In a year from now, I will be making a wedding cake for my daughter. Why would I take this on? Purely for financial reasons. Wedding cakes are anywhere from $8 to $12 per person where we live and the head count will be around 200. I will be sharing my attempts via this blog and the hope is that I improve..drastically by this time next year. What I would like to share in this post is tips and tricks I have learned, and what NOT to do if you attempt this feat. You will have some money invested, but you can say it’s your wedding gift! This blog will focus on the “foundation”, or cake portion of this ordeal. You need to think like an engineer for this part.
Things a newbie needs to know about the wedding cakes:
There is a difference between “sheet cakes” in the back and “kitchen cakes” in the back. Kitchen cakes have the same construction and look as the wedding cake. Sheet cakes are a sheet of cake with frosting on top. Kitchen cakes are the way to go so everyone has a piece of real wedding cake, but they are just as much of a pain to construct as the real deal.
That top tier that the couple traditionally saves until their first anniversary? Just make an extra one and immediately freeze it so no one has to worry about it sitting out and getting wrapped up. I found this to freeze it in for the couple.
What makes a wedding cake special is typically (3) layers. A birthday cake, for example might have (2).
I have included (2) cake cutting charts for the day of the wedding. Back in the day, couples would enlist a friends or family members to do this. We will ask family members, because if we are too cheap to buy a wedding cake we sure as heck aren’t going to pay someone to cut it.
Instead of trying to cut the cakes to make your layers, just bake them thinner. You will need “cups” of batter so they come out even. I found that: 3 ice cream scoops=about 1 C and if you are using cake mixes, a typical mix yields about 6 C of batter.
I’m at high altitude, but the way I have learned to doctor cakes mixes: substitute melted butter for the oil, milk for the water and add a T of vanilla to any flavor of cake mix. I always get compliments on the taste my cakes and this is the secret.
You can wrap well and freeze your cakes after the point of layering, filling and crumb coating up to (2) months ahead and you can frost and decorate the day before and place in a fridge. (With the exception of decorating with fresh flowers–do that day of). Make sure your fridge/freezers are strong-smell free.
Use “cake paste” and parchment circles (order these–don’t try to cut) to release your cakes. Cake paste is an equal mix of shortening, vegetable oil and flour whisked together. Apply to your pans with a brush (not silicone) and get into every crevice. Then place the parchment circle in the bottom of the pan (on top of the paste). Just remember to peel it off after the cake is released (it is NOT easy to see). These cake boards are important to place your cakes on and they make them easy to flip.
If you have a tendency to bake cakes with “domes”, invest in a cake leveler or wraps.
I will use 2″ pans, so I don’t have to cut them when layering. You can use 3″ or 4″ pans and cut the layers as well. There is a baking chart for 2″ and 3″ round pans at the end of this post. My first attempt was a 2 tier cake. More on this later. Happy baking!
I’m so excited about these winter wedding favors. They were my gift to the lovely bride and groom. Check out below how to EASILY make these! A supply list is at the bottom of this post.
For the Hot Chocolate mix: You need 4 things–and it is SO good!
1 recipe makes about 20-30 tubes–as you can see, I had to go to Costco because was a big wedding!
1(6 quart box) powdered milk
1 pound box or bag powdered sugar
1 pound container of Nestle’s Quik
1(6 oz) package of powdered coffee creamer
Mix it with a slotted spoon–a blender would have been much quicker, but mine was too small for this recipe. You could also shake it all in a paper or plastic bag.
Use a dry food funnel to get the mix into your cute tubes.
Ditto with your chocolate sprinkles and dehydrated mini marshmallows. You could use crushed peppermint candies in place of the sprinkles too–that would be a little more Christmasy!
Put a cork in it:) I added scotch tape around the end to seal it a little tighter(I was mailing them as well)
Add on: You could probably make the labels but I ordered. I also got twine to tie around. We might add it later–they look pretty great as is. This couple used gold and burgundy for colors–so pretty!
The appreciative bride when she received. They were mailed. Also notice they settle a bit so fill them up when you make them! Make sure you let guests know somehow that with this recipe you mix 1/3 mix to 2/3 hot water to make your gift!
