Make your own wedding cake? Are we mad? Not at all! Once you’ve mastered any of our Perfect Cakes you’ve got the basis for a beautiful wedding cake. No, you don’t have to be a sugarcraft expert, and no, you don’t have to make your own marzipan: there are lots of short-cuts you can use. Here’s how to make your own special wedding cake that doesn’t bust the budget.
Start with the Cake…
Since it’s your wedding cake we’re talking about, it’s advisable to have a couple of test runs before the big day. But what type of cake should you make? Historically, cakes (or loaves) were broken at weddings to wish the couple fertility and prosperity. In Rome they used loaves; in Scotland, oat cakes; but wedding guests always would take small pieces home with them to share in the couple’s happiness. Fruit Cakes have long been a popular choice – not just because fruit was the most easily obtainable sweetener, but also because it keeps exceptionally well.
So what are your choices? Fruit cakes, although your guests are likely to be divided on them, do keep very well – so the bride and groom can enjoy some after the honeymoon. They’re also solid enough to take layers of marzipan and icing, which is perhaps another reason they’re popular for tiered creations. But modern wedding cakes rarely conform to the rule book. Some couples have a three-tiered cake with a fruit layer, a chocolate layer, and a carrot layer; some couples have an enormous, one-tier chocolate or Carrot Cake; and some plump for a teetering pile of cupcakes or profiteroles.
If you’re choosing carrot, chocolate or fruit, you’ll find excellent recipes in our ‘Classic Cakes’ section. Bake a couple of versions and ice them in different ways. After a few practise runs, you’ll be able to decide on the topping – whether your cake needs marzipan and icing, two layers of icing, or a stippled Butter Icing finish. If any of your guests have food intolerances and you’d like to cater to them, consider a top tier of non-dairy or gluten-free cake (and be sure to make it separately from the others, with clean equipment).
Thinking about Equipment
Just because you don’t have a 3-tier cake stand, a giant rolling pin, or enough cake tins, doesn’t mean you can’t make your wedding cake. Most wedding cake equipment is available for hire in cake shops. If you’re making a large, heavy cake, you’ll need a professional cake stand to set it up on. If you’re creating a tower of cupcakes or profiteroles, you should be able to find a pretty, wire-work or ceramic cake stand online (try eBay) or in a local cooking or antique shop.
Icing Your Cake
If it’s a silky-smooth finish you’re after, then you’ll need a dozen packets of Ready-rolled Icing (or make your own Royal icing) and a lot of patience. Practice makes perfect… which is why many brides pay professionals to ice their cakes! If, after the fourteenth attempt, your icing is still rougher than the North Sea, don’t panic: you’ve still got options. You can make your cake(s) and pay a cake decorator simply to Royal Ice them; or you could consider a different icing technique. A textured finish is very popular these days; use butter icing, or roll up slim tubes of royal icing and line them up around the cake to create a pretty parchment effect.
Once it’s iced, you’ll get the fun task of picking your decorations. Whether you’d prefer a classic, formal arrangement of roses or a quirky clay couple, there are literally hundreds of options available. Online stores provide a wide range of toppers, like the passionately-kissing couple we’ve spotted over at Blue Ribbons, or the sweet teddy bear pair at Cake Toppers. If you’d like to decorate your cake with sugar flowers, you can either try making your own – not as tricky as it sounds! – or you can order them by the box from Jane Asher. Add some leaves cut out from rolled Royal Icing, secure with a little whisked egg white, and your cake will have a perfectly professional look.
Something a Bit Different…
If you’ve read Icing Alternatives you’ll have seen some fresh ideas for your wedding cake. Why not get creative, and design a cake that reflects your personalities or interests? Decorate it with fresh flowers from your garden (picked on the day), or ask your florist to make up some little arrangements to drape on the iced cake. Opting for sugar flowers? Scatter them haphazardly for a modern look. Topping your cake with a clay model? Order a baby, toddler, cat, dog or hamster from Marzipan World and put your family on the cake!
Or how about trimming your cake with photographs? For a really poignant design, choose snaps that portray your relationship: special holidays, your engagement party, mucking around in the park together. Upload your pictures to an online supplier (like Cake Toppers) and have them produced in edible ink on sugar paper. Then simply attach them to your cake – put little ones around the edges, or one big happy photograph for the top tier. Your cake will be a very special part of your day – celebrating your relationship in all its forms.