DIY Wedding Cake Question?

by DIY wedding planner on December 8, 2011


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I’m looking for a little input from brides who did their own cake. I’m having my wedding in October of this year. I started looking around locally for someone to do our cake as our caterer does not do cakes. My resources in my area are lackluster as I live in a small, rural town. I was looking have a mad hatter cake for my wedding and the only local baker want’s $15 a serving for the cake. Now my wedding may be small (60ish guests), but 15 bucks a slice sounds quite steep seeing as it will be a fairly small cake. So I was thinking of doing the cake myself. If done a couple 2 tiered cakes w/ fondant and what not for b-days with success. I’m just wondering what your time line was like for making the cake for your wedding day. And how ornate was the cake?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie December 8, 2011 at 1:25 am

Wow, I’ve never made a cake professionally but it sounds like you have some experience. You should just do a trial run and see how long it takes you and how it turns out. When I watch cake shows they seem to do the cake the day before and refridgerate it over night so I’d guess you should make it the day before. Good luck and congratulations on your upcoming nuptuals!

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Cathy December 8, 2011 at 1:33 am

OMG – $15/person! What? Are they are crack! Or, maybe the cost is so expensive because the cake IS made with crack! That’s gotta be it…and I live in Los Angeles and I think that’s high! (No pun intended there!)

Ok, most wedding cakes are frozen anyways…I don’t know if you knew that or not. Because wedding cakes are so large that it takes days of pre-baking, frosting, decorating…so I do not see why you could bake and decorate your own wedding cake. Okay, planning-wise, 60 people. A single cake mix makes one cake that serves 12 big pieces or 24 small. so I guess you’d be more than safe by going with 3 cake mixes (aka that would be 36 large or 72 small roughly) and if you are going to save that top layer cake, you’ll have enough. (BTW – when everyone tells you that top cake after being in the freeze takes like cat crap – guess what? They are absolutely right!)

Timeline then for you making your cake, I do not…at least probably two weeks before your wedding. So, bake your cakes. Freeze them. Decorate while they are frozen (not sure if you know that’s what cake decorators do on wedding cakes – decorate frozen). Put back in freezer. That way you can do a cake at separate times as you have time to do them over that two weeks.

And, I highly recommend from experience…make sure you pull those decorated cakes out in time to make sure that when they actually get served to your guest, that they are completely defrosted. If you have filling in the middle, it stays frozen pretty long.

And during that two weeks, you can do you decorations and put them on wax paper and put them too in the freezer and then put them on your cake by lifting them off with the blades open on a pair of scissors and setting where you want them on your cake(s).

For ideas for your cake, look at websites, look at bride magazines…look all over. And go into a cake decorating supply store and look at what other accessories they offer and you might get some ideas for that. There’s so much beautiful “props”, beautiful royal icing already made flowers, cardboard foil covers, edible glitter, and on-and-on.

I think you can do it if you’;re done cakes and especially if you’re not afraid to work with fondant.

Good luck!

(PS – Two recommendations for your success:

1. Don’t mix more than 2 cake mixes at a time in one bowl
2. Add 2 teaspoons per cake mix of fresh baking powder – that way your cakes are sure to rise to proper height)

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Kelly December 8, 2011 at 2:15 am

I make cakes on the side and I have worked in 2 and owned 1 bakery. $15 for 1 slice is OUTRAGEOUS! Where do you live?

Typically, cakes are $2-7 per slice is the “average”. I’m speculating that since its a smaller cake of 60 guests that they are making up the difference there, then say if you needed a cake for 300 people, $15 for 60 is $900! I have never charged more than $400 for a cake on my own, for the most part I do them as “favors” anymore.

Anyway, depending on the size and shape of your tiers 2 tiers may not be enough (if they are a 14 or 16 inch for the bottom tier you should be fine or the top tier a 12 inch and the bottom a 14 inch). The mad hatter style though should be enough with 2 tiers.

