Monday, August 31, 2009

The Great Wedding Cake Experiment - Practice Makes Perfect

My hand, as compared to a 15" cake layer

I have always loved a challenge. So, when my old college friends Jared and Sara phoned me up and said they were getting married a little alarm went off in my head...maybe I could make their cake?!?! Could I do it? Would it be a success?

Before I knew what I was doing, I had volunteered and was spouting out potential flavor choices. The poor bride and groom had no choice at this point but to accept my offer and we went forward from there.

Originially, I had anticipated on making two three tiered cakes each a different flavor. Fortuitously, the party guests weren't quite as many as anticipated and I was spared this insane undertaking, and only ended up making on cake with three tiers in only one flavor.

Once the mission was undertaken, it sunk in that I actually had NO idea how to bake a wedding cake, so good ole google to the rescue. I spent an afternoon looking at online wedding cake recipes just to get an idea of ingredient proportions and then actually just made one of my favorites - the vanilla layer cake from The Best Recipe.

I then started practicing, because practice makes perfect right? At least I hoped so because I started focusing on how perfect all of the wedding cakes at all of the weddings I'd been to had looked.

My first practice run was just a flavor trial. I was attempting vanilla cake with cherry preserves and homemade marzipan in between the layers and wasn't quite sure what kind of frosting yet, but it had to be something that withstood the dreadfully hot upstate New York heat.

The cake flavors turned out delicious and I decided that I needed to do a frosting with cream cheese for extra thickness and ability to withstand the heat.

The next trial run involved comparing cake flour to regular flour. The recipe calls for cake flour...but I wanted to see for myself what the real difference was. Turns out the cake flour actually made the cake kind of "pancake-y", so I got to stick to the regular unbleached all-purpose which is both more readily available AND cheaper - a cherry on top.

The last trial cake was to figure out how many batches it would take to make a 15 inch tier, a 12 inch tier and a 9 inch tier, each with three layers. My cake testers this time around (mom and boyfriend) both agreed that the cake too closely resembled pound cake. But, alas, we departed for the East Coast in a mere two days and I wasn't going to start messing with the cake at this point.



2 cups blanched almonds
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
3 - 8 tbsp water

In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground. Add in the powdered sugar and almond extract. With the food processor running add one tbsp of water at a time until you have a thick, pliable paste. Be careful not to add too much water or your marzipan will be too gooey. If this happens add more almonds (already ground!) and powdered sugar.

*This is the recipe I used for in between the cake layers, but the marzipan was too thick the way this recipe is written. To make the marzipan more spreadable, I slowly drizzled in some half and half with the food processor on until I had reached my desired consistency.


  1. Not that this helps NOW, but the new Test Kitchen Baking book has a recipe for a wedding cake.

  2. That will help for any future endeavors...;)