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Best Type of Cake for Weddings?


Lauren
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I'm making a good friend's wedding cake for a late June wedding. My grandmother and I made my wedding cake, and I am certain that with the planning and organization I'm going to dedicate to this project, I can create the simple cake that my good friend would like.

My grandmother and I used cake mixes for my cake and, while they tasted fine (better than any other wedding cake I've eaten - I'm not sure that says much), I think I would like to bake this cake from scratch.

The logic behind this decision comes in part from the taste factor, but my main concern is ability (durability) to travel (the wedding site is over an hour away) and ease of icing. I'm thinking that I need a cake with a fine crumb - wouldn't that help with both the durability and the ease of icing?

She's currently deciding between a chocolate cake (not sure on the filling we'd opt for with this) or a lemon cake with raspberry filling and lemon buttercream.

I have read other threads about wedding cakes, about the best white cakes, etc., so I know how broad and deep the pool of knowledge is here at eG. If you have any suggestions as to what type of cake recipe I should be looking for or, better yet, a recipe you would suggest, I would truly appreciate it!

Thanks!

Lauren :unsure:

Edited by Lauren (log)
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there's a cake in the "cake bible" called buttermilk country cake or something like that. it is deelish and pretty durable. my friend and i used it for her wedding cake. we had a couple of huge layers and they held up fine.

you can zip it up with lemon zest if your friend wants a lemony cake.

my friend filled hers with lemon curd.

her parents still rave about the cake.

i also used it for another friend's wedding and made some with a partial substitution of cocoa for flour and made chocolate layers. i filled with raspberry jam and glazed with italian meringue buttercream alternating yellow with chocolate layers.

that was also a tasty success.

it is a pretty easy recipe to make.

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I noticed this was your first post (Welcome to eG!) and also noticed you titled this, "Must be stackable and must taste great."

Uh -oh. :unsure:

You don't stack wedding cakes in the sense that the weight of one tier ever rests on another. You use internal supports for structure; otherwise there isn't a cake out there (save an overcooked fruitcake - ick! ) that could even support the weight of other tiers above it. What type of support system do you plan to use? It should be strong enough to support stacked jello!

As for recipes....well, I'm sure we've got tons you'd like. But the most important question to ask is, what is your friend serving for dinner? The cake should complement the others foods served, not work against them.

Any ideas about which flavours she's leaning towards?

Edited by Sugarella (log)
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I suppose I took it for granted that everyone would read this as including an internal support system of either wooden or plastic dowels. I've used them before and understand the vital role they play in this engineering feat that we set for ourselves. :blush: So, yes, I realize no cake will hold up the weight of two or three other tiers of cake.

My question, really, is what the benefits of one type of cake over another are for weddings - is sponge, genoise, pound (is there such a thing as a light, not too dense pound cake?), or butter better for the job? What makes your choice better than the others?

Lauren

Edited by Lauren (log)
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Sugarella beat me to the main point of my response, and I see you already know that as long as it's supported properly, most any cake will work fine as a stacked wedding cake. So find a recipe you and your friend like and go for it. I personally prefer a butter cake, and that's the bulk of what I offer my customers. It's just a texture thing. I know lots and lots of folks who swear by genoise for wedding cakes, but I don't care that much for it. IMHO, genoise is fine as a base for thick layers of other stuff (mousses and creams and whatnot) and is perfect for a rolled cake, but it's not so great as the primary element.

I did want to say, though, that I loved this:

I'm making a good friend's wedding cake for a late June wedding.  My grandmother and I made my wedding cake, and I am certain that with the planning and organization I'm going to dedicate to this project, I can create the simple cake that my good friend would like. 

That sounded to me like the first paragraph of a very funny story written after the fact (and after the cleanup). I hope for your sake, that your adventure isn't anything like the scenario my crazy brain came up with. :wink:

B. Keith Ryder

BCakes by BKeith

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:biggrin: No, the craziness of baking my own wedding cake didn't actually happen for me. No crazy catastrophes. Moments of nervousness, sure, but we did a bunch of trial runs to work on icing smoothing techniques and cake flavor and filling combinations. The most nerve-wracking moment(s) were transportation - we took the cake over an hour away unassembled - and assembly with my soon-to-be mother-in-law (best m-i-l in the world, I think), husband, and sister-in-law watching my every move. We were at my in-laws' house where we were having the reception.

