January 5, 2011

Conquering the DIY Wedding Cake: The Beginning Steps


How does anyone take a break from the wedding blog world?!

So many blog posts to catch up on! So many posts needed for this blog!

But I finally finished Weddingbee's updates, and that's the hardest part, in my opinion. (Those ladies know how to post! So many 0.o)

Anywhoo, a post that has been a long time in the making, the wedding cake.

DIY wedding cake.

A gorgeous, modern, white and brown tiered wedding cake with modern roses.A three-word phrase that almost every bride runs away screaming from. Baking cake the day before the wedding? Learning difficult pastry techniques? Not going to happen.

But I believe it can be done!

You just have to find the right fit for you.

All options however, have the same three elements in common:
1) a great cake recipe
2) cake decorating skills and techniques
3) prep work a couple days before the wedding

But not all of these elements have to be scary or difficult.

Finding a luscious cake flavor:

A tasty slice of chocolate cake :)Now, everyone has different tastes when it comes to cake. Fluffy and moist is a good place to start, however I have found my family considers "moist" cake to be almost raw...and mushy. Not quite what I had in mind XP There are thousands of cake recipes and techniques out there. How's a girl to choose?!

Practice runs.

I know most are watching your waistlines, but the only tried-and-true way of finding the special concoction is to taste it. You only have to make one regular-sized 8-9in cake to taste it, and I'm sure you'll have family/friends/coworkers/etc who would love to take the rest off your hands if you're really worried :)

Also the practice runs will give you valuable information on how long it takes to make the recipe and how difficult it is to execute. If you have your heart set on a technically challenging cake, I recommend you recruit help, for the wedding cake AND at least one practice run, to make sure you have the team working together smoothly.

I plan on doing a fun winter cake to test my skills, so I will keep you posted on my cake recipe findings :)

Getting in touch with your inner Ace of Cakes:

Duff Goldman with many of his Ace of Cakes cake creations.No matter if your plans are cupcakes, buttercream cake, or a fondant masterpiece, you have to consider the fact that all of these need pastry skills. Know your limitations or take course to hone your skills!

Joann Fabrics, Michaels, and many other craft stores usually has Wilton cake decorating courses, which is the best way for the average bride-to-be to learn the pastry arts. If you look for special discounts and 40% off coupons for supplies, they can be more affordable. I highly recommend this if you have ANY DIY cake plans. So of course, I plan on taking these classes in the very near future, just need to check to see if it conflicts with the puppy's obedience school :)

At the very least, watch cake decorating shows on TV (there are TONS of them these days, and I adore them!) they do give out little tips here and there, plus you get to see masters at work, and I personally learn from example! Some recommend viewings are Ace of Cakes, Amazing Wedding Cakes (if you get the WE channel), Food Network Challenge (some are food, some are cake), Ultimate Cake Off or even Top Chef: Just Desserts if they have a cake episode.

My absolute favorite? Ace of Cakes!!! Total. cake. eye candy. :D :D :D

Cake Boss and Cupcake Wars are baking shows too but they're not my favorite. Too many other elements, not enough cake making.

I am extremely curious and excited to try a fondant cake, and I know I'm going to try this recipe, from Peggy Weaver's Baking Corner, which seems to be a very good source for wedding cake decorating and fondant tips and help. It is also mentioned that the taste of her marshmallow fondant is a bit better than other varieties! Tutorial to come!

Putting aside time for the cake...right before the wedding:

This is a fairly crucial element. Cakes can be done a little bit further in advance than, say, bouquets and boutonnieres (which should be done the day before or the day of), however if you don't have time 2 or 3 days before the wedding, the DIY route probably won't work for you. I personally would not let cake sit around for more than 3 days for such a special occasion.

Depending on the number of people you need to feed, it could take a good part of a day to construct your cake. The practice runs will help you calculate how much time is needed, but overall I would try your hardest to not make this a rushed process.

Time will be needed to transport and construct the cake the day of as well, whether it's putting tiers together or displaying cupcakes on their stands.

Well, I didn't say it wouldn't be time consuming XP

But for now, those are the beginning building blocks for a successful wedding cake: good recipes, some skills, time and planning.

Some of you may be thinking: "Errr...Sarah...you're not really helping". But wait! Hear me out. I have some clever ideas that make the whole thing a bit easier. And every bit helps right?