The cost of weddings has sky-rocketed in the last decade. Earlier in 2013, a study found that the cost of the average wedding in the UK now exceeds £18,000 – more than many people earn in a year.
So it’s no surprise that the “DIY wedding” is now a rising trend, as people aim to have a great wedding on a smaller budget.
One way in which many brides and grooms choose to reduce their costs is by asking a friend or relative to bake a wedding cake, rather than buying one. For keen bakers, this is a dream come true – but for others, it’s a nightmare. So if you’ve been asked to make a wedding cake, first make sure that you’re up to the challenge. Then follow a few simple steps to make sure you get it right.
Top tips for baking a wedding celebration cake
The cost of wedding cakes can be astronomical, often running into many hundreds of pounds for a simple two or three tiered concoction. Even these relatively affordable wedding cakes from Marks and Spencer may be out or range for couples on a tight budget, given that you could make a large cake and decorate it in grand fashion for less than £50.
The first step is to have a detailed chat with the bride and groom to see what they want. Talk about preferred flavours – traditionally, wedding cake is fruit-based but the couple may prefer a chocolate cake or a red velvet cake as a tasty modern alternative. The latter options may be preferable if the wedding cake will double up as dessert, but if you’re giving away pieces of wedding cake for guests to take home, a traditional fruit cake may be more sensible.
Additionally, talk about shape and decoration. The couple may prefer a square cake to a round one, or a cake that looks like it’s sloping (you need a special cake tin for this). Similarly, they may have pictured a cake that’s intricately decorated with sugar flowers and adorned with real fruit – or perhaps they’d like a simple white cake with edible bride and groom toppers. If they’re looking for something really adventurous, you can get cake decorating tips from many blogs and articles online.
Once you’ve decided on the basics, schedule a trial run for six months before the wedding (if time allows) so they can taste the cake. This gives you enough time to tweak the recipe or change it altogether if necessary.
Next, make sure you get the numbers right, so every guest gets a slice of cake if they want one. For small weddings of fewer than 40 people, a compact two tier cake will probably be enough. For large gatherings of over 100, you may need a cake with several tiers, or perhaps a few cakes with two to three tiers. Ensure that you have the correct number of dowels and cake boards to create the tiers you need. For more information on how to make a wedding cake, the BBC food blog has some excellent tips.
Alternatives to a traditional wedding cake
Perhaps your bride and groom don’t want a traditional wedding cake at all. Indeed, it’s becoming much more popular to bake wedding cupcakes and place them on a cake stand in place of a tiered cake. Cupcakes may be easier to bake at home, and portion control will be simpler. Cheesecake is another great wedding cake replacement, and won’t require the use of an oven. These alternative wedding cake ideas from Channel 4 can offer you plenty more ideas.