Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tips for Baking Your Own Wedding Cake

Some brides like the idea of making their own wedding cake; others are happy to leave the task to a friend whose expertise comes cheaper than the local cake decorating store. Whoever ends up with the task is in for a considerable amount of stress. These tips can help a home baker produce a professional-looking wedding cake.

Finding a Wedding Cake Recipe

Not every recipe works equally well when doubled or tripled. Choose a tried-and-true recipe that produces a solid cake that does not sink in the middle. When working with large quantities of ingredients, the costs add up: so it pays to be extra careful. Have a friend double- and triple-check the calculations for increasing the recipe's quantity.

Hiring Cake Tins for a Wedding Cake

Most bakers do not own cake tins in a large variety of graduated sizes and different shapes. The usual practice is to hire cake tins from a cake decorating store. Tins come in half-inch graduated sizes and in basic shapes such as square, round and heart-shaped; novelty tins are also available.
The baker should ideally hire the tins with the bride present, in order to get a good picture of the size and shape of the finished cake. The number of guests to be fed should be kept in mind, especially if the cake is to form part of the dessert at the reception rather than just a favor. For a stacked cake, the general effect can be seen by stacking the tins upside-down on top of each other. If the cake is to be tiered with pillars, the final cake will be taller and appear narrower than the same tin sizes in a stacked cake.

Mixing a Wedding Cake

With huge quantities of batter, sturdy utensils and a very large mixing bowl are a must. A stockpot or even a brand-new bucket can be used for mixing the batter.

Lining the Cake Tins

The wedding cake is meant to provide a smooth, even surface for the icing. Usually the top of a cake is trimmed off and the cake turned upside down to provide a more perfect surface. Wrinkles in the baking paper make wrinkles in the cake's bottom, which have to be plugged or filled in later. Keep the baking paper as smooth as possible, and use separate pieces to line the bottom and sides of the cake tins. To fit the bottom of the tin exactly, place a piece of baking paper slightly larger than the tin into the bottom and use a knife to score around the tin's bottom edge.
Fruit cakes should be dropped from a few inches' height several times after the tins have been filled, in order to bump out any air bubbles. As larger quantities of batter take longer to cook, it may be wise to cover the top of the cake with tinfoil partway through baking to prevent burning.

Filling the Cake Tins with Batter

It can be tricky to figure out how many quantities of a recipe are necessary for a hired cake tin. An easy way to do it is to find the cake pan usually used with that recipe and fill it with water, up to the level it would be filled with batter. Then pour that water into the hired tin. Repeat until the tin is proportionately full (not to the very brim, but allowing for batter to rise). If it took four tin's worth of batter to fill the large tin, quadruple the recipe for the wedding cake.
If it looks like the tin will hold an awkward quantity of batter – say, 3 2/3 times the original recipe – round up. It is always better to have too much than too little – high cakes can easily be trimmed down to a uniform depth. For a tiered cake, the tiers are usually supposed to be even in depth, so you will end up trimming every cake to the depth of the shortest cake. Because of this, it's worth the effort to make each cake as tall as possible. Cook extra batter in muffin tins for a treat.

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