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Wedding Cake Tips from the Pros

Wedding Cake Tips from the Pros

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Be prepared for your wedding cake consultation with these great tips

We all know what an important decision choosing a style and design of your wedding cake is. That is why we chatted with Michelle Apiar, owner of one of the 50 Best Wedding Cake Bakeries in America, Haute So Sweet, to get tips so you’re prepared for your consultation. Her advice will get you and your preferred baker from concept to cake in no time!

1. Ask Friends and Family

If someone you know had a cake at their party that was AMAZING, ask them for the name of the bakery that created it.

2. Know Your Budget and Be Honest About It

Cake designers usually have a minimum pricing for their cakes, but often can create something beautiful within your budget

3. Bring All Inspiration with You to the Cake Consultation

Any color swatches, photos, or anything that evokes the theme of your wedding is essential when meeting with your cake designer/baker.

4. Ask for References or Check Reviews Online:

A good bakery will have a list of customer references that they will provide you with, and check websites like Wedding Wire for reviews.

5. Own It:

Choose a baker that creates a cake in the interest of you and your guests, not one that follows trends or sticks to a formula. This is your special day and your cake should be the representative centerpiece for it.

10 Expert Tips to Avoid a Summer Wedding Cake Meltdown

Aaron and Jillian Photography

There are so many wonderful things about warm-weather weddings, but a summer wedding cake that&rsquos ruined by sitting out in the heat for hours isn&rsquot one of them. We talked to cake pros from around the country (particularly, some states where hot, sticky weather is common) to share their secrets to ensuring that your wedding cake won&rsquot wilt in the sun.

Planning Ahead

If you choose to make your own cake, allow yourself some extra time and manage expectations: you (or your bridesmaids) are likely not going to be able to craft a fondant-covered confection worthy of a magazine spread. Simple, rustic decorations are more achievable. You'll also want to plan your calendar accordingly. Take time to make a test cake and keep careful notes.

You should use a recipe specifically designed to be a wedding cake as it will ensure that it is sturdy enough and that it makes the right amount of batter and icing. For a three-tier cake, you need to make three cakes of 12", 9" and 6", as well as a massive amount of icing. Most three-tier cake recipes have a step-by-step schedule for when you will need to bake and assemble each part.

How to Choose Wedding Cake Flavors

You can take advantage of the occasion and ask your confectioner to suggest something new for your wedding cake. You are not supposed to please everyone, so it should be only your partner and your decision to pick the flavors. If your partner is a chocoholic and you like lemon cake then you can combine these flavors in different layers of cake.

If you have been to any wedding and you love the soft, fluffy cake with some unique frosting, then you can ask for their bakers and order them to recreate those wedding cake flavor recipes for you.

A cake is not just a piece of flavored sponge but it should turn into a tasteful and good-looking piece after frosting. So keep in mind that frosting must complement the cake flavor and offer an un-forgetful experience, and your guest leaves the ceremony wondering about the cake flavors. Think about seasonal wedding cake flavor ideas because they seem more appropriate and fit in the budget.

You can have lip-smacking fall wedding cake flavors as:

  • Pumpkin cake with buttercream frosting
  • Cinnamon Apple Cake
  • Maple Butter Cake
  • Ginger Carrot cake
  • Vanilla Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

For spring season wedding try summer wedding cake flavors as:

· Strawberry Cake with Cheese

· Lemon Raspberry Sponge Cake with Lemon Curd

· Banana Cake with Cream Cheese

· Caramelized Banana with Chocolate and Fruit

· Vanilla Cake with Berries.

5 Wedding Cake Secrets Bakers Want You to Know

Think choosing your wedding cake is hard? Try sketching, designing, baking, decorating and transporting it (oh, and it has to taste delicious too!). Your cake baker is one of the instrumental behind-the-scenes heroes of your day—who else could create the showstopping confection of your dreams? So we went to five bakers for their expert pointers and sweetest secrets, from budget tips to common mistakes and misconceptions. Here's what the pros wish you knew.

