Monday, May 27, 2013

Secrets to Making a Wedding Cake

A wedding cake is essentially just a really big layer cake, and making one from scratch can be fun as long as you plan ahead, are organized, and have all the right equipment on hand. Keep in mind that this cake, if decorated differently, would be great for any big celebration, such as a birthday, anniversary, or anytime party.
Before tying on your apron, it’s good to know what you’re in for, so here’s the rundown. The cake comprises three cake tiers: a 12-inch bottom tier, a 9-inch middle tier, and a 6-inch top tier. Each tier is made of three layers of cake and two layers of filling (mix and match flavors, if you so please). After baking, assembling, and frosting each tier separately, the tiers are stacked on top of each other; evenly spaced wooden dowels placed within each tier ensures overall structural integrity and helps prevent the cake from collapsing upon itself. After stacking comes the fun part: decorating! And even more fun after that: transporting. Before you know it, it’ll be time for merriment, a toast to the new couple, and sweet, sweet cake.
With proper time and preparation, this baking behemoth will be well worth the effort. This project will take you roughly 12 hours of kitchen time (though much of the work can be done ahead); it is essential that you have a roomy refrigerator (or an extra one) and a lot of freezer space.

EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST


STRAIGHT-SIDED ROUND CAKE PANS
You’ll need one 12-inch, one 9-inch, and one 6-inch cake pan.
STANDING MIXER
A 4.5-quart capacity mixer works fine; you could use a hand-held mixer but it will be quite laborious.
CARDBOARD CAKE ROUNDS (6-, 9-, AND 12-INCH ROUNDS)
You’ll need at least 5 of each size, but having more on hand can be helpful. You’ll use these for unmolding the cakes from the cake pans, storing the cake layers, and assembling and icing the tiers.
CANDY THERMOMETER
You will need this when making the buttercream.
14-INCH ROUND CAKE BASE
This specialty item is essential to support a multitiered cake. It is available in a variety of styles and materials including heavy-duty plastic, Formica, ¼-inch-thick foil-wrapped cardboard, and sterling silver.
MASKING TAPE
You’ll use the tape to adhere the cake (on its cardboard round) to the cake base.
WOODEN DOWELS
You’ll need 1 yard of ¼-inch-thick wooden dowel rod (available at most hardware or craft stores).
ICING SPATULAS
It is helpful to have multiple flat and offset icing spatulas of various sizes for icing and assembling the cake.
NONSLIP SHELF LINER
This will keep the cakes from slipping while you’re icing them and keep them stable when they are transported.
REVOLVING CAKE STAND
This is essential for icing the cake and getting the sides smooth.
MEDIUM PASTRY BAG AND 3⁄16-INCH ROUND TIP
If you want to experiment with a variety of cake designs, you will want other sizes and types of tips; to make switching the tips easy (without having to empty the pastry bag), buy a coupler.
PLYWOOD
You’ll need a 2-foot-square piece of ¼-inch-thick plywood. You will use this for transporting the finished cake to its final destination.

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