Test run/Setting up a Wedding Cake DIY Wedding Cake part 2

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

      1. 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.
      2. Cut out the cake layers (if you are using pans, skip this step)
      3. 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.
      4. 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.
      5. 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.
      6. Cover with the next layer of cake 
      7. 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.
      8.  If you are doing a cake where the layers are not supposed to be all the same height, then it doesn’t matter.
      9. 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.
      10. 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.
      11. 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.
      12. 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.
      13. Check to see if the side of the cake and the board form a 90 degree angle.
      14. 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.
      15. 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.

        Add more icing on to the corner before trying to fix it

        Take the edge of the of either your bench scraper or your metal spatula and scrape off the excess towards you

        Do the same on the other side of the corner

         

      16. 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.
      17. 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.
      18. 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.
      19. 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.
      20. 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.
      21. Again cut the skewers and stick them in the cake.
      22. Pick up the next cake and place on top.
      23. Edit and fix any spots that may have gotten hurt in the moving process.
      24. 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.

        Always start the ribbon on the “back” of the cake

         

      25. If you are putting flowers or a topper on you can do that now. Voila, you are done!

        Final shot of the test cake with ribbon and flowers

Take a break, you deserve it. 🙂

Come back next week for the recipe for the middle layer. Chocolate cake with caramel buttercream, so tasty!

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DIY Wedding Cake part 1

I am super excited to announce that a friend of my family asked me to do their wedding cake. I was very touched that they thought of me, and I am very excited to make my first wedding cake from scratch. I have done bits and pieces of wedding cakes in the past, but this will my first from start to finish.

So I figured I would walk you guys through my process. The things I am thinking about, the issues I have, and the things I am thinking about. And for those of you who don’t want to make your own wedding cake, it will be good for you to know what actually goes into making a cake.

Step 1 Basic Information

  • Talk with the bride and get a feel for the theme or the ideas they have for the wedding – This is important so that you can get a feel for what they are looking for/expecting. Because they are probably not going to want a modern cake if they plan to have a country style or an out door wedding.
  • How many guests they are expecting – This will help figure out how large of a cake to make, such as how many tiers
  • When the date is-This is important for design and color ideas. Also because fondant tends to sag if left out in warm weather. So it isn’t a great option for out door receptions.
  • Where it is-It is important to know how far the cake is going to have to travel, is it 20 minutes away? 40? Even more? This will also help you figure out how you plan to transport it, whether in your car completed but layers separated and you will put it together at the site, or if it can be stacked and transported. Or if you are lucky and it being held in your back yard, you could make it there.
  • Other good questions to ask-What time is the ceremony starting? What time is the reception starting/what time do they want you to be there? And of course contact information

Step 2 Cake details

Some of this aren’t necessary, but are good things to think about, if the bride isn’t sure what she wants.

  • Cake flavors/fillings-It is of course a good idea to give them samples to try but this is a little harder if you aren’t in a bakery. Also ask if they have a preference which flavor is each layer.
  • Icing/Fondant-Do they want a simple buttercream, meringue buttercream, or fondant? I do not recommend icing in cream cheese. It is hard to get sharp edges and it droops when it gets soft. Offering a cream cheese filling is a great compromise, especially if they want red velvet.
  • Do they have pictures for inspiration?-Pictures are a great help, but don’t forget to think about what level your abilities are at? Don’t go promising gum paste flowers if you can’t deliver. It is their wedding day, i.e. one of the most important days of her life.
  • Cake shape-Do they want a square cake, round, heart shaped. Etc Do they want it centered, centered toward the back, so that one corner or one side is lined up or off set?
  • Colors-Do they want to incorporate their wedding colors, or something different.
  • Fresh Flowers-Yes or no. If yes, where do they want them, are they going to provide them or are you. What kind? etc…
  • Topper- Yes or no, how big is it?
  • How do they want the cake displayed?-on a cake stand, on a platform? This of course depends on what size of cake they are getting

