Hi everyone, today I'm going to talk about one of my very favorite things: wedding cake. (Obviously!)
There are lots of blog posts dotted around the internet on why you shouldn't make your own wedding cake, and I agree.
Of course, if you're going to spend the final days before your wedding running around between salon appointments, hosting out-of-town guests, or decorating your venue, then, of course, I'd advise against baking a cake in the middle of all that.
But for those who get married in, or near, their hometown, who have done all the planning and prepping already and are left with little to do in the last day or two, baking a cake (provided you enjoy baking of course!) can be an almost therapeutic, relaxing way to unwind, banishing any pre-wedding jitters and preventing you from over-thinking in those final hours – “Oh wait, did we order two vegetarian starters or three?”
DIYing wedding cakes is a trend here at Bridal Musings: not only have I baked for my sister's and friend's weddings, but our current editor Claire Eliza's mum baked our writer Christina's floral confection & Claire's coconut wedding cake, too (while in her swimsuit, no less!) And while it can be a little nerve-wracking (you don't want to muck it up!), it was so rewarding, and I actually think it would be less stressful doing it for your own wedding than a friend's.
It might be a little rustic looking, and it might even be slightly lop-sided. But, if you're a laid-back bride, with wedding guests who are as chill as you are, then your cake is going to be loved no matter what.
But before you stick on your apron and coat your kitchen in flour (I'm a messy baker!), read my top tips for baking your own wedding cake, without inviting chaos.
1. Be practical.
Can you bake? How much do you like baking? Do your cakes taste nice? Are they pretty? And are you a calm and confident baker? These are all questions you need to ask yourself before you embark on baking your own wedding cake.
The cake is by no means, the most important feature at your wedding. But if you're going to ruin the day before, (or maybe even the day of) your wedding stressing about how it looks, tastes, or whether it's raw in the middle, it really isn't worth it.
2. Keep your cake simple.
Don't think that just because it's your wedding you need to create something elaborate that you've never baked before, (each tier represents a native fruit indigenous to northeast Cambodia), this isn't the time to experiment. Use a tried and tested recipe and something that you know you can bake, and decorate with ease.
For my sister's wedding, I baked three tiers of my signature chocolate Guinness cake. Nobody minded that all the tiers were the same, no one even noticed! If you make a mean pie, a legendary macaroon, or a champion cheesecake, why not do that instead? Who says a wedding cake has to be three tiers coated in white icing?
3. Prep in advance.
Do as much prep in advance as you can. Even if you've made this cake 100 times before, if you've never made it in such quantities, be sure to do at least one trial run (your friends and family will be only too happy to test it for you!)
Don't leave shopping for your ingredients for the day of the bake, have as much as possible prepped in advance.
If you can do your baking early, even better, fruit cakes and biscuit cakes often last longer, so these are great for baking several days before your wedding.
4. Do it for the right reasons.
Only bake your own wedding cake for the right reasons. If you're doing it because you can't afford a fancy bakery one, either go without a cake (no one will mind, and many won't even notice!) or opt for a simple supermarket cake and add some decorations.
You could also ask a friend to bake it, or request any bakers among your guests to bring along different bakes for the dessert table.
Only bake your wedding cake because it's something you'll really enjoy doing, not simply to save cash or impress your guests with all you managed to do yourself – seriously, it's not worth the stress and hassle!
5. Enlist a helper.
One. Uno. Singular. If you'll have a house full of people in the days before your wedding, maybe clear them out for the day, or borrow a friend's kitchen for your cake prep.
While it's advisable to have someone on hand to wash mixing bowls or in case you get a phone call, having too many people hanging over you while you create your masterpiece, will only stress you out.
6. Clear the kitchen.
While I suggest you clear the kitchen of people, you should also clear it of clutter too. Our homes get filled up with stuff before a wedding, so no boutonniere pins, no wedding cards, and no last-minute DIY projects.
Having a clear workspace will make your bake run so much smoother. You don't want to realize too late you forgot to add the vanilla because it was hidden under a pile of ribbons.
7. Free the day.
Set aside a whole day to make your cake. Yes, an entire day of no appointments, no dinner plans, no “just nipping out to pick up…”. While you might be able to time your bake, you won't be able to account for decoration, and if you rush it, it won't look right.
I spent about three hours icing and coconut-covering my friend's Pineapple Pina Colada wedding cake. I thought it would take an hour, max. But when it's such an important cake, even the most laid-back baker can become a meticulous perfectionist.
Oh, and tip 7.5 – be sure to let the cake cool before you add the icing!