1. Cakes Cost What They Cost for Reason

"The price may seem high to many people as they think it's 'just cake,' but cakes take a lot of labor and love. Bakers often work 12- to 15-hour days right before a wedding cake is due to ensure it's fresh. The [cost of a] cake depends on size, flavors, fillings and, most importantly, design and decoration. The more intricate the design, the more time it will take and more money it will cost. [If you're on a tight budget], don't try to negotiate the cost of the cake down. Instead, I would advise couples to set a cake budget for about $10 per guest, including delivery and set-up, and see if they can simplify the design."

—Carissa Berbrick of Chic & Sweet Artisan Cakes in Boca Raton, Florida

2. Give Your Baker Enough Time to Work Their Magic

"Good work takes time. When you choose a customized dessert, your specific order requires time to complete, from a sketch months before your wedding day to [designing] handmade sugar work, coordinating with other vendors, obtaining the right supplies or tools and, of course, making the cake itself. As soon as you know where you're having your reception and what you want it to look like, start thinking about [the cake that will] fit your day."

—Jerri Montillo of Jerri's Custom Cakery​ in Speonk, New York

3. Know the Difference Between Fondant and Buttercream

​"I often hear [clients say], 'I only want a buttercream cake,' but when they send concept pictures of the cake they want, they're ornate cakes with quilting, hand painting or other embellishments that can only be achieved with fondant. My advice is to ask your baker if your cake concept is best made with fondant or buttercream, and to be open minded about the design. [If you have budget restrictions], a simple buttercream cake will be less expensive. Any cake can look glamorous and expensive with inexpensive fresh flowers, which can be purchased from grocery stores or organic markets."

—Kelly Keith of Kelly's Cakes Atlanta​ in Atlanta, Georgia

4. Think Beyond Vanilla

"One misconception is that your wedding cake flavor should be vanilla of some sort, but don't be afraid to be different when it comes to the taste or design. I tell couples to choose any flavor they like. We've made peanut butter pound cakes, and many chocolate cake wedding cakes. Although traditional wedding cakes are often vanilla, it's important to choose a flavor that's pleasing to you (and guests will enjoy having [a unique] flavor too)."

—Amy Recinos of Amy's Creative Cakes​ in Quakertown, Pennsylvania

5. Balance Budget With Inspiration

"Quite often, we see couples coming in with no concept of a budget. When couples turn to Pinterest for their dream cake, they never see the price of the cake they're lusting over. So when they bring it to us, they find out it's double, triple or sometimes quadruple their budget. We always recommend coming in with at least a ballpark idea of what they want to spend."

—Tatiyana Baukovic of Urban Icing​ in Chicago, Illinois

Ready for cake? Let's find wedding cake bakers near you.

Cakes: Tips and Techniques

Perfectly baked desserts are easier than you think. Try these simple tips for moist, tender cakes that rise to any occasion.

Lining a Cake Pan
What good is a delicious cake if it remains stuck in the pan? For smooth, easy removal, prep your pans properly. When a recipe calls for buttering and flouring, place a piece of parchment or waxed paper on the bottom of a pan (trace and cut it to fit). Coat the sides and bottom with softened butter, and then dust with flour, turning the pan on its side to get full coverage and tapping out the excess. For chocolate cakes, swap in cocoa powder for flour. Cakes baked in springform or decorative Bundt pans don't need the paper just butter and flour (use a pastry brush to get butter into the crevices). The exceptions: Angel, chiffon and sponge cakes should go into clean, untreated pans, because they need to adhere to the sides in order to rise properly. For cupcakes, decorative preformed paper or foil liners are indispensable.

Accurate measuring is the difference between a light, moist cake and a gummy, dense one. To properly measure, you need three types of measuring tools: a clear measuring cup with a spout for wet ingredients, cups with flat rims in graduated sizes for dry ingredients and a set of measuring spoons. Most American baking recipes measure ingredients by volume, not weight. (For example, a recipe will call for 1 cup sugar rather than 8 ounces sugar.) If you become truly passionate about baking, consider investing in a scale. Weight measurements are the most accurate and are commonly used in advanced recipes and international cookbooks.

To measure liquids: Set the spouted cup on a level counter, bend at the knees so you are at eye level with the lines on the cup and pour the ingredient right up to the line indicating the amount needed. Keep in mind: Liquid measuring cups often include volume measurements in ounces — don't confuse them with weight measurements in ounces. A recipe with weight measurements requires a scale.

