I have done it: made my first wedding cake. It went reasonably well too. I mean, I would have liked the fondant to be smoother and I would have liked to have the confidence to make it more exciting but overall, it looked pretty nice. And the taste! Well, that was more important to me than the look and oh did it taste good! The bride told me that her mom is quite picky about desserts and had been trying to get the bride to tell me to “not make it too sweet” and stuff like that (my friend didn’t pass along anything of the sort – she put a lot of trust in me actually!) but the mother-of-the-bride was extremely happy with it and was thrilled there was some left for them to take home!
So here was the process (sorry that this post may be long – it was a long process!):
- Make the cakes!I made three tiers with the bottom being mocha flavoured (14″ round) and the top two tiers being chai tea. Now do you get why I called it my Tea & Coffee wedding cake? I had to make a triple batch of the mocha cake for two layers of 14″ rounds and a 2.5 batch of the chai spiced cake for the other two tiers. (Note: the 14″ volume is actually larger than the two smaller layers put together). I made the cakes on the Sunday before the wedding (which was held on Saturday), allowed them to cool, and wrapped them very well (a LOT of Saran Wrap!) and froze them. I knew that I wouldn’t
have time to bake them all later in the week. The baking alone took about 7 hours!!
- Make fondant roses. This is not something I love doing. In fact, I think I would just buy real roses in the future instead. These took around 8 hours to make! Since the colours were supposed to be red & gold, I made the roses in a couple shades of red. Overall I did like the effect of the cluster of them on the top of the cake but they are too much work and I am not all that great at them.
- Make the icing. This was where I became exceedingly grateful for owning a KitchenAid mixer. The cappuccino icing/filling for the mocha cake was easy enough but the Honey Swiss Meringue Buttercream for the Chai cake involved beating the egg whites for an excessively long time!
- Ice the cakes. This wasn’t actually as bad as I thought it would be. I thought with a giant cake it might be a little trickier but it was fine. First though I had to make sure that all three tiers would end up the same size. So I carved down the layers that were a little too thick and made sure they were level. Also, each tier goes on a cardboard cake base (basically you then ice to the width of the board and make sure the fondant covers it). I then put a thin layer of honey on the chai cakes and piping gel on the mocha cake to make sure that the fondant stuck.
- Fondant the cakes! I had bought Satin Ice fondant this time instead of the Wilton I had used in the past. It smelled delicious! I had bought the vanilla buttercream flavour and although it still had that weird fondant texture, it did taste better (Wilton is tasteless – just sweet). This was a little
frustrating as I wanted it to be perfect and I knew it wouldn’t be. Also, fondant attracts lint and hair like crazy and having two cats makes it incredibly frustrating! I did manage to keep it fur free though (I think/hope). After finishing the fondant, I covered the cakes and refridgerated them overnight (normally fondant cakes don’t need to be kept cool but it was pretty hot here and I didn’t want to take the chance). I had planned on making Royal Icing and doing some designs but I decided I could keep this first one simple and plain.
- Insert the dowels. Since the cakes are heavy with all of that cake, icing & fondant, you can’t just pile them on top of each other as the bottom tier will
collapse and buckle. Thankfully they make dowels for cakes. You can buy wooden ones but I opted for the ones that are basically like giant, hard straws. You basically insert them into the cake and push them to the bottom. Mark the side where the top of the cake reaches to and then cut them off a little shorter than that. Push them back in. I was a little paranoid so I likely used more than I needed in the bottom tier but it didn’t collapse! After inserting the dowels, the holes are covered with a little buttercream.
- Make the “topper”. Since the couple didn’t have a topper, I figured I would use the fondant roses on the top. I took some of the cake that was carved off the top of a layer that was too thick and made a mound of cake/icing. I wrapped this in fondant. Since the roses are made on toothpicks, I used these to hold the roses in place in my ‘mound of cake & icing & fondant’. It worked like a charm. Sadly I realized I needed more roses at the last minute…
- Stack the tiers. In the afternoon before the evening reception, I went to the reception hall early and set up my cake. There was no way I was going to try to move the cake already stacked! I used a large angled cake spatula to help me out here. It worked well.
