Stories from Your Wedding Friend - The Wedding Planner's Blog
It frequently comes up as one of those areas that seems 'overpriced', but there's more to making a cake than flour, eggs, butter and sugar. Sure 'everyone' knows how to make a cake, but do you know how to make the largest cake of your life, decorate it and then have it stay perfectly upright until you slice into it for the first time? Here are some of my thoughts on DIYing your wedding cake.
Absolutely if you're on a tight budget you're going to look at ways to make savings, and there's nothing wrong with that. If your only reason for not wanting to pay a professional to make your cake is a financial one you might want to think about how you want it to look. If you want a professional looking cake, you'll need a professional to make it. If you're happy with something a little more flawed or rough and ready then by all means DIY, but bear these things in mind:
So, I mentioned the 4 main ingredients for a traditional sponge from the Women's Own Cookbook, but that's just the start. A small homemade cake using a recipe book gives you the right quantities for a lovely small cake but doubling up isn't necessarily going to give you the quantities you need for much bigger cakes, especially over multiple different sized tiers. Working out flavours and quantities of ingredients all takes time, and experimenting, which all takes money. If you've got the time and want to get it right then go for it (I'm available for taste testing 😉). Get to know your local bakers shop, where they have all the bits and pieces you'll need to make your cakes (tins, decorations, cake boards, etc.) they may even have some of the ingredients you'll need like flavourings.
If you're attempting gluten-free or vegan recipes for the first time, do it plenty of time in advance so that you can practice getting it just right. The last thing you need is to turn up your guests noses with a dodgy tasting cake on the big day.
Again, start thinking about this plenty ahead of time. If you want sugar roses, do you know how to make them already, can you get them to the colour your want. Practice on a small scale. Figure out how much time you'll need to make them and give yourself the space to do them so you're not in a rush. Sugar decorations can be made ahead of time and will keep, so long as they're stored correctly.
If you're attempting a new decorating style, again practice ahead of time. Build up some experience so that nearer the big day you're less likely to panic if it's not entirely going to plan. Piping is Hard if you've never done it before, so think about ways that you can do this by cheating or maybe take up a class to learn these new techniques. Lettering by hand or using stencils, or maybe you're looking to sculpt some element of your decoration? Again, think about getting some experience and knowledge before attempting it on your actual cake.
So many amateur bakers fail at this part. If you've never had to make a multi-tiered cake, why would you even know what do to make it sturdy? If you're like me you might watch some of those cake TV shows and pick up a few pointers but it's not the same as having been through courses and studied about it, maybe tried a few options. I've seen people use things like straws to try to make a cake stronger, with some not so great consequences. Use your local bakers shop and buy the right thing, however bear in mind that a soggy cake on a flimsy base will still not hold up under the weight of other tiers if they aren't installed correctly or kept at the right temperature etc.
If you haven't got the time or patience to learn the new skills needed to make a 2/3/4 tiered cake then think about other ways to deliver that cakey goodness. Are you a demon brownie maker? Are you known for knocking up some stunning desserts? Go with your strengths and leave the more complicated stuff to the professionals.
However, if you are sure that you'd like to learn the skills necessary for making your own fantastic wedding cake then I know a few amazing professionals who can give you the necessary training and advice to get the job done. Because who doesn't want to hear 'OMG you made this yourself?? You're so clever' X