A wedding cake is a process though (no matter what size), it actually takes several days to make a wedding cake, if your wedding is on a Saturday, you would want to start the process by least wednesday. Fondant can be tricky and frustrating to work with. Or if you are good at working with fondant, you could start it wednesday then have the final touches to it on Friday (assuming you have time since you should be getting ready for rehearsal). I always start mine usually by Monday-Tuesday for a Saturday wedding for any mishaps or unforseen problems.

Day 1 – bake cakes, then add a “crumb layer of frosting to the cake” this keeps in the crumbs from and acutally preserves the taste (the thin layer actually keeps the cake from getting dry). Let the cake sit out for a day until the thin layer is dry.

Make the fondant, put any colors to it that you need to.

Day 2- Decorate it.

For fondant: While its very nice and elegant to look like, a lot of people actually don’t like the taste of fondant, I *usually* add a layer of buttercream frosting under the fondant because a lot of people scrape it off. Fondant made from scratch will taste the best, sometimes fondant made from a box – will taste like the box.

I know you say you’re from a small town, but nearby do you happen to have a craft store like Michael’s, Joan’s or Hobby Lobby? Most of them have cake decorating classes, they are usually taught by someone who has decorated classes for years and received training from Wilton. If they do and you’d like to get practice before the day I would sign up for the classes. This is how I got started in cake decorating, I took the class as a joke with a friend and discovered — I was really good at it! (but then again my grandma was a cake decorator for 40+ years). Wilton has a series of the classes, there are 3 series to it, and each is about 1 month long. I learned a lot in the classes (most of what I know today I learned there), then I good a formal class at a pastry school.

Other ways is to check on websites like Craigslist for cake decorators, by rule of thumb a cake decorator who does it out of their home is generally cheaper than a bakery since they have far less overhead expenses and much of the time they do better work.

A good website to use for help and how-to’s is http://wilton.com, they have many tutorials and projects to choose from for different types of cakes.

Edit: Most wedding cakes from a *professional* bakery are not frozen, they are made from scratch. Cakes that come from bakeries in grocery stores are frozen, they receive them already baked & frozen and then just add decorations to them. I would highly recommend NOT getting a weddng cake from a grocery store bakery, their cake decorators generally have no formal training or classes. Look at how sloppy their birthday cakes are, this is what your wedding cake would look like.

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Maggie December 8, 2011 at 3:13 am

Just make sure your venue will allow non-professional cakes to be served. It’s stupid, but due to health regulations in some places it’s against the rules to serve food not prepared by people with a license.

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lisaclara December 8, 2011 at 4:11 am

I really recommend that you take a Wilton class first and then do a trial run – serve the cake for one of your showers. Then, you can see how difficult it will be. I was going to make my own cake but decided against the idea because I was already making one of the entrees and the cake turned out to be a challenge. Skilled bakers have years of experience and can whip out a great cake in no time. Anyone else is going to make mistakes and run into challenges. You don’t need additional challenges. Then, you have to find someone who can transport it and set it up and everything for you. Don’t lock yourself in to making the cake yourself – have your bridesmaids help you or ask around friends and family and find someone who can at least assist with the highly detailed things like the frosting. Cake should not cost more than about $1.50/slice. $15/slice is an outrage. The only reason they get away with that is that it sounds like they don’t have alot of competition out there!

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HeatherCatastrophe2008 December 8, 2011 at 4:37 am

If do it yourself cakes are not your thing, try going to a supermarket. You can get pretty decorated sheet cakes and wedding cakes for under 200 at most stores. just look

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StickyWicky December 8, 2011 at 5:18 am

Baking your own cake is a great way to make your wedding more personal and to save money. I have found that researching ahead of time is the key. The best advice I found was to do a trial run. This ensures that you have the right equipment, the right ingredients, the appropriate amount of time to do it right, and gives you practice decorating. If you store your cake properly a fruit cake can be made a month in advance, a sponge cake 2 weeks, and iced a couple days before depending on the time of icing. Decorating can be easier and elegant if you use fresh flowers.

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