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cake books, books for wedding cake, ideas?

Hi all,

i am making a wedding cake for a friend. This is my first large scaled cake (150-200ppl).

In case i've somehow missed something, what is your favorite reference as far as cake recipe and design books.

I got the cake bible and martha stewart's wedding cake book on my amazon wish list... anything you find helpful?

my friend has no idea what she wants. i'm thinking of making 2 or 3 flavors. one chocolate oriented, another almond, and something else with filing (that is different than the frosting that covers it, ie pastry cream, mascarpone, curd, dacquoise, crushed meringue, pralines, mousse...)... feel free to chime in! i've love to hear what everyone likes!

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  1. deb from smitten kitchen made a wedding cake and posted about it on the website. tons of helpful comments and ideas..

    1 Reply
    1. My friend made a cake from Dede Wilson's "Wedding Cakes You Can Make: Designing, Baking, and Decorating the Perfect Wedding Cake" and it turned out beautifully.

      1. Thanks guys! I got the MStewart book for a reference, Dede Wilson and the cake bible. I've been reading through all 3 books and got lots of useful info.

        I split this comment from the "what have you been baking" discussion-

        last weekend, i baked test cakes from the cake bible. the basic white, yellow and chocolate buttercakes. the cakes are delicious, soft, moist and tender- but i'm worried they are too tender to tort and stack as a wedding cake (even though this is from her wedding cake section- unless i've done something wrong). I haven't gone to enough weddings to know what exactly i am looking for. Help!! has anyone baked from the wedding cake section from TCB? do you find it hard to tort (or not torting at all?) i froze the cakes and i plan to play with the test cakes tonight.

        i'm thinking of using her other cake recipes from the main portion of her book that uses buttermilk, sour cream or straight cream and maybe whole eggs (hoping for a sturdier cake). Do you guys know how i should go about adjusting these 9" standards to 14" and 10" inches??

        or adjusting baking powder in any other recipe in this matter?

        1. First time making a wedding cake...and it's for 150-200 people? Yikes! You are an adventurous person. lol :)
          You need to thoroughly check out this site; you have to register but it's free and you will not be deluged with spam or anything you don't want. It will be a wealth of information and help!


          1 Reply
          1. re: ttoommyy

            yep.. i'm nutty. but hey! i'm always willing to help a friend...

            thanks for the site. i love the tutorials on cakecentral. lots of great ideas there.

          2. I think the cake bible is probably all you need for the actual recipes and details of making the cakes. As for design, maybe just flip through wedding mags to get ideas?

            I made a wedding-style cake for my parent's anniversary party. It also was my first (and very likely last) large scale cake. I love layer cakes, but I'm an accountant...not a caterer.

            I think you are doing the right thing by making test cakes. Make the whole cake, frost it, practice decorating, etc. STart now thinking up occasions that you can volunteer a cake for...so your practice cake doesn't go to waste or to YOUR waist. I made 2 test cakes...if I were doing multiple flavors I would have done more. (do you mean two cakes, or just different flavors on different tiers?)

            Have you given thought to the actual stacking of the layers? practice that. If you are going to use the separators, buy and practice that . I was too chicken to try that and just stacked mine one atop the other. (4 tiers)

            For adjusting the cake sizes, you can just do the math to figure the area of your pans and then calc. how many batches you need. If I remember correctly, I made 1 1/2 times the recipe of my cake every time I baked some layers, but that was right at the hairy edge of what my mixer could hold. RLB has a chart for changing the leavening based on different sized pans, but the changes are so minor I just ignored the issue.

            Oh, and consider how you will transport it. This can be the stuff of nightmares.

            3 Replies
            1. re: danna

              Thanks Danna,

              Good to know that you were able to make larger cakes without being obsessed with leavening amounts.

              i'm baking most of my test cakes this week with fillings and buttercream samples. I am inviting all of my friends, neighbors, co-workers to come help eat the cakes... =) one of my friends will make some grilled cheese sandwiches so we don't get all grossed out.

              my friend wanted a simply designed cake. Everything will be covered in buttercream. We have yet to decide if we are doing swiss dots, ribbons with fresh flowers or if she wanted a band of white plastic chocolate with little eyelets cut wrapped around each tier.

              we were thinking of making 2 flavors for alternating tiers. but as of today, i'm pretty torn with my cake recipes and worry if i got the correct texture. I will be baking more cake tonight and will report back...

              i'm opting to transport the cake in layers and assemble on-site. the place is >45 min from my house (1.5 hours very slow in freeway). The books i got instruct me to cut the dowels 1/4" taller than the frosted cake and i see some people cut it flush to the cake. I'm worried that the cakeboard on top will lift off the buttercream on the bottom layer (layers lacking buttercream) but the thought of tiers in a semi stilt scares me. Do you think a piece of parchment will work between the tiers? that way, i can still have some "adhesion"

              also, did anyone have success with hammering in a long dowel through the entire length of the cake? did you have trouble piercing through the cake board?

