Q. I’m getting married this year and want to make my own wedding cake. Where should I start?
Charlotte White says: Firstly, let me offer my congratulations! Preparing for a wedding is the most exciting and crazy time so enjoy every single second of it.
If you are making your own cake, you will need to be super organised and have a proper day-by-day plan, which allows time for any mistakes. I made my own wedding cake (and this was when I was working a full time dayjob too) and I am not ashamed to say that there were a few tears in the kitchen on Wednesday night when I miscalculated the amount of batter I needed for the bottom tier and baked a pancake! Thankfully, I had sufficient ingredients in the house to bake again.
Sponge cakes will need to be baked in the week of the wedding in order to stay fresh so it might be worth considering including a traditional fruit cake tier, which can be baked up to 6 weeks in advance (saving you time nearer to the wedding date).
Work to a 3-day rule: A day to bake, a day to cover, and a day to decorate. My wedding was on a Saturday so I baked on Wednesday night, covered the cake in fondant icing on Thursday night, and took Friday off to pipe the decorations on the cake. We delivered the cakes to our venue on Friday night (where they were stored away safely) and I assembled the cake at the start of our reception, wearing my wedding dress, in full view of my slightly bemused guests!
If you are lucky, you might have a helpful person at the venue who will be able to assemble the cake for you (if you are having more than one tier) or you could rope a friend in to do it.
Remember that if you are having a tiered cake, you will need to insert dowelling rods into all of the cakes other than the one at the very top, in order to support the structure and prevent the cake from collapsing into itself. Alternatively, there are some lovely cake stands on the market, which hold each tier individually.
Abby Moule says: Making your own wedding cake is a big task for a lot of people so think before you start as to whether you want to be icing the final touches to your cake on the morning of your wedding or relaxing with your bridesmaids and letting someone else deal with the stress.
It is however, a great pleasure to have made your own wedding cake so if you decide to go ahead with it here is the best way to tackle the project:
Plan your cake to the final degree – work out a simple but effective design and make as many elements as you can beforehand, such as sugar roses. Consider using fresh flowers - allow your florist to decorate the cake with flowers that blend well with your wedding flowers, meaning you do not have to worry about decorating at all.
Give yourself plenty to time – you need to make, ice and tier your cake without being interrupted to deal with a marquee or catering. Depending on your cake, allow clear three days to make the sponge, chill, fill, crumb coat, chill, marzipan or ganache and then finally ice and decorate your cakes. Tiering should be done on the morning of the wedding and preferable very close to the final location of your cake, as moving afterwards can be tricky.
Find a recipe that is good in large quantities - your cake flavour has to suit the tastes of many and also be able to be multiplied several times to fill your cake tins without collapsing in on itself.
Hire or invest in good quality large cake tins, for a 100 person wedding allow for 6, 8 and 10” cake tiers.
Allow more – make more cake than you calculate will be needed, there is nothing worse than running out of cake half way through the guest list. Plus, you’ll want some in the freezer for after you return from honeymoon!
Consider your stand – this can be a last minutes panic if not considered beforehand. You will need a stand to elevate the cake and finish off the look, so get this ready in advance.
Enjoy the process! You are making the first ever cake for you and your husband!