20 Tips for making your own Wedding Cake
Are you thinking of making your wedding cake? But don't know where to start? Or what it involves? The truth is, it's not difficult to make your wedding cake. With the right skill and proper planning making your wedding cake can be a piece of cake. Here are 20 tips for making your own wedding cake.
Having been a cake decorator for so many years, a wedding cake is still one that always gets my undivided attention. After all, it's someones big day.
Having a bride come over for cake consultation is never easy because there is so much to discuss. Often people don't realize there is so much that goes into making a wedding cake. It's not just the baking or decorating.
I always say, cake decorating is not difficult but it's time-consuming. Often, it's those small details that really can take more time. But if you plan in advance then yes, making your own wedding cake is definitely possible.
Today, I'm going to share with you my 20 tips for making your perfect wedding cake. I have also listed relevant recipes, tutorials or article that might help you get the information you need.
Can you make a wedding cake ahead of time?
Yes, you can. Depending on the cake flavors, frosting, and design elements almost everything can be made ahead of time. Cakes made from scratch are perfect candidates for freezing because they only improve in flavor. Most frostings can be made up to a month and frozen until required. A wedding cake can even be made up to three days in advance and kept ready for final assembly.
How much wedding cake do I need?
This is often the most asked question on my blog. How much cake do I need? It really depends on your guest list and if you want to serve every guest a piece of the wedding cake.
It is important to note that just because you have 200 guest does not mean you need 200 cake servings. Take into account that not everyone will eat cake. So ideally about 77 to 85% of the guests will eat cake.
Also, there is always the option to have sheet cakes that can be served from the kitchen and made in the same flavor as the wedding cake.
How tall should wedding cake tiers be?
Unlike dessert cakes, we make for the weekends a wedding cake is more aesthetic when it has tall tiers. Each tier a minimum 4-inches tall. Personally, I encourage my brides to go for a 6"-inch tall cakes because they look very beautiful.
20 Tips for making your own wedding cake
1. Be honest with your self
To some baking, your own cake sounds super simple while to others it's a monumental task. So be practical and do a self-check.
Is this something I can do?
Do my cakes taste good, when I bake for family and friends?
Can I make one that will look esthetic and presentable?
Most importantly, will I manage with the wedding stress and baking my own cake?
2. Create a timeline
The best way to break down a large project like making your own wedding cake is to break it down into small projects. Figure out what you need to do, when you're going to do it and how you're going to do it.
Be specific - date, time, place and even assign names for backup plans.
- When should I shop for ingredients?
- Which day will I bake the cake?
- When will I make the frosting?
- Will I crumb coat and decorate on the same day?
- When will I do the final decorations?
- What time will the cake be delivered?
- Who will deliver the cake?
Though you want to make, your wedding cake do you have to make it all? Perhaps not! Some of the elements can be purchased or outsourced. For example, you can buy sugar flowers, or you can use fresh flowers. You can even ask pro-bakers in your family to bake the cakes for you. Have an aunt that makes a delicious carrot cake? Ask her to bake it for you and pay her the cost or labor. Family members are often honored to be part of your big celebration
4. In advance
Not everything has to be made at the last moment. So many elements of the cake can be made up to a few weeks in advance including the cake. Cakes baked from scratch are more delicious when made a day or two in advance. If you plan to bake - do all the shopping in advance and have them ready.
5. Choose the right elements
This belongs to planning and yet it needs to be said, loud and clear. Do your homework right when it comes to choosing the right cake, flavor and how to combine them all together.
For example, using perishable frosting will give you less working time and will need constant refrigeration. So, instead of using a French buttercream frosting or cream cheese frosting, use a Swiss meringue frosting or American buttercream frosting.
We all like to try bold flavors but when you feeding a crowd you want to keep the flavor that is widely appreciated otherwise you risk the chance that people will not be able to appreciate your cake. Make at least one cake that is a classic combination so there is something for everyone.
6. Cake structure
This does not mean that you need any special equipment just that you need to plan it ahead of time. While all cakes work great for weekend desserts not all work perfectly when it comes to tiered cakes.
Personally, I love using butter-based cakes for my structured wedding cakes. The butter in the cake when chilled adds stability and helps for easy transportation. The same with frosting; a butter-based frosting like meringue or American is far more stable than a cream cheese frosting. This does not mean that you can't use a cream cheese frosting it just means you need to take into consideration and make the necessary adjustments.
Similarly, take the weather into account. A cold pleasant day is a lot different from the hot humid climate which may require special attention. Also, take into account the time of the day. You may transport the cake in the cold morning hours but if you plan to display the cake during the hot summer afternoon, it's best to ensure the frosting is one that is stable and can endure the weather.
7. Scaling the recipes correctly
Unlike regular baking, a wedding project means you need a lot more cake. So make sure to scale the recipes correctly. Find a recipe that has the option to calculate the recipe for you such as my recipes on the blog - all recipe cards below the recipe have the option to adjust servings so the recipe automatically calculates according to the servings. Not all cake batters can be kept on the counter while some are baking. So you may need to make the same batter more than once to accommodate baking times.
