Baking beauties: How to make your own wedding cake (and stay sane!)

Guest post by bluebirdsjunk
My cake with bobble heads as gifts for the wedding party.
My cake with bobble heads as gifts for the wedding party.

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!

Be prepared

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!

Freeze cake

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.

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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!

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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!

Hardware Stores

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.

GOOD LUCK

Comments on Baking beauties: How to make your own wedding cake (and stay sane!)

  1. I’ve been considering making my own cake. I love baking, but it seems like it could be a lot of added stress. Also, we might be getting married a few hours away from where we live, and I’d be worried about storage and transportation. Tips?

  2. I also made my wedding cake. I first made a cake from scratch for my mom’s 50th birthday. It went over so well that I’m now THE person to make special occasion cakes in the family. Fast forward a few years and I just knew I had to make my own wedding cake. The problem was that while my cakes tasted great, they didn’t always look the best.

    A few months before the event, I signed up for a weekly decorating class through the local community college. I learned how to use piping tips, how to make several versions of buttercream, and how to get the icing as smooth as possible. The very last class focused on how to assemble tiered wedding cakes.

    We had planned a very low-stress wedding…well, reception actually. (We went to the courthouse in October, but didn’t have the reception until June.) Anyway, to keep things low-stress, I found that detailed planning was essential. I doodled various cake designs and researched cake size in relation to number of guests. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do anything sculpted or fancy, so I settled on simple colorful dots, leaves, and vines. There were a few birthdays before our reception and I took advantage by using those cakes as practice. I looked at the recipes and wrote out a shopping list of everything I would need. I created a timeline of tasks that included leaving time to hang out with the out-of-town friends who would be arriving the night before.

    On Wednesday I baked the cakes, cooled them, wrapped them in plastic, and stored them in the fridge. On Thursday, I made several batches of buttercream icing and crumb coated the cakes. I also separated and colored some of the icing. I used orange, hot pink, turquoise, and lime green. On Friday, I applied the final layer of icing, most of the decoration, and inserted the dowels. On Saturday (party day), I transported the cake sections to the park, put it together, and added the final decorating touches.

    It ended up being a great success! The final products were a 10″ x 20″ yellow cake with vanilla buttercream and a tiered mango-orange cake with cream cheese icing made up of 10″ and 6″ rounds.

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