Wedding Cake Recipes From the Garden

Go from the garden to the cake table with these reception-ready recipes.

wedding cakes from the garden

wedding cakes from the garden

Photo by: Photo by Brian Woodcock

Photo by Brian Woodcock

When it comes to true love, what's inside matters most—and the same is true of wedding cakes. Decorating a cake with real or sugary flowers is always in style, but couples are opting for cake flavors that speak to the garden as well.

Contrary to popular belief, there's no rule that says wedding cakes have to be covered in fondant. Garden-to-cake-table confections can be beautiful and delicious. Here are a few ideas to get your taste buds tingling:

Angel Food Cake with Macerated Strawberries and Poached Rhubarb

In Summerland: Recipes for Celebrating with Southern Hospitality, chef, author and Atlanta restaurateur Anne Stiles Quatrano shares this gorgeous recipe for a light cake where the focus is on the fruit. "My grandmother cooled the cake by inverting the pan on a bourbon bottle," she says. "This trick keeps the airy cake from falling or becoming dense. I cannot think of anything I would rather eat with just-picked strawberries and their juice."

Serves 12

  • 2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 16 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Macerated strawberries (recipe follows)
  • Poached rhubarb (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sift together the flour, salt and ¾ cup of the sugar onto a piece of parchment paper. Sift again and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low until frothy, then add 2 tablespoons water, the lemon juice, cream of tartar and vanilla. Gradually increase the mixer speed until the whites begin to mound. In 1/4 –cup increments, add the remaining ¾ cup sugar, ensuring that the sugar has been fully incorporated before adding more. Beat the whites until they are glossy and form soft peaks; be careful not to over mix. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Fold in the lemon zest.

Sprinkle one-third of the flour-sugar mixture over the egg whites and gently fold with a rubber spatula to incorporate. Repeat two times, making sure the flour-sugar mixture is evenly distributed.

Carefully transfer the batter to an ungreased, very clean 10-inch angel food or tube pan. Use a spatula or a knife to draw through the batter to remove any large air pockets (this method is preferable to banging the pan on the counter to remove air pockets).

Bake for about 45 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and springs back when touched. Allow the cake to cool in the pan, upside down on the neck of an empty wine bottle onto your cake stand. (The cake will keep, covered, at room temperature, for a day or two but it is always best the day it is made.) Serve slices of the cake topped with the strawberries and rhubarb.

Macerated strawberries

Serves 12

  • 2 pounds strawberries, rinsed, hulled and quartered or halved, depending on use
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

In a large bowl, combine the strawberries with the sugar and lemon juice. Let them sit for 1 hour, so the strawberries release their liquid. (They will keep refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap, for 1 day.)

Poached rhubarb

Serves 12

  • 4 to 6 rhubarb stalks
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 to 3 oranges)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup white port
  • Juice of 1 lemon

To peel the rhubarb, grab the strings between your thumb and a sharp paring knife and pull down to the end of each stalk; repeat all the way around. Reserve the strings. Slice the peeled stalks lengthwise into ½-inch-wide strips and then cut the strips into 2-inch-long pieces.

In a medium saucepan, combine the rhubarb strings, orange juice, sugar, port, lemon juice and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium to high heat and let simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the strings from the liquid and discard. Add the sliced rhubarb to the saucepan, reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the rhubarb with a slotted spoon to a bowl; refrigerate until cool.

Over medium heat, continue to cook the poaching liquid until it is reduced in volume by one quarter. This should take about 10 minutes. Strain the poaching liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl and let cool. Add the rhubarb back to the liquid and store in the refrigerator, covered or in an airtight container, for up to 1 week.

Lemon Rosemary Cake with Rosemary-Infused Lemon Curd

"This makes a soft, buttery cake with flecks of rosemary and lemon peel," says Kara Buntin at A Cake To Remember in Richmond, Virginia. "The flavors are subtle but definitely noticeable and they balance each other out nicely. The combination of rosemary and lemon is refreshing, unexpected and not too flowery."

Buntin suggests making the curd ahead of time so it has time to thicken and set.

For the cake:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons dried lemon peel
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 340 degrees F. Line the bottom of two 8-inch round pans with parchment or waxed paper.

Combine the flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter until it’s light and fluffy. Add the rosemary, lemon juice and lemon peel and beat until incorporated.

Add the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat until incorporated after each addition, and scrape the bowl to make sure that all of the ingredients are combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

Bake 30-40 minutes. The cake is done when a tester inserted in the center comes out clean or almost clean.

Cool for ten minutes in the pans, then remove from the pans and finish cooling on a rack. You can also cool them completely in the pans, but this will take longer. Cool completely before adding the curd and the icing.

Vanilla Buttercream (optional)

  • 1 pound butter at room temperature
  • 1 ½ pounds confectioner’s sugar (about 6 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Milk to thin the icing if needed, or some of the lemon curd.

Cream the butter on high in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Put a dishcloth over the mixer to contain the sugar cloud, and slowly add the sugar to the mixer on low speed.

Add the vanilla.

When the sugar is incorporating into the butter enough to avoid throwing the sugar out of the bowl, increase the mixer speed gradually. It will look like it’s not incorporating but it will.

If the icing is still dry, add a teaspoon of milk. You can also add some lemon curd at this point to add lemon flavor to the icing.

Increase the mixer speed to high and beat the icing for about 5 minutes. This will make it much lighter and fluffier. If you need to store the icing for later use, make sure that it’s at room temperature and re-beat it before using.

Rosemary-Infused Lemon Curd

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, woody parts removed
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 ounces lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Combine all the ingredients other than the rosemary in a small non-reactive saucepan and whisk to combine. Add the rosemary.

Heat the mixture over medium-heat, stirring constantly with a whisk.

When the mixture just starts to boil, remove it from the heat and set the pan aside to cool for ten minutes.

After about 10 minutes, strain the mixture into a glass bowl, or other non-reactive container, to remove the rosemary from the curd.

Cover the curd with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Leave it to set up for 24 hours.

When the curd is set it will be thicker but still soft, and it doesn’t gel like pudding. Use it in thin layers on the cake, or add some to the icing to flavor the icing as well.

To assemble the cake:

When the layers are completely cooled: Level the layers with a serrated knife. Cut the cake layers in half so that you have four thin layers and spread a thin layer of lemon curd on each. Assemble the layers so that the cake is composed of the four thin layers with curd between each one.

You can ice the cake with the buttercream, which will make it sweeter, or leave it un-iced for a more tart flavor.

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