How to Make a Wedding Cake

 

This is probably my 3rd time showing you all how to build a wedding cake in my 5+ year career on youtube!

Practice makes perfect don’t you know!

I am happy to do it, since each time I do I feel that I am providing more valuable information based on the questions I get regularly on this topic.

Full tutorial for how to make a wedding cake

You may want to check out the original Gretchen’s Bakery How to Make a 3- Tiered Cake post & video as well as this one, since too much information is never a bad thing! Especially when you are approaching the task of building a wedding cake for the first time!

I also have some information on a separate blog post for How to Cover Cakes in Fondant since that is a whole other topic that I did not address here, however many people are using fondant for tiered cakes so that post is a wealth of information as well!

For today we are going to make a simple yet elegant and classically decorated wedding cake just to cover the basics of building the cake so it is sturdy and will hold up for hours during your reception event!

Once you have a sturdy base foundation~ you are free to decorate to your wildest imagination if you think my design here is too conservative for you!

All the rules are the same no matter what cake recipe you use and whether you decorate with fondant or buttercream!

If you are using fondant, the only thing that is different is: instead of the final icing of buttercream, you cover the crumb coated cakes directly with fondant.

That’s it. You will proceed exactly the same way as shown in the video, with the doweling technique and even the buttercream glue between the layers!

For those who do like my design, you will see just how easy it is to do it with 1 pastry bag and 2 tips (all found in my Gretchen’s Bakery Essentials Cake Decorating Kit)

*Take $2 off your order NOW by entering coupon code: WEDDING in the apply coupon area at checkout at GRETCHENSBAKERYSTORE.COM

In addition to those few things a Cake Turn Stand is helpful and if you get the Ateco brand that I use, it will last you a lifetime! I have had mine since I was in high school! (and believe me that was a lifetime ago!)

You will need wooden dowels, cardboard circles to the same diameter of your cake pans and an offset spatula and/*optional bench scraper for icing your cake.

The fondant flowers from Fondant Flowers.Com is seriously the way to go for those of us who are not super skilled in making fondant flowers; or if you just don’t have the time! (ME!)

You can get affordable sprays of beautiful flowers to make any cake look like a masterpiece!

Fondant FlowersFondant FlowersFondant Flowers

Of course you have to plan out your cake recipes and icing and fillings as I explained in the video, but for the same exact cake as I made you will need recipes as follows:

The Golden Cake Layers

5.0 from 12 reviews
Golden Vanilla Cake
 
The following recipe is already calculated to yield 2-7" + 2-5" layers
For the 2-10" layers mix the recipe 1 more time
Author:
Ingredients
  • Unsalted Butter 18 Tablespoons (260g)
  • Cream Cheese 1 + ⅓ cups (340g)
  • Granulated Sugar 3 cup (600g)
  • All Purpose Flour 3 cup (375g)
  • Baking Powder 5 teaspoons (24g)
  • Salt 1 teaspoon
  • Eggs large 8 (400g)
  • Egg Yolks 4 (72g)
  • Vanilla Extract 4 teaspoons (20ml)
Instructions
  1. Cream the butter and cream cheese together slowly to incorporate evenly.
  2. Add the sugar gradually while mixing on low until it is all combined well, do not whip on high speed or incorporate a lot of air.
  3. Combine the eggs, yolks and vanilla and then add one at time to the creaming mixture. Be sure to mix well, before adding in the other egg and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl often.
  4. Add the sifted flour and baking powder all at once and mix until smooth
  5. Pour batter into prepared greasedpans filling just under half way full and bake in preheated 350°F oven immediately for approximately 35 minutes or UNTIL ITS DONE when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs
Chocolate Cake Layers
5.0 from 12 reviews
Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
 
