Today's wedding cake is a tower of edible layers comprised of fondant, multiple cake flavors and frosting. Some layers are elaborately decorated, while others are made from polystyrene foam. When baking these edible works of art, you can take a few steps that should not only produce a delicious cake, but will also make your job a little easier.
Give Yourself Enough Time
Wedding cakes take time to make and are definitely not something you can do the day of the big event or even a day before. Give yourself one to two days before the wedding to start the process. This gives you time to overcome any errors and ensures you're not rushed the day of the wedding.
Get the Right Equipment
To make a wedding cake, you need specific equipment on hand. While a stand mixer isn't required, it will make the job of mixing a lot of batter and frosting easier. You'll also need round or square, straight-sided cake pans in the sizes of your tiers. Some other supplies you'll need include cardboard cake circles, plastic wrap, cake recipe ingredients, a cake base, icing spatulas, pastry bags, decorating tips and, possibly, fondant.
Use a Sturdy Cake Recipe
You don't have to use a traditional cake flavor, but you do need a sturdy, reliable recipe. Use a cake recipe you're comfortable with and one that has a sturdy structure. Butter cakes and pound cakes are dense enough to hold the weight of fondant, frosting and additional tiers. Avoid delicate cake recipes that can deflate under the pressure. Try the potential recipes a few weeks in advance, if possible, to test out their flavors and textures and see how difficult they are to make.
Plan a Big Enough Cake
A wedding cake should be big enough to feed about 80 percent of the guest count. The size of each tier determines how many servings you will get out of that tier. Serving size charts are available from websites like Wilton and Bake, Decorate, Celebrate. Based on the number of servings you'll need, you'll know what size cake pan and approximately how much batter per cake pan you'll need to complete your cake.
Design Your Cake Before You Bake
Before you choose a recipe or bake your cake, draw up how you want the cake to look once it's decorated and assembled. Decide if you will use a round, square or odd-shaped design. Then determine how many tiers and the size of those tiers based on the serving amounts.
Freeze It If You Can
Freezing a cake can tighten the crumb and make larger cake layers easier to cut and handle during assembly. Most cakes can freeze for a couple of weeks, which means you can bake up to a month ahead of time. After the cakes have cooled, wrap with plastic wrap, cover with foil and then place the layers flat in the back of your freezer. Defrosting times depend on the size of your cake, the temperature of the freezer, and the ingredients used to make the cake. Begin defrosting the cakes the night before you need to use them to ensure they're thoroughly thawed.
Think of Your Skill Level
While you might want to make an elaborate six-tier wedding cake with all of the bells and whistles, you need to consider your skill level. Wedding cakes take practice to perfect. If you're not familiar with fondant, try covering your cake in frosting or ganache instead of tackling fondant. If you're new to piping designs in frosting, use alternative decorations such as fresh or silk flowers, fruits or pre-made edible cake decorations.
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