Homemade Wedding Cakes
There are many reasons for making a homemade wedding cake. For one thing, if you are a talented home baker, you may want to create a labor of love as a gift for the new couple. If they accept your offer, your gift will represent a huge savings for the bride and groom, or for whomever is footing the bill for the wedding. Or perhaps the cake is intended for a simple wedding, held in a home or in a backyard. A bakery cake may seem a bit over-the-top for such an occasion while a homemade creation seems just perfect. But aside from these considerations, making a wedding cake at home means greater control over the flavors and the design of the finished product and prevents the necessity of dealing with specialty cake shops possessed of a prima donna attitude.
Once the couple gives you the go-ahead, it's time to start discussing the type of cake you will create. While a white cake is classic, today, anything goes. Some couples have a thing for carrot cake, while others don't want to bother imbibing calories for anything less than chocolate. The main thing is that unless the couple gives you carte blanche to decide the type and flavor of cake on your own, don't wing it—get their input and abide by their wishes. Otherwise, your gift will fall flat on its face (no pun intended).
Keep in mind that white cake doesn't have to be boring. Flavorings such as almond, apricot, and raspberry can change the whole overall taste impression from blah to fabulous. You may want to hunt down specialty items like seedless raspberry filling or invest in a special liqueur such as Frangelico. Think about the way the tastes will combine (white chocolate with raspberry, almond with Amaretto, carrot cake with pineapple filling and cream cheese icing, or perhaps lemony buttercream with whipped lemon mousse filling) and if possible, find out what will be served at the wedding meal to make sure it is compatible with your cake.
The construction of the wedding cake is crucial to the success of your venture. Large cakes need internal support to keep them from collapsing. Most wedding cakes are made by layering cakes in successive sizes. To help hold them upright and keep their shape you'll need to insert wooden dowels into the cake layers to give them support. Icing will hide the presence of the dowels.
As an alternative, you can buy a tiered cake stand to avoid the issue of learning to dowel a cake for support. Simply place the iced and decorated cakes on the tiers of the stand. If you go this route, make sure it is clear to the couple that you either want the cake plate back after the wedding or that it is a gift to the couple. You can say, "Just have the caterer set aside my cake plate and I'll pick it up the morning after the wedding," or, "The cake plate is yours to keep so you can someday return the favor for another beautiful couple!"