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Make your own wedding cake

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I have decided to devote a whole page to designing and making your own wedding cake. Please check out this page again as I will be adding advice daily.
Making your own wedding cake is NOT an easy option but if you have decided you want to give it a go, here goes
When you are looking at designs, follow my tips  Designing your perfect wedding cake
Think about what you can realistically achieve.
So, starting at the very beginning and presuming you have settled on a design, the first thing you need to think about is the cake itself.
Unless you are experienced in baking, I wouldn't advise that you make the cake from scratch. Making a fruit cake is very expensive and , if you get it wrong, a very costly mistake.
Make your fruit cakes about 6 weeks before the wedding.
Fruit cake mix can be bought ready made, you just add water, eggs, fruit and glycerine. Most towns have a wedding cake shop which sells ready made mix. If you havn't got one near you, buy online. I buy supplies from a place in Clacton the (link is below) . They do free delivery within 48 hours and give 10% off on orders over 60 (they didn't pay me to write this!!)
You can also buy sponge or chocolate mix which is used by professionals.
Hire the tins from a local shop. Don't hire them until you are ready to start baking because they are usually hired for 24-48 hours. Hire them Friday afternoon which will give you an extra day.
You will need very good quality baking paper. One of the easiest mistakes when making a fruit Wedding Cakes cake is to burn the edges and the middle is raw. the cake tin has to be lined with 4 layers of paper. Any baking book will show you how to do this.
One thing that has puzzled me for ages is "why are baking instructions never given for fan assisted ovens?" It WILL make a difference if you have one. A good tip is to lower the temperature by 20 degrees on electric. I'm not sure of the equivalent for gas (I'll make a point of finding out.)
A large fruit cake can take up to 5 hours to cook, so don't put it in the oven if you need to go out (or in the evening).
Sponge cake is obviously easier. It freezes well, once it is cooked, for about a month.
When you buy the mix, ask about cooking times for larger cakes. Fruit cake is done when it is firm to the touch and a knife comes out clean, the same for sponge cake.
Just for this, I will presume you have chosen the wedding cake in the picture,  using fresh flowers. The bottom tier is fruit and the other 2 are sponge.
Don't be tempted to ice the cakes before time, there's loads to do before you do that.
Things you need to buy include:
Cake Boards ( 14-10 & 8" round, 1/2" cake "drum") and ( 1 size 9" and 1 size 7" thin cake board)
Board ribbon
Double sided tape
Dowel rods
Heart shaped cutter
Gold petal dust
icing sugar
Vanilla essence
apricot jam
Ready made icing
Cake dummies
You will need:
A good rolling pin
Small paint brush
Sharp knife
Pallette knife
Tape measure
Cake Boards
The boards on a wedding cake are usually 2 inches bigger than the cakes, so if you have made cakes 10-8-6
you will need boards 12-10-8"
I always like the bottom board to be a bit bigger so I would suggest a 14" board instead of a 12" for the bottom tier.
Board Ribbon
A nice wedding cake will have great attention to detail, so the edges of the board will have ribbon around them. This is attached with double sided tape. Glue will mark the ribbon.
You can either have ribbon the same colour as the icing or a contrast. Buy 1/2" ribbon. Measure around the edge of the boards to get the exact length.
Dowel rods
The rods are used to support the upper tiers of the cake and MUST be food grade dowels. These will need to be cut once the cake is iced. More about these later.
Cake Dummies
These are covered and used between the tiers. You will need one size 8" and one 6". You will also need 2 thin boards to go under the dummies, I will explain this later
The Cakes
Fruit cake is done when it is firm to the touch and a knife comes out clean, the same for sponge cake.
Leave the cakes in the tins to cool.
Once the cakes are cool:
Starting with the fruit cake, place a very sharp knife, flat on the edge of the cake tin. You are going to level the top of the cake. Hold the knife firmly and work around the edge of the cake tin (I really do need some pics here!!) slicing off the top of the cake. Eat this bit with a nice cup of tea.
Loosen the edges and tip the cake out onto some cling film
wrap in about 6 layers of cling film and store somewhere warm and dry (not the airing cupboard)
Unwrap the fruit cake and place upside down onto the cake board. This should give you a perfectly flat cake. Use the level to make sure it is. If it's not, turn it over and level the cake very gradually with a sharp knife
Put the apricot jam into a saucepan with a little water. Boil until it is quite runny. Using a pastry brush, paint the cake with the jam.
If the bottom of the cake has a gap, fill it with a sausage of marzipan.
Knead the marzipan until it is quite pliable on a board sprinkled with icing sugar. NEVER sprinkle the board with cornflour,it can taint the cake.
Measure across the cake and down the sides, this will tell you how big to roll the marzipan.
Roll the marzipan making sure there is enough icing sugar underneath to stop it from sticking. Turn the marzipan every minute or so to ensure even rolling. Roll the marzipan 4" bigger than you need it. Roll until it is about 1cm thick.
Now, this is the tricky part, once you master this technique you are away. DO NOT drape the marzipan over a rolling pin,instead, lift one edge and place your arm right underneath,lay the marzipan acreoss your forearm. Now do the same at the opposite edge. You are going to lift the marzipan on your forearms and lay it over the cake.Lay it over and let it drape over the sides of the cake.
Rub the top of the cake to dispel any air and gently smooth the sides
I will be putting some pics here soon 
Cut away the excess marzipan around the bottom of the cake. 

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