8. Do it with decoration.
If you're nervous that your bake will look amateur, remember that the key is in the decoration. Even if you missed a spot on the icing, once you've added your final touches, it will look the part.
My sister's wedding cake didn't really look “weddingy” until I added the Mr & Mrs topper, while the plainest cake will look utterly polished with some blooms on top.
It doesn't matter if it's Mississippi mud pie or a twelve-tiered sponge, add flowers, foliage, a cake topper, or a fancy stand, and you'll have yourself a wedding cake!
(P.S. look to the naked cakes and simply decorated cakes throughout this post for inspiration.)
9. Think about transportation.
One of the best things about hiring a professional baker is that they'll often handle the daunting task of transporting your cake to your wedding venue.
Before you assemble your finished cake, think about the logistics; whether it should travel in pre-built tiers, or as separate cakes, will a cake tin do, or will you need bigger boxes, and who will you enlist to do it?
It's perhaps best if you can drop it off at the venue the night before, and do your assembling then. But whatever you do, please don't travel with it on your lap in your wedding car. Especially if it's chocolate!
10. Have a backup plan.
Finally, even the best-laid plans and the most accomplished bakers have an off day, (I mean, have you seen Great British Bake-Off?). So know when to call it a day, and have a backup plan.
Know what grocery stores sell plain white cakes, have your local cupcake shop on speed dial, or whip up some fairy buns. No baking disaster however big or small was enough to halt a wedding (I hope!).
I hope these tips haven't put you off too much! Just remember to give yourself lots of time, and don't pile too much pressure on yourself and you'll rock as a baker bride!
Tell us, have you baked your own wedding cake – how did it turn out? Or if you plan on baking your own, what creations have you got up your sleeve? We'd love to hear about them!
For more wedding cake inspiration, browse our Cake Ideas board on Pinterest.
11. Consider the climate.
When it comes to baking your own wedding cake, the climate can have a significant impact on the final product. If you're in a humid location, your icing may not set correctly, and your cake could become too moist or even collapse. It's important to adjust your recipe to account for the climate and store your cake appropriately. For example, if you're in a hot and humid location, you might consider using a fondant coating instead of buttercream, which can melt in the heat. Additionally, you'll want to keep your cake in a cool, dry place until it's ready to be displayed to ensure that it stays fresh and delicious.
12. Practice food safety.
While baking your own wedding cake can be a rewarding experience, it's crucial to practice proper food safety to avoid any issues on your big day. Make sure to wash your hands and equipment thoroughly before you begin, use fresh ingredients, and follow the recipe closely to ensure that your cake is cooked at the right temperature and for the recommended time. It's also essential to take precautions when storing and transporting your cake. For instance, you may want to use food-safe containers and wrap your cake tightly to prevent contamination.
13. Don't Forget to Enjoy Your Wedding Day
Baking your own wedding cake can be a time-consuming and stressful task, but it's important to remember that your wedding day is about celebrating your love and commitment to your partner. Don't let the pressure of baking the perfect cake overshadow your special day. Take some time to relax and enjoy the moment, and don't be too hard on yourself if something doesn't go as planned. Remember, your guests will appreciate the effort you put in, and the love and joy of the day are far more important than any cake. So, take a deep breath, savor every bite of your delicious creation, and cherish the memories you're creating with your loved ones.
14. Invest in the right equipment.
Baking your own wedding cake requires the right equipment. Make sure you have the appropriate baking pans, a good quality mixer, and any other tools necessary for your recipe. It's also important to have a sturdy cake stand or platter to display your cake on. Don't forget about decorating tools, such as piping bags, tips, and spatulas. Investing in the right equipment can make the process much smoother and more enjoyable.
15. Get creative with flavors.
One of the benefits of baking your own wedding cake is that you have complete control over the flavors. Don't be afraid to get creative and experiment with different combinations. Consider using seasonal ingredients or incorporating flavors that hold special meaning to you and your partner. You could also create a dessert table with a variety of treats, such as cupcakes, cookies, and pies, to offer your guests a range of options.
16. Practice assembling your cake.
Assembling a tiered wedding cake can be tricky, even for experienced bakers. To avoid any mishaps on the big day, it's a good idea to practice assembling your cake beforehand. Set up a test run with the same equipment and tools you plan to use at your wedding, and make sure you have a plan for transporting the cake to the venue. This can help you identify any potential issues and give you the confidence you need to execute your cake perfectly on your wedding day.
For more wedding cake inspiration, browse our Cake Ideas board on Pinterest.