DIY Wedding Cake–The Foundation (Cake)

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!

Pan Servings Batter (cups) Baking Temp. Baking Time Icing (cups)
Round 3”
6″ 12 3 350° F 35 – 40 3
8″ 20 5 350° F 55 – 60 4
10″ 28 8 325° F 65 – 75 5
12″ 40 10-1/2 325° F 60 – 65 6
14″ 63 15 325° F 75 – 85 8
16″ 77 18 325° F 75 – 85 9



Pan Servings Batter (cups) Baking Temp. Baking Time Icing (cups)
Round 2”
6″ 12 2 350° F 25 – 30 3
7″ 16 2 1/2 350° F 30 – 35 3 1/2
8″ 20 3 350° F 30 – 35 4
9″ 24 5 1/2 350° F 30 – 35 4 1/2
10″ 28 6 350° F 35 – 40 5
12″ 40 7 1/2 350° F 35 – 40 6
14″ 63 10 325° F 50 – 55 7 1/2
16″ 77 15 325° F 55 – 60 9

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