8. Fillings and frostings
There are many options to choose from but only a few that will work perfectly with your cake and timeline. So plan these correctly,
For example, classically a carrot cake is served with cream cheese frosting but it needs constant refrigeration, on the other hand, a carrot cake with Swiss meringue buttercream can be left out for more than a day.
And a carrot cake with American buttercream frosting will give you the option to make that cake three days in advance.
Similarly, a chocolate cake with ganache is a great choice when it comes to cake structure.
So you see there are many options to choose but there's one that works perfectly for your cake and timeline. And the best time to decide this is when you are planning your cake and creating your timeline.
9. Doweling the cakes
All tiered cakes need to be dowelled. No exceptions. No matter how firm you think your cakes are as long as you have one cake over another you must reinforce the bottom cakes with dowels.
Dowels are easily available at most cake decorating stores or online and can range from very inexpensive to affordable. These can be a simple plastic bubble straw, thick wooden dowel, plastic dowels etc. The process is simple but needs to be done correctly so you have no accidents when transporting the cake. Look for these instructions on how to dowel the cake.
10. Perfect imperfections
Just because you are making your own wedding cake does not mean it has to be a flawless smooth wedding cake. There are so many options that while imperfect look perfect. Like a beautiful rustic buttercream cake. While it's rustic when does tastefully can be a work of art. Same with a naked cake when done with just the right touch can be elegant and beautiful.
Can you imagine three tiers of this Pumpkin spice latte cake with rustic buttercream finish?
11. Get some help
Just because you plan to make your own wedding cake does not mean no one can help you. Get a friend to be your baking buddy better yet, find one that loves baking or one that has baking knowledge. While I work alone from home it would to so great to have someone I can say - please wash the mixing bowl for me, can you find me the baking powder or does this taste good?
12. Do the maths correctly
Making a wedding cake is not like making a single dessert cake for the family and friends over the weekend. It's baking a big batch and often needs to be multiplied a few times over. If you are not used to baking in big quantities, take a moment to sit down and do the maths correctly.
- How much cake do I need to make a 4-inch tall cake or 6-inch tall cake?
- Am I going to make one cake and split it into layers or am I going to make a few layers
- Do I have the right size pans for making my cakes?
- How much batter will I need in each cake pan?
- and how long will I need to bake the cake for?
13. Having the right tools
While often a bowl and whisk would make a perfect cake when it comes to wedding cakes you will need more than just a bowl and whisk. I highly recommend a cake stand mixer. If necessary rent it for a few days.
Make sure you know the size of the cake pans you need and have the right cake pans on hand before you start baking.
- If you bake often, it would be a good idea to invest in a cake mixer. Because often we try to mix by hand and then we are too tired to give it enough creaming or mixing. So, if you are baking for a wedding cake then you will need a good [easyazon_link identifier="B0017I7H9G" locale="US" tag="vesarofca-20"]K-Mix[/easyazon_link] or [easyazon_link identifier="B00005UP2P" locale="US" tag="vesarofca-20"]Kitchen Aid[/easyazon_link]. You don't have to buy an expensive stand mixer, a simple [easyazon_link identifier="B00C0QJY40" locale="US" tag="vesarofca-20"]hand mixer[/easyazon_link] works great too. Having said that a stand mixer means you don't have to constantly hold the mixer.
- Personally, I believe in weighing ingredients by weight, which makes my [easyazon_link identifier="B0020L6T7K" locale="US" tag="vesarofca-20"]kitchen scale[/easyazon_link]one of the most valuable items when baking.
- The same goes for my[easyazon_link identifier="B004WMP03E" locale="US" tag="vesarofca-20"] measuring cups[/easyazon_link] and [easyazon_link identifier="B00IE2J0SO" locale="US" tag="vesarofca-20"]measuring spoons[/easyazon_link]. It's always a good idea to have these handy and use them when baking rather than trying to guess measurements.
- I think one [easyazon_link identifier="B01N90FWOG" locale="US" tag="vesarofca-20"]set of baking pans[/easyazon_link] is a must for any home baker. Personally, I like to bake three layers rather than torte my cakes and it bakes faster too.
- Once baked always invert your cakes on a [easyazon_link identifier="B00091PNTI" locale="US" tag="vesarofca-20"]cooling rack[/easyazon_link]. This encourages air circulation and prevents the steam from pooling at the bottom of the pan.
- Every [easyazon_link identifier="B00J58TDQA" locale="US" tag="vesarofca-20"]oven[/easyazon_link] works differently. So the baking times are just guidelines. In the case of cakes, a skewer inserted in the center is a great indication. If the cake bakes too quick or too slow compared to the time given it might be a good idea to check if your oven needs calibration.
- An [easyazon_link identifier="B005KDEIZ0" locale="US" tag="vesarofca-20"]oven thermometer[/easyazon_link] is a great little gadget to help keep the oven temperature in check. All you need to do then is adjust the temperature accordingly
- Wedding cakes can be heavy so having the right [easyazon_link identifier="B07NW1BZ13" locale="US" tag="vesarofca-20"]cake boards[/easyazon_link] is important. You can make your own cake boards but these are easily available at most cake decorating stores. Find the right size for your cake project.