Anyway, short answer is that things turned out great! I've got pictures, but I can't figure out how to get them up here.

Lauren

Edited by Lauren (log)
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Lauren,

Your links are not working... hurry, I can't wait to see your pictures!! :biggrin:

Um... ok, I see that you removed your links... guess you figured it out!

OK, go to Photobucket.com, open yourself up an account, then upload your pics there, and then copy the URL to the space provided when you hit the IMG button above. Make sure your pics aren't too big. And, thanks to another EGulleter, I can pass this info on to you!

Edited by Tweety69bird (log)

Don't waste your time or time will waste you - Muse

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That sounded to me like the first paragraph of a very funny story written after the fact (and after the cleanup).  I hope for your sake, that your adventure isn't anything like the scenario my crazy brain came up with.  :wink:

Also, bkeith, I wanted to make sure you all knew I wasn't undertaking this task lightly - I don't want anyone to try to talk me out of this. :wink: I would like as much advice on any aspect of this process as any of you are willing to give me. Information is my friend, and experience is something I don't have enough of yet. :blush: So, I'll take help where I can get it.

Lauren

Edited by Lauren (log)
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I have a side question on the stacking for those of you out there who do this all the time.

I made one wedding cake in school. Came out very nice for my first try and I was pleased with it since I had done no construction before. Fondant coated on three tiers.

However, I had a @#** of a time trying to get one layer on the next without marring the surface of the fondant of the layer below. :shock: Thought I would drop the darn layer trying to be set down. :angry: Nerve wracking to say the least.

How far should the dowels stick above the surface of the layer? Is there a trick to setting it down? With the cakes that have flowers between the layers, I can see you have more leeway -- room to get fingers or spatulas under there. But my layers were to look like they were resting directly on each other.

In construction I used wooden dowels and cardboard cake rounds...

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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I still conside myself 'new' at the wedding cake game, but I'm learning with each cake that I do, and I know exactly where you're coming from. For myself, what I do to make it easier on me is to cut the dowels just ever so slightly higher than the cake... by that, I mean maybe enough of a height to be able to slip the spatula out from underneath without touching the layer of cake underneath. I find that this way makes it so much easier to stack. And it helps the bottom layer to not stick to the top. Also, I thought I would mention that I place my dowel in the cake in the middle, and then remove it and cut all my dowels according to that measurement, not individually as I place them in the cake, so that all the dowels are exactly the same height, and therefore I'm sure my top layer will be straight.

Don't waste your time or time will waste you - Muse

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I stuck the dowels in my cake where I wanted them, measured about 1/8 inch above the layer of the cake, pulled them all out, then cut all of the dowels the same length as whichever one was marked the longest. This way, my logic was that I would have a level cake that for sure sat above the highest part of the cake layer below.

Perhaps what I just need to do is get used to balancing cakes on spatulas for fear of dropping them, knowing that a grade or a bride's wedding is riding on it :shock:

I'm hoping for some amazing trick that makes you say "wow -- that makes it so much easier!"

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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I suppose I took it for granted that everyone would read this as including an internal support system of either wooden or plastic dowels.  I've used them before and understand the vital role they play in this engineering feat that we set for ourselves.  :blush:  So, yes, I realize no cake will hold up the weight of two or three other tiers of cake. 

My question, really, is what the benefits of one type of cake over another are for weddings - is sponge, genoise, pound (is there such a thing as a light, not too dense pound cake?), or butter better for the job?  What makes your choice better than the others?

Lauren

Oh, ok..... just making sure. :smile: Based on your photos of your own cake there I can see you know a thing or two. Very nice looking cake. Although I do have to admit the first part I saw was that creamy swirly base and thought..." Oh WOW OMG !!! ...." and then I realized it was the stand. Heehee :blush:

As far as preferences, I do prefer firmer cakes for weddings such as pound, butter, or other denser cakes like carrot, just because they're easier to handle and easier to transport, and will hold their shape under fondant and heavy decorations easier.

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I have a side question on the stacking for those of you out there who do this all the time.....  I had a @#** of a time trying to get one layer on the next without marring the surface of the fondant of the layer below....  How far should the dowels stick above the surface of the layer?  Is there a trick to setting it down? 

In construction I used wooden dowels and cardboard cake rounds...

