The Great Wedding Bake Off

It’s no secret to those who know me well that I am a big fan of the Great British Bake Off. I alluded it to it recently in this post and I would attribute much of the progressive love of baking that has emerged in our household over the last few years to this very show. In the last couple of weeks, the show has made headline national news in the UK after it was announced that it would be jumping ship from the nurturing comforts of its founding home at the BBC to the somewhat edgy and unexpected climes of Channel 4 (shocking for fans but in the context of global issues, it probably doesn’t take centre stage.)

Pink wedding cupcakes

In any case, it is not in my remit today to talk politics about said TV show moving from one channel to another but suffice to say, much debate has ensued, much uncertainty remains and many a baking-pun hashtag has been spotted infiltrating the social media channels of livid cake-bakers everywhere.

Peanut Butter Cups Cake

The level of outcry is testament to how much the British population have taken this programme into their hearts, so much so that the bake-off concept actually featured in my best friend’s wedding last year (I’m talking literally not Julia Roberts-related movie chat.)

A Great Wedding Bake Off

When my best friend got married last year, she figured, why have one wedding cake when you can have 20 (she has always been of high IQ), thereby launching the Great Wedding Bake Off.

Guests who wanted to take part were tasked with designing, executing and submitting their own creative bakes to the judging table and the prized judging role for the day, that fortunate individual who got to accompany the bride and groom in playing Paul and Mary on this celebratory day was…..yours truly!

Wedding baking cake

A passport to eating multiple slivers of fantastic homemade cake and an opportunity to be bridesmaid? I had to ask myself what the catch was.

Elsie and I go back more than twenty years so I was flattered enough to be part of the wedding party and when she extended that generosity by requesting the blog to get involved with a little blurb about the Wedding Bake Off, I was delighted to oblige.

flower cakes for weddings

For a fleeting moment, I contemplated bringing along a batch of homemade cookies as my bake-off entry to their endearingly chic, country barn wedding but in the interests of time management, I decided against. Now Elsie and her groom, Adam, clearly mingle with the kind of people who can do better than a Pot Noodle for dinner and after seeing the calibre of bakes on display at their wedding bake off, I fear I would never have lived down the humiliation of arriving with something so simplistic (or coming last in the competition by such a wide berth!)

Much as I would love to pretend to you all that I am a born natural at photographing baked goods, the reality is my only real expertise with cake is that of consumption. Credit for the exquisite images dotted around this post of the Great Wedding Bake Off goes, for the most part, to their professional wedding photographers, Luna Weddings and the few other images here were taken by Adam and Elsie’s guests, which Elsie allowed me to share here.

Totoro novelty cake decoration
The newlywed Totoros – not quite the spitting image of the bride or groom 

The official cake blended in well with the bake off competitors (which perhaps gives you an idea of just how much baking talent was nestling in the grounds of the barn that day) and was crowned with two rather cute Totoro cake toppers, paying homage to the Japanese animated characters that Elsie has loved since our younger days. I can safely say this is not something I have ever (or likely will ever) see on a wedding cake again 😀

As Elsie is of Chinese heritage and Adam of English heritage, wedding guests and bake off entrants brought with them an eclectic array of backgrounds, many of which were reflected in the fusion flavours that had inspired their bakes. Some introduced a twist of the Orient, some arrived with sultry Middle Eastern flavours such as rose and orange blossom.

wedding ideas blog

Some bakers were of the stance that classic, timeless bakes are the most stalwart and some called out to the tastebuds of those of us who first watched Carrie Bradshaw pop into Magnolia Bakery on Sex and the City and vividly recall the moment that the cupcake became en vogue again.

Wedding Bake Off

Now in her various professional guises over the years, Elsie has attained qualifications in urban planning and has led large-scale projects with gigantic clients so even the Bake Off came with its own typed charts, Excel spreadsheets and rigorous criteria. There are no sloppy corners where my bestie is concerned and the pressure was on to ensure my judging credentials were up to scratch. This was not just a task in eating lots of cake (gulp) – this would involve some interviewing techniques and some brain power.

