A Home-Grown Wedding Cake

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I had been waiting for two of my closest friends to set a wedding date for almost two years when they sprung it on their closest family and friends just a week before they tied the knot! Not only was I thrilled to finally share their beautiful day with them, but they EVEN asked me to make the cake!!! I was so excited to make my first wedding cake and I couldn’t think of any two people I’d rather share it with.

The wedding would be the following Saturday on Laguna Beach, so I had exactly one week to plan, buy supplies, bake, assemble, and transport a wedding cake- I would imagine this would stress most people out, but I was in my glory. As soon as I got home I had wedding cake magazines and books spread across my bed to begin my research. For 5 days all my poor roommates heard about was cake and frosting flavors, dimensions, and decorations. If you’re also a first-timer in the wedding cake department, I strongly reccomend The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum as an amazing reference.

The bride and groom’s only guidelines were a round cake with simple, cream decorations. So I had a lot of decisions to make! Of course I had many ideas for flavor and decorations, but I also needed to think about structural stability as I would be driving the cake down in the LA traffic and heat to Laguna. I finally decided on a vanilla bean cake with fresh raspberry filling and a cream cheese frosting. I’m wishing I had another slice just thinking about it!

The guest list was around 40 people so I decided to make three 10 x 2″ layers for the first tier, and two 6 x 2″ layers for the top tier. According to the serving charts, this should feed nearly 100 people, but I’d rather have more than not enough, and I also wanted to make a slightly bigger cake for appearance-sake. So on to the baking…

Vanilla Bean layer cake: from Sweetapolita  (I made a double recipe for  3 10″ rounds and 2 6″ rounds)

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp.

2 2/3 cups granulated sugar

9 egg whites, at room temp.

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 cups buttermilk

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

I made two separate batches since my stand mixer would barely hold the batter for once recipe, let alone two. This is A LOT of cake!  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour your cake pans. I used 3 10″ and 2 6″ pans. I also used Baker’s Joy, which is an aerosol containing flour and butter. You can definitely do it the old-fashioned way, but this is quick and the cake comes away from the pan as it bakes, making it a cinch to invert your cakes to cool.

First cream the butter and sugar together on medium to high speed using a stand mixer or hand blender. On medium, slowly add the egg whites until fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Split the vanilla bean and scrape all the seeds into the buttermilk, then add the vanilla extract and whisk together. Alternate adding dry and wet ingredients until the batter is fully incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between your pans. If you have a scale it is best to weigh them to make sure you have even cake layers. Bake for about 30 minutes, rotating half-way through. Let pans cool for at least 10 minutes and then invert cakes onto a wiring cooling rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting: Adapted from Joy of Baking

(this should be enough frosting to cover both tiers and for decorating)

4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp.

32 oz. cream cheese, at room temp.

5 cups confectioners sugar

zest of 1-2 lemons

4 tsp. vanilla extract

Cream the butter and sugar with a stand mixer or hand blender until smooth. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar 1 cup at a time. Add the zest and vanilla and beat on high until the frosting is light and fluffy.

To assemble

12-14″ cake board

10″ corrugated cardboard cake round

6″ corrugated cardboard cake round

5 wooden dowels

ruler

cream cheese frosting

24 oz. fresh raspberries

Assemble each tier by placing the first cake layer on the corresponding cardboard round. Frost the top of the cake layer and cover with fresh raspberries. I also added a layer of frosting on top of the raspberries to seal them in so that their liquid wouldn’t run and stain the cake. Carefully place the second layer on the cake and frost the sides and top using a rotating cake stand. Create a thin ‘crumb layer’ of frosting first and place the cake in the regrigerator or freezer until the frosting is set. I actually froze my cakes over night as I wanted the frosting to set as well as possible for the transport. I also wanted the cake to stay fresh for the reception. Once your crumb coat is set, add another layer of frosting. The ‘crumb coat’ will make it easier to create a nice smooth finish on the exterior of your cake.

Once you have both tiers assembled, pipe a generous amount of icing onto your cake board and place the first tier on top. You can also use rings of tape on the cake board to hold the first tier in place. To stabilize the cake, insert four wooden dowels into the surface of the first cake. To do this, measure with a ruler where the first tier will be centered and use the round cake pan to make yourself an outline. The wooden dowels should be evenly at four corners inside the outline. Pipe a generous amount of frosting to hold the top tier in place. Finally, use a pencil sharpener to create a sharp point on the last dowel, which will be placed through the top of the cake all the way to the bottom cardboard round. Finally, decorate your cake as you wish! I used the same cream cheese frosting to pipe a pearl border onto each tier, and made a polka dot design. I topped the cake with silk hyrdangeas to match the bride’s boquet. And after all that, I really got to experience the stress of being a caterer as I sat in rush hour traffic in 95 degree heat for three hours to get down to Laguna- I was certain that I was going to open the trunk and the frosting would be oozing off the cake, but luckily the decorations were still in tact and I brought a spare piping bag for any last minute touchups.

 

 Nothing better than seeing two of your favorite people smash your cake all over each other’s faces. 🙂 The bride thought the frosting was the perfect color cream and I got many raving reviews from guests about the taste so I think it was a success! The fluffy vanilla bean cake, lemon zest in the frosting, and fresh raspberries all come together to create a delicious, light end-of-summer wedding cake with a hint of citrus.

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