding cake for a friend for the first time and it was great to be able to contribute to her special day! I have a gluten free colleague at work so might borrow your recipe though of course decorate the cake differently!

  9. Absolutely beautiful wedding cake and even better that you made it gluten free for your friend. Sorry to hear about your walnut tree - I'd be most upset too! Thanks for sharing with AlphaBakes.