InkScissorsPaper and other sites have all kinds of tubes–printed, screw top, flat on the bottom or curved, glass or plastic. I ordered flat plastic. I wanted them to be able to stand up. They also offer many different sizes.
This is great for military or hunting. If you want to make it feminine you can use purple, teal, pink and white. I don’t like fondant, but camo needs to be smooth. Four colors (including your white) works great and you must use a crusting buttercream for the frosting. See my recipe here. This would work for a tie-dye look as well. For the cake, make four equal colors (you can mix chocolate and vanilla flavors too–get creative). Plop the cake mix by spoonfuls into your prepared pan and don’t mix. It’s random and fool-proof. I used Wilton Brown for the off white and brown colors, Juniper Green and Black. You can also use a VIVA paper towels to smooth instead of a paint roller, but it must be VIVA brand. I ordered the Army edible from cakes.com and had the Army men. I used dog tags but I’ve seen edible dog tags as well.
After your cake cools and has a set crumb coat, it’s time for the fun. You can pipe or just squirt out of a ziplock with the end nipped off. Bag your 4 equal frosting colors. Randomly pipe the frosting on your cake. When you are finished, use a clean foam paint roller and you have a perfectly smooth, camo cake!
Decorating–the fun part right? Not usually for me, because my frosting is usually buttercream-made with all butter, which tastes great, but is a greasy, slimy mess. This time, I was not going to deal with that. My aunt, the master baker of the family is very patient answering my questions like “Do I use unsalted or salted butter?” She found me a killer recipe for decorator buttercream. It was actually fun to ice my King Cupcakes.
2 sticks salted butter (at room temp)
1 white crisco stick –don’t try to use just butter flavored and skip the butter-flavored Crisco–trust me
cream butter first and then and crisco and blend together till smooth and fluffy.
Add 1 T of vanilla (I used regular and my frosting was still very white–use clear vanilla for a whiter look)
Add 2 lbs of powdered sugar slowly while blending–then add milk to desired consistency a teaspoon at a time
Whip it for 5 minutes until it gets light and fluffy
Put a damp paper towel over the icing that you are not using–I guess this can be made and sealed in fridge up to 2 days before–I didn’t try that trick.
The doubled recipe iced 95 cupcakes using a start tip with abut a tablespoon of frosting left over.
Now for the cake. This can be done ahead of time (up to one month and frozen. My secret to making cakes taste homemade is use a box mix, with the following substitutions: replace the water with milk, replace the oil with coconut oil or melted butter. Some people add an extra egg, I have found this not to work as well at higher altitude. (We are at 6,600 ft). I also add a teaspoon of vanilla–even to chocolate cake. For the King Cupcakes, I added 2 t of cinnamon per cake mix (dry) and 2 T of lemon juice to the mix.
This is the first of a 3 part series. I’m pretty proud of myself–it was an intense project for the DIY who doesn’t like to do it herself. Here is the back story: My daughter will be attending college at McNeese State in Louisiana. Her graduation party partner in crime will be attending University of Southern Mississippi. We are from Colorado–I repeat–we are not southern and do not celebrate Mardi Gras. So what do we decide for a graduation party? Mardi Gras…….I’m in charge of the cupcakes. I’m gunna slay these bad boys. The first step (what you will see in this post) is to make the fondant masks for the toppers. These can be made 2 months in advance and frozen. I’m a big time person who plans ahead, so here it is. By the way, instead of the traditional Mardi Gras green, gold and purple, we are going with the college colors combined: royal blue, gold and black.
4 C of FRESH fallen snow (use dry ingredient measuring cup)
2/3 C powered sugar
1 t vanilla
2% or whole milk start with 2 T but you may need to add as needed
Mix all ingredients quickly and eat right away or freeze. Can be frozen for a couple of days.
**My definition of “fresh snow” is about 1/2 to 1 foot that has fallen and has landed on a base of snow already there. Of course this is up to you. Kids will for sure eat dirty snow.:)
**Colorado snow is very dry, light and powdery. If you live in the Midwest or in the East, you might need more sugar, and leave out milk. If you just can’t get it right try granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar if you are dealing with dense, wet snow.