- While each cake sits on its own cake board - the whole wedding cake needs a large cake drum that's at least 4 inches larger than the bottom cake. This will help move the board without damaging the cake.
- Cake Dowels - all wedding cakes must be dowelled with [easyazon_link identifier="B00RPMZA0Q" locale="US" tag="vesarofca-20"]cake dowels[/easyazon_link] unless you are using a different structure. [easyazon_link identifier="B0000VM44Y" locale="US" tag="vesarofca-20"]Cake Dowels[/easyazon_link] can be simple [easyazon_link identifier="B071WSNFBC" locale="US" tag="vesarofca-20"]plastic bubble straws[/easyazon_link] or [easyazon_link identifier="B004BQ0DGK" locale="US" tag="vesarofca-20"]thick wooden dowels.[/easyazon_link]
14. Tasting and Practice.
Most cake decorators will serve you tested and tried recipes for a reason. You don't want to feed your wedding guest an experimental cake, do you? So whatever cake you choose, bake it, taste it and see if you like it.
Make it a fun event. Offer it to family members to see if this is a winning recipe and encourage honest options. Seek their suggestions and advice.
Testing the cake ahead of time will do a few things. Give you confidence in the recipe so you know that recipe works. Nothing is worse than to make a large cake-batter the realize the recipe is not accurate.
Testing the cake will give you a guide of how much cake you need for the final project. Remember baking a small dessert cake is not the same as baking a wedding cake. You will need more batter especially to ensure you have beautiful tall layers.
15. Keep it real
Just because it's a wedding cake does not mean it has to be an elaborate cake. So,
- It does not have to be a five or six tier wedding cake but can be an elegant two or three-tier wedding cake.
- Does not have to be a fondant covered wedding cake but it can be a beautiful rustic buttercream or better yet naked wedding cake.
- Not every cake has to be a different flavor. You can make one signature chocolate cake with one frosting or one cake flavor with different types of frosting. For example, one signature chocolate cake flavor with one vanilla frosting, one chocolate frosting, and one chocolate ganache.
Some of the most pinned wedding cakes on Pinterest are often the simple wedding cakes that are done tastefully and beautifully. Often ones with a few fresh flowers or sugar flower and a simple piped border.
This is my single tier naked one bowl vanilla cake with seasonal cherries and would work great in two or three tiers too. Use other seasonal fruits instead of cherries.
16. Sheetcake is not cheating
Not every cake served at the wedding needs to be from the wedding cake. You can have extra sheet cakes in the back which your catering staff will be happy to cut and serve for you. So don't be compelled to think it has to a big cake that feeds every guest. This sheet cake does not necessarily need to be made by you, it can be made by your caterers and you can choose to have the same flavor and frosting as your wedding cake.
17. Kitchen Rules
Baking a wedding cake is a big project and one that needs more space and more time. So make sure you clear the kitchen of unwanted items as well as unwanted people. Working in a cluttered place or crowded place with too many opinions or helpers can be very difficult (too many cooks spoil the soup) So, keep the calm by choosing just one baking buddy who will help you from start to finish.
While you definitely don't want a crowded kitchen you also don't want the wrong things around you when cooking. So make sure you put pins, toothpicks, and such items away so they don't accidentally find themselves in the batter.
18. Baking day - keep it free.
A baking project involves time which means it needs time to prepare and measure the ingredients, then make the batter and wait for the cakes to bake. Often you will realize that it can consume the whole day especially if you are baking for a wedding cake. The best is to keep the day free so you have no appointments to run to and no last minute errands.
If you choose to make the batter and leave the baking to someone else make sure they know how to test for cake doneness. Nothing is worse than to cut a cake and find it's underbaked or dry from over baking.
Additionally, not all excess cake batters can be left on the kitchen counter while the rest is baking. So you may need to make the same batter more than once to accommodate baking times.
While this is the final step, plan transportation in the beginning while you are planning your wedding cake.
- How are you going to take the cake? assembled or assemble there?
- How long is the drive?
- Who is going to transport the cake?
- Who is going to assemble the cake?
- How much in advance can you transport the cake?
- Will the cake flavors survive the journey or perhaps use different flavors or cake structure.
- Does the cake need refrigeration at the venue - is that an option/available?
20. Backup Plan
While this may not be necessary always plan on the 'what if' scenario in advance. It makes things easier to handle rather than stressful. Things happen and no matter how well you planned there will always be something that didn't quite work out.
The backup plan does not necessarily mean that everything goes wrong. It could just mean things like
- The sugar flowers broke - what next? Well, there is always fresh flowers or other cake decorations. If you plan that in advance it will be less stressful.
- That carrot cake does not taste nice (perhaps too much baking powder) - have time to make another one? or perhaps a different flavor.
- The uncle who promised to deliver the cake - got delayed in traffic - what next? make sure you have someone else ready.
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