How to build a tiered cheese wheel ‘cake’
This week I sent out invitations for my annual jam swap, a birthday party for Noah, and our Thanksgiving celebration; ready or not, we’re heading into a new season of entertaining.
If you read my last post, I’m singing the praises of keeping the party out of doors this fall, however, this simple tiered cheese ‘cake’ is perfect for any well-attended event from a grown up birthday bash to a festive holiday party.
Cheese platters tend to be rather sprawling, which is fine if you have all the table space in the world. However, for the recent wedding reception we hosted here on the homestead, I was limited to, ahem, the space of canoe (that story coming soon).
I had to tighten up my whole buffet and a stacked cheese platter in the shape of a wedding cake seemed perfectly apropos.
How to Build a Tiered Cheese Wheel ‘Cake’
This edible display was really one of the simplest appetizers I have ever presented. It took all of two minutes to assemble on the day of the party, however, plenty of thought went in to the preparation. Here’s how the cheese ‘cake’ came together and everything you should consider when creating your own.
Delicious cheese is the most important element of this cake. It’s not for display – it’s meant to be demolished by the end of the party. Try to include a range of styles, all the while keeping within your guests tastes. It’s important to know your guests; there are Brie and Gouda crowds, and then there are Stilton and Epoisses people.
Ideally, this is an opportunity to showcase your favourite cheeses, but in case you want to expand your horizons, any worthy cheesemonger should allow you to taste each cheese before purchasing.
Cheese should vary from firm to soft, with the firm on the bottom, supporting the cake. The middle layers can be semi-firm, and the most delicate cheese is your topper.
My cheese cake had to withstand an afternoon in full August sun, so I stayed far away from anything runny. We had a divine wheel of Tête à Papineau for our base, a basic Brie in the middle and a lovely chevre on top. And one more that I am forgetting.
You want to build a tapering tower, with each layer getting smaller by at least 2 cm. Ask your cheesemonger how much each wheel will serve and that will give you an idea of how many tiers you will need.
Again, a top cheesemonger will be able to help you stay within your budget and still get what you want. This cake cost me $85 in total and served 80 people with plenty of leftovers which we enjoyed for several weeks afterward. A dollar per person for all the cheese they can eat completely reasonable.
I served the ‘cake’ on a round wooden board (a cheese board, actually) that reminded me of a wheel of cheese. Visually, it added a fifth layer to the tier. I’ve seen a lot of cheese ‘cakes’ on fancy cake stands, but the wooden board from Crate & Barrel suited our rustic chic outdoor party much better.
Stacking the cheese took all of two minutes. I drove a bamboo wooden skewer down the center of the cake to more or less hold it in place. I decorated with a few simple clusters of Corinth grapes and decided to leave it as is.
You could definitely go crazy with fresh figs, herbs or edible flowers. I think it is key to practice restraint when decorating and let the cheese be the star of the show. Most of the cheese wedding ‘cakes’ I’ve seen are way overdone. Of course, it depends on your style and taste.
I really didn’t know how the wedding cake of cheese was going to hold up on the buffet, but I needn’t have worried. I instructed my lovely sister, the bride, to cut the first few slices, so people would follow suit and carve away they did! Be sure to provide several good sharp knives for folks helping themselves and your work is done.
Tiered cheese wedding cakes are nothing new. They’ve been around for years and are particularly popular in the UK. I’m certain you can recreate yours for less than this $470 (!) version, so have fun and let me know if you serve a cheese ‘cake’ at your next party.
Missed the first post in this series? Find it here >> How to set up a functional outdoor bar.
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