Saturday, January 3, 2015

Wedding Cake 101: The Basics Tutorial

How to make a Wedding Cake Tutorial
So you think you want to make a wedding cake?  Ever since I started decorating cakes way back in high school, I think I dreamed of making a honest to goodness wedding cake.  They are so beautiful and the pictures in the decorating books make it look so easy.  A couple of years ago I finally got my chance when a neighbor was getting married and knew of my inexperience but trusted me anyway to make theirs.  They wanted it to be quite simple and were not high pressure so I decided to accept!  

The next 6 weeks leading up to the important occasion were filled with studying and practicing and sometimes tears.  I always thought Wedding Cakes were grossly over priced but after what I went through to make even a simple one I fully understood why they cost so much and mine wasn't even a cake with fondant or gorgeous piping on it.  (I do want to learn more about that!)

But when it was finished and looked so pretty sitting at the reception I was so relieved and proud and happy that it was all worth it!  That is why I want to share the things I learned with you.  Maybe it will help you to get from point A (how do I?) to point B (finished cake) faster and easier than it was for me.

I realize that I am a detail person.  I like to spell out every move to make. So just take what you want from the lists and I wish you much success!  

First, you need to check to make sure you have the right equipment.  Good quality pans, spatulas, and a decent turn table

are important.  You don't have to spend a fortune though.  I bought my Wilton pan set found here: pan set at Micheal's

Craft with a 50% off coupon very reasonably.  It was pretty much the same with all my other supplies.  An offset spatula and a Wilton turntable like this:Wilton Turntable  was all I needed.  there are much more expensive ones out there but this worked for me. The other supplies you will want to have on hand are:  offset spatula, Cardboard Cake Circles in all the sizes you need, wax paper and hot glue or double stick tape, piping bags and tips, fondant smoother (this is not a fondant cake but the smoother comes in handy, viva paper towels, cake board or heavy duty plate or stand.  

Let's get started!

First you need a great recipe to make the cake.  You want one that is Wedding Worthy.  There are many gourmet recipes  out there but unless you have a tried and true recipe or a lot of time on your hands to test new recipes, you may want to use the recipe that many professionals use.  This one is easy, reliable, and delicious.  It is called The White Almond Sour Cream Cake or the WASC cake for short.  Yes, it does contain a cake mix but in my opinion the added ingredients make it just the rich and denser texture you want in a wedding cake.

     As a side note, A few years ago all the cake mix companies decided to change their mixes at the same time.  they decreased the box size from 18.25 to 16.25 and changed the formula also.  It threw many cake makers into a frenzy wondering how this new cake mix formula would work in the WASC cake recipe.  I was in the midst of making my 1st wedding cake and had to drop everything to figure out what was going to work.  I began testing different brands and found that some fell and some were dry.  The brand that still did the best job for me was Duncan Hines Classic White.  It worked like a charm and so I always stick with that now.  (This works for my altitude and oven so you may want to test it out first for your situation).
     Making a wedding cake is best done on 3 different days.  You can spread it out more but less would be quite stressful and may not leave enough time to fix problems or allow the cake to cool properly.  

Here is Day 1 of my schedule:

     Make cakes. This is the WASC recipe link and below are some of my tips on how to help it come our perfectly.
Here is the link (different name same recipe): 

 White Almond Wedding Cake

1-  Prepare pans for batter by using this Pan Release recipe.  It works so beautifully.  Just make sure to completely cover the pan and don't leave any bare spots.

2.  Fill pans 1/2 full.  This helps you get an even flat topped cake.  I measure the side of the pan (i.e. 2 inches), then mark a toothpick at the 1/2 way mark (i.e. 1 inch).  then I pour the batter in until it looks 1/2 full.  Then test it with the toothpick.  If the mark on the toothpick goes into the batter, take some out.  Add some if you need more to reach the mark.

3. After the batter is in the pan, tap them several times on the counter to release the air bubbles trapped in the batter. They will begin rising to the top.
4.  Use bake even strips.  You can find them at most craft stores or online here.   
 They come in different sizes so make sure you have enough to cover your largest pan. Follow the directions they give you to soak them and remove a little water before placing them on the pan.

5.  For large size pans you need to use something in the center of the batter to help it cook.  If you don't the outside will be over done and the inside of your cake pan will be undercooked and fall.  You can buy something called a heating core found here.  

     You can also use a #7 cake decorators rose nail.  Insert it into the batter centered in the pan with the large end resting on the bottom of the pan.  In cakes larger than 12 inches I would use 3 of these nails in a triangle formation close to the center. 
     When these are placed in the center, the cake bakes evenly and then they can be removed when the cake is taken out of the pan soon after baking is finished.

6.  Take bake even strips off immediately after baking to allow pan to cool.

7.  When cake has cooled for only 15 minutes, place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top of the pan that is about 3x's more than the pan size in width.
wrappping a cake to cool

learn to make a wedding cake

Place a rack or plate over the wrap and invert the cake onto the plate/wrap.  This is where you will be glad you used the pan release.  The cake will slip out of the pan without any sticking.  Wrap the cake completely in plastic and then repeat the process with more plastic wrap.  The second time I use a cardboard cake round a little bigger than the cake to support it and then place the wrapped cake into a large bag (a store bag or a purchased turkey baking bag works well)  and place in fridge or freezer to "mature" over night.  Many bakers swear by the freezing method saying that it improves the flavor and moistness of the cake.  I personally have not tried it and I only have mine in the fridge overnight. If you freeze your cake be sure to allow time for it to defrost before icing it.

This ends the first days work. It feels good to see all of the cakes lined up, perfectly formed, wrapped, and in the fridge.  You're on your way!  

Next post will be day 2!
Please send me your questions below...
This post was shared with these fine blogs!
Create with Joy
Pint Sized Baker 
Lou Lou Girls 
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Nap time Creations 
A Dish of Daily Life 
The Country Cook 


  1. Love this. My daughter is having a wedding this fall!! Hey I would love it if you shared your stuff on my new Link Party that starts tomorrow...Thursday! Its called My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday! here is the link...You have great stuff!! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday!! I have Pinned this too!! Don't forget to come back next week and share some more!! I love having you!

  2. Oh my! This is amazing. Pinned and tweeted. Thank you so much for being a part of our party. We really appreciate you! I hope to see you on Monday at 7 pm. Happy Saturday! Lou Lou Girls

  3. You are very talented!! Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday!! I have Pinned this too!! Don't forget to come back next week and share some more!! I love having you!

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Elizabeth! I hope you will look at Wedding Cake 101: The Basics Day 2 and 3 also! (Day 3 is still coming!)


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