Baking a friend's wedding cake--please help!
I have somehow wound up becoming that friend who makes wedding cakes (which I have mixed feelings about!), and am supposed to make a wedding cake for one of my best friends in two weeks. I am driving myself crazy with thinking through the following questions and would really love some help from more experienced and wiser bakers than me! Any opinions/suggestions/fun stories would be welcome.
1. The number of guests will be 110. The cake will not be the only dessert--delicious baklava will also be served. If I make a three-tier cake with 6x3, 10x3, and 14x3 tiers (split and filled), will this be enough for 110? It is hard to tell what size to make the cake as different bakers seem to use different metrics--Wilton says this would result in 128 servings, while Martha Stewart (from her 1980s-era "Weddings" book) says it would result in only about 60.
2. The bride&groom have requested an almond cake, which I am super psyched about. I had the following ideas for fillings for an almond butter cake with an amaretto buttercream:
1. A layer of almond pastry cream topped with fresh raspberries for the filling
2. A layer of lemon pastry cream or lemon curd spread on top of a layer of almond dacquoise
3. Split the cake twice, and do two fillings: one raspberry jam, one almond pastry cream
4. Something else?
This might be helpful in cutting and servings. You'll need less than you think, if there is a full dinner being served. The first time I made a cake for 150, I had tiers of cake leftover and I had to bring them to work to get rid of them. That was the only dessert, too.
I like option 2 or 3, although you might consider one tier nut-free in case of allergies (since the other dessert is baklava). I love fresh raspberries but they're hard to get ahead of time and if you're planning on making the cake in advance, they might not hold well. While splitting the cake is really pretty, you'll have to worry more about tiering and not having it slip and cutting it evenly around (which always looks easy on shows but is harder IRL). If you've done that all before, then you'll know what to do but if it's your first time doing it, with large tiered cakes, there might be more work than you think to it. Good luck with it!
Thank you for all of the advice! I will definitely map out how to slice the cakes, that is wonderful advice. They didn't want to save the top layer for their wedding anniversary so all of the layers will be cut up and served--and the cake will be competing with another big dessert, so I might stay on the conservative side with the cake--or maybe I can make a backup 13x9 cake or something. I was also thinking of perhaps making a blood orange curd as part of the filling. I'm going to try the cake (with two filling options) out on the family for Christmas Eve and do a little taste test.
@ jeniyo--the almond cake and dacquoise recipes I am using are from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking with Julia"--there's a wonderful step-by-step guide and detailed recipe by Martha Stewart for an almond cake with almond dacquoise, apricot filling, and almond rum buttercream and marzipan fruits for decoration, and I am using some components of it but not all (the idea of making many little marzipan fruits sounds as appealing to me right now as sticking my finger in a light socket!). It's a very good guide--the only criticism I have of it is that she tells you to cut the dowels 1/4-inch above the top of the cake, and when I tried that for a wedding cake I made this past summer it resulted in near-disaster, as the tiers started listing back and forth, so I would stick to cutting the dowels to be flush with the top of the cake.
hi! this is a very interesting subject as i may be baking one myself in a few months.
your cake flavors sounds wonderful, i like the almond dacquoise idea. which almond butter cake recipe are you using?
i made a almond cake filled with a good layer of chocolate mousse and fine grains of crushed almond pralines. as long as the chocolate mousse sets slightly firm first, there will be no issues of slippage.
I think the size will end up just fine, presuming you cut the top layer too. You're on the edge of having enough, but if the numbers don't increase you're good.
Your flavor ideas sound great. With almond butter cake and aaretto buttercream,I'd like the almond pastry cream with raspberries or raspberry jam.
almond goes very well for coffee and carmel too.
I have the feeling that this size cake will be a bit small for 110. If you have a denser cake with a richer butter cream filling you might be able to cut it into smaller pieces, but, i would make more just in case the servers end up cutting bigger pieces like they did at the one wedding i made the cake for. Thankfully, we had made double what we thought we needed and we did not run out.
One thing to do would be to cut pieces of parchment paper to the size of your pans (don't count the top layer as that goes to the bride and groom) and then draw on them how the cake would be cut normally and count. That way there is no doubt and you can give the cutting chart to the servers and they will be more likely not to mess it up.