As judge, I was asked to quiz the entrants about the inspiration behind their bakes and any unique ingredients or techniques as well as enquiring into the titles of their bakes. Adam’s two sisters aptly named their bakes “All you need is love” and “Love is all you need” respectively and thanks to that reminder, I have had that melody resonating in my head for the entire time I have been at my laptop writing this post.

bake off baking competition

One of his sisters made me chuckle when I posed the unique ingredient and technique question to her about her perfectly coiffed cupcakes, when she humorously replied with “errr… special ingredients were butter, flour and sugar and my special technique was mixing them together!!”

We had a geocache box/treasure chest entry in honour of Elsie and Adam’s spectacularly original proposal story, which I can’t possibly go into here, as it could consume a separate blog post in its own right.

Treasure Chest Cake

We found a giant gingerbread man, which for reasons even her nearest and dearest will never fully comprehend, is something that Elsie has always found “freaky”

bride and groom gingerbread man.

We had a love sponge and before you dip your heads in the filthy gutter, let me assure you that it was a scrumptious, comforting, pink, heart-shaped sponge cake, adorned with the initials of the bride and groom (and not  a memento of UK hospital casualty services!) It was beautifully baked with a sweetness to the icing that perfectly complemented the sponge and I loved it!

Great British Bake Off style baking competition

The Reese’s peanut butter cup cake was always going to trigger a glint in my eye given my peaking enthuasiasm about nut butters (the discovery of a maple peanut butter on last night’s food shop caused boundless excitement in the supermarket aisles.)

Peanut butter cake

We had a two tiered colourful novelty cake which had a heart shaped pattern running through the middle and the kind of vibrant colours called for on a warm May day in the sunshine.

wedding cake off competition

In the end though, it was Nicole’s East Meets West divine creation that took the biscuit (and my waistline with it). With two flavours of sponge including vanilla and salted caramel, the winning bake was surrounded by homemade white chocolate and berry profiteroles and draped with charming homemade fortune cookies.

Nicole’s elaborate concoction was unanimously voted as the most impressive of the night and when she told me she had worked into the early hours and taken a full day of annual leave to make this, she seemed a very worthy winner to applaud here on Why Waste Annual Leave.

East meets west fusion cake
The Wedding Bake Off Champion – East Meets West

There wasn’t a guest at the wedding who sampled it who didn’t agree it was annual leave well spent and it was a most certainly a cut above the cookies I was going to bring!

Kudos to all the bakers on the night who invested hours of passion, creativity and innovation into making these thoughtful sugary treats for the special couple and kudos to the bride and groom for trusting their friends and family enough to get stuck in with such an integral part of their wedding day dining.


Which one of the wedding bake off cakes would you have voted for?


35 thoughts on “The Great Wedding Bake Off

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 3, 2016 — 3:53 pm

      Ain’t it just?! Was chuffed to bits to be made judge (and a bit annoyed with myself that I didn’t think of it back in the day when planning my own wedding!!) 😉

  1. Wow, what a brilliant and original idea for a wedding! Such a nice way of getting people involved 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 3, 2016 — 3:54 pm

      I totally agree Natalie! And I was so impressed at how much creativity and effort the guest entrants put in so it obviously went down a treat when they put the idea out to everyone!

  2. That’s so cool! All those cakes look amazing!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 3, 2016 — 3:57 pm

      I loved it too Michelle – choosing a winner was so much trickier than I imagined as they were all so tasty and well presented!

