Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My First Wedding Cake

wedding cake-done

This wasn't a commissioned cake, just something I wanted to do. Part, "Oh, goody. An excuse to try a tiered cake," and part "I'm pretty sure the happy couple won't have a cake, so at least they'll have this, however imperfect it might turn out."

Wedding cake-overhead

See, we were surprised by a phone call Tuesday night, letting us know that our engaged friends were getting married on Saturday. As in 4 days away. Wow! I knew they'd be dashing around getting the "have tos" done, and that a cake wouldn't be one of them. So I looked around for some decorating ideas and decided to give it a shot. I already knew what kind of cake, so that was set. (And I had the very good sense to nix my idea of using fondant. I've never used it before and this was NOT the time to experiment!)

1-2-3-4 Cake
You've seen this one before. It's my go-to cake recipe.
Adapted from Paula Deen
A delicious, easy, all-purpose yellow cake that stays nice and moist.

1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 cups self-rising flour*, sifted
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup milk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp butter flavoring
*An easy substitute for self-rising flour is to add 1-1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt for EACH cup of flour. That's what I did.

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  • Grease and flour 1 9-inch cake pan and 1 6-inch pan. Here's how! On parchment paper, trace around the bottom of each pan and trim just inside the line. Spray pan with cooking spray, then line with trimmed parchment. Spray again, making sure to coat entire pan. You can smooth it out with a pastry brush if you want. Then sprinkle with flour, tapping the edge of the pan with the heel of one hand as you rotate the pan with the other. This ensures that the flour is evenly distributed over the entire surface. Don't skip this step. You'll be sorry - trust me!
  • Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. This will take a few minutes. Scrape the bowl and continue mixing.
  • Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes, scraping down the bowl a couple of times to make sure it's all getting mixed in and fluffy.
  • Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape.
  • Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour.
  • Add vanilla and butter flavoring and continue to beat until just mixed. 
  • Scoop 2 generous cups of batter into the 6-inch pan. Fill the 9" with remaining batter. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4 inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until done. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Run knife along edge of pan and invert cakes onto cooling racks lined with plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour prior to decorating, overnight would be good, too. Frozen cakes are MUCH easier to cut and decorate.
wedding cake-frozen layers
wedding cake-split layer

The Best Buttercream Frosting EVER
Seriously, this stuff is amazing. It frosts beautifully and isn't too sweet. If you've checked out Tasty Kitchen lately, you'll see that PW and others are gushing over this one, too. It's slightly different process, but same ingredients and end result.

1 cup sugar
6 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1 cup butter (2 sticks) {Do NOT use butter that has been frozen - it won't whip up properly}
1 tsp vanilla extract (you could use any flavoring you want)

  • Measure sugar and flour into a medium sauce pan. Whisk together to incorporate the flour into the sugar. This makes it easier to dissolve. Add milk to pan and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. It will seem like nothing is going to happen, when all of the sudden, it thickens up. Cook for just a few minutes after it begins to set up. Keep stirring; you don't want it to burn-and it will.
  • Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  • Once cooled, add vanilla and combine with butter in large mixing bowl or stand mixer and whip like crazy (use whisk attachment). Beat for at least 5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Use immediately. It can be kept in the fridge, but it hardens considerably and will need to warm up a bit before being spreadable.
 wedding cake-crumb coat
I made a single batch of The Best Buttercream Frosting EVER. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Not the frosting — that's still the best. I CLEARLY needed to double the recipe. Something I realized way too late to make more. So, I had to make a more traditional buttercream:

Basic Buttercream Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
about 1/4 cup milk, whipping cream or half and half (Adjust amount for correct consistency. If you get heavy-handed and add too much, just add more sugar until you get it right.)

This cake has a wonderful surprise—raspberry buttercream filling. And it's SO easy to make. Take some of your Best Buttercream Frosting EVER and add THIS to it:
solo raspberry filling

For one batch of frosting, add the entire can. I made mine super concentrated and added about 3/4 can to half a batch of frosting. This works great as filling OR as regular on the outside of the cake frosting. Trust me, you'll love this. I got the recipe from a woman at work who's cakes are the stuff of legend. Everyone loved the raspberry filled cakes.

raspberry filling
raspberry filling mixed

I'm no expert. I'm not even a good novice. I'm a tiered cake virgin, so I'm not going to attempt to tell YOU how to make a wedding cake. Instead, here are some progress pictures and a few notes on what I did.

wedding cake-foil wrap
This was for the 6" top tier. I cut down a 10" cardboard cake round to size and wrapped it in foil per the directions on the back of the cake rounds package.

wedding cake-filling layer
Piping a ring of plain buttercream around the edge of the layer keeps the filling in check and from squishing out the sides.
wedding cake-sm stacked
dowel cut
Because the top layer needs something to keep it from squishing the bottom layer, you use dowels. Cut to size using garden shears or similar tool.

wedding cake-dowels in
I lightly rested the empty 6" cake pan on the 9" bottom layer and marked the edges to keep the dowels in the right place.