CLICK HERE FOR FULL RECIPE & VIDEO TUTORIAL FOR THIS CAKE
This recipe below will make 2-7" cake layers + 2-5" cake layers
You will mix the recipe 1½X again to make the 2- 10" layers
Author:
Ingredients
  • Semi Sweet Baking Chocolate 113g (¾ cup) 4 ounces
  • Natural Cocoa Powder ¼ cup (23g)
  • HOT water ½ cup (120ml)
  • Unsalted Butter *very soft 12 tablespoons (169g)
  • Whole Eggs 5 large (250g)
  • Granulated Sugar 1 cup (200g)
  • Vanilla Extract 1 Tablespoon
  • Buttermilk 1 cup (237ml)
  • All Purpose Flour ¾ cup (98g)
  • Cake Flour 1 cup (120g)
  • Baking Soda 7 g (1½ teaspoons)
  • Salt 3g (½ teaspoon)
Instructions
  1. Over a double boiler combine add the eggs and sugar and mix well to dissolve the sugar and also heat the eggs to about 115°F
  2. Once the sugar feels dissolved and the eggs are very warm (not hot) place bowl on the Kitchen Aid mixer with the whip attachment and whip on medium to high speed until ribbon stage. Approximately 5 minutes.
  3. In the meantime while the eggs are whipping you can sift together the flour, baking soda and the salt and set that aside.
  4. In another bowl add the cocoa powder to the hot water and vanilla and whisk it smooth.
  5. Add the melted chocolate and very soft butter to the cocoa mixture, whisk smooth (it should look like ganache)
  6. At this point your eggs should be ready, and you will add the entire melted chocolate/cocoa powder mixture to the whipped egg mixture, and mix until it is all uniform, just about 30 seconds more on high speed.
  7. Next we begin alternating the dry ingredients with the buttermilk, beginning with the dry ingredients and ending with the dry. (DRY-LIQUID-DRY-LIQUID-DRY)
  8. Mixing just until incorporated and stop to scrape the sides of your bowl from time to time too.
  9. Pour batter just below half full into greased pans
  10. Bake at 350° F UNTIL ITS DONE
BUTTERCREAM
5.0 from 12 reviews
Buttercream
 
I am using Swiss Buttercream for my cake CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL TUTORIAL FOR HOW TO MIX- I have always used Swiss Buttercream for all my weddings, but you can of course use whatever recipe you prefer if it is Italian or American style.
I made the recipe 3X and added 1 cup of raspberry puree to 1X recipe for the filling
Author:
Ingredients
  • Fresh Large Egg Whites 180g (6 Large)
  • Granulated Sugar 300g (1 + ½ cups)
  • Confectioners Sugar 240g (2cups) *Domino brand is recommended 10X sugar
  • Solid Vegetable Shortening 170g (3/4 cup)
  • I prefer to use SWEETEX, it is a High Ratio vegetable shortening
  • Unsalted Butter 454g (2 cups)
  • Vanilla Extract Or Vanilla Paste 1 Tablespoon
  • Salt pinch
Instructions
  1. Over a double boiler, in a large metal bowl whisk together the granulated sugar and the egg whites stirring constantly until the mixture reaches approximately 115 degrees F and the sugar grains have dissolved and are not longer gritty to the touch.
  2. Pour this mixture into the metal bowl of the stand mixer with the WHISK attachment and whip on high speed until it is thick, glossy and white in color. The peaks should be as firm as firm can be.
  3. In the meantime you can sift your confectioners sugar, and once you have achieved STIFF peaks meringue, add the confectioners sugar all at once with the mixer on very low speed to avoid having a snow shower of sugar all over your kitchen!
  4. Once all of the sugar has been incorporated you can turn the mixer speed to med-high until it is all nicely mixed in.
  5. Be sure your butter and shortening are at room temperature and they are the same consistency. Add it in about 2-3 additions, but FAST Additions.
  6. Add vanilla extract
  7. Switch to the paddle attachment and blend on low speed until smooth
The following charts are all useful tools in helping you determine what size cakes you need and then how to cut them!

Oh yeah and don’t forget to check out the video for How to Cut a Wedding Cake too!

        Circular Wedding Cake Cutting Guide

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN BUYING BAKERY BOXES OR  FIGURING OUT WHAT SIZE BOARD TO USE WITH WHAT SIZE CAKE AND THEN WHAT SIZE BOX TO PUT IT IN: CLICK HERE

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61 Comments

  1. Dearest Gretchen,
    I’ve been looking for a sizing chart when it comes to knowing how much to make for each size pan. This helps a bit, but still a little lost of the conversions. How do you know how much recipe you need to make for which size pans?

