If you can follow a recipe, you can make a wedding cake. These tips will help you create a classic, three-tier confection.
Step 1: Figure out the size Figure out how much cake you'll need. A cake with three, round, two-layer tiers (14 inches, 10 inches, and 6 inches) will serve about 100 guests. Preparing a separate, 11- by 15-inch half-sheet cake is an easy way to serve another 40 guests.
TIP: Square cakes provide more slices, and look just as pretty tiered.
Step 2: Pick a recipe Pick a cake flavor and filling. Keep in mind that the cake should be dense because the bottom layers must support the upper ones. If you lack refrigeration space, choose a non-perishable filling.
TIP: Some boxed cake mixes offer instructions on adjusting the recipe for a denser cake.
Step 3: Choose a frosting Choose a frosting. Consider the temperature at the reception; the kind of cake surface you want, and whether your priority is a beautiful cake or a tasty one. Buttercream frosting can melt in high temperatures, whereas royal icing requires no refrigeration. Fondant provides the smoothest surface but isn't as tasty as other icings.
TIP: Store-bought canned frostings are not firm enough for wedding cakes. If you want a ready-made frosting, get one made specifically for party cakes at a cake-supply store.
Step 4: Get the proper tools Get the proper tools: a plastic cake board that's wider than the bottom layer; separator plates -- foam board disks that each tier rests on; and dowels -- rods inserted through the cake to support the tiers. Find them in cake decorating and craft stores.
Step 5: Bake in advance Bake the layers a few days before the wedding. Let each one cool completely before wrapping it in plastic, and then foil, and then freezing.
Step 6: Defrost layers Defrost the layers at room temperature 10 to 12 hours before the wedding and make the frosting. If possible, bring everything to the wedding site and assemble the cake there.
TIP: If the layers are not level, even them out by cutting them with a serrated knife.
Step 7: Assemble the tiers Assemble the tiers. Place the bottom layer of each two-layer tier on its own separator plate. Brush the surface of the bottom layer with simple syrup to moisten the cake. Then, cover the surface with filling, add the top layer, brush it with simple syrup, and frost.
Step 8: Stack the tiers Insert dowels, trimmed to the height of each tier, into the two bottom tiers: For the 14-inch layer, put six evenly-spaced dowels 4 inches from the edge, and four evenly-spaced dowels 6 inches from the edge. For the 10-inch cake, evenly space six dowels 3 inches from the edge. Now carefully stack the tiers, including the foam boards.
Step 9: Decorate Add the finishing touches, like decorative piping and edible flowers. If you're more adventurous, you can fashion flowers out of marzipan or gum paste. Have a great wedding!
FACT: The 2004 New England Bridal Showcase featured a seven-tier, 17-foot high cake that weighed 15,032 lbs. and was large enough to serve 59,000 guests.