Make-a-Cake Series: Wedding Cakes

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Wedding Cakes.
{gulp}…….scary, right?!
I have done 10 wedding cakes. Every time I am so nervous. 
If there is one cake you want perfect in your life its your wedding cake. 
I am not a perfect cake decorator. I am still learning. Wedding cakes always test me. 
After I have worried and fretted, and stayed up all night making the cake, I drop off the cake……….and fall in love with the setting.

I love weddings.

The place settings, pictures of the couple so in love……..ah, the romance of the occasion sweeps me away.

As I drop off the cake, I do the finishing touches on the cake and walk out hand in hand with my hubby feeling good about my work. The stress is gone.
Here are the 2 most recent cakes I’ve done:
Turned out to be a lot of fun.

I know many of you have had questions about wedding cakes and/or are preparing to make one in the near future.  Instead of answering individually, I thought I’d post some of the tips and tricks that work for me.  Remember, I am not a pro at this………but I hope some of these ideas can help you.

Here is what I will cover in this wedding post:
-Freezing all that cake
-Cake boards
-Steaming?
-Piping
-Transportation
-Arranging flowers
Freezing all that cake.
(2-5 days before delivery)
I also have a chest freezer where I freeze most of my cake.

I ran into a problem with freezing cake some months back. If I tried to freezer all of my cake at one time, the top layers would start to squish the bottom layer. So now i freeze in stages. The first layer goes in…4 hours later the middle layer……4 hours later the top layer. 

You can wait more time but waiting at least 4 hours works for me. 
Are you wondering why I am freezing the cake? Check this post.
Cake Board
(2 days before delivery)

For wedding cakes, I use real wood for my cake board. For party cakes, I use cardboard cake boards. 

But wedding cakes are heavy! Just ask my husband! ha ha 
Most of the time I use ply wood for my bases but I found this board at a thrift store and had it cut to the right size at a hardware store.
What is the right size? I make my boards 4-6 inches bigger than the biggest layer of cake.
The board not only adds stability but it makes a statement around the bottom.
You will need to adjust this (make it smaller) if you’re using a cake stand.
Then I cover my board with 2 layers of Fancy Foil, just in case we have a rip. 
Steaming?
(Day and night before delivery)

Have you ever seen Buddy on Cake Boss steam a cake?

After I saw him do that I did some reasurch about it and decided to give it a try. 
After I stack, ice, cover and stack the tiers, I steam all my fondant cakes. 
It gives the fondant a nice sheen and can take out any unevenness your fondant might have.
I have a shark streamer. It’s intended for cleaning so it powerful. A garment steamer would be more gentle.
I lightly steam the cake BEFORE I do any piping. I don’t want to get my buttercream wet.
Let the cake dry before you start piping.
Piping
(Day and night before delivery)

Piping takes practice. I do not consider myself I good piper. Don’t ask me to do lettering…I can’t!

My tip for piping:  place small amounts of buttercream in your piping bag.
This will give you more control. 
The other thing? Practice.
And I pray a lot when I am doing it. Ha Ha
If you have mistakes, take a moist paper towel and wipe it off.

 After the piping is done, I stop for the night. Or early morning. 

Delivery
(Morning of event)
I sit in the back of our jeep, next to the wedding cake, for delivery.  Most of them, I know, are not going to move…….but I am too scared something will happen.
I place the cake on a piece of no slip foam in the car. (The stuff you can line drawers with or put under rugs.)  I do this with all my cakes to make sure they don’t slide around.

Before I put the cake in the car, I take a very long dowel and sharpen it. Then I insert it all the way down through the center of the cake. All the way to the base.

 This helps hold all the layers together and it gives me something to hold onto if there is any tipping while driving. 
That may sound really bazaar but it’s a little insurance.

This is how the cake will look when I leave. 

There is a lot of media (flowers) to add to this cake before being done, but I do all of that on site.
Then you don’t have to worry about anything falling off on the ride.

