Probably most readers are going to say that I am crazy. Because when I made my first wedding cake, I did this in another country (Spain) with different ingredients, and another oven. I guess I simply have to accept that because it is the truth. I guess I am crazy. But I decided to start a new series, which is all about how to make a wedding cake at home with a regular oven. I will start this series with some fundamental questions, which you should have an answer to before you even start thinking about baking that cake. Let’s get going.
#1 How many guests are attending?
#2 When is the wedding cake going to be served?
These two questions are fundamental to how large your cake is going to be. So please be sure to have a proper answer before you calculate anything. Let me try to walk you through this. So let’s assume that you are going to serve the cake right after the ceremony. People will most likely be pretty hungry. In this instance, it is easy to calculate. You should have at least the amount of pieces as you have people attending. So if 50 people attend, you should have 50 pieces of cake. Believe me, many people don’t manage to eat properly before the ceremony and will be happy to have some cake if served early on. Of course it does make a difference if you offer further cakes, desserts, etc. alongside the wedding cake. But as stated, if served right after the ceremony, people will eat more than if served at another time.
Cake of 20cm in diameter, height about 12.5cm, recipe Strawberry Stracciatella Cake
If, however, you decide to serve the wedding cake after dinner, it is going to be different. Usually the guests are going to be pretty full, having tried all the goodies. It may happen that some won’t be too interested in the wedding cake. Unfortunately, I have heard of people saying that they always skip the wedding cake as it is “sickeningly sweet and just doesn’t have that much flavor.” It makes me sad that people have this opinion as I always say that flavor is more important than looks, but I guess there is a grain of truth here. If your wedding cake is going to be served at midnight, you may reduce the size even more. In this instance the ritual of cutting the cake together as a couple is more important that offering a piece for every single guest. So as stated, when you serve the cake and depending on whether any other cakes, desserts, sweets, etc. are served at the same time, will influence as to how large your cake needs to be.
For my first wedding cake I learned that about 55-60 adults were going to attend + children. The cake was going to be served after a luscious dinner including another dessert. Hence I knew that my cake didn’t need to be as big. I was going to do a two-tiered cake, yielding about 55-60 pieces max. Both the bride and the groom picked a flavor and thus the main parts were settled. I only need to think about the sizes next. I decided to go for a top tier of 18cm (7inches) and the second tier with 26cm (10 inches). Not only the diameter of the cake will determine how many pieces each will yield, but also the height. So let’s move on to the next important questions:
#3 How tall is each cake going to be?
As a general rule of thumb wedding cakes are usually at least twice as tall. Instead of a two-layer cake you will usually have at least four layers or even more. It does make sense to increase the height as you want to feed way more people. If you can serve about 12-14 people with a two-layer cake, you will be able to serve double if also double in height. However, this is just a very basic concept, which still needs to be modified. Smaller tiers still are going to be cut into regular pieces and thus will yield less, larger tiers will be cut in rectangular pieces, but may contain dowels, etc. so may also not yield as much. There are many calculations out there how to measure the right amount. A typical wedding cake will be about 12-14cm/5-6 inches tall (not including any decoration). I had a look at how to calculate all the pieces and finally ended up with this:
18cm/7 inches x 13cm/5 inches tall = 15-18 pieces
26cm/10 inches x 13cm/5 inches tall = 40-45 pieces
Total about 55-63 pieces
From what I can gather, this was a pretty good calculation, each of my cakes was about 13.5cm tall. From what was left of the cakes afterwards, I believe I will stick to this calculation for my next wedding cake. And this brings me to my next question.
#4 Which cake will serve as the base?
Especially the lower tiers need to have a sturdy cake as their base. You will need to stack them on top of each other. I was quite surprised to realize how heavy even a two-tiered cake was, so if you think about the fact how much and how long the lower tiers need to hold, make sure you use a sturdy cake as a base. How you are going to fill your cakes is entirely up to you, but the cake layers themselves really need to be strong. After I tried many different recipes, I finally settled on Viennese sponge cake. This is a stable and sturdy cake base, but not dry and dense. It is still fluffy as melted butter is added, but also moist. I like it even better than regular sponge cake. How to make perfect sponge cake is the topic of an entire blog post. If you would like to get the recipe for Viennese sponge cake of 20cm/ 8 inches, check out this blog post. If you want to check the chocolate version you will find the recipe here (you need to calculate with 8 eggs). Ironically I didn’t use my favorite Viennese sponge cake for the wedding in Spain. Instead I used this Whisky chocolate caramel cake for the bottom tier (the bride requested for me to make it alcohol free, so I replaced the whisky with coffee) and the top tier with American carrot cake. Of course I will publish in detail all the amounts, etc. in another blog post as I sometimes had to double a recipe, etc. The outside you can see is Swiss meringue buttercream, which I tried to look like ruffles of a bridal dress. The entire cake was made at home in a regular oven and fridge. How I did it all, you will learn in the blog posts to come.