How to make a beautiful wedding cake
Our step-by-step guide to planning, baking, assembling, and serving a delicious, handcrafted wedding cake
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
- Bake orange sponge cake layers (recipe follows). Let cool completely, then wrap airtight and freeze.
1 day ahead
- Thaw cake layers at room temperature.
- Make Grand Marnier-marmalade filling (recipe follows).
- Make 1½ recipes Grand Marnier whipped cream (3 quarts, measured after whipping, recipe follows).
- Split cake layers (step 1 of Wedding Cake Assembly); sandwich with marmalade and cream (step 2). Frost layers with first coat of cream (step 3); chill until next day.
2 to 4 hours ahead
- Make remaining 1½ recipes Grand Marnier whipped cream (3 quarts, measured after whipping); chill until ready to use.
- Frost each layer with outer coating of cream (step 4).
- Chill until ready to stack layers; transport layers to serving site before stacking.
- Insert supports in cake layers (step 5) and tier, garnish, and decorate cake (steps 6 and 7).
- Chill until ready to serve. If finished cake does not fit in refrigerator, chill layers until 2 hours before serving, then assemble. For an outdoor wedding or if weather is hot, keep cake in a shaded or cool area, or chill until ready to serve.
What you need to make a wedding cake:
- Round cake pans (6-, 8-, 10-, and 12-in. diameter) with sides at least 2 inches high. Nonstandard pan sizes are available at cake decorating supply stores and Sur La Table.
- Cardboard cake rounds (6-, 8-, 10-, and 12-in. diameter), sold in cake decorating supply stores.
- Plastic drinking straws (cut off the flexible portion if necessary) or 1⁄4-inch wooden dowels (sold in hardware stores; you will need pruning shears to cut them).
- A narrow, flat-bladed offset or icing spatula.
- A pastry bag and a plain 1⁄4-inch tip for piping cream at base of each layer; decorative tips for piping any embellishments on the finished cake.
Next: Recipe for Orange Sponge Cake