    1. Hi Christine I did not see this message until now, major website problems lately 🙁
      I have to write a blog post for this, since so many people ask. There really isn’t a “chart” so hopefully I can explain my method which is not really anything scientific- I basically just fill pans half full no matter what size pan, but as for the conversion of recipes I did show a bit of one in the video

        1. well I do have alot of vegan recipes here (both cakes, fillings and icings) so you can take any of those recipe you like and create a wedding cake just the same as I did here- only using all vegan ingredients.

  2. Hello Gretchen,
    I just got married and I didn’t realize there was a proper way of cutting the cake. It appears that I did do it your favorite way of cutting the cake. I did use your lemon curd, raspberries sauce and the Italian meringue buttercream (added lemon extract/juice to follow theme) recipes. I did find a lemon white chocolate cake that was delicious. Just sad it wasn’t your recipe as I love everything you make. I wish I could show you the picture but for some reason I can’t share it with you.
    Thank you for all you do. You inspire me in my baking and I continue to learn from you.

  3. Your wedding cake utubes are brilliant does the swiss butter cream hold it’s shape, and will it stand up to travelling 170 miles in UK weather in August.
    Thanks, Doreen

    1. HI Doreen, Ive never traveled that far with a cake! I would probably take it in pieces and assemble it on site

  4. Hi Gretchen
    When you go to sleep every night, you should be very proud you made such a difference to us all. Your Gretchen’s Swiss Buttercream is a real contribution to humanity, never again tears nor trembling knees nor wasted butter. If it was the only thing you did, it would be more than enough, instead you continue changing our world. Thanks on behalf of… well, just me.

    1. awe! what a lovely (timely) message! I needed that today! 🙂 thankyou !! Please tell your friends to visit me here on the blog so I can continue helping and doing what I love with you all!

  5. Hi Gretchen, speaking of traditions, in my country, an old tradition was that the top tier of the cake was kept in the same fashion as yours, but instead of a anniversary cake, our top tiers were for a christening cake for the first born baby! I’m not sure how long these cakes were kept on average, I’m assuming the intention was they were supposed to be used within the year!!!!!! Thankfully that tradition is not widely used anymore!

  6. Thank you so much for everything. I got my first real wedding next week as a real baker. And I’m super excited and nervous at the same time. Thank you for all you do for us.

  7. Hi Gretchen,
    I am making a Birthday cake for 25 to 30 I made a 10″ square and 8″ round. I never know weather to use three layers per tier of just the two layers. I like the way the three looks but they don’t want a lot of cake left over. What do you suggest? Please let me know!! Thank you, Karen

    1. Hi Karen it’s not you- Ive beenhaving alot of trouble with my website for weeks now, so I am not getting all the notifications and why I missed this one and tons more 🙁
      Anyway- it is really up to you whether you want to use 3 layers or 2 – I also like 3 layers, but again it is your preference and what is in the budget. With 3 layers you can cut slightly smaller pieces (since they will be taller and essentially same portion size due to the height) but this will ultimately give you more servings per cake

  8. Hi Gretchen I left you a comment maybe i put it in the wrong place im not good on a computer but please read the above message I sent you on July..Thank You

  9. Hi Gretchen,
    I really like your video. But I can’t find the blog to convert the recipe for larger cake.
    Please send me link or measurement for 12″ cake pan.

    Thank you
    Dimple

    1. HI there thanks, I have not written the post yet for how to convert recipes easily since I have no easy magic formula. But you will need 3X recipe for 2- layers 12″ cake

  10. I will need to freeze at least part of my layers for a 4 tier cake. Should I crumb coat ahead of time and do they need to be completely thawed before icing and assembling? I need to feed 200 folks for this wedding!! YIKES! I have no way to refrigerate the whole cake or even all the layers at once in my ordinary home fridge so will ice and assemble the day of the wedding. Thanks for any insight. (Love your tutorials!)

