Pro tips for DIY wedding cake
Even in a pandemic, people get married. And where there’s a wedding – even a small one in the back yard – there’s usually a cake.
Home bakers looking to make their own wedding cakes don’t need a fancy, multi-layer tower. But how can they create something that rises above the ordinary?
Don’t be too ambitious, says Jocelyn Delk Adams, cookbook author and founder of the Grandbaby Cakes blog. People tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves when baking wedding cakes.
“Don’t go too wild,” she warns. Make an exercise cake or two to help you feel prepared for the big day.
Preparation is key, agrees cake maker Ron Ben-Israel, owner of Ron Ben-Israel Cakes in New York City.
“Prepare and simplify the process by writing down all the phases,” he says. “Separate the pieces of the process and write down what each needs.”
List the ingredients you will need and make sure you can find them all as items like flour and baking powder may be in short supply.
Ben-Israel emphasizes the need to get your cake recipes, including fillings and frosting, from a reliable source.
The good news is that layers of cake can be baked and frozen weeks in advance, packaged well. Thaw the wrapped cakes in the refrigerator. According to Ben-Israel, it’s easier to assemble and decorate cakes straight from the refrigerator (not from the freezer, as condensation may form when thawing).
Fillings and icing can be done days in advance. Take them out of the refrigerator and let them reach room temperature. Then mix them again and distribute them at room temperature.
And shortcuts are fine. Adams says, “If you don’t feel like you are technically good at baking, don’t be afraid to treat a cake mix! There are so many ways you can make a cake mix special. “
One thing I’ve learned the hard way is the importance of a crumb layer of icing. This is the technique of putting a very thin layer of frosting on top of the cake and setting it before adding the final, thicker layer. The first layer may pick up some crumbs but then seal them so the subsequent layer of frosting doesn’t pull up more crumbs and mess up the clean look of the cake. This is important if, for example, you are frosting a chocolate cake with white icing.
Single tier cakes are easier, and if you want to make more than one tier, Ben-Israel recommends that you read up on how to structure a layered cake. Check out videos on YouTube to learn the physics. When making some rudimentary wedding cakes for friends over the past few days, I put the top layer on a round of cardboard (camouflaged by frosting), and before putting it on top of the bottom layer, I put some straws on top The bottom cake layer was cut in a circle in the center of the cake to support the top layer.
Ben-Israel and Adams advise on decoration to be kept simple. Ben-Israel says you could skip the piping entirely, or if you wanted to use a bag of pastry tips, think of Keith Haring and cover the whole cake with doodles. Don’t go for straight lines. “
He also advocates candy, sprinkles, and edible flowers (sprinkled with nothing).