How to make a beautiful wedding cake

Our step-by-step guide to planning, baking, assembling, and serving a delicious, handcrafted wedding cake

How to make a wedding cake

To put the finishing touch on your cake, choose any flowers that complement the style and colors of your wedding. We used tuberoses, lisianthus, and white roses. Try fresh-cut flowers from your garden or have a florist order blooms; be sure they are pesticide-free.

How to make a wedding cake

Plastic drinking straws (or 1⁄4-in. wooden dowels) support the layers.

Photo: Erika McConnell

How to make a wedding cake

Step 6: Gently stack layers (on cardboard rounds) on top of each other. Spoon more Grand Marnier whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a 1⁄4-inch plain tip.

Photo: Erica McConnell

How to make a wedding cake

Step 7: Pipe adjoining dots around base of each layer to hide cardboard. Decorate with orange blossoms, other fresh flowers, or piped cream as desired.

Photo: Erica McConnell

A sweet ending

  • How to make a wedding cake

    This moist, delicate Orange Sponge Cake with Grand Marnier Whipped Cream and Grand Marnier-Marmalade Filling is an irresistible conclusion to a joyful reception.

A beautiful, many-layered cake is the perfect symbol for a wedding: like the happy occasion itself, it’s sweet, festive, and, above all, meant to be shared with those you love.

A handcrafted wedding cake is perhaps the most special gift you can receive from a beloved friend or family member who loves to bake. And making an exceptional wedding cake is a project that almost anyone can take on; you don’t need professional baking experience or a background in architecture to construct a cake that’s delicious, stable, and beautiful.

Each step of making a wedding cake is easy, but the whole procedure might seem daunting. Our countdown breaks down the process, step by step:

1 week ahead

1 day ahead

2 to 4 hours ahead

What you need to make a wedding cake:

Next:  Recipe for Orange Sponge Cake

Wedding cake recipe: Orange Sponge Cake

Prep and cook time: About 6 hours to make all layers (or about 1½ hours per layer)

Notes: For the 12-inch layer, you will need to use a hand-held mixer to beat the egg whites (step 3), unless you have an extra-large standing mixer. Depending on the volume of your beaten egg whites, you may have batter left over from one or more cake layers; bake extra batter in muffin tins to make cupcakes.

Makes: Four cake layers

For the 6-inch layer

For the 8-inch layer

For the 10-inch layer

For the 12-inch layer

1. To make each cake layer: Butter the bottom of the appropriate pan. Line the bottom with cooking parchment or waxed paper. Butter paper and dust with flour.

2. In a bowl (at least 3 qt. for 6- and 8-in. layers, 5 to 6 qt. for 10- and 12-in.), stir together egg yolks, melted butter, orange extract, and orange peel.

3. In a large bowl (at least 6 qt. for 12-in. layer; see notes at top of story), with an electric mixer at high speed, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until mixture holds very soft peaks. Gradually add sugar, beating until sugar is completely dissolved and whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Add whites to yolk mixture and sift flour over whites; using a flexible spatula, gently fold in, deflating the batter as little as possible.

4. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread level (pan should be about 3⁄4 full). Bake in a 350° oven until top springs back when lightly pressed in the center, 30 minutes for 6-inch layer, 35 to 40 for 8-inch, 45 to 50 for 10-inch, and 50 for 12-inch. (Smaller layers may be baked simultaneously; bake the 12-in. layer by itself.)

5. Set cake layer on wire rack to cool completely. Run a knife around edges of cake to release. Invert layer onto matching-sized corrugated cardboard round. Peel off paper.

Next: Make the Grand Marnier Whipped Cream and filling

Grand Marnier Whipped Cream

Prep time:  About 5 minutes

Notes: Be sure your cream is very cold before whipping. The cream may be whipped up to 2 hours before using; cover and chill. You will need a total of at least three full batches: half a recipe (1 quart, measured after whipping) to fill cake layers (step 2 of “Wedding Cake Assembly”), one recipe for the crumb coating for all layers (step 3), one recipe for final frosting of all layers (step 4), and at least half a recipe for piping (or up to a full recipe for more elaborate decorations).

Makes:  2 quarts (8 cups)

In a large bowl, with a mixer at high speed, beat cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and Grand Marnier; beat until cream holds stiff peaks.

Grand Marnier–Marmalade Filling

Prep time: About 5 minutes

Makes: About 3½ cups (enough for a 4-tiered wedding cake)

In a bowl, stir marmalade and Grand Marnier until well blended.

Next:   How to assemble the wedding cake

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