wedding cake.making it. talk to me.
I'm making a wedding cake for a wedding (duh)on October 27. I have the pans, 14, 10, and 6 inch X 3 inches. I have the recipe, rich chocolate ala Martha. I plan to make two of each tier and slice each tier in half w/dental floss, thus having multi-frostinged slices of love. So. I've read in some places that it's actually preferable to freeze the layers first-just with a crumb coat-then to defrost and frost, etc. I've also heard that you can have the whole cake still partially frozen while you frost and transport-bringing it to the wedding in the morning so it will defrost by night. Either way, I would like to at least make the big layers this weekend and freeze them, and they will each entail 5X (or so)the recipe. Good or no? I know about the dowels and the cardboard, i've bought both.
show some love & help a sister out!
pro am cake baker here for you :-)
Freezing works great but I don't freeze it with a crumb coating. Just bake, cool, wrap and freeze. I usually take out that day and work with however much they've thawed - don't want to try to place pillars and/or supports in a frozen cake. Do your crumb coat on each layer, then start back with the first one and frost. Then, if you are sure you don't have to carry too far, put it together and you're ready to go.
Some tips - straws work as well as dowels for supports and are much much easier to use - be sure to bring extra frosting to fix inevitable transport marks - warm spatula smooths frosting
A few things I wish I had known before I baked a wedding cake (non-pro) the first time:
1) since you're cutting the tiers, put a toothpick in each tier, match them up, before cutting so you can line them up after;
2) level off the cake, even if it looks fairly level, a lot of little discrepancies add up to lopsided cake;
3) I don't freeze before frosting--have read that, especially w/ larger cakes, when the cake defrosts, the frosting doesn't expand with it as well (maybe someone who's done this can confirm or not);
4) When transporting, non-skid mats are your friend. They keep the cakes from sliding;
5) The process takes a lot longer than you'll think so allow for extra time. If you're planning on frosting the morning of and transporting, keep that in mind. I baked my cakes early, frosted them for 1-2 days before and kept them in the refrigerator;
6) Dental floss hasn't worked well for me--maybe it's the brand I use. Mark level points on the cake so you can cut evenly;
7) I don't know if you want to spend extra money, but I bought a two piece cake lifter (two half circles w/ handles) that slide under the cake tiers so you can move them easily w/out breaking. I bought mine from Pampered Chef but I can't imagine that other places wouldn't carry them. The two pieces are much easier to slide under tiers that one piece ones;
8) If you're using buttercream frosting and it's hot, don't put the cake together until later. I put mine together in the morning and it almost melted with the tiers drooping. We had to take it apart and put it together later (heart stopping).
9) Just a suggestion--Wilton has some good, fairly inexpensive supplies. I use their plastic dowel rods, instead of wooden dowels, and cake support plates. The pillars are hollow and the plates have notches that fit right into them so it's secure (follow the directions on lining them up). The plates are plastic and support the cake but you don't see them w/ the frosting. If you're stacking the cake, the plates make it a lot easier to separate the layers for cutting.
Good luck with it! Congrats to your sister.
I meant I've heard you shouldn't frost a completely frozen cake. What I've heard, is when the cake defrosts, it will expand and could crack the frosting and that it could cause sweating. I've never tried it because I've read that from a few sources (though I've also read you should frost frozen cake for fewer crumbs). I was hoping someone has frosted and frozen cake and could share.
nice post. A few things I would like to ditto:
It will take longer than you think. I had allowed a LOT of time for my little cake extravaganza this summer, and it still took longer than anticipated. Even when I was having fun, in the grove, etc. it still took a long time. Emergencies of course eat time.
I've never bothered w/ floss. I just split w/ a long serated bread knife.
Buttercream can be a b!tch. You must refrigerate until very firm...hours...if you want to transport without any heart stopping, to borrow a phrase, moments.
A cake lifter sounds like a silly thing to own...until you need one. As I was trying to set my 4 layer cake down into the carboard box I planned on using for transport, I realized I couldn't get my hands down in it without mussing the higher layers. I survived this by slicing one panel of the box on the corners so I could fold that panel flat. Slide in cake. Fold panel back up. Duct tape (man's 2nd best friend). Then I cut the duct tape (bring a utility knife w/ you), and slid the cake out on the table. Sweet.
I froze my layers a week or two before I finished the cake. I had them mostly thawed before I began frosting. I used straws instead of dowels.
have you made this cake, both layers and frosting before? I highly recommend a test cake if not. Make sure the layers split clean, the icing sticks, it tastes good together, etc. I even went so far as to freeze some for a week and then re-taste since I knew I would do that w/ the real cake. I stopped waking up at night worrying (as much) after the test cake.
I'm going to make the test cake tomorrow. If all goes well, I'll then do the 2 14 inch layers next and freeze them until what...2 days before the wedding? then crumb coat and I guess I could just frost them AT the venue...at least the final round of buttercream? ONe question is, should I do the ganache and raspberry cream between layers before freezing? Or would that cause more problems? Thanks!!