 Before I leave, I also make myself a little kit.
-The extra media I will use for the cake
(for this picture it was edible leaves and acorns………..flowers are usually there for you, left by the bride).
-Scissors
-Piping bag and extra buttercream
-Wet paper towels in a ziplock bag
-Cake cutting guide
-Directions and contact phone number if you get lost. 

For this cake, I arrived 2 hours before the ceremony with a 1/2 hour to set up. The sweetest bride was waiting for me and would not get ready until she saw her cake.
It was the most romantic, rustic outdoor setting.

 I finished this cake with flowers, pine cones, acorns, leaves, and blackberries. 
It was a beautiful country fall wedding.
 Arranging Flowers
When I arrived with this buttercream cake it only had the ribbon, piped border, and dots on the cake.
 
 
Tips?  Start with placement.

I look at the cake and all the flowers I have. Then I place little marks on the cake where I want all the bundles of flowers to go. 

How I do it is, first, I take two large flowers and arrange them side by side.  Then, I stick them into the cake or secure them with buttercream where it won’t be seen.

Then I add 2 medium sized flowers.

 And a few more med-small size flowers.
To finish it off, add in some greenery.
It’s just moving and adding until it looks good to you.
 Here are a few more I did for this cake.

And the sweet little top.

The topper is done in a similar manner.
I started with the roses and phonies (big pink) in the middle and added outward with the alstroemeria (small pink) and the greens.

The back of the topper.

This cake was for a breathtaking country club wedding. It was really magical.
I felt so lucky that the couple asked my to make their cake. 
 I hope I have not scared you off from wedding cakes. They are wonderful to accomplish.  I walk away after all the work is done feeling like I just climbed Everest.
Even if they are not flawless. 

So begin small, and give it a try.  And if you’d really like to enter the wedding cake world, begin making mock wedding cakes for birthday gifts…….just to get in some good practice.

 And if wedding cakes are not in your future….trust me I understand. But many of the techniques used here can be applied into smaller cakes too. I hope you enjoyed this nod to the romantic side of cake decorating. 
Happy Decorating!

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Filed under Make-A-Cake Series

Comments

25 Responses to “Make-a-Cake Series: Wedding Cakes”
  1. 1
    Zepequeña says:

    Great!

    Zepequeña.

  2. 2
    Linda B says:

    For a non-pro, you do a very professional job. They are beeeeeeeeee-utiful!

  3. 3
    Lori says:

    Just a couple of tips – my mom decorated cakes for YEARS from our home. If it is humid and you are icing with buttercream, do NOT freeze the cakes. We have seen other decorator's cakes where the icing just slid off the cake for this reason. Also, be sure to check on the types of flowers being used if fresh – some types are poisonous and will contaminate the cake if touching directly. Many people don't eat fondant anyway due to the taste, but better safe than sorry. Your little kit is dead-on and an extra bag of icing can sometimes save the day, lol. Beautiful job on those wedding cakes!

  4. 4
    Mandy says:

    I mention it every time, but I LOVE this series!! You make it all seem doable!

    Have you ever made zebra fondant? I'd love to see a tutorial on that….

  5. 5
    Emily says:

    So beautiful! My question is, how do you get a dowel all the way through all the cake boards? Do you use cake boards? I would assume so. I just got my first wedding cake order and I'm so nervous!

  6. 6
    Gabby says:

    Great work! I've been learning how to make cakes since February, and I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE love love the tip about leaving the center dowel long to have something to hold in the car. No DVD, online video, or anyone has ever told me that, and it's such a great idea!

  7. 7
    Dawn says:

    great job! I have another tip for you too. when trying to get a smooth buttercream. dip your metal spatula in hot water and wipe off then use it to smooth the butter cream. the heat really gives you a sharp finish as it melts the butter cream a bit as you go. do this before each stroke and it will help tons! Also always make enough frosting to cover the paddle in the mixer. It helps to make no air bubbles and gives you a smother butter cream to start with.

