Once you know what flavors of cake, the size, and design they want it is a great idea to do a test run. Test all of your recipes, make sure you are comfortable with them and know how much they yield. The last thing you’d want when making the final cake is to not have enough cake or icing.
6 in-Red velvet w/cream cheese filling
8 in-Chocolate w/caramel buttercream filling
10 in-vanilla w/raspberry jam filling
Covered in vanilla buttercream icing
Right now I am doing all of my test runs. It has been a while since I have iced a whole wedding cake, let alone a square one so I decided to do a test run. I chose not to test the actual cake flavors that I am going to use for the final cake because of the cost, so I chose to use cake mix. This way I would be able to check the over-all stability of the cake and my icing skills. And how long it would take me to ice the cake; which when you are a perfectionist like me, can take a while.
Here is a picture of my test run. This is not what the final cake is going to look like! This is no the correct ribbon and I ended up not buying enough cake mix to make all of the layers tall enough. I also didn’t have the right sized pans, I just cut out the sizes from the pans I had, which meant a lot of left over pieces.
That is an important decision whether or not you are going to cut out the cake or if you are going to buy cake pans. Are you going to use those cake pans again or are you ok wasting that much cake.
How to Set up a Wedding Cake
- Bake all of your cake layers, make all of your fillings, and make the icing. If you are cutting out your layers have your stencils ready (preferably out of cardboard). As well as other tools you will need such as: ruler, piping bag (ziplock bag ok too), round tip, metal spatula, bench scraper, 8 skewers or straws, and a serrated knife.
- Cut out the cake layers (if you are using pans, skip this step)
- Cut each cake layer in half horizontally and put the first layer on a cardboard square (or what ever size and shape of cake you are making, as they should be the same size). I recommend starting with the largest (bottom) layer.
- Fill a piping bag fitted with a round tip with the buttercream you are icing the cake with. And pipe a “dam” of buttercream around the edge of the first layer. It really only needs to be between a 1/4 in and 1/2 in wide and it is ok if it goes over the edge of the cake.
- Fill the “dam” with the cake filling. The filling should not be too thick, approx. 1/8 in thick. If the filling is too thick, the cake might slide around.
- Cover with the next layer of cake
- Repeat steps 4-6 until you have reached the correct height. I each of my cake layers will be 4 in tall. As you can see in the picture this layer is not 4 in tall. If you are making a standard wedding cake it is very important that your cake layers are all the same height, so check.
- If you are doing a cake where the layers are not supposed to be all the same height, then it doesn’t matter.
- Crumb coat the cake. This means to completely coat the cake in a thin layer of icing. This step will seal the cake and prevent crumbs from getting in your final layer of icing: do this using your metal spatula, as shown in the picture below. Coat the top of the cake as well.
- Refrigerate each layer before starting on the next. Buttercream hardens in the refrigerator so this will make your final icing easier. Complete steps 3-9 until all of your cake layers are done.
- Use your metal spatula, cover the cake in icing. The final layer should be about 1/4 in thick. But as long as the final product is consistent and no cake shows through, it doesn’t really matter.
- Use the bench scraper to smooth out the icing. Start just before one of the corners holding the bench scraper parallel to the cake, with a fluid motion pull the bench scraper towards you. Slightly cutting into the buttercream, just enough to make the buttercream even and smooth.
- Check to see if the side of the cake and the board form a 90 degree angle.
- If there are any gaps in the side, then fill in the pocket or hole with more buttercream and repeat this step. If you are having issues getting the buttercream completely smooth, try dipping the edge of the bench scraper in hot water before pulling the bench scraper towards you. The heat will slightly melt and smooth out the buttercream.
- Repeat this step for all 4 sides. If you notice that your corners are not nice and square/sharp, put on a little more icing and go over the corner as the pictures show below.
- Smooth out the top of the cake layer. Using the edge of your metal spatula start at one of the corners and lightly cut into the icing and push away from you, repeat all along the edge of the cake.
- Repeat steps 10-14 for each layer of cake. If you have to drive the cake any where. Stop here. Once at the location continue to the next step.
- Use 2 metal spatulas and slide them under the bottom layer of the cake carefully pick up the cake and place it on the cake stand.
- Cut 4 skewers or straws (non-bendy end) to the same height as the cake layer and stick them into the top of the cake, as evenly as possible. They should be level with the icing, not stick above. These skewers increase the cakes stability as more cake layers are added. Think of it as the bones of a building.
- Pick up the next cake and place on top the corners should line up. The cake that I am doing is going to be off set, so the corners don’t need to line up.
- Again cut the skewers and stick them in the cake.
- Pick up the next cake and place on top.
- Edit and fix any spots that may have gotten hurt in the moving process.
- Put the ribbon around the base of each layer. I cut my ribbon as I went. But it may help to have it precut, just make sure that there is a few inches extra. Just in case you miss calculate.
- If you are putting flowers or a topper on you can do that now. Voila, you are done!
Take a break, you deserve it. 🙂
Come back next week for the recipe for the middle layer. Chocolate cake with caramel buttercream, so tasty!