I'll answer what I can for all the posts here so I don't have to reply to each one. A crumb coat would be fine before you freeze because it won't matter if it cracks. You would have to cut and fill beforehand (see if your raspberry cream freezes and defrosts well first), obviously, if you freeze the crumb coat. Make a frosting dam before you put the ganache and raspberry in between the layers or it'll be one oozing mess. Honestly, if you haven't done anything this size before, it would make me nervous to wait to do it the day of the event. You won't lose anything tastewise if you do it a day or two in advanced and keep it refrigerated. Pros can do it much more quickly but even just making that huge quantity of frosting takes time. Plus, what if you thought you had enough frosting but found you didn't once you were at the venue? Leaving to the last day doesn't give you any fudge time if something happens. Have the individual tiers completely finished before getting to the site but don't assemble until you're there (hate to state the obvious but the thought of moving a huge stacked wedding cake in a car is scary...). The decorating combs are great--easy to use and you won't have to worry about smooth surfaces then. You want the frosting to be pretty thick if you're doing that and with a large cake a lazy susan would be really helpful. Check out this site before using calla lilies because it says the flowers are toxic:
Have you done shaved chocolate curls before? That might also take some practice. I find it hard to make nice long chocolate curls, especially big enough that you can fill. I think someone mentioned this but bring extra frosting and piping bag w/ tips with you. There are so many little details but if you plan them out first, it makes the whole things a lot easier.
This all just brings back memories of the first wedding cake for a friend (175 people, outdoors in hot California weather, up a steep 5 mile windy route...) and how it was just so much more work than I expected. It was definitely worth it, I learned so much and now making cakes for a lot of people is much easier. Good luck with it. I'm sure it'll turn out great! Hey, one great thing about this site is that if you're in the middle of it and run into problems, there will always be people here who can help, almost immediately.
The other day, I noticed a cake saw at Walmart in the crafts section. From what I recall, it was made by Wilton, was well under $10, and looked adjustable. It was the kind with a thin saw blade strung between a frame, sorry I'm not describing it well. If you bake many cakes featuring frosting, it might make leveling and splitting easy. (I don't know if the frame would accomodate that 14" layer, though it might.)
I would recommend frosting the night before and refrigerating if you're able. Cold frosting transports much more easily than room temperature. I have never transported three layers, but I think this will help.
Excerpts From from Bon Appetit June, 1982 CREATE a MASTERPIECE
Step by step to a Spectacular Celebration Cake
"I work out of the refrigerator a lot, completing one cake at a time while the others stay chilled," she explains. "A cold cake releases fewer crumbs than a warm one. You must be sure to seal the cake with enough buttercream to prevent any of the crumb coat from intruding on the finished coating of buttercream. It doesen't matter how it looks, but it must be smooth." she says, scraping a spatula on the side of a small bowl into which excess buttercream drops between each application, assuring a clean sweep every time. "Then before
applyuing thee final coat of buttercream, the cakes should be refrigerated again to firm up." Alice adds a note of caution that buttercream will pick up any strong flavors that might be wafting about in the refrigerator, so it should be covered and any cut onions or other assertive residents should be removed for the duration.
By the time the last cake is crumb coated, the first cake should be chilled enoughj for its final buttercream application.
Alice suggests beginning the final coating with the small cake since it is the easiest, and the experience of working with it will be useful when the time comes to do the larger, more demanding ones.
As a smooth coat of frosting goes, I was taught in a class once to have a large cup of hot water near by, put the offset spatula in it until the steel is warm and then go over the cake a final time. The heat melts the buttercream flat. The water from the spatula evaporates. It works, but is time consuming. I only do it now if appearance is that important.
First, how nice of you to make a cake (I assume for friend or family). Do you know what kind of design you are doing w/ the frosting on the sides?
The hot metal spatula works well - I just dip in very hot water (it also cleans it off) between spreadings.
If you mess up on some decorationions, just add some fresh cut flowers. they cover a multitude of sins.
It's for a friend. And honestly, I've just always wanted to make one. I bought a 'decorating comb' to have elegant yet simple raked sides and i was thinking about shaved whote choco curls cascading from the tops of the tiers (against whote frosting, with choco inside)I'll pipe around the edges with white, and do red calla lilies (what she's having)along bottom of cake. Also considering ribbon bands around bottoms of tiers, bt not so sure about tht. What do you think?
Ditto foodslut's comment, assembling on site makes transportation much easier.
For the frosting, if you are using a buttercream, an italian or swiss meringue based recipe holds up well in all sorts of temperatures (it freezes well, too). If it is really hot, you can replace a small amount of the butter with shortening to give it more strength without compromising flavor or texture.
lots of great tips. For flavor and moistness, especially if I'm working with a frozen cake I like to moisten the middle l layers with simple syrup, or a liquer depending on whose eating it. I use an unflavored simple syrup for plain cakes and flavor for others. I don't put any on the top layer as it changes how the icing sticks. Its a nice way to add a hint of mocha or orange, chocolate, mint etc.
practice everything with a test run first. (including a test drive to wherever you;re delivering it, and then double the time)
Cakes and frostings can be mercurial, I've been doing choc ganaches and reverse icing and curls for years, and it often depends on the day, the humidity and the ambient air temp.
(try doing a reverse writing, white choc collar with gold leaf in 40degree celcius Australian summer!!!)
Take a tub of icing for transport mishaps.
Good luck and let us know how it goes!!!!