So you love to bake. Your friends and family tell you your specialty is cakes. Before you commit to making your own wedding cake, here are a few tips to consider that will make your creation a big success.
The Victorian love of neo-Gothic colonnaded buildings helped create the style of today's tiered wedding cakes, and the trend toward elaborate, decorated cakes continues even though there are changes in flavors and colors.
The earliest known wedding cakes were unsweetened loaves of barley or wheat, but later the tradition changed to small, coarse, biscuit cakes and then, in Anglo-Saxon England, to sweetened buns. Later the buns were joined together with icing to form a large cake topped by miniatures and figurines.
Then, much later, the lower part of the cake, a dark, substantial, fruitcake, was called the groom's cake, while above it a lighter cake with spun sugar and ornaments was known as the bride's cake.
Multi-tiered cakes are one of the most exciting products in the cake decorating pantheon. The tradition of sharing a cake at weddings has been around for hundreds of years, and today's weddings still emphasize the importance of a multi-tiered cake.
Many decorators are nervous about putting together their first wedding cake. Some decorators look at all the tiers and decide they couldn't put one together. After all, no one wants to ruin a cake as important as a wedding cake. But with adequate training, all decorators can decorate wedding cakes.
A multi-tiered cake is a work of both art and architecture, whether it's two tiers or 20. Whatever the design, support for the upper tiers is crucial.
To begin building the cake, we must have a strong support base. The heavier the cake, the stronger the bottom board must be. Some bakeries stock plywood boards cut into the correct size of the bottom board. If you're using cardboard circles, staple or glue two or three together.
The bottom board, which will display and transport the cake, should be 4 inches larger than the bottom tier. This will allow room for a 2 inch lace ribbon to encircle the bottom tier. The extra room also will allow easier handling during delivery.
Normally, each tier is two layers high with some type of filling; butter-cream is a popular choice. Fill and ice each tier on a cardboard circle matching its cake size. For example, place an 8 inch cake on an 8 inch circle.
Proper icing is of utmost importance. All the tiers must be the same height, with the top edges straight and even. The sides and top must be smooth and evenly covered, with no cake showing through. Don't be stingy with the butter-cream, as the cake absorbs some of it as it sits. Too little icing will let the cake show through. These dark shadows are very unattractive, especially in wedding pictures.
For a quick finish on the icing that provides an attractive background with little extra fuss, use a comb. It's easier to smooth the sides with a comb if you use a turntable to keep a nice, steady motion going. That way, you won't show many marks of stopping and starting again.
Because many wedding cakes are delivered during the hot months of spring and summer, the type of butter-cream you use is important. If your butter-cream icing is too soft, it may melt or slide off your cake. You may need to adjust the type of butter-cream you use, depending on the weather in which the cake is to be delivered.
Finally, if you do decide to make you own wedding cake, heed one word of advice: practice! You may have to make several practice cakes before you are confident enough to try this for your big day.
L Hayes is a wedding professional and owner of Wedding Favors Emporium. They carry an extensive line of unique wedding favors as well as bridesmaid gifts, groomsmen gifts, and bridal shower gifts. For more information about wedding planning and wedding reception ideas, visit their website at: WeddingFavorsEmporium.com
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