Considering making your own wedding cake? Friends and relatives telling you that you’re crazy? You’re not! Here’s a few reason why you might want to bake your own wedding cake:
- Budget constraints: Traditional wedding cakes can easily set you back £600 or more, but who actually likes wedding cake? And how much will get wasted? Is it worth it?
- Small wedding: Most wedding cake providers specialise in making magnificent 5-tier towers of sugar and sparkles. Efficiencies of scale mean that it’s not cost effective to scale these cakes down for small weddings, forcing brides with less guests to buy cakes much larger than they really need.
- Personal taste: Wedding cake options are still limited, despite efforts to bring the cake into the 21st century. You’ll have to pick between fruit, plain or chocolate. What if you hate icing? A layer of icing thick enough to protect the cake from an atom bomb exploding nearby is obligatory for any traditional wedding cake.
When I started planning my wedding cake I quickly realised that a traditional bespoke wedding cake wasn’t for me. My cake budget was £60 or less, my guest list consisted of 20 people and we both hate icing with a passion. So I started considering my options:
A bespoke wedding cake. £££
- A pre-made cake (from M&S or similar). ££
- A handmade cake, made by me or a friend/relative. £
So what about a pre-made cake? These have the advantage of being inexpensive, some are available in smaller sizes (buy as many layers as you need) and have a long shelf life. The downsides? These cakes tend to be dry, and are typically protected by a layer of icing thicker than the dictionary. And you still don’t have a choice on flavour, or design. Boooo.
It was at this moment I thought, “hey… I like baking!”, and that actually, with 2 years writing the packedlunchprincess under my belt, I’m actually pretty good at baking too. I started mentioning to a few people that I was considering baking my own cake. The reaction I received from my friends and family was, invariably, “you’re crazy, no bride should make her own wedding cake!”.
Un-phased, I continued researching and planning baking my own cake. Me and the hubby had already selected a chocolate affair for our wedding breakfast dessert course, so we wanted something a little different for the wedding cake. It was easy to choose, because our all-time favourite cake is Coffee & Walnut. However, I knew there to be a few coffee-haters among our number, and I didn’t want them to go without. The solution? A two-tier cake. The bigger bottom tier would be Coffee & Walnut, while the smaller top tier would be luscious lemon. To avoid using the dreaded Royal Icing, I decided to spread the cake with lavish quantities of shop-bought vanilla flavoured buttercream (pro’s: long lasting out the fridge, low-risk, quick) and smooth it with a striped-pattern cake smoother for a rustic, textured look (check out my Pinterest board for buttercream cake inspiration).
Some other benefits of making your own wedding cake:
- Allergies: Got a guest with allergies or intolerance? Bake a cake that even they can eat. There are loads of great gluten-free and alternative cake recipes out there.
- Fussy eaters: Only organic? Doesn’t like vanilla? Vegan? Even fussy eaters can be catered for when you bake your own – you know exactly what went in there.
- Buttercream/fresh cream: Want to use buttercram icing? This can be tricky logistically. Buttercream cakes are hard to transport ready-built, and fresh cream doesn’t keep well. But if you make your own, you can ice it on the day.
- Remote venues: If you’re getting married somewhere remote like I did, you might find it hard to find a cake provider who’ll ship to your venue. Or they might charge you a fortune for the privilege.
- Choice: Do you love Tiramisu? or Cherry Bakewell? or Carrot Cake? Why not make your cake in your favourite flavour – it’s YOUR choice!
- Compliments: It’s not as if compliments are in short order on a brides wedding day, but hey, you can’t get too much of a good thing, eh? When people hear your cake is homemade, they’ll lavish you with compliments on a job well done.
- Memories: No one will ever forget a homemade wedding cake, and neither will you!
Some downsides to making your own cake:
- Fear of failure: There’s always risks when baking. you might burn the top, you might find all your eggs have gone off, or you’ve lost your favourite baking tin. But with some advance planning, you can minimise these risks.
- Stress: If you don’t have a friend to help you assemble/ice/decorate the cake on the day, you might find yourself with a stressful job to do on your wedding day. Don’t be afraid to delegate. Everyone wants to help the bride on her wedding day.