artphoto by splunge
artphoto by TheophileEscargot
artphoto by Kronos_to_Earth
artphoto by ethylene





Mecha Wiki

Metachat Eye


IRC Channels



Comment Feed:


19 April 2007

AskMeCha: What do you know about wedding cakes? My sister has asked me to make her wedding cake. I have our grandmother's fruitcake recipe (she made the family wedding cakes for years), but as for the rest, well, I'm terrified.[More:]Luckily they're earthy types and are not going super-fancy with the wedding (though they figure there will be about 100 people). I found instructions for making a tiered cake, which doesn't look too difficult. She doesn't have a clear idea of what she wants, but seems pretty open to whatever my step-mum and I may come up with. There are a few people in his family that require a gluten-free cake so we're making one separate cake for them, which will also need to be decorated. The wedding's at the end of July, so I'll be making the fruitcakes this weekend and soaking them with rum & sherry weekly until the week before the wedding.

I have never put together a wedding cake before. Ideas? Anecdotes? Words of wisdom? Words of warning? Hope me, bunnies! Please!
How about words of encouragement? Because a fruitcake soaked in rum and sherry for months sounds heavenly.
posted by occhiblu 19 April | 12:05
My aunt used to make wedding cakes (she made mine). In the 'olden days' when my mother got married, wedding cakes used to be iced with Royal icing, which set rock hard. Nowadays it's most common to use something which in the UK is known as Regal (or fondant) icing, which is softer and can be rolled out and is far more malleable.

If you're worried about the sugarcraft aspects of it, there are shops where you can buy ready-made roses, etc. You can also hire the cake stands, if you want to keep each tier separate on little pillars or something.

There are loads and loads of suppliers, makers, etc. online for you to get ideas.

I know someone who had one cake in the traditional fruit recipe, and the other was a chocolate cake, but iced identically so it looked the same as the fruit one. The chocolate cake had to go on top of the fruit cake, as it was much lighter.

Also (this is always a huge consideration for me), if you make one of the tiers as a chocolate or vanilla sponge cake rather than a fruit cake, you can label it 'alcohol free'. There may be people who for religious or health reasons can't have a piece of the boozy fruit cake.

Oh, and if we can't have a piece of cake we want pictures instead.
posted by essexjan 19 April | 12:12
Simplify if need be. It doesn't have to be this cake.

The cake for my wedding was fairly simple as far as wedding cakes go:
≡ Click to see image ≡

One thing that stands out is that it's not round and the layers are right one on top of each other. They used real flowers instead of making them out of icing, which looks way better, IMHO, and the whole idea was to make it look like a stack of gifts, but most importantly was that the cake tasted GREAT.

So I guess the thing is keep it simple, keep it tasty and people will remember it for that.

Best of luck!
posted by plinth 19 April | 12:14
I love that you're making fruit cake for the wedding cake. It's lovely and traditional. I was going to mention fondant also.

In my opinion taste is the most important aspect of a wedding cake.

Decorating cakes with fresh, edible flowers always looks beautiful. It's simple and elegant.

On preview: Plinth, your cake is beautiful, and you said most of what I wanted to say.
posted by LoriFLA 19 April | 12:23
I offer encouragement; what you're planning sounds wonderful!

I had friends make my wedding cake, and it turned out lovely. I second the real flowers thing, and will mention that the women who made my cake preserved pansies and roses in sugar. (They grew the flowers themselves for that express purpose, but that was taking it a bit far.)

They also wrapped the base of each tier in a wide silk ribbon, which looked very elegant.

I'll try and dig up some pics to bring when I come to visit...
posted by Specklet 19 April | 12:33
I completely agree that simple is best. Those fancy schmancy cakes look awesome, but they're nerve-wracking and easy to screw up and really, nothing beats a delicious, simple cake. Unless it's that Super Mario cake.

If you're worried about decorations, probably the easiest way to go is the rolled fondant essexjan mentioned, over the whole layer. It'll make the outside all nice and smooth and pretty. A lot of places use it, and I imagine it's easy enough to get from a supplier (or maybe even make yourself). Throw on some fresh flowers or fruit, a little piping around the edges, and you've got yourself a nice slice of pretty. Plinth's cake looks like it might have a fondant. See how nice and smooth that is? Much easier than trying to do that with buttercream and a spatula. Though the buttercream might be easier to touch up.