              1. re: jeniyo

                I'm excited to hear about your progress! Please keep us updated.

                I think transporting in layers is a good idea assuming you have time to assemble on site. My venue was charging me by the hour so I couldn't get there early enough with all the other stuff I had to do.

                I don't really understand the 1/4 inch taller thing. I used straws rather than dowels and cut them flush. I honestly can't remember if I drove a stake through the cardboard or not...I know I didn't use a dowel, but I might have used a shisk-kabob skewer (I do that a lot to stablize really tall layer cakes). I wound up transporting the whole thing in a cardboard box that I had cut two corners off w/ a utility knife, folded it down, slid in the cake, folded the side back up, duct taped it , transport, reverse operation. If someone hadn't suggested that too me, it would have sucked.

                OH, I think that's hilarious about the grilled cheese. Wouldn't want to get too much fat!

                Pic attached of the layers while I was frosting and stacking.

                1. re: jeniyo

                  If you do use flowers, make sure the flowers aren't poisonous and you might want to check to make sure the growers didn't use pesticides that can't be eaten.

                  Transporting the cake in layers is a good idea. I've used large rubbermaid containers, upside down for that. Put the cake on the lid (non skid mats work to hold them in place) and cover with the base. I've cut the dowels and straws to the height of the cake. If you're worried about it lifting the buttercream off, you can line the bottom with parchment or wax but it really doesn't matter. The cake cutting takes place, usually, behind the scenes and even if it does, they can scrape it off and put it back on. Also, make sure to have extra frosting at the wedding to fix any mistakes that might happen in transport or assembling. Who is cutting the cake? That also takes practice.

                  One thing to keep in mind with different cakes is that they rise different levels. The first time I did it, I used an orange poundcake and chocolate truffle cake. The orange pound cake tiers were lower than the chocolate truffle cake. This is where it helps to do test cakes. I used this orange poundcake recipe for wedding cakes and it's really moist and very good. It's also very sturdy.


                  This was the dark chocolate wedding cake:


                  They were my go-to large scale cakes for a long time because both were very good, and already proportioned so I didn't need to worry about changing leaveners, etc.

              2. Wilton was very helpful for me in converting cake pan sizes, cooking time, amount of batter, how to tier, serving size, etc.



                Allow for much more time than you think it will take. If you're doing it at home, keep your refrigerator clear because you'll need the space for the cake.

                1. and get someone to help you. When i decorated the only wedding cak i made, a cousin and i poured ourselves some wine and she handed me stuff/filled bags/ cleaned spills while i was working. This really cut down my stress level and meant i was not washing my hands every five minutes. I don't think i could have done it without her.

                  And enjoy yourself. There are very few cooking projects that are as fun.

                  1. hey guys!!!

                    have any of you made the all American yellow cake from the Cake Bible using her nifty chart?

                    Can someone describe the texture. i am obsessing over it and i think i measured something wrong. mine was very soft and buttery (very very delicate crumb) and doesn't look like it would hold up well in a stacked system. it was tasty though.

                    i made another from smitten kitchen which she made for her friend's wedding cake. this, i think is a bit thicker but uses similar beating method as Rose's. The ingredients is not exactly the same but similar, yields very different result. Very interesting.

                    what do you think?

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: jeniyo

                      If you buy good dowels and the cake circles to rest on the dowels you don't need to worry how fluffy your cake is. If the support system is strong enough, it will hold up to anything. DH (phd in engineering) insisted we make a full sized cake , assemble and test for the same length of time at the same temp it would be at the wedding. I think the bride almost had a heart attack seeing it it as we had used it to test different ideas concerning colors/recipes/decorations and it really looked bad. She was very gracious and said that she did not care what it looked like as long as it tasted good. The final product did taste good and looked awesome too.

                      1. re: hala

                        Thanks Hala. My DH, (soon to be) Phd in Material Engineering suggested I bake and decorate the full sized cake and keep it at temperature for our dry run. The problem is that I have trouble finding a homeless shelter/soup kitchen that wants this cake, as they usually want canned and preserved foods.

                        By the way, we had a cake tasting last weekend and pick out cake flavors and filings. We have two flavors, one of them is a yellow buttermilk cake with mango curd and whipped mascrapone+cream folded in, a crunchy layer of almond dacquoise @ the bottom. Another is a chocolate german cake with a thin layer of ganache sandwiched with a thicker layer of Julia Child's chocolate mousse.

                        1. re: jeniyo

                          Sounds delicious! You're a very, very good friend.

                          You've had some excellent advice already, but I thought I'd throw in a few more tidbits I've learned.

                          The "simple" cake designs are actually the hardest. You have to do everything *perfectly* or the mistakes are really obvious. Level perfectly. Ice perfectly. Stack perfectly. Assemble perfectly. Decorate perfectly. Busier designs might seem more complicated, but it's *so* nice to be able to say, "whoops, the fondant isn't quite smooth there--no worries, I'll just stick one of the flowers in that spot!"