I think perhaps a demo is in order. It'd be much easier to demonstrate stacking tiers without messing them up than it would be explain it. Unfortunately I don't have a digicam and I'm not doing a wedding cake 'til late next month. Any takers out there for a demo?? Otherwise, I guess I could borrow a camera for that next month.

The dowels should not stick up out of the cake, they should be flush with the cake. Reason being, the tier above will rest on them and the underside of the cake board will touch the tier below, giving it some grip when you go to move it, or if someone bumps it after it's set up. If all the cake board is touching is dowels it'll be very precariously balanced on them, which is not a good idea.

About wooden dowels.... I'd like to change your mind about that. Wood can leave a sawdusty taste in the cake, and can also create mildew inside the cake. Those Wilton dowels made for cake decorating are a culprit, so try to switch your dowels to plastic, or better yet use a support system that has plastic dowels that work with the plates. And definitely NEVER use dowelling that comes from a hardware store. Those are a pressure treated (ie: chemicalized) wood product. They're not pure wood carved down, they're sawdust and glue treated with chemicals to make them compact and hard and keep their shape. Definitely not a food safe thing to be using.

Also, I thought I would mention that I place my dowel in the cake in the middle, and then remove it and cut all my dowels according to that measurement, not individually as I place them in the cake, so that all the dowels are exactly the same height, and therefore I'm sure my top layer will be straight.

Yes, dowels cut all the same length will ensure a level cake above it, but it also creates problems with stability because you do want that cake board to be touching the tier below for grip. See note above. Instead, make sure the bottom tier is totally level to begin with, and your dowels will invariably end up the same length that way.

You mentioned putting in a central dowel and pulling it out to measure..... do you put that one back in its spot? Shouldn't do that either; it's an engineering thing. No matter how many dowels you put in, a cake will settle and try to rest all of its weight on the centre one, which will inevitably result in a tilt. Then the weight on the lower side will start pushing those dowels outward, and you'll end up with a leaning cake.

Instead, place dowels all around the perimeter but not in the middle, and the weight of the tier above will be evenly distributed amongst all of them. Hope that makes sense.

Edited by Sugarella (log)
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The dowels should not stick up out of the cake, they should be flush with the cake. Reason being, the tier above will rest on them and the underside of the cake board will touch the tier below, giving it some grip when you go to move it, or if someone bumps it after it's set up. If all the cake board is touching is dowels it'll be very precariously balanced on them, which is not a good idea.

About wooden dowels.... I'd like to change your mind about that.  Wood can leave a sawdusty taste in the cake, and can also create mildew inside the cake. Those Wilton dowels made for cake decorating are a culprit, so try to switch your dowels to plastic, or better yet use a support system that has plastic dowels that work with the plates. And definitely NEVER use dowelling that comes from a hardware store. Those are a pressure treated (ie: chemicalized) wood product. They're not pure wood carved down, they're sawdust and glue treated with chemicals to make them compact and hard and keep their shape. Definitely not a food safe thing to be using.

Also, I thought I would mention that I place my dowel in the cake in the middle, and then remove it and cut all my dowels according to that measurement, not individually as I place them in the cake, so that all the dowels are exactly the same height, and therefore I'm sure my top layer will be straight.

Yes, dowels cut all the same length will ensure a level cake above it, but it also creates problems with stability because you do want that cake board to be touching the tier below for grip. See note above. Instead, make sure the bottom tier is totally level to begin with, and your dowels will invariably end up the same length that way.

You mentioned putting in a central dowel and pulling it out to measure..... do you put that one back in its spot? Shouldn't do that either; it's an engineering thing. No matter how many dowels you put in, a cake will settle and try to rest all of its weight on the centre one, which will inevitably result in a tilt. Then the weight on the lower side will start pushing those dowels outward, and you'll end up with a leaning cake.

Instead, place dowels all around the perimeter but not in the middle, and the weight of the tier above will be evenly distributed amongst all of them. Hope that makes sense.

Ooh, some good points Sugarella -- safe to say I just learned something. I did put my center dowel back, and I get the engineering thing clear as crystal. That would explain the tilt that I had going on after sitting out overnight. Tilted dowels and all -- just as you wrote. Won't do that again :wink:

I also know about the wooden dowels -- both food safe and taste. But as we were doing it in class, that is what we had to use. I have seen the plates and plastic dowels (which are larger in diameter -- definitely a plus) and would use them in the future.