To measure dry ingredients: Use the spoon-and-sweep method. Spoon the flour or other dry ingredient into a measuring cup, filling it generously above the rim of the cup. Then, run the back of a knife over the edge to sweep the excess back into the container. Don't be tempted to scoop out the flour with the measuring cup. It will become compacted, giving you more flour than called for and producing a dense, dry cake. Likewise, don't tap the filled cup on the counter, because the flour will settle. If you top it off, you'll end up with too much.

If the recipe calls for "1 cup sifted flour," first sift the flour and then measure it. If it calls for "1 cup flour, sifted," measure the flour by the spoon-and-sweep method, then sift it. It may seem subtle, but in the cake world, it can make the difference between ethereal and leaden. A fine-mesh strainer is more than adequate for sifting. Keep in mind that even flour labeled as "presifted" on the package needs sifting. Before adding the wet ingredients, use a whisk to mix together your flour, salt and spices to make sure they are evenly distributed.

Bringing Ingredients to Temperature
The temperature and consistency of ingredients can also improve — or destroy — the texture of a cake. Many recipes call for softened butter. Use it, especially for creaming (see below). When butter is softened, it is pliable enough to beat but can maintain its structure so it can trap and hold air (the secret to a fluffy cake). Butter that's too cold and firm — or warm and slack — won't, resulting in a flat or dense cake. How to get the right temp? Take butter out of the fridge 45 minutes before you need it. When it's soft enough to hold a light thumbprint, you're ready to go. (Cutting it into pieces speeds things up.) You can also warm butter in a microwave on reduced power, though it's very easy to overdo and can cause uneven melting, so use it only as a last resort. Eggs should also be at room temperature. Place them in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes to warm them up.

Cake recipes often call for beating, or creaming, butter with sugar for several minutes — sometimes up to 10. Although it can be tempting to cut this step short, particularly when you're using a hand mixer, it's important to stick with it. This beating is where the texture and structure of a cake is made. Air is a vital ingredient in cakes, and it takes time to properly incorporate it into the batter. As you beat, the butter will lighten in color and you should see it increase in volume in the bowl.

Beating Eggs
Eggs should also be beaten until light and foamy. They should lighten in color and fall in a thick ribbon when the beater is lifted out of the bowl. If the recipe calls for adding eggs one at a time, make sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next.

When incorporating dry ingredients into a batter, it is important not to overmix (another cause of tough cakes). The best way? Fold instead of stir. Here's how: Use the broad side of a silicone spatula, and drag it like an oar moving through water to suspend the dry ingredients in the batter. Turn the bowl regularly to make sure you bring the ingredients together evenly. Use the same technique when incorporating beaten egg whites, whipped cream and other wet ingredients that are light and airy.

Allow at least 20 minutes for your oven to preheat it's best to turn the oven on before you start working on your recipe. Keep in mind that ovens differ and every oven has hot spots. Your best bet for even baking is to position a rack in the center of the oven and rotate the position of your pans partway through after the cake has begun to set. Opening the oven door too often can make a cake fall, so use the window in your oven door to check the cake's progress when possible. Check for doneness 10 minutes before the recipe suggests. For most recipes, a cake is ready when it starts pulling away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cakes cool faster and don't get soggy when set out on a rack. Leave them in the pans for 10 to 15 minutes before unmolding, then place on a rack to cool completely before frosting. Angel, chiffon and sponge cakes should be left in the pan to prevent collapsing.

Cutting Layers
To divide a cake into layers, run a serrated knife lightly around the perimeter of the cake, marking the line where to cut. Then draw the knife through the cake with a gentle sawing motion to cut it in half. If the layers come out uneven, put the thicker one on the bottom.

Store unfrosted cakes, well wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for 24 hours. Refrigerating cakes causes them to stale faster, so for long-term storage it's best to freeze them. Wrap the layers in plastic wrap and then heavy-duty foil to protect them from the cold let thaw in the refrigerator before frosting. To store frosted cakes, keep at room temperature under a cake dome or large bowl unless the recipe specifies refrigeration. For cut cakes, press a piece of plastic wrap against the exposed surface to keep in moisture.

Frequently asked questions about wedding cakes:

What’s the history of the wedding cake?