These are "crumb coated" and have been in the fridge a few minutes to set the icing. Longer would have been better. I left them in the fridge while I whipped up the basic buttercream.

wedding cake-2tiers-1

Quick tip: quickly bring butter to room temperature buy cutting it in small pieces. Better than microwaving because you don't want to risk melting it. Melting = not good.
butter on plate

After covering the entire cake with the basic buttercream, I added the super cute ribbon, then pipied small dots around all of the edges.

wedding cake-2tiers-ribbon only

When I picked up the ribbon, I also got a pick of fake hydrangeas. Nothing fancy, just a $3 pick at Walmart.

wedding cake-flower topper1
wedding cake flower topper-close

I cut one complete clump and stuck it in the top, but it needed filling in. I cut up another clump...
wedding cake-cutting flowers

And filled in around the exposed areas...
wedding cake flower top-filled in
Much better!
Then I added some single flowers around the second layer and called it good.

wedding cake-angle

I'm SO glad I picked up those flowers on a whim. I figured some sort of topper would be nice, but I didn't count on it distracting from the multitude of imperfections on the cake. If you stepped back and squinted, the cake looked pretty good. About half way through this whole process, I tweeted that this was going to be an "it's the thought that counts" kind of cake. Fortunately, it turned out nicely despite icing issues and my inexperience. Guess I just need to practice my decorating skills some more. I think I can find volunteers to eat the results.

Congratulations, David and Amy!


  1. ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!!!! Good for you! I've been terrified to try baking something fancy like a wedding cake. Wow, this is just lovely! And hey....I'm getting married in November.....?

  2. I think the end result look fabulous. wonderful job and you're a great friend!

  3. I love it! The flowers and the ribbon add the perfect touch and it is so pretty. Great job!

  4. Tina- Thank you so much. RE: November. I've shipped cookies before, but a cake... ;) BTW, congratulations!

    pookiepantry - Thank you! What a nice compliment!

  5. That has to be one of the prettiest first wedding cakes I have ever seen. I am quite impressed (and have to try that cake recipe!)

    And hey - I'm already married, but we could renew our vows... have a schmancy ceremony if you'd make us a cake that pretty :)

  6. Wow, you did an amazing job. Wow. The cake looks gorgeous. I'm so glad you posted process photos, too.

  7. this is really nice! i didn't think the flowers were 'fake'... :D

  8. It was an AWESOME wedding cake and very unexpected. You went above & beyond, and you're great. Can't thank you enough! I shared with the girls at work & they were impressed as well. Love ya.

  9. What a great excuse to make a beautiful cake!

  10. Congrats to you for the beautiful cake and to the happy couple! The only way to truly learn is to just jump in and try it, don't you think? (and I'm talking about baking and not about marriage!)

  11. April - Thanks! I love the bright pinks-very cheerful, don't you think.

    Kristen- Aw, thanks! The cake recipe is great. So easy and super delicious. Too funny about the renewing vows comment. I've been thinking those kinds of things, too: "Hm, so-and-so has a birthday coming up, maybe I should try another tiered cake." :)

    Jamie-Thank you!

  12. Memória- Thanks!I'm glad you enjoyed the process pics. Sometimes I wonder if it gets to be too much, so it's good to hear that feedback!

    Blissful Nibbles -Thanks! Aren't they pretty flowers? They turned out to be very photogenic. ;)

    Amy- You're SO welcome! I'm glad you guys liked it, and I was hoping you'd be able to share at work. Very cool! Congratulations again, and thank you for including us in your special day!!

  13. Maya- Thank you! I'm hoping to find more excuses - like, Hey, it's Thursday, how about a cake. ;)

    Marzipanmom- I totally agree! Learning by doing is the way to go. And if cake is involved - even better!

  14. Beautiful cake!
    I was wondering where can you buy the canned raspberry filling? I've never seen it before.

  15. cookienurse - I found it at my local grocery store. It's in the baking aisle by the canned pie fruit and canned pumpkin. I looked for it at Walmart when I was there getting other things, but was surprised (sort of) to see they did NOT carry it. Good luck!