  11. Hello Gretchen,

    I love your recipes and l am planning to make an 8-inch and 6-inch 2-tiered wedding cake. Could you please tell me the amount of cake batter and icing recipes l should use? I am thinking of swapping the raspberry puree with strawberry… Please reply.

    Thank you for being awesome…
    Sorry l forgot to mention that I am thinking of using your American buttercream instead..

  12. Hello Gretchen,

    I am making a 3 tiered wedding cake. 12, 9 and 6 ins. I have the smallest Kitchen Aid and would like to use the Best Vanilla Sponge recipe for the 12 inch layer. Can I make 1.5 x recipe?
    I have never made a decent chocolate cake until I tried your Chocolate Buttermilk Cake – fantastic
    Thank you

  13. Hi Gretchen,

    I was wondering if you have any video tutorial on how to make the golden vanilla cake, the recipe of which is included in this page. I’m a visual learner and like to see progression of color, texture, etc. in the recipes.

    Love your recipes!

    Thank you!

      1. Thanks Gretchen! But the recipe there is different than recipe here. I will follow the recipe on that page and let you know how it goes.

        Thanks once again. You are awesome!

  14. Hi, I am new to the scratch cake making world. I am wondering if you have any preferences in type of cakes for a wedding cake (sponge, pound, butter etc…) Thanks

  15. First of all thank you so so much for your blog. I’m making my own wedding cake (4 tiers my god) and while my mother in law and sisters in law are helping I will have to do two of the tiers largely unassisted. This makes me feel more confident.
    But I do have some questions like
    1) Those dowels seem so thin, could they support a 4 tier cake? 2) Can I use Victoria sponge cake for one of the lower tiers (the third) and, if so, do you have a recipe for it? And can I freeze those layers for a week or two?
    3)Is there a vegan buttercream recipe that will hold up as well as the swiss buttercream you prefer under fondant?
    4) If I have an assembled cake tier that I know freezes well how long would it need to defrost before fondant can be applied?

    1. HI Great! You will be fine! Yes the wood dowels are sufficient support, the larger the cakes, the more dowels you insert
      I do not have a recipe for Victoria Sponge, however you may like this one as it is similar it is my favorite Butter Cake recipe
      This is my BEST Vegan Buttercream recipe it is very strong and sturdy
      I would not freeze a crumb iced ake, too much condensation on the thaw and you will have problems with the fondant. Only Freeze Cake layers then assemble the cakes and keep the refrigerated only

  16. I am attempting to make my daughters wedding cake, a first for me.
    Can I use almond extract instead of vanilla in both wedding cake recipe & Swiss butter cream?
    Hopefully with your video all will be a success!
    Thank you for sharing

  17. Hello!
    Are there any issues I should consider about using a vanilla simple syrup on individual Duncan Hines chocolate, yellow, red velvet and spice cakes… or do you think it wiser to just use unflavored simple syrup, or none at all?!!!

    These will be individual 10″, two layer cakes. Cakes were frozen one week ago, will be thawed and dirty iced on Thursday, iced with Italian Meringue icing and served Saturday evening.

    The cakes may need to be held, after icing, at 60 degrees/room temperature, until service, unless you think that unwise! Refer space will be used up by three tier wedding cake, for same party !

    I also appreciate all your help; it’s great to receive a KNOWLEDGEABLE second opinion !!!!!

  18. Hi Mam,
    I just love your cakes and videos. I am a home baker from India and here, we get cake orders in pounds( Kilograms , in fact. Big Fat Indian weddings , you know! ) So , for example for a 16 pounds cake or a 20 pounds cake, how do i divide the recipe for different tiers?
    Also, if you caould help me with an eggless version of your basic sponge cake recipes as maximum people here prefers eggless….
    It ll be big time favor. Thank you so much !