What my Bride/Groom wants

Basic info

  • Feeling/theme-back yard ceremony/reception
  • Number of guests-Approx 50-60
  • Date of wedding-August
  • Location-My parents house-approx 40 min away
I was going to take the day off of work. To prep but apparently it is a popular weekend for weddings because we are over booked at work which means I will be a busy lady. So that will create an interesting challenge.
  • Cake flavors– Red velvet with cream cheese filling, and vanilla with raspberry filling
  • Icing-Vanilla swiss meringue buttercream
  • Size-8 in, 6 in, and 4 in cake tiers. Each tier will be 4 in tall
  • Shape-Square, off set
  • Design-Simple: white icing, with black ribbon around the base, and hot pink fresh flowers.
  • Colors-Black, white, and hot pink
  • Topper-No
  • Display-Undecided

One last tidbit of information. When actually buying a wedding cake, plan ahead. Cakes are generally requested to be paid in full at least 2 months before the wedding.  Making an appointment and reserving your wedding date is especially important for a summer wedding or holidays, because it is wedding season and dates fill up fast. You could find your dream cake shop or decorator but they could be booked for the date of your wedding.

Of course things are a little different if you are making your own cake, or if a friend is making it for you. But still be courteous and plan ahead.

Gooseberry Pie

I was planning on making concord grape pie, but while I was at the farmers market I found out that they aren’t in season. Silly me for thinking that just because the grapes at the grocery store are perfect, that concord grapes would be in season. But thankfully while I was perusing the stalls I found gooseberries. To be honest, I had never had a gooseberry but I figured I might as well try them. They are light green veiny balls of deliciousness. Similar in texture to a grape, but tart like rhubarb but without the astringency. Gooseberries are very good on their own, better frozen, and marvelous in a pie.

I discovered that while they start out green that they turn more red as they age, as well as get a little mushy in texture; similar to a mushy apple. So be sure to use them fresh. But if they do start to turn on you, freeze them and eat them as a snack on a hot summer day. They are a great refreshing treat, just like frozen grapes.

Ok, so back to the pie.

This pie is awesome! I made a small pie/tart for the 4th of July celebration my family was having and it was a hit! Just about no one had ever had a gooseberry before but everyone who tried a bite loved it. I am definitely adding this recipe to my signature recipe list. I love that it is tart but not overwhelming and sweet with just a hint of warmth from the cinnamon. I also added half of a vanilla bean to the sugar mixture. But I included that in the instructions.

This recipe makes a 9in pie but this is a picture of a 6in pie/tart that I made for the 4th.

Gooseberry Pie

makes 1 9in pie

Ingredients

2 pie crusts

1/4 cup rice cereal

3/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tbsp cornstarch

pinch of salt

2 cups gooseberries, fresh, frozen or canned (feel like you can add more than that)

1 tbsp cold unsalted butter

* 1/2 vanilla bean scrapped (optional)

1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp milk (for egg wash) *you don’t really even need the milk*

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a 9 in pie pan with 1 rolled out pie crust, then *sprinkle the cereal in the crust in an even layer.
  3. Put the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla bean seeds (optional) in a bowl and stir to combine. Drain the berries if using canned, then *stir the berries into the sugar. Spread the filling evenly in the crust, then scatter the butter over the top.
  4. Brush the rim of the crust with the egg wash, cover with the second rolled out crust, seal, and flute or crimp the edges.
  5. Brush with egg wash and cut a few *steam vents
  6. Sprinkle with sugar. I used vanilla sugar, but sanding sugar, or lemon sugar would also be great options.
  7. Bake 15 minutes then lower the oven temp to 350 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 1 to 2 hrs before slicing. Serve at room temperature.

Tips and tricks

1. Have you ever noticed that when you cut a slice out of a fruit pie, fruit juice tends to pool and make the crust soggy? Adding a thin layer (about a 1/4 cup) of crisp rice cereal, or dried cake crumbles, or even dry cookie crumbles will soak up some or all of those juices. You can either add crisp rice cereal which wont affect the flavor or add something that will enhance it. Such as adding gingersnap cookie crumbles to a pumpkin pie.

2. The sugar mixture wont stick to fresh berries unless they have been washed recently.

3. It is best to brush the top of a pie with egg wash first and then cut steam vents. If you cut steam vents first then the vents are likely to be sealed up by the egg wash and then you get a sliver of egg in your pie.

4. It is always a good idea when baking a fruit pie to put a baking sheet under or on the rack below the pie, you never know when it is going to bubble over.