                          Straws, particularly bubble tea straws, are better than dowels for the supports. They're way easier to cut, and various PhD engineering types have assured me that the hollow column shape is actually more structurally sound than wooden dowels. Easier and better? I'm sold.

                          Do you know about wrapping cake boards with saran wrap (you'll need industrial size wrap, at least 18" wide, preferably 24") as a tool for torting? Do you know to mark the front of each layer's board, and the front of the cake board is on to make sure that you reassemble the cake in the same way you took it apart? Do you know the tricks for sliding the torted layers back together? You have to do it the right way the first time, or you're kind of screwed. It's a BIG mess and you'll probably break the cake if you have to try to push it around if you don't place it properly the first time.

                          Since you're doing a light and a chocolate cake, do all your torting and filling and crumb coating of the yellow cake first. Those chocolate crumbs get everywhere!

                          You know about crumb coating, right? Don't try to do the icing all in one go. Crumb coat, chill, then do the finishing layer.

                          Which brings me to refrigeration. You'll need to clear out at least one entire fridge, probably two for the project you've undertaken. There's a lot of in and out of the fridge that happens.

                          Give yourself days and days to do the work. If possible, bake everything and freeze it well ahead of time. It will be a full day of baking even with a double oven. Then defrost in the fridge overnight one day, torte and fill and crumb coat the next day, decorate the next day, deliver and eat the final day. There will be a lot going on around the wedding. Bridal luncheons, rehearsal dinners, etc. Give yourself WAY more time than you think you'll need.

                          If you've never done a stacked cake before, definitely, DEFINITELY do a full trial run. It's much harder, and takes much more practice than you might imagine to get a decent looking product. You've undertaken a HUGE task. Consider making just a three or four tier max cake, and a few extra cakes in the back for the kitchen to cut. That way, you can pick the prettiest cakes for the display cake, too.

                          A 6-8-10-12-14" stacked cake will only serve 163 (I use Earlene's charts http://www.earlenescakes.com/cksercha... ). that's a BIG cake for a novice, and that's assuming that the top tier will be served, not saved. Remember the limitations of your oven--is it big enough to bake a big enough cake for your bottom tier?

                          Not everyone eats cake. You will have a lot of extra cake if you make cake for every person who RSVPs. If it's just a cake and punch reception, the numbers will be slightly higher, but a good rule of thumb is to make enough cake for 80% of the attendees if dinner and dancing and normal wedding stuff will be happening. If a plated dessert is being served, even fewer people will eat cake.

                          You're using a soak, I hope? That really helps keep things moist and delicious when doing wedding cakes.

                          Ooh--if you're doing IMBC, you can make all the icing months ahead of time. Freeze it in gallon sized bags (I keep it in 2lb quantities). Let it defrost on the counter overnight, the next morning whip it up for about 10 minutes and voila, it's perfect again! The less you have to do in the days before the wedding the better.

                          Gah. There's just SO much to know. Live at cakecentral.com and read read read. Practice practice practice. I'm sure you can pull it off, but you'll spend hundreds of dollars in materials and practice materials, and you're in for more work than you know. I guarantee you, nobody will ever appreciate you as much as you deserve for doing this! ;-)

                          1. re: modthyrth

                            These are excellent hints. I wish I had that before the first time I made a wedding cake for that many. Even something as simple as the refrigerator space (we ate out the whole week) was something I hadn't thought about. Mixing large batches of frosting and batter, even with a kitchenaide, too far longer than I thought it would. And, baking time for large cakes are iffy and I was up past midnight too many nights.

                            How do you torte with a cardboard round wrapped in Saran wrap? I've never seen that. The best thing I've ever bought for this is from Pampered Chef and I've never seen it since, or anywhere else. It's two half rounds with handles on it, made with melamine. No more cracked cakes and it's great for moving bread, too. However, it wouldn't work with 14"+ cakes. Oh, I'll add one more thing--large frosted cakes are much heavier than you think they'll be. One more thing to add--if the cake is all tiered is how you'll be taking it apart and serving. It's pretty messy and hard to cut perfectly size pieces.

                            Since you're doing a thinner filling, also practice on making the frosting dam thick enough. There's nothing worst than waking up the day after frosting the cake and seeing the filling oozing out of the side.

                    2. I want to echo Toveggiegirl - I used Dede Wilson's "Wedding Cakes You Can Make: Designing, Baking, and Decorating the Perfect Wedding Cake" and was incredibly impressed. Not only are the directions excellent (& cover a huge amount) there are some GREAT recipes in there.

                      1. whoa!!! Thanks you guys for the super long response!! I already got plenty of volunteer cake eaters at the office+ friends+ mom's excercise friends etc!!