  16. Beautiful, and I'm sure it was tasty. Glad to see the pics.

  17. The lovely and talented Kelly strikes again. :) Great job! I made a 4-layer German chocolate cake for Bob's birthday and it was lopsided as could be. Tasted great, through. LOL

  18. wow, this is beautiful!! raspberry filling looks yummy too!

  19. DB- Thanks. I'm assuming it was tasty, too. :) We were SO FULL from dinner that I just sent the entire cake home with D&A! D-Town's b-day is Fri, as you know, so I have an excuse to make another cake. Yippe!

    Jodi- Aw, shucks. Thanks. I hear you on lopsided cakes. I've yet to make a level one. Practice, practice!

  20. Natalie- Thanks for the compliments and for stopping by. I'm SO glad you did because now I know about YOUR blog - love it!

  21. Way to go!! You are a super star... love all the detailed instructions and how to!

    Great job!


  22. This cake looks fantastic. Way to go, I never have the patients (nor skill) to decorate cakes like this.

  23. had to laugh at Marzipanmom comment. Marriage certainly is not something you should jump into.

    I think you did a fantastic job.

  24. Congrats! You did a beautiful job!

  25. I cannot even say amazing because it is more than amazing!

    I had never thought about how a two-tiered cake stays up, though the dowels make perfect sense. Thank you for being such an inspiration!

  26. Don't sell yourself short. This cake looks great! Keep up the good work :)

  27. Amanda- Thank you!

    Sarah - Thanks. I'm generally NOT a patient person, but doing things like this is the exception, I guess. :)

    Lori - I thought that was a great comment, too. Made me chuckle. :)

    Frieda - Thank you!

    Daniel - Wow, I don't think I've ever been an inspiration before - that's quite a compliment! Thanks!

    Alaskan Dermish - Thanks!

  28. What a lovely cake! I love the ribbon encircling it. Great hints on everything--I am bookmarking!

  29. That is beautiful Kelly! Your friends are very lucky to be on the receiving end of your "whim"!

  30. Great work! Thanks for your comment on tastykitchen back to me about piping this icing. I'm going to try it tomorrow. :) BTW, I'm thelittlekitchen.

  31. This cake is gorgeous! I just got asked to make a cake for my aunt's wedding, and I've never made one, and am thinking of using your recipe and such because it looks easy and beautiful. I was wondering, do you know how many this would serve approximately? I need it for 40 guests.
    Thanks Sam

  32. Sam- Thanks so much for visiting and for the compliments! Unfortunately, I never got to see this cake sliced, so I don't know first hand, but I did a little research. This cake was a 6" and a 9" round. According to the pan label and what I've seen online, the 6" should yield 12 servings. The 9" should get about 20 servings. I think the trick is HOW you cut it. Here's a link to sizes and servings and how much frosting you'll need - I will be keeping this info for next time, so I don't run out again! :)


    It looks like you'll either need another layer, or make a sheet cake in addition to the 2-layer.


  33. Great first wedding cake! I have not made one since culinary school. Okay, like you, I have to find an excuse to make one.


  34. Hello,

    I was wondering if you have any suggestions on how to make your Best Buttercream Frosting Ever into Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Ever? I wouldn't want to experiment on my own, I figure you might have already done that.

    Thank you,

    Katie Sanoni


  35. Love the cake. I will use your receipt as I am making the cake to cut for my sons wedding and this looks easy enough. Really cute

  36. i love how the cake looks homemade. As much as i love a straight clean edge i love this look so much more. really great job keep up the work :)

  37. Just wondering, does this mean icing sugar or just plain white sugar in the "best ever buttercream" recipe?

    1. It's regular/plain granulated sugar, not icing sugar. Good question!

  38. This is the same 1234 cake recipe that i aways use. as you already know, the recipe is perfect. http://anickh.blogspot.com/2012/04/yellow-cake-1-cup-white-sugar-12-cup.html

  39. I am going to make this best buttercream ever this afternoon and it doesn't say when to incorporate the vanilla! if you can please email me back at Autie5162@yahoo.com to help out with this I would appreciate it. i've looked at the recipe 100,000 times and I just don't see it! I will also email at the email address you list at the bottom of your blog here. if I don't hear back guess I will just have to guess! thanks! autumn

  40. Hi Kelly! I am a 14 year old and I was very inspired by this recipe! I decided to give it a try and I think it looks really cool. Cant wait to try it! I also had to change some ingredients because I live in a remote part of the world haha.
    Cake: http://i.imgur.com/ZRV6t86.jpg


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