I recently got married and I made our wedding cake. I love to bake, and I had a little previous experience making two wedding cakes with a friend, but this made it no less challenging. But making your own cake saves you a lot of money. If I wanted a cake like the one I made, I would have had to pay about £300-400.
So here are my tips for anyone who is thinking about making their own cake. It's totally possible… pinkie promise!
Sounds standard, but you need to make cake samples, make a timeline, and make sure you have enough time — as it will take you a while. The main benefit, and I can't stress this enough, is to make samples. Maybe take your samples to work to check if they taste good. You also need to make sure you have a good cake craft shop nearby — you will be making many trips. If you do a rich fruit cake it can be baked whenever, as long as it's fed with brandy and kept moist. My cake was two months old!
Know your cake
Certain cakes rise, certain cakes sink — make sure you practice, and make a cake you know how to make. Now is not the time to experiment. You need to know the rise and height of the cake in the size of tin you will use. If each layer needs to be the same height, get your calculator out!
You need to bake some cakes before, otherwise you will run out of time. Get a cake recipe that freezes nicely. Chocolate is good to freeze — it doesn't change the taste, and it means you have a lot more time to make the other tiers. Fruit cakes do not freeze well at all. I had an apple and raspberry crumble cake layer and I had to make that two-to-three days before.
Ask friends/family for help
People were always asking me if I needed help. When offered, take it! If your mum or gran can make cake, ask them to make a tier. It takes the stress off you and you can focus on icing on the last couple of days.
Be prepared for mess
I'm a neat-freak and freaked out a bit at the mess. Once all the baking is done it won't be as messy, although rolling out icing is a pretty sticky job. Make sure to get an apron!
Icing can be easy
YouTube is awesome for videos to show you how to ice — check them out. Also, keep it simple. Think about using different patterns so if there are any tears or dimples, you can cover them with a polka dot or other decor of your choice!
Bridesmaids/fiance/friend: Help me NOW… for 1 minute
To ice, a helping hand is needed! My favourite technique is to get both arms under the icing (take rings off) and then get someone to move the cake under your arms so the icing can be lowered. Tada!
Cake craft shops and hardware shops
Cake craft shops are amazing — sharp icing blades, crimping tools, moulding stick things. Don't go too crazy, but all this stuff is awesome. I also bought cameo molds to make the sugar skulls out of fondant icing. Experiment away!
These are essential! You need to support the cakes with wooden dowels in each layer to take away some of the weight. You need:
- Dowels: 1/2 inch diameter
- Saw: to cut the dowels
- Spirit level
When you are stacking your cake up, you can put your pre-cut dowels in the cake and use a spirit level to make sure it's level. If it's not level, then add a few bits of fondant/royal icing until it is level.
Enjoy it and don't stress out
So many people said that making your own cake is a stupid idea. Trust me, it's not. Be prepared and use it as a time to escape reality. It's quite stress-relieving — smashing icing and marzipan! And in the end, it's just a cake, it's going to be eaten, who gives a crap if it's not quite straight.
On the day of the wedding
Take icing with you when you're setting up your cake up so you can make any finishing touches.