  19. I want to thank you for your tutorials, your recipes and your website in general. I have watched your videos starting about 9 months ago to see if I thought I could make my daughter’s wedding cake. I have never attempted a tiered cake in my life. I rewatched many times and made lists and you gave me the confidence that I could do it. I used your Swiss Buttercream recipe and it was amazing and got rave reviews. I made three tiers with the middle tier carrot cake and so I made the mixed swiss buttercream and cream cheese frosting and it was the BEST ever. I’ll treasure the memories of making the cake and how even the non-cake eaters loved it.

  20. Hi Gretchen, I’m attempting a wedding cake for the first time. I attempt challenges only because I follow your instruction and everything always works out ok and delicious. Thank you so much for that.
    My question is, I am planning on making your golden vanilla cake recipe and the bride wants either blueberry and lemon cream or
    strawberry and whipped cream or custard. My concern is it is July and wonder if I use the whipped cream or custard filling with fresh strawberries if it will spoil? How long can it stay outside? I will be using swiss buttercream on the outside of the cake.
    Would fresh strawberries be ok if I assemble the cake the day before and keep in the refrigerator?
    I’m not sure if it is even ok to use fresh fruit.
    I will be looking forward to your reply. Many thanks.
    Rosanne

    1. excellent! Thankyou and you are welcome too!
      For FILLINGS I wouldnt worry about it, especially since it is buttercream iced, that acts like an insulator if you keep the cake in the refrigerator at least 4 hours before the weeding you will be GREAT!
      I have done tons of summer berry weddings in hot hot NJ summers!

      1. Thanks for the reply Gretchen. I live on Long Island so I understand the NJ summers. By the way, one batch (10″, 8″, and the 6″) didn’t rise. Don’t know why, but I made another batch. Of course I had to taste that cake that didn’t rise. We all loved it. I even whipped up some whipped cream and put strawberries for a sample. You would think what I made. My husband and daughters just loved it. You never fail me Gretchen.
        Someone mentioned to make a lemon sugar water to brush on the cake layers, then the cream and strawberries. She said it cuts on the sweetness. What is your opinion on that? Thank you again.

        1. You are so welcome. I wonder why the first batch didnt rise?? That’s odd… A measuring error?
          Here are my thoughts on Simple Syrup cakes CLICK HERE
          I wouldn’t think it by adding a concentrated sugar syrup to the cake would make it LESS Sweet? And if you read the article I only use simple syrup for genoise style cakes, sponge cakes etc…
          But your option of course!

  21. In making a multiple tiered cake, how do you ensure that the frosting sticks to the cake in between the layers where the cake board is? I’m afraid when taking the cake apart to cut, the frosting will come off with the board! Thanks in advance!

  22. Hi Gretchen, excuse me if you received 2 comments from me re: 4 tiered cake – the first didn’t seem to go through. I am making a 4 tiered cake with fantasy flowers cascading down the front of the cake. I’ve made several gumpaste flowers already but I’m afraid they’ll be too heavy for the cake. Should I use fondant covering the cake so it may be sturdier for the flowers (on wires) or buttercream? I am also practicing wafer paper flowers but not sure how these will look. any feedback would be appreciated. I can post the picture of the cake I am going to make on Facebook messenger since I cannot download here. Thanks so much!

    1. HI Cathy, I have to approve all comments before they go public. Sorry I haven’t gotten here sooner. (I do feel like I have answered this question already though, Im not sure if it was on this post or another??) At any rate: Ive used gumpaste flowers in buttercream wedding before, the wires help to keep it all in place. (this video here shows me doing exactly that) and yes to messaging me on fb would be great

  23. Gretchen, if I wanted to take your Golden Vanilla Cake recipe and make it lemon flavored, would you add both lemon juice and lemon zest to the recipe? Thanks, I love your website and you have great advice.

      1. Thank you so much. It’s for my daughters Sweet 16 (my kids crazy, it’s a Batman party. I love it that she’s not conventional all the time… I’ll let you know how it turns out and send you a picture. Thanks again for all you do!! How do we give you a donation? I truly appreciate your time and knowledge, and I’m telling my friends to check out your site.

  24. Hi Gretchen, I am at it for the second time. this time making a wedding cake. The groom is allergic to eggs. any good recipes? Is it even possible?
    Also, do you have a preference for flour?

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