With the expense of weddings today, we are seeing more and more couples doing homemade weddings to save money. And making your own wedding cake can be a great place to start. The thought of doing so can be quite daunting, but when there’s a will there is always a way. Providing you’re a confident and complimented baker, making your own wedding cake can be a therapeutic, relaxing and creative pursuit which will also distract your mind from last minute worries and wedding jitters. Why not create an icing-less or naked wedding cake like we’ve done here?! They are easier to make with no need for meticulous perfection resulting in a beautifully rustic and super trendy showstopper! The imperfection of a homemade wedding cake is what will make it so lovable for yourself and guests.
But before you throw on your apron and get messy, read our top 10 tips & tricks we learnt along the way…
1. START EARLY:
We cannot express how important this is. Giving yourself enough time ahead of the wedding will give you time to find the best recipes; source the best ingredients; bake a couple of smaller test-cakes (we did three); and practise specific skills you may need e.g. icing techniques.
2: THE DESIGN:
Source your inspiration from somewhere. Instagram is a great place to start with that – just use hashtags like #nakedweddingcake or #weddingcakedesign. Start by thinking how big you’d like your cake which will depend on the number of guests you’ll be feeding. How many tiers will you want (or need)? Our cake was three high tiers (10” base, 7” middle, 4” top) and was more than enough for 60-70 guests. Each of our tiers also had 4 layers of sponge which gave the cake height and suited the naked icing style. You also might want to think about a colour scheme. What flavour sponge will you have? Remembering different sponges will leave you with different colours to consider. How will you decorate the cake?
All these things to think about have probably got your head spinning, but don’t run away yet. You want you wedding cake to look absolutely fabulous so it will take some thought. So it’s important to just give yourself time – another reason why starting early is important. Sometimes ideas come to mind when you’re not even focused on the task, so carrying a little notebook around with you or jotting things on your phone will help catch these moments of random inspiration. Whilst you’re brainstorming, you could even make a mood board of ideas. This will help organise your mind and bring all your ideas together in one place. This will help you begin to visualise the look of the final cake and keep you focused on getting there.
3. PLAN YOUR TIME:
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail’. When making a wedding cake, time management in the days leading up to the wedding is crucial. Our plan was as follows:
- 3 Days before:
- For our cake, we created some regal icing roses in advance. If regal icing décor is something you’d like on your cake, then we advise making them as early as possible. You could make them a couple of weeks in advance providing you have somewhere safe to keep them for that long. This would also be something you might need to practise if you’re new to methods of regal icing.
- 2 Days before:
- Make the sponges without leaving it too late in the day as you never know what obstacles you may stumble across. Then wrap each sponge in cling film to retain their moisture and keep them cooled in the fridge.
- If you have time left in the day, you can make a big batch of buttercream if you haven’t already. This can also be made up to a week in advance as that’s how long it can last covered in the fridge. Remember to make a bit extra just in case.
- The Day before:
- Prepare the filling. Our filling was strawberries and vanilla buttercream, so we brought the fresh strawberries on the day of use.
- You will then need to build each cake tier, layering the sponges with buttercream and filling. Always make sure you use the flat smooth base of a sponge for the tier’s top surface. This will help provide a clean smooth finish when icing the cake later on.
- We built each tier onto cake boards. For the bottom tier, you can build this directly onto your display board as once built it will be very heavy to manoeuvre. However, if you’re displaying your cake on a real wood log board (as ours is), these can often be slightly uneven and un-treated for food display. Therefore, we advise building the bottom tier on a standard cake board the same size as the cake and then putting it onto the log. You can purchase thin cake boards which would be less visible.
- Once your tiers are made, you will need to start with a light crumb coat of icing to ‘glue’ the crumbs down. This will need to be cooled before applying the final coat of icing, and then cooled again.
- Then insert your cake support dowelling.
- The three tiers will need to be kept in the fridge up until the cake is assembled. And it’s best kept at the location of the reception if possible to avoid any transport mishaps.
- You can also use this day to ensure all your décor is prepared and ready to go. However, if you’re using fresh flowers, they are best kept in water and prepared on the day of the wedding.
- The Wedding Day:
- Prepare the area in which the cake will be displayed ensuring the surface is level and sturdy.
- Assemble the cake, keeping the bottom tier on its cake board/ the display board and removing the other two from theirs.
- Decorate the cake with your choice of flowers and décor.
- Of course if you’re the bride, you might not want the stress of assembling the cake on the day. You can do this the day before providing you have the height and width of fridge space to keep the whole cake cool. Again, we advise this to be at the location of the reception to avoid the stress of transporting the cake. Alternatively, you get a trusty friend to do the honors.
4. THE SPONGE:
The cake needs to taste as good as it will look so finding a good sponge recipe is important and practice makes perfect. Many people like the idea of having a different sponge for each tier which is doable but keep it simple. Go with something you know you can bake with ease. A light, moist and fluffy sponge will go down a treat with guests.
5. THE BUTTERCREAM:
The buttercream needs to be a traditional Swiss Buttercream in order for it to ice and chill onto the cake well. We found Sawsen’s Egg Free Swiss Buttercream (SEBC) recipe was just fab! Check the recipe out here – it actually tastes like vanilla ice cream – DELICIOUS! One reason why Swiss Buttercream works so well for naked icing and piping decor is because it solidifies so well in the fridge. This is because its predominantly butter. However, this isn’t so great if your making your buttercream in advance and keeping it in the fridge until the day you use it. If you make yours in advance, you will need let it come to room temperature and re-whip it before applying it to the cake.
Sawsen’s Egg Free Swiss buttercream (SEBC)- glossy, shiny, perfect for flowers, icing, filling