  8. 8
    Brittany says:

    Emily- I just push it through. There are cake boards but I am very careful when I push through them. you could try tapping with a mallet if you get stuck.
    Good Luck!

  9. 9
    The Gilberts says:

    Awesome tips! What beautiful cakes!!!

  10. 10
    Shannon says:

    beautiful!!!

  11. 11
    Sammy says:

    Oh my, beautiful.

    -Samya :-)

  12. 12
    Jill says:

    These are great tips, as always! A friend of mine who does wedding cakes told me I could do them (after friends of mine asked her to do their cake, but she couldn't because she was already doing one that weekend) and I thought she was crazy! I probably could, but it's one of those things where I"m now sure I SHOULD. lol

  13. 13
    Christina says:

    Gorgeous cakes!!!I am doing my first wedding cake on Friday and am definitely nervous about it. Thanks for the pointers. They will definitely come in handy!

  14. 14
    Cammy says:

    I think your cakes are beautiful and very well done! I would have never guessed you are self taught. I took classes (twice) and don't have anywhere near the confidence or ability with cakes that you do. Thanks for sharing your ideas and techniques.

    On a side note, my grandma made cakes for years and one thing she always did with wedding cakes was wait and assemble them on site. It requires a little more time when you are there, but saved her from having to worry about the cake toppling over in the car. It would also eliminate the need for a dowel down the center. Besides my grandpa was always the transporter and it saved him from breaking his back carrying all the cake at once. Just remember to bring a stepping stool with you to help when putting the cake together.

  15. 15
    Kara Lynn says:

    Best way to smooth out your buttercream… ice the cake and get it as smooth as you can with a spatula. Let sit about ten min, longer if you use thinnger icing. Take a Viva papertowel (Viva brand because they don't have quilts, they are just smooth) and lay it over the cake. Use your hands and lightly rub your hand across the cake. Do the same for the sides by holding the papertowel against it and smoothing it out.

  16. 16
    The Noalls says:

    I'm really impressed with your skills and talent, with ALL of the cakes I've seen from you on here! Not just the actual making of the cakes, but the thinking ahead and problem-solving or even preventing, like with your little kit. Great idea!

  17. 17
    Lyndsey says:

    I love this series, and your cakes are beautiful. I know how much time and effort goes into these cakes, since I've helped my sister a few times. Beautiful. Do you ever use marshmallow fondant? I made my own recently, and it tastes soooo much better than regular fondant. Not as good as buttercream of course…

  18. 18
    Melisa says:

    Kara Lynn- I was just going to type that!! I think it works great.
    Brittany, I had started decorating cakes last year and had a cake disaster for my nephew's birthday. I put all of my things away and vowed to not do it again. You have given so many useful hints and tips that I didn't learn in class that I've decided to start practicing again. Thank you!

  19. 19
    Elizabeth says:

    Great posts – and beautiful cakes…quick question – do you make your own buttercream icing and if so, would you share your recipe?

  20. 20
    Courtney Q. says:

    Did you use regular cake mix for the cakes? I read somewhere that to have tall tiers like this you had to use a very dense cake. I have been asked to make a wedding cakes and I don't want the cake to fall in on itself! Thank you for this wonderful series!!!

  21. 21
    Brittany says:

    Courtney Q, I did use regular cake mixes for these. I have also hread to use a dense cake like pound cake but I didn't have any issues using cake mixes. I just made sure to support the layers really well.
    Good luck!

  22. 22
    Geet says:

    Hi, love your tutorial and how you explain one thing at a time. Good job. What type of frosting did you use ? Is it possible for you to share your recipe?

    Thank u.

  23. 23
    Ana Arenas says:

    Thank you for your generosity in sharing tips and techniques!!

    I have been cake decorating for three years (hobby) but I still do not have the courage to try a wedding cake.

    The way you explain your procedure, makes it seem so doable. Thank you again , you have inspire me to try!

    CIAO

  24. 24
    Karen says:

    Very helpful tips. I’m about to do a 3 tier wedding cake, my first, and I’m so nervous!! Thank you!

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