So, that gets me back to my original question -- if each layer actually touches the one below it, is there a way to get it on there without screwing up the fondant of the lower layer (other than practice). With buttercream, you can just go back and do a touch-up.

And, as a final note, after learning all this and now selling my own work, I can see why people charge what they do for the final product!

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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And definitely NEVER use dowelling that comes from a hardware store. Those are a pressure treated (ie: chemicalized) wood product. They're not pure wood carved down, they're sawdust and glue treated with chemicals to make them compact and hard and keep their shape. Definitely not a food safe thing to be using.

You mentioned putting in a central dowel and pulling it out to measure..... do you put that one back in its spot? Shouldn't do that either; it's an engineering thing. No matter how many dowels you put in, a cake will settle and try to rest all of its weight on the centre one, which will inevitably result in a tilt. Then the weight on the lower side will start pushing those dowels outward, and you'll end up with a leaning cake.

Instead, place dowels all around the perimeter but not in the middle, and the weight of the tier above will be evenly distributed amongst all of them. Hope that makes sense.

Great info, Sugarella!

Lauren, beautiful cake! But I have to admit my eyes immediately went to that gorgeous house! Wow! What a wonderful place to have a wedding.

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freddurf,

I wish I could say the house were ours, but it belongs to my in-laws, and, believe it or not, we actually just ate cake there immediately after the ceremony and a few pictures. There is a hugh backyard with a creek in the back of it, and we had a whole smoked pig BBQ there a couple of hours later.

A great day, and a fantastic party!

Lauren

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So, that gets me back to my original question -- if each layer actually touches the one below it, is there a way to get it on there without screwing up the fondant of the lower layer (other than practice).  With buttercream, you can just go back and do a touch-up.

Would be easier to demo this but I'll try to explain:

Make sure the cake board underneath your top cake is totally clean. It helps to cover in fondant, smooth and trim roughly, then set the cake atop a turntable which is smaller in diameter than the cake board, so you can reach underneath the edges. (Or an inverted bowl usually works well too.) Smooth again with excess fondant hanging down past the cake board, then trim the bottom edge with a knife sitting flat against the underneath of the board, using the board as a guide, so your fondant ends up being cut flush with the perimeter of the board. Smooth that bottom edge once again very gently in a down-ward only motion. Smoothing upwards will cause that bottom edge to curl back up and you'll get your crumbcoat all over the place. Finally, wipe off the underside of the cake board to make sure there isn't any buttercream hanging around down there.

Place a flat spatula on the cake that'll be the bottom tier, holding it flat the the cake surface with your non-dominant hand so that the tip is resting in the middle. With your dominant hand, lift the top tier from its pedestal over to the bottom tier and position it in place with your fingers underneath, one side already resting on the tier below, and lowering the side with your fingers down as far as it can comfortably go without smooshing anything. When it's in the right spot, bring the spatula up to meet the cake board and let the cake rest on that, slide your fingers out, then let the spatula down with the cake on it. So now your 2 tiers are in the right spot, but have the spatula you're holding sticking out between them. Finally, slowly and gently pull the spatula straight out. It might get some buttercream on the top, but that part won't touch your fondant so it's fine. And pulling the spatula out might pull that part of the fondant away from the cake slightly, but you can just touch that part back to the cake with your finger. But it's important to do that step slowly.

Hope that makes sense. That'll give you a clean bottom edge all the way around that doesn't need any decoration to cover the gap between the tiers, because you won't get any gap that way.

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Thanks Sugarella! I'm sure a demo would be easier, but the explanation was perfect for me. Very clear. For the most part that's how I did it -- with the exception of the spatula waiting on the bottom tier. Now just needs to come the comfort of it. Repeated eyeballing so that it is all centered, going slow and steady, all that good stuff.

What's that old saying -- Practice makes perfect! :raz:

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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For a light, not too dense pound cake with a fine crumb:

Use 1 pound each of eggs, flour, sugar (maybe less if you don't like it so sweet) and butter. Add 2 teaspoons of lime juice (we always use lime, but you *should* be able to substitute vinegar, and you can't taste the lime juice) after you cream the butter and sugar, but before you add the egg yolks. Then fold in sifted cake (ap is fine though) flour, one cup or so of liquid (you can substitute fruit juice if you like, and I feel it makes a lighter cake than if you use milk), then fold in the whipped egg whites.

May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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