As much as I love baking sweet treats and making beautiful (and yummy!) cakes and cupcakes, I’ve always steered clear of saying yes to making wedding cakes. Something about the pressure of doing a wedding cake has always frightened me. It’s not like you can just quickly whip up a new one if something goes wrong, ya know?
But, when I received a request to make a wedding cake for a former foster kiddo of ours, I knew that it was time to learn the art of filling, torting, stacking, refrigerating, packaging, transporting and assembling on site. All things I was a bit afraid of before this—simply because I’d never done it.
Thanks to You Tube, and a few significant time-saving tips and tricks, I was able to create a special cake that the bride loved and if I’m being honest, I’m pretty proud of the way it turned out!
I wouldn’t say it was easy, but it wasn’t nearly as complicated or troublesome as I had imagined it to be in my head. And I learned so many things this time around that I can honestly say I’m looking forward to trying another wedding cake at some point in the future!
Renee is one of the few foster kids I’ve written about here on my blog. You can read about her in my post She’s Gonna Make It (The Blessings of Being a Foster Parent).
I was delighted to get to be a part of her very special day. She reminded me so much of myself when I got married at her age—the ripe old age of 19! At the end of the day she just wanted to be married to the love of her life and the rest of the details were just… well… details.
So she gave me some general thoughts on what kind of cake she wanted but gave me the freedom to embellish it as I saw fit. She wasn’t picky (which certainly helped my stress level), she was just grateful for whatever I could come up with.
And I was grateful to help make her special day a little more special! In fact, I was also able to rope in a few friends (an officiant, a sound guy, a D.J., some flowers for centerpieces and a wonderful woman who helped make them) who were happy to be a blessing to this young college student and her husband who is currently serving in the Army.
In addition to making the cake and the centerpieces, I also coordinated this wedding. That was probably the most stressful part because this was an outdoor wedding and the forecast for the day was rain. But, I honestly saw the grace of God pour down along with the rain because there was just enough time for the ceremony before the rain came pouring back down. Then there was just enough time for pictures. More rain. Then there was just enough time for the dances. More rain. Then there was just enough time to cut the cake before another downpour started.
Here are the bride and groom on their very special day.
They sure do make the cake look good, don’t they?
Tips and Tricks
- This video was very instrumental in teaching me how to properly stack and support the cake layers. I followed these instructions to a “T”.
- My cake layers are 10”, 8” and 6” double layer cakes, each cut in half and filled with raspberry filling.
- I used Wilton’s Basic Buttercream recipe. I did one double batch for the crumb coat and 3 double batches for the cake itself, as well as an additional 6” cake topper for their wedding anniversary.
- To achieve a gradient look with the frosting, I used a round tip to pipe one color at a time, starting from the top center and working my way down in a circular motion. I used the lightest color first then I tinted the whole batch of icing a slightly darker color. I repeated this process, piping a color, texturing it, then tinting the next color, adding it right back into the bag I just used and repeating the process again.
- To achieve the textured look you see here, I use a top-secret expensive tool. My fingers. Clean, of course. Once I piped a layer of frosting on I used my index and/or middle finger to create this messy texture. Ideally, you would do this with a cake decorating spinny plate thingy. I’m sure there’s a technical term, I just don’t know what it is. Basically, you almost just keep your fingers still and turn the plate, dragging your fingers through the icing. Slowly drop your fingers once you return to the place you started to do the next layer. Stop every so often and scrape the excess frosting that has accumulated up your fingers into a small bowl to use later to fix accidents, glue layers together and to cover the transition between layers once the cake is assembled.
If you are new to cake making, here are some ways you can lower your stress level by taking some shortcuts.
- Use some cool beads, ribbon, candy or other embellishments instead of frosting between layers. I actually got these ones from the upholstery section at Hobby Lobby and just washed and dried them before I placed them on the cake over a fresh coat of icing to seal the layers together. The fresh icing makes a perfect glue to hold these beads in place.
- Instead of fussing with making fruit or chocolate filling when you’re already stressed out about all of the other aspects of building a wedding cake, just see if you can buy some from a local bakery. I called my mom in a panic over raspberry filling and she gave me this priceless suggestion. Picking up some cake and donut filling from my local Mega Foods ran me $10. It’s cost in saving my sanity: Priceless.
- I almost don’t want to
confesssuggest this, but for the sake of transparency and “shortcut tutorial” fodder, you could always use boxed cake mix. I “ahem” may or may not owe the success of this cake’s tastiness to my friend Betty. Betty Crocker.
True story: Some friends of ours were providing music for the wedding and they were raving about this being “seriously the best cake they ever tasted”. I just grinned and tried to keep my mouth shut (my husband encourages me just to say “thank you” and let it be). But I couldn’t help but confess my secret. They were genuinely surprised. And now I’m confessing my secret to the world—he would be mortified! Sorry love!
And this is the real-life part of the Real Life Pastor’s Wife. I make gargantuan messes when I bake. As in, my whole kitchen is layered in a fine layer of powdered sugar. Frosting is everywhere and cake paraphernalia can be found strewn throughout my kitchen and dining room for days.
This is what I woke up to the next morning, my KitchenAid mixer, just as I left it. Unfortunately no cleaning elves invaded my kitchen in the middle of the night. *Note*, don’t leave pink frosting sitting over night on your white counters. Trust me. Not that I would know all about how it stains your counters or anything.
But the end result of seeing this cake come together, and of getting these two wonderful young people married off, was well-worth every bit of the mess and stress. Mission accomplished!