In this series I will explain how you can prepare a wedding cake at home. In the first part I already explained how I knew how big the wedding cake was going to be and how I decided on diameter, height, etc. The below blog post is going to explain how I planned the baking part and which utensils are essential when you bake a wedding cake at home. Let’s do a small recap before I dig into the details of planning and scheduling everything:
Top tier: 18cm/ 7 inches diameter, 15-18 pieces, height about 12cm/ 5 inches (not including decoration), recipe: American carrot cake
Bottom tier: 26cm/ 10 inches diameter, 40-45 pieces, height about 13.5cm/ 5 inches (not including decoration), recipe: chocolate caramel cake (Whisky was replaced with coffee)
Outside: Swiss Meringue Buttercream with 1 kilo (!) of butter and 12 egg whites. There was some left, but I think this was a good calculation. Obviously you will need less if you are going for the semi-naked look. But since I wanted this to look like a ruffled bridal dress, I needed a thicker coat. You can’t see the orange/brown color from the carrot cake or the brown color from the bottom tier.
Total: About 55-63 pieces
Tip # 1: Make a trial run (or several)
As I was going to bake this wedding cake in another country, I needed to be extra sure that everything was going according to plan. Since I needed to get used to the oven, I made a trial run and also tested the ingredients (which often have a slightly different texture in another country). I did a mini carrot cake a few days beforehand and was pleased with the oven. It did take longer than mine in Germany, but it was doing its job and that was the main thing. Obviously, I had tested a lot of recipes beforehand and made a lot of trial runs back at home in Germany. For that reason you do find quite a lot of layer cakes on the blog recently. You need to feel comfortable when you make a wedding cake so practicing is key. Practice every part of it, not only trying different flavors, but also how to stack it, how to decorate, etc. It doesn’t matter if the wedding isn’t going to take place for months, feel free to start early so you are really prepared well. You should feel comfortable with all parts and have tried them at some point or another.
Tip #2: Be sure to have all important utensils at hand
I simply shipped everything to Spain in advance, but I hope you can just gather everything at home:
- 2x springform pan 18cm
- 1x springform pan 26cm
- 1 cake turner (super important)
- 1 cake ring, extra high (if you make a three-tiered cake, I recommend at least two)
- 1 Icing spatula
- 5 Wilton dowels
- Cake boards, 1x 18cm, 1x 26cm
- Bench scraper (sorry, not in store anymore)
I also shipped the cake topper sas well as some tape for the flowers, etc.
Already in Spain:
- Kitchen machine (especially important for the frosting)
- Large serrated knife
- Big bowls, spatulas, etc.
Tip #3: Decide from the start which cake is going to be done first
When you check my schedule below, you will see that I finished the top tier first. I only managed to bake the two 18cm cakes at the same time, for the bottom tier I had to do one after the other. For that reason I figured it would make sense to first bake the top tier and get it to cool, to frost it, etc. before I started working on the bottom tier. I also assumed that I would have enough frosting for the top tier to do a very thing crumb coat before I applied the buttercream. My assumption was correct and thus I knew I could keep the cake in the cake ring while it cooled to be extra sure it would be straight. Just baking the cake layers of the bottom tier took about three hours so I knew I could juggle having the small tier ready and chilled beforehand. Time management is everything and think about which cake you want to be chilling, etc. while you may still be baking another.
Tip #4: Allow for buffers/extra time in your schedule and don’t make it too tight
I did manage to bake, assemble, and frost the wedding cake on one day. However, I started extra early (at 7:30am) and had my mother-in-law help me until late afternoon. We started so early as we wanted to avoid the heat of July during mid-day. Allow for buffers and extra time in your schedule. For example, I originally had only planned to bake two 26cm chocolate cakes. However, I felt they were a bit thinner than expected and made another one, which cost me about one more hour than planned. Be sure to start early and have extra time on hand. I also had planned for Friday to be able to bake or be ready for any emergency. You may need to buy more ingredients, things may go wrong, so be generous with the amount of time. For the pictured wedding cake I needed about 11-12 hours. Mind you, I did have a helper and I do bake cakes regularly so I am probably a bit faster than somebody who barely bakes. The cakes were pretty simple in the sense that each only required one cake base and one cream. If you need to make extra components (syrup, etc.), you will need even more time. The broad schedule for above wedding cake looked like this:
Wednesday: buy all ingredients and set up everything (e.g. cutting parchment paper into circles, etc.)
Thursday: start at 7:30am (to avoid the heat of July), bake all cake layers, prepare all fillings, make the butter cream, make the crumb coat. Chill for at least an hour. Make a thick coat with the buttercream and create the ruffled look. Chill overnight.
Friday: Buffer in case something went wrong. This was not the case, so I “only” had to dowel the bottom tier, transport the cake to location, stack and decorate it. It chilled another night on site.
Saturday: Instruct the personnel how to cut the cake and enjoy the wedding
This may sound easy, but I can assure you, Thursday was a big day. Despite the fact that my mother-in-law was an angel and washed dishes and chopped chocolate and what not to allow me to concentrate on baking only, Thursday was a tiring day. Let me walk you through this Thursday in a bit more detail.
Starting at 7:30 am
- Prepare and bake 2x 18cm carrot cake 18cm
- Prepare and bake 1x chocolate cake 26cm
- Start cream cheese filling for carrot cake and chill immediately
- Prepare and bake 1x chocolate cake 26cm
- Finish cream cheese filling for carrot cake
- Prepare and bake 1 x chocolate cake 26cm (I had not planned to do a third one, so I was very happy I had enough time)
- Assemble and crumb coat top tier with cream cheese filling
- Lunch break
- Prepare filling for chocolate cake, assemble and crumb coat bottom tier
- Prepare Swiss Meringue buttercream (due to the amount, this took about 45min), coat each cake with it once
- Chill and relax. It was about 4:30pm at this point
- At 9pm I coated both cakes with a generous layer of buttercream again and created the ruffled look. This alone took about an hour
Tip #5: Be ready for plan B or C in case something goes horribly wrong
I had nightmares about the cakes not turning out, buttercream melting away or a waiter falling on the wedding cake (worst dream ever). I do hope that everything goes well for your wedding cake, but be prepared for things not to turn out as planned. For example, in case you only have one cake, be it small or big, try to come up with a solution what you will do. Ask the location if they have “dummies” from plastic, etc. so that people think the cake is real and only use the cake for the couple to cut into it. Maybe make one extra cake, just in case.
If something goes wrong, you need to have something up your sleeves. For that reason I had Friday as my main day for any problems. I didn’t need to bake anything in addition, it all went well, but I could have baked another cake. I also checked if you can buy ready-made cakes and stack them to create this high wedding cake look. Yes, of course you can buy these in Spain as well. There is an entire website dedicated to creating wedding cakes with bought cakes. It is in German, but feel free to check it out here.
I was pretty lucky and only had very, very minor changes. In the next blog post I am going to give you the recipes and amounts and will explain also how I doweled and transported the cakes.