The tradition of the wedding cake has surprisingly unromantic beginnings. Baked goods included in nuptial celebrations started in ancient Rome when the groom broke a loaf of barley bread over the bride’s head. The bride and groom ate a few crumbs together as a symbol of luck and fertility, and their guests ate the rest for good luck.

Following various phases (from giant pastry piles to savory pies), the availability of sugar in Europe in the 1600s ushered in the era of the white wedding cake — originally a symbol of purity and wealth.

What do you write on a wedding cake?

Traditionally, wedding cakes have not had writing on them. Unlike birthday, baptism, graduation, and anniversary cakes, wedding cakes have let the tiers, icing flowers, and cake toppers do the talking. In recent years, however, there’s been a growing trend of decorating wedding cakes with words that are meaningful to the couple — perhaps a shared favorite poem, a section of their vows, or the lyrics of the first dance song.

Poetry in icing. Silly cake toppers. Ombre pink and purple icing. A classic white confection. Mix and match these wedding cake ideas to your heart’s content. It’ll be a feast for the eyes, and a delectable treat for you and all of your wedding guests.

What is the most popular wedding cake flavor?

Vanilla is the most popular wedding cake flavor, according to a survey of couples married between 1960 and 2019 by The Black Tux. Across the decades, runners up to vanilla were primarily chocolate and yellow. But in the 2000s, red velvet took over the third spot, bumping yellow cake further down the rankings.

On unexpected emergencies:

"Make sure that engagement ring is insured—no one needs a missing ring!" —Alicia Caldecott, A Day in May Event Planning & Design

"Always have one of your photographers take the stairs: One time, both photographers got stuck in a hotel elevator on the way to the church. It took more than 30 minutes to get them out, while I frantically tried to see if we could find another photographer to shoot the ceremony." —Lindsay Pitt Sims, TOAST Events

Ready to find your wedding planner? Start your search right here.

How to Stack a Wedding Cake Like a Pro

Planning a bash on a budget but still want it to look like a $100-per-head affair? Learn how to stack a gorgeous wedding cake like a pro, and do it yourself! Only requiring a few simple materials (besides the cakes, of course) like cake boards and a few wooden dowels, this weekend project will surely shave some dough off the hefty price tag of any wedding or celebration. If you can bake and frost a cake, then you are only a few steps away from making a show-stopping tiered cake! Transportation and storage can be tricky, but making and assembling a tiered cake is definitely within even a rookie cake-maker’s reach.

“naked” cake

boxed cake mix upgrade!

— various sized cake boards

— cake drum or serving dish

— small and large offset spatulas

— frosting (about 12-14 cups to cover a 6-inch + 8-inch + 10-inch cake)

— decorative ribbon (optional)


1. Place the bottom layer of each cake on a corresponding cake board, minus the bottom tier. For example, place the bottom layer of a 6-inch cake on a 6-inch cake board and the bottom layer of an 8-inch cake on an 8-inch cake board. Once baked, the cakes should shrink a bit to fit on the boards.

2. Place the bottom layer of the bottom tier on a cake drum or serving dish. A cake drum is about a 1-inch-thick cake board that can be found at most craft stores that sell cake decorating supplies.

3. Using an offset spatula and an icing smoother, fill and frost each cake. Use the cake board as a guide — the frosting on the sides of the cake should be flush with the edge of the board so that it does not show. If using a cake turntable, keep the bottom edge of the icing smoother parallel to the turntable, and spin to help smooth out the frosting and keep the sides nice and straight.

4. Once the cakes are frosted, chill in the refrigerator.

5. For every cake, minus the top tier, cut five to seven wooden cake dowels. Insert a wooden dowel into the cake. With a non-toxic writing utensil or edible marker, mark exactly where the dowel reaches the top of the cake. Remove the dowel and trim. Using the first dowel as a guide, measure and cut the remaining dowels. To cut, simply score with a serrated knife (or even kitchen shears), then break cleanly. The wooden dowels made for cake decorating should be fairly easy to break. You will need seven dowels for a 10-inch round cake and five dowels for an eight-inch round cake.

6. Start by placing the first dowel into the center of the cake. Evenly distribute the remaining dowels, keeping them within 1-2 inches from the edges. The tops of the dowels should sit flush with the top of the cake. If they are uneven, then the cake on top of it will not sit evenly.

