Is is possible for a novice baker to make a wedding cake? Yes! Where once a wedding cake was so complicated and fancy only a professional baker could create one, today wedding cakes have evolved into many forms. Some of these are easy enough for a beginner to create using basic tools and skills. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Using a cake mix is the best option for a novice baker. Cake mix is designed to succeed in a variety of conditions and will yield a cake that is easy to handle. Most craft stores will have professional cake pans with straight sides, which are highly recommended. Yellow and chocolate cakes are popular, so don’t think you need to stick to white cake just because it’s for a wedding. Frost your cake with delicious homemade buttercream frosting. Find the recipe here:
To find a cake you like that might be possible to DIY, start by looking at cakes you see online or in a bakery or magazine that have the following characteristics:
- Consider a cake with a limited number of tiers, perhaps only one, two, or three at the most, depending upon how many people you need to serve. Keep in mind that you can always serve more cake from an additional sheet cake with the same flavors.
- Frosting a cake in a “rough” pattern is very popular and easy to do. Basically, it’s the same as the party cakes we all grew up with. A thick layer of buttercream is applied to the cake with a vertical, horizontal, or random swirled pattern.
- Using fresh flowers on the cake is easy, beautiful, and a good way to use extra flowers from your bouquets or flowers with shorter or broken stems. With a garden of fresh flowers on the cake there is no need for fancy icing decorations.
(Left) This is a chocolate cake with mint frosting, decorated with fresh flowers and a twig wreath at the base. It consists of a 10-inch base tier with a 6-inch top tier. This cake should serve about 42 people.
After you have baked your cakes, level the tops if they are very domed using a serrated knife and the sides of the pan as a guide. To support the weight of the tiers on top, the base cake should have four or five wooden dowels inserted into the cake, but if you stick to a cake like the ones shown here, with only a small 6-inch top tier, this will not be necessary.
The first step in frosting a cake is to brush away any loose crumbs with your hands or a soft pastry brush. Two layers of cake are put together to form a “tier.” To start, smear some frosting onto your base plate (for the largest tier) or onto a foil-covered cake cardboard circle (available at craft stores) for the smaller tiers; then place the bottom cake layer cake cut side down. The frosting will hold it in place. Frost the top of the bottom layer and place the other layer on top, again with the cut side down.
Then you will apply a thin coating of frosting known as the “crumb coat” all over the cake. To do this, thin some frosting with a few drops of milk. After the cake is sealed with this thin layer of frosting, put it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to set up. As one cake is chilling, work on the next.
To continue, mound frosting on top of the cake and direct it down the sides of the cake using a small bent handle metal spatula. Frosting should be applied generously using vertical strokes around the cake for this step.
After the cake has had several layers of frosting you can begin to smooth the sides of the cake with a large metal spatula. To get a really smooth finish, dip your spatula into hot water, then wipe it off an quickly go over the cake. The heat will iron out most of the imperfections. You can keep adding layers of frosting until you are satisfied with results.
One secret to frosting a cake is to really pile on the frosting. Each time you smooth you will be removing the excess. If you want a rough frosting, swirl the frosting into pretty designs with the back of a spoon. Or you can also use a round-tip knife and go around the cake to make horizontal bands in the frosting, even diagonal lines, as shown on the lilac cake. Adding fresh flowers makes a rustic cake look really special.