  3. OMG – this is such an amazing idea!! I loved the Totoro cake the most, I think!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 3, 2016 — 3:58 pm

      It’s so novel Jaime, don’t know what made Elsie think of it but it went down an absolute treat with everyone! She has always loved Totoro so it was a sure bet it was going to feature somewhere on her special day! :mrgreen:

  4. Those cup cakes look fabulous but I have to go with the East meets West theme as the winner. What a lovely idea to do this at a wedding 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 3, 2016 — 4:00 pm

      There was do many elements in the east meets West from the profiteroles to the homemade fortune cookies Suzanne – then of course the actual cakes so she was a very worthy winner I thought Suzanne! I thought it was such a unique & sweet idea for a wedding too ☺

  5. What a wonderful idea!! I love the geocache box it’s so clever!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 3, 2016 — 4:18 pm

      It’s so well made isn’t it Angie? And a geocache box was a really key part of their amazing proposal story so it was a lovely thoughtful touch that someone put it into bake form for the day! ☺

  6. Miriam @londonkitchendiaries September 30, 2016 — 10:06 am

    The Great British Bake off is such a great show – ever so slightly addicted to it! The wedding bake off is a fantastic idea – love all the beautiful creations! Great Post!


    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 3, 2016 — 4:19 pm

      I am hugely addicted to it Miriam and will be so sad if it loses its special magic with all the changes coming but I guess time will tell…so glad you liked the post – it was such fun playing judge and having a valid excuse for having so much cake! :mrgreen:

  7. What a brilliant idea!!! I would have chosen the Reese’s peanut butter cup cake. I love peanut butter!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 3, 2016 — 4:21 pm

      Me too Mandy!! I think we’d get on rather well! If there’s any dessert menu anywhere that mentions peanut butter, you can pretty much guarantee that’s what I’ll be ordering! :mrgreen:

  8. What a great idea and those cupcakes look SO good!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 3, 2016 — 4:22 pm

      They’re so professional looking aren’t they Gary?! I’ve made cupcakes so many times and my icing never looks that good! :mrgreen:

  9. What a great idea!! Those pink cupcakes look amazing!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 3, 2016 — 4:23 pm

      It really was such a unique and special concept they came up with with this wedding bake off Constance. Everyone loved it too, both the entrants and the people who got to reap the rewards of their hard work! :mrgreen:

  10. What a brilliant idea and makes for a pretty tough competition. I’d have to go with totoro themed cakes though, that totoro couple looked too cute!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 16, 2016 — 10:25 am

      It was so hard judging between them all to be honest Nano as they were all of such a high standard but my sweet tooth just about coped with the task I think! 😀

  11. This is the best idea ever!!! And how awesome that you got to sample all the cakes!! I have a weak spot for cake, and your descriptions made my mouth water. The winning cake sounds (and looks!) absolutely delicious, and it’s so sweet how she took a day off work to make it! The Totoro cake is just too cute too!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 16, 2016 — 10:48 am

      Isn’t it just the best idea Anna?! If I could go back and do my wedding again, I would totally pinch this idea myself! Nicole was a well deserved winner given all the different elements she made from scratch including the fortune cookies, the profiteroles, the different flavour sponges etc. Definitely needed salads for a couple of days after this wedding!

  12. Planes & Champagne October 10, 2016 — 4:35 am

    What a fantastic idea!! All the cakes look incredibly enticing – Why have one cake when you can have them all 🙂 xx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 16, 2016 — 10:51 am

      Yes! And as the co-judge with the bride and groom, I DID have them all – had to exercise a lot of self discipline in only having tiny portions of each to avoid becoming over-full (and too heavy to carry home at the end of the night!)

  13. What an original idea – love this so much!

  14. I wish I was a guest at that wedding sampling it all as it all looks very enticing. What a great idea. My Favorite is the peanut butter cake. I love anything with peanut butter in.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 30, 2016 — 9:10 pm

      I love peanut butter in desserts too! It was such a great dessert feast for all the wedding guests and even more so for me as a judge! :mrgreen:

      1. I think a lot of people do like it. It is so creamy and rich and leaves such a pleasurable after taste. I find it very filling too and it doesn’t last long in my house hold. Haha Yes I can imagine! 🙂

  15. what a great idea;) and you won, cool!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 28, 2016 — 12:14 pm

      No No, I didn’t win as I didn’t enter! I was judging it though so I was winning in terms of cake consumption 😀

      1. ok, I misuderstood:))

  16. its probably for the best there was just one cake on my wedding….

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) February 2, 2017 — 9:09 pm

      And me at my wedding Andy!

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