Monday, June 17, 2013

How to make a Wedding Cake Part I: The Planning

A lot goes into making a wedding cake. When I say a lot, I mean mostly butter, but there are a few other ingredients too. As I've gotten more experienced, I've found that the hardest part is the preparation and if I do a lot of that then the actual production day is a breeze. To give an inside look into how I create a wedding cake from design to delivery, I'm using a few of my favorites to break it down step by step. But before I even step foot in the kitchen, I've already been working for months on the planning process:

Step 1: The contact
Usually I get cake inquiries via email through a friend or someone who's seen my blog or eaten my cake at a wedding. I still get really excited every time. I'll exchange a few emails with the bride and groom or their wedding planner asking questions like when, where, and how many guests. My goal with this initial exchange is always just to get to know their wedding and their expectations. I believe that the cake is a focus point of a reception. I know that everyone is going to take pictures and the cake will most likely serve as a backdrop, so I want to make sure that it fits in with the wedding and looks good doing it. Generally this means matching the theme, season and formality of the event. By the time I've sent a few emails back and forth, I probably already have about ten different sketches in the works and have already started a pinterest board in your honor.

Michele and Dustin had their beach wedding last May, and Alia and John ordered a Bali inspired rehearsal dinner cake to match the location where they honeymooned last August.

Step 2: The Tasting
If I were a bride, I know the cake tasting would be my favorite part of planning the entire wedding (am I right?) so I like to do this up right. I let the couple select up to three cake and filling combinations that can be from my tasting menu or anything they can think up. If I think I have a really good idea for a flavor that they don't pick, I might also bring some additional cupcakes as a surprise! I make mini 4" cakes out of the flavors they chose and frost them with fluffy, Italian buttercream so they can get an idea of what the finished product will taste like. And then, I will personally deliver a box full 'o cake wherever you'd like so we can chat more about your cake:

Recently celebrated their first year anniversary of eating my lemon and lime inspired cake for their June wedding

Tasted five flavors in total: Vanilla on vanilla, gingerbread spice with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, dark chocolate cake with both bourbon caramel mousse filling and espresso buttercream filling, and confetti cake with champagne buttercream filling. 

Are brand newlyweds, and tasted three Spring inspired flavors with me last fall: Raspberry lemonade cake with citrus cream cheese filling, lemon lavender cake with raspberry mousse filling, and dark chocolate cake with raspberry mousse filling.

The best part of a tasting with me is that I don't charge a cent for it, provided that you end up booking your cake. It's a pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

Step 3: The Grocery List

I operate out of a home kitchen and don't have a high enough volume to quite reap all the benefits of buying in bulk on a regular basis. There aren't many ingredients I can save from one cake to the next because of shelf life, so usually I buy almost everything fresh for every cake the week of - even flour and sugar. Part of my prep tasks is sitting down with all of the recipes I"ll need, writing a grocery list and estimating how much of everything I'll need. The bigger the cake, the longer the list, and the more crazy looks I get hauling butter and eggs into my grocery cart. Here's a peek of what my list looked like for Molly's cake:

I don't mean to scare anyone but I ended up getting 13 pounds of butter...and used all but four sticks...However this cake fed over 200 people, minus the top tier that bride and groom kept for their first anniversary. Inevitably, I'll need more of something or have to re-do something and have to make an emergency grocery run on the day of production. With Molly's cake I paid special attention to the grocery list and planning ahead, and didn't need a single thing the day of. I also stayed within budget and didn't have much left over = winning all around for a small business like mine. 

Stay tuned for part II in the kitchen, plus a whole lotta cake coming down the pipeline soon. I start in Basic and Classical Cakes class at the CIA this week!

Here'a a link to Part II of this post for easy access: Baking and Decorating

No comments:

Post a Comment