Will you be transporting the cake? Save the assembling for when you get there, if you do. It's much easier to move the plain frosted tiers, stack them up there, and then put on the accessory decorations. Also, that way, if there's a bump or an accident that smudges the frosting, you can hide the offending spot with a flower.

When I worked at a bakery, my boss made me deliver a three tier cake with chocolate-dipped strawberries and draped ivy, once. I was so freaked out I would drop part of it, but I made it in without accident, and everything was okay! Sticking the strawberries and ivy on was fun! People like to watch that. It was a basketweave cake, like in your link, and it looked really nice when it was all done. Not even a nervous newbie could mess it up!

Really, just have fun. You get to be creative and make a delicious cake that will be just as much a conversation topic as the happy couple. Don't forget to enjoy a slice!

On preview: Criminy, sorry for the novel.
posted by wimpdork 19 April | 12:47
It sounds fabulous :)
posted by auntbunny 19 April | 12:47
Err, that "nervous newbie" was me, not you. Sorry!
posted by wimpdork 19 April | 12:51
Make a practice cake ahead of time.
posted by iconomy 19 April | 13:09
Hmm... I highly suggest you start watching "Ace of Cakes" on Food Network for wacky cake ideas. And tricks of the trade.
posted by TrishaLynn 19 April | 13:33
FYI - my wedding cake was frosted with whipped cream, not fondant.
posted by plinth 19 April | 13:39
Ooh, whipped cream! That's the most delicious of all icings.
posted by wimpdork 19 April | 13:54
Mine was frosted with buttercream.
And, it was a cheesecake.
posted by kellydamnit 19 April | 15:04
plinth, I just looked at the first cake you linked to. I love it! How creative and fun.
posted by LoriFLA 19 April | 15:54
I've been told that fondant isn't the tastiest frosting.

I'm all for homemade weddings. Feeding the wedding industry didn't appeal to me. Make sure the cake is made with good ingredients and tastes great. The wrapped boxes effect looks good, and flowers on top work.
posted by theora55 19 April | 16:14
Some great suggestions here--thanks, and keep 'em coming! plinth, thank you for that link. I literally laughed until I cried. I've sent my sister the link, explaining that it's simple and tasteful, while expressing excitement and teamwork. Can't wait to get her response. Your cake looks lovely, too. So far I'm thinking vaguely about 3 round, graduated tiers resting on top of each other like that. (I only have round cake pans, what can I say.) Thanks for reminding me about the alcohol-free option, jan. The gluten-free cake will also be alcohol-free, and there will be extra of it for those who want that.

My sister & I talked about fresh flowers and she's excited about the idea. Edible flowers/flower petals is an excellent suggestion! Having some preserved in sugar sounds even cooler. Never occurred to me. Because it's going to be so hot, I think I'll avoid whipped cream or buttercream, yummay as they are. I've worked with royal icing and never. again. I was thinking fondant, but I have no experience with it and it looks like it can be tricky. iconomy's idea of a practice cake (or 2 or 3) might help with that.

The cake will be transported some distance (about a day's journey by car and ferry) a day or two before the wedding, so it looks like I'll bring it there completely undecorated and put it together once we get there.

on preview: yeah, fondant is not the tastiest, it's true. I wonder if we could do a marzipan/fondant hybrid, though lots of people absolutely detest marzipan. hmmm...
posted by elizard 19 April | 16:21
If you find anybody who doesn't like marzipan, SEND ME THEIR MARZIPAN! Marzipan should never go unappreciated!
posted by Miko 19 April | 16:24
elizard, you can do the sugar thing with flowers with eggwhites, a paintbrush, and sugar. You just have to be careful to get every nook and cranny coated. (These would be fun to practice!)
posted by Specklet 19 April | 18:01
If it helps, our whipped cream icing lasted fine on a Massachusetts July afternoon in a non-airconditioned reception hall. Just saying. :)

Absolutely do practice cakes.

One tip I've found is that before you trim a cake to make it level and square, freeze it then cut it.
posted by plinth 19 April | 20:15
For the leftovers? ; )
posted by Pips 19 April | 20:31
*laughs and laughs*

Freezing--good idear. Also, just to be clear--much as I love my gran's fruitcake, we are jettisoning the candied peel and waxen cherries in favour of dried cherries, pears, and blueberries. Some traditions just aren't worth keeping, y'know?
posted by elizard 19 April | 20:56
Bunny! OMG! || this will never stop pissing me off