wedding cake, part 2

About 8 hours. That’s how long it took me to make the wedding cake, from beginning to mix through placing the final flower. It was a wonderful adventure that has left me immensely happy and satisfied.

Yesterday around lunchtime I started baking the layers. Two great tips that I got online proved helpful:

  • To prevent the cake from sticking to the pan, cut a parchment paper or waxed paper circle to fit the bottom. Spray the entire pan with nonstick cooking spray, place the paper circle in the bottom of the pan, and then spray the paper. I used parchment paper, and all the layers dropped out of the pans like a dream.
  • To help keep the cake layers flat (which is what you want for a wedding cake, as opposed to a dome shape), bake them at a lower temperature for a longer time. I baked the cakes at 325 degrees F rather than 350 and had to do very little trimming to flatten them.

I started with a 14″ chocolate layer. The recipe is one of my favorites: it yields a dark, moist cake that isn’t overly sweet. I made a double batch for each layer, which was the perfect amount. I wasn’t sure about baking time; it turned out that 52 minutes at 325 was just right to bake the cake through without drying the edges.

While that was baking, I made the lemon curd filling for the vanilla cakes. It’s a nice custard: easy to make, and plenty thick so I knew the layers wouldn’t slide while I was frosting the outsides.

Next, I figured out how much batter I needed for the 10″ and 6″ layers. My recipe for vanilla buttermilk cake was enough to make three 9″ layers, but I needed to make two 10″ layers and two 6″ layers. I’d done some math based on surface area, but it didn’t seem to me that I’d end up with enough batter. After filling each pan halfway with water and measuring the volumes,  determined that I needed to make a total of 1-1/2 batches. But because the batter contained baking powder and wouldn’t hold, I actually needed to make two 3/4 batches. Thank goodness for a calculator and for the fact that I measure things on a scale that has weight/volume equivalencies built in.

The 3/4 batch worked perfectly for the 10″and 6″ layers. They baked about 35 minutes at 325. When they were finished I removed the chocolate layer from its pan (hurray parchment paper!), mixed up the second round of chocolate batter, and put the other 14″ layer in the oven. When it was finished I made the other two yellow layers.

Finally, I made some extra-thick chocolate buttercream frosting to go between the chocolate layers, covered it with a damp paper towel, wrapped all the layers in plastic wrap, performed geometric manipulations to make them all fit in the crowded refrigerator, and got ready to go to dinner.

This morning I put the vanilla layers together with lemon curd and the chocolate layers together with frosting. Then it was time to generate 2 cups of egg whites — which, if you’re curious, took 13 eggs. The Swedish Buttercream came off like clockwork, transforming itself from runny goo to perfectly satin frosting so quickly that I didn’t have time to worry. We packed everything in car (including my mixer and extra ingredients in case I needed to make more frosting) and headed for church.

There, I applied a first thin layer of frosting to each of the three tiers, to seal in crumbs; Chloe turned the tiers for me as I worked. We put each tier in the refrigerator while I worked on the others, so the frosting had time to set. Next, out came the bottom and middle tiers. We cut 6 straws just a little longer than the cake was thick, pushed them down into the center, and then snipped off the extra length (which sent tiny bits of plastic flying everywhere); they would serve to support the upper layer, making them easy to separate when it was time to serve. Will, by virtue of being tallest, stood on a chair and looked down from above to ensure that I was placing the 10″ tier in the exact center of the one below it. On it went, and I covered the join with frosting. More straws, more snipping, and the top tier went into place.

Time to pipe. We decided on little round beads of frosting around the top edge of each tier, and little flowers of frosting all around the bottom joins. By the time I was finished, my right hand was cramping — that’s a lot of linear inches of piping!

I sprinkled silvery edible glitter over all the top surfaces (we decided the effect was rather like Tinkerbell applying fairy dust), and the result was highly satisfactory.

While I went away to practice some music for the church service, Chloe cut the tops of the flowers so they’d be ready to place. When I got back, it was time for the only nerve-wracking part of the day: transporting the cake from the kitchen counter to the serving table. That much cake is heavy, and we didn’t want it to tip. Our friend Malcolm lifted the cake carefully onto a rolling cart, while Chloe and I hovered around it, ready to make a grab if any layers tried to slip. We rolled the cart to the table, and he lifted it into place. Perfect.

Now, flowers, flowers everywhere, around the tiers and gathered at the bottom. And, of course, the lovely ladies on top. It was beautiful.

When it came time to serve, the layers separated easily, thanks to the straws. Doug’s suggested cake-cutting pattern worked perfectly: I cut a ring of cake about 2″ wide and then sliced off rectangular pieces. The quantity turned out to be just right. Everyone had plenty, the brides had lots of cake to take home, and we have some too.

All in all, a successful adventure that I just may undertake again one of these days.

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4 responses to “wedding cake, part 2

  1. Most comments went straight to Facebook, and all concurred with my own: this was the best cake and oh, yes, the VERY best icing I’ve ever tasted — and I’ve had many many years of enthusiastic cake tasting. Swedish buttercream icing has a texture all its own, indescribably delicious. It’s great to be the cook’s mother; she gave me a whole spoonful of leftover icing, and I am SO blissed out.

  2. It is an unusual piece of artwork that manages (1) to be gorgeous, tasteful and artistic, (2) to convey feeling, AND (3) to taste incredible! This one got a perfect 10 in every category. Of course, as Eliza reports, there are three levels of good: There’s “good,” “really good,” and “Tiffany made it.”

    It was amazing! I LITERALLY dreamed about it!

  3. My mother has been making and decorating cakes for over 30 years. She made Jim’s & my wedding cake and shipped it over 1000+ miles frozen (I assembled it on site, albeit a little crooked.) I know another way to keep your cake flat is to put a wet cloth around the outside ring of the cake pan (they make special ones just for this purpose). It somehow causes the inside to cook as evenly as the outside and makes the cake not rise up so much only in the center.

  4. Oh and of course BTW the cake was both beautiful and tasted excellent.

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