My good friend Christina got hitched this past weekend, and I got to have the joy and privilege of celebrating them in one of my most favorite ways to celebrate: making a cake! In Vermont! For 125 people! It was awesome.
Christina has been one of my biggest cheerleaders in even starting this blog- she’s been with Teaspoon of Ink while it was still just an idea in my head. But more than supporting my blog, she’s supported the person I am, and for that I am so thankful! She’s been a constant source of encouragement and wisdom for me this past roller coaster of a year, and I know others would say the same. Her fierce loyalty to the people and ideas she loves inspires me to be bolder in my own passions. I could go on, but if I don’t stop myself here, I WILL get real mushy. Christina, I love you, and am so happy I got to bring cake to your wedding in celebration of you and August!!! (the groom’s name is August, and yes, August got married in August).
This cake has been a project I’ve been working on all summer, researching, envisioning, Pinterest-ing, testing, tweaking, and, obbbbbviously, eating. Shout out to my roomies for patiently bearing with a freezer stuffed full of cake layers for two months. This is the first time I’ve ever made a wedding cake, and it’s been QUITE the learning experience. I would love to share the process with you all! For that, I will split it into a four-part series, so these blog posts don’t become overly cumbersome.
[Part 0 (today’s post): Planning ahead]
Part 1: Baking the cake layers
Part 2: Filling and frosting
Part 3: Assembling the cakes
Part 4: Decorating and final product
This first post will be quite boring, unless any of you out there are actually looking for tips on wedding cake making! If you’re not, feel free to skip the rest of this post and wait for the next ones, which will have more pics :)
PLANNING FOR A WEDDING CAKE:
My planning process went a little something like this:
1. Brainstorm cake flavors/combinations for the cake, filling, and frosting.
For Christina and August, a standard white cake seemed too boring an option- I wanted something different to match their unique and awesome personalities! I ended up thinking of something on my own, but these sites were helpful in getting my creative juices flowing. Plus, who doesn’t want to spend their free time perusing cake flavors??
2. Research decor.
Pinterest was instrumental in getting some ideas rolling. For the cake I ended up making, I kind of just experimented and came up with a textured frosting + flower garnish look, which I’ll explain more a little later in this series. However, if you would like to do something a little fancier, I will send you to some other food bloggers:
3. Determine how much cake you will need.
For Christina and August, I made a three-tier cake, with two layers per tier. The tiers were 10″x 1.5″, 8″x 1.5″, and 6″ x 1.5″ (first number is diameter, second is height). I also made two double-layer sheet cakes using pans that were approximately 12″ x 18″ x 2″ (4 sheet cake layers total). This is a lot of cake.
I estimated that the tiered cake (minus the top tier, which the bride and groom saved!) would serve about 50 people; the sheet cakes would serve the remaining 75. I think there was leftover cake (I didn’t check after the wedding was over); but it’s always better to overestimate than to underestimate!
Here’s a guide I found online to estimate servings: Cake servings
4. Gather your tools.
Here’s what I needed:
– Cake pans: 10″(x2), 8″(x2), 6″(x2), 12″x18″(x2). I used Wilton(R) brand’s pans, except for the 8″ ones, which were from Sur La Table
– Cake circles and rectangular boards (cardboard): I used 6″ and 8″ circles for the base of the 6″ and 8″ tiers, and a 12″ decorative cake circle for the base of the entire cake.
– Plastic cake dowels. These are important for supporting the cake tiers and preventing cake collapse!
– Frosting spreader
– Mixer (a big stand mixer would have been ideal, but I used a hand mixer and just did everything in batches!)
– Large mixing bowls and pot. The largest you can find.
If, like me, you are working around a full-time job, set aside some evenings after work to do the testing. You may want to strategize and focus on a specific aspect of the cake/cake-making per testing session. For example, I did test runs that focused on flavor, then texture, then assembling/decorating. Obviously, it’s best to be efficient with resources, so try to work on all aspects at once, if you can, to minimize test runs!
To do a full test run of the entire three-tier cake, I needed two after-work evenings, one to bake all the layers and make the filling and frosting, and another evening to practice assembling and decorating. Each session took 2-3 hours.
6. Identify people who will eat your test cakes.
Friends, family, co-workers, small group Bible studies, roommates’ offices… Usually it’s not really that hard to find people who are willing to serve as testers. It’s always helpful if there are occasions in which there are excuses for cakes anyways- I had a couple of family birthdays in July, and you know what I brought for those.
7. Plan your day-of strategy.
Because Christina and August’s wedding was a 4 hour drive away, I had to be a little more strategic in my execution of this cake. I baked the layers ahead of time, froze them, then transported them in a big box with ice packs. I made the filling and frosting up in Vermont (the wedding photographer helped me :)) the night before the wedding and stored it in gallon bags in the fridge. The morning of the wedding, I got up bright and early, and assembled the cake right on site! For reference, it took me a total of 4.5 hours to fill, frost, assemble, and decorate the tiered cake and both sheet cakes. Listened to some music and bonded with the facilities guy while I worked. It was so much fun!
So there you have it. A brief and basic guide to planning out wedding cake making! It’s a lot of work, but would I do it again? Oh, hands down, yes.