- Wrap in Ribbon. For the gold, in case you are wondering, I wrapped the tiers in the same ribbon that the couple used on their invitations. I looked around for awhile looking for the perfect ribbon and was suddenly inspired to ask if they had any left over as it was the perfect ribbon for the cake. I measured it out and figured I needed a minimum of 250 cm. Well, the bride has about 270 cm left! It really was the absolute perfect length – I cut the three lengths I needed and had none leftover (but enough to perfectly wrap around)! I think it was meant to be 🙂 The best thing about putting ribbon around the base of the tiers was that it hides all the flaws in the fondant at the bottom! Best idea ever!
- Add the topper & other decorations! I put the topper on top and other people brought some rose petals and tealights to decorate the table. Step back so you don’t look at the imperfections so closely. And dim the lights – that helps too!
Rich, moist Mocha Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cocoa
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp espresso powder
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cappuccino flavour (or another tsp of espresso powder)
- 1 3/4 cup white sugar
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 3 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease cake pans and line with parchment paper. This should make a 2 deep or 3 thinner 9″ layers.
- Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, espresso powder & salt.
- In a 2-cup measuring cup, mix together buttermilk, cappuccino flavour and vanilla.
- In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugar until blended. Beat about 3 minutes on high until creamy.
- Reduce speed to low and add eggs one at a time.
- Beat in flour mixture alternatively with buttermilk/vanilla mixture. Start and end with the flour mix.
- Pour into prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean about 25-28 minutes (check it at 20 minutes).
- Cool in pans 15-20 minutes before removing to cool on racks.
- 1 cup butter, room temp
- 1 tsp cappuccino flavour
- 1-2 Tb espresso powder (make it to how strong you like it! The flavour will mellow a bit once it is mixed with the cake so make it a little stronger than you would think)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4 cups icing sugar
- 2-4 tsp milk/cream/water to thin consistency icing
- Beat the butter until creamy and light (at least 3 minutes). Add in the flavourings.
- Add 2-3 cups of the sugar 1 cup at a time. Add a bit of liquid. Beat in the rest of the sugar. Add more liquid as needed.
Chai Tea Cake (adapted from Sky-High Cakes as posted on this blog)
I like it pretty spicy and although I adapted this to make it spicier, I could still use more in my opinion!
- 1 1/3 cup milk
- 4 chai tea bags
- 4 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolk
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp chai flavouring (I bought this at a random tea store in Seattle… it is optional!)
- 2 3/4 cup flour
- 2 cup sugar
- 4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. cardamom
- 3/4 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease pans and line with parchment paper (2 or 3 9″ pans would work great! Of course the 3 pans would make for thin layers while the 2 pans would make for deep layers)
- In a saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Allow to steep (stir it around some) for about 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and squeeze out the remaining milk. Allow to cool.
- In a small bowl, combine eggs, yolks, vanilla, chai flavour if using, and 1/3 cup of chai milk.
- In the bowl of a mixer, whisk together all dry ingredients. Beat in the butter and the remaining milk. Mix on medium until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg mixture in three additions.
- Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Honey swiss meringue buttercream
4 egg whites
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
- In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, heat the sugar and egg whites. Whisk while heating until 140°F. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
- Whip the meringue by beating on low to start, until foamy, and then increasing the speed. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form and the mixture is cooled completely (test by touching the outside of the metal bowl). This takes about 10 minutes.
- Mix in the butter a few tablespoons at a time. Beat between each addition until the butter is fully incorporated.
- Don’t worry if it looks kind of curdled during the process, keep beating as it will come together at the end.
- Slowly pour in the honey while continuing to beat. Add the vanilla. Beat for another 3-4 minutes.
- To finish, switch to the paddle attachment and beat a few extra minutes to reduce air bubbles.