I recently constructed my wedding cake. It was a challenging project, but also fun. This is the results of that.
I'm also submitting this for consideration in the wedding contest, so if you like it, please vote!
Step 1: How Many Guests Do You Need to Feed?
Before you start making your cakes, you need to figure out how many servings you will need to make.
There are lots of calculators out there, but I like to use this one:
It's nice because it also gives you a rough idea of baking times and amount of icing needed.
I like to use at least a 3" deep pan. If you don't have 3" deep pans, you can stack two 2" for your layer.
Step 2: Make Your Cakes, Icing, Fondant, Etc.
Like I've mentioned before, this is just a hobby for me- I have a full-time job and a small child to wrangle, so time management is critical. I try to make as much in advance as possible.
For this cake, I made a 14", 12", and 10" layers. Two chocolate, one vanilla. I always use this recipe posted by user Heartsfire. It's a very moist cake that as the name suggests, is very durable and lends itself well to carving and travel.
Be sure to level your cakes, either with a cake leveling tool or a large serrated knife. The better you prep now the easier it will be later.
I make the cakes a couple weeks in advance and torte, fill and ice them. The chocolates I filled with a seedless raspberry filling, and the vanilla was filled with a lemon curd. Make sure you pipe a dam of thicker icing around the perimeter of the cake to help keep the filling from seeping out.
I iced them both with a vanilla buttercream. I tend to use the Wilton icing recipe found here:
You can use your own favourite recipe though. Just keep in mind if your venue is going to be pretty warm you should use an icing with a higher percentage of shortening than butter so it doesn't melt.
Chill your iced cakes in the freezer so you can handle them without "denting" them while wrapping them for freezing. Once they are fairly solid, wrap your cakes well in plastic wrap and then aluminium foil and freeze them. Be sure to put them on a cardboard cake plate so you can stack them later. The cake plates should be the same size as the cakes so you can't see them later. I pull them out of the freezer the day before (or sometimes or morning of) when I'm going to decorate.
I've found that most people just peel off traditional fondant, so I use marshmallow fondant which tastes way better. I make my marshmallow fondant well in advance. You don't have to, but it should sit for at least 24hrs before you use it to allow it to come together. There are lots of recipes out there, but I tend to use this one from Peggy Weaver:
A couple of tips- if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook it will make your life easier and keep the mess down when making the fondant. Don't worry if you don't though, you can just knead the fondant on your countertop, just make sure you cover your hands and the countertop with a layer of Crisco to keep the marshmallow from sticking to everything! Be sure to sift your icing sugar so you don't end up with powered lumps. If you are colouring your fondant, add your food colouring to the melted marshmallows so your colour is consistently blended in. Coat your fondant in a light layer of Crisco and wrap with plastic wrap and store in a Ziploc. It does not need to be refrigerated.
Step 3: Cover and Decorate
I usually decorate the day before the event, but in this case I did it two. Once you get the fondant on, everything is sealed for freshness.
Knead, knead, knead that fondant and get it warmed up. If it seems hard as a rock, don't worry just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds at a time until it becomes workable.
Roll and cover- the fondant recipe link provides some tips on how to get the proper size and how to drape and smooth it out. In terms of size, I usually try and roll a circle 3/8"- 1/4" thick and 2x height + diameter + an extra 2" of whatever size cake I'm trying to cover. Then I set my cake up on a coffee can or something to allow the fondant to hang past the edges and I smooth any folds out with my hands. Excess gets trimmed with scissors or a pizza cutter.
With multi-level cakes, it is a good idea to provide some support to keep the upper level cake from squishing the bottom level. To do this, I use bubble tea straws trimmed to the same height as the bottom layer, and push them into the bottom layer where the top layer will cover them. For this cake I used about 4 on the bottom, and 3 in the middle layer. The bottom layer should also be sitting on thick cake board.
For the scroll work, I used my Cricut cake (cake cartridge) and Wilton Sugar Sheets in black. You could also use the Cricut with gumpaste or fondant, but in my experience the sugar sheets work really well, so I stick with them. I cut my patterns and then apply a small amount of vodka to the back of the pattern with a small paint brush and place them on the cake. Tweezers are also helpful for this. Be sure to keep your sugar sheets and pieces in their wrapper when you aren't working with them, otherwise they dry out and become brittle.
The top layer of the cake I piped on a pattern of royal icing pearls.
Once everything is decorated, I put each layer into a cake box for transportation to the venue.
Unless your filling will spoil, do not refrigerate your fondant, or you will risk it sweating and things running.
* This could be done using a regular Cricut. The only difference between it and my Cricut Cake is that all my components are food safe. So use at your own risk.
Step 4: Assemble
Once at the venue, carefully assemble. It's helpful to bring some spare decorations, icing, vodka etc. to touch up any spots that may get messed up (hopefully not though).
Very carefully stack your cakes making sure they are centred and level. For this one, I used some ribbon to cover the seams where they are stacked.
Put on your flowers or topper, and you're good to go!