7. Use an offset spatula to lift and carefully place the cakes on top of each other. Use your second hand as support, and then gently slide it out as you set the cake down.

8. Continue stacking all of the cakes.

9. To cover the seam between the cakes, fill in with frosting or simply add a decorative ribbon.

Especially when working with chocolate cake, apply a base coat or “crumb coat” to keep the crumbs out of the final coat of frosting. Chill in between coats for about 15 minutes. Once completely frosted, refrigerate until the frosting firms up. This way the cakes are easier to maneuver and stack without bumping or scratching the frosting.

Adding dowels to cakes ensures they can support the weight of the cakes being stacked on top of them. Make sure that all of the dowels are the same height, in order to keep the cake tiers level and stable. Do not place the dowels too close to the edges, because the cake being stacked on top will have a smaller diameter.

If transporting a large cake, bring the cakes pre-doweled, then stack once you arrive at your event. Be sure to bring a toolbox including a bit of extra frosting and an offset spatula to stack tiers and fix any bumps that may occur in transit.

Many types of ribbon will simply stick to the frosting. Pull taught and wrap around. Use a straight pin in the back to help keep it in place if necessary (but make sure to remove before serving!). Some types of frosting may appear greasy and seep through certain types of ribbon, so check your ribbon before placing on your cake.

How to Make a Wedding Cake

Why pay big money for an expensive, bakery-made wedding cake when you can easily build your own romantic creation at home? Though the prospect of creating a tiered cake may seem daunting, it is based on some pretty simple elements of architectural support. Like all sound construction, a tiered cake begins with a good foundation.

For bottom cake tier, fill and frost the two largest cake layers in the center of a covered cake board that is about 4 inches larger than the cake, being sure to smooth frosting on top and sides. Use a sturdy cake board, such as 1/2-inch-thick plywood.

Trim two circles of corrugated cardboard sized to fit under the cake layers for each additional tier (total of 4 cardboard circles). Tape the two pieces for each tier together for a double thickness of cardboard.

Cover the double-thick cardboard circles with foil that has been cut into a circle 1 to 2 inches larger than the cardboard. Center the cardboard on the foil. Cut slashes into the foil, spaced approximately an inch apart, around the entire circle. Fold each 1-inch tab of foil over the cardboard and tape into place.

Wrap the foil around the edges
of our cardboard circle.

To mark the correct position for the next tier, gently hold the foil-covered cardboard just above the center of the frosted bottom tier. Using a ruler as a guide, center the cardboard and gently lower it onto the frosted surface. Use a toothpick to lightly mark around the cardboard. Remove cardboard.

Gently lower your foil-wrapped
circle onto the bottom layer.

Push the dowel pieces into the
bottom tier, evenly spacing pieces
within the area marked for the next tier.

Fill and frost cake layers for this tier positioned on the appropriately sized foil-covered cardboard circle smooth frosting on top and sides of cake. Carefully place tier in position on bottom tier. Repeat for all tiers, supporting each layer with dowels.

To stabilize tiers, sharpen one end of a 1/4-inch-thick dowel with a knife. Push sharp end of dowel into center of top tier and carefully push down through all tiers and cardboard circles. Trim dowel level with cake top. Carefully smooth frosting on cake top to cover dowel. Remove dowel pieces before cutting cake.

Push the sharp end of the dowel
into center of top tier and carefully
push down through all tiers and
cardboard circles.

Add your own creative touches with the decorations of your choice. Use a decorating bag to pipe on frosting borders and flowers, or apply premade decorations purchased from a cake decorating supply store or craft store. One of the simplest and most elegant ways to decorate a wedding cake is to use real fresh flowers. Be careful that the flowers don't have pesticides on them. Clean, fresh flowers should be placed on the cake right before it is displayed.

Another option is the basket weaving technique.

By frosting the side of a layer cake with a basketweave pattern and adding fresh berries on the top, you can turn a common cake into an elegant "fruit basket."

    Spread top of layer cake with a thin layer of apricot preserves or caramel topping.

Work from the bottom of
the cake up toward top.

Use left hand to rotate cake plate as you pipe on horizontal strips.

Space second set of vertical strips as evenly as possible.

Try to lift tip precisely at the
edge of the next vertical strip.