A wedding cake is the centerpiece of a very special day. Before you begin to bake one, there are a few things to keep in mind. Cake strips, made of silicone or a woven aluminum fabric, will keep your cake layers flat and even. On baking and assembly days, treat the kids to a day out with a trusted friend or relative. They'll have fun, and you'll have undisturbed time to create your wedding-cake masterpiece.
Inventory Your Equipment
Although you might be an accomplished baker, tackling a big wedding cake is a bit different from baking a simple layer cake. Take stock of your baking equipment, and make sure you have baking pans that are large enough for the layers you plan to bake. You'll also need other equipment, such as a heavy-duty mixer, icing spatulas, cardboard cake rounds, icing bags and tips, a rotating cake stand and dowel rods.
A big wedding cake consists of three layers for each tier. Baking three layers per tier, multiplied by three or more tiers, requires a great deal of time. Baking the layers ahead of time, and freezing them, allows you to complete that part of the task over several days, or even weeks. If you don't have enough freezer space, you'll need to find space in someone else's freezer. As a rule, wedding cakes are assembled before the wedding day and refrigerated. If you don't have room in your refrigerator, consider where you will store the finished cake.
Bake the Layers
A big wedding cake might have a bottom tier that's 12 inches in diameter, with a 9-inch middle tier and a 6-inch top tier, all consisting of multiple layers. Rather than using a recipe designed for one small cake and trying to determine how much to make, use a recipe that's formulated for a wedding cake. Recipe sites online feature calculators that let you adjust the recipe according to the number of servings. Bake the layers as directed in the recipe. If you're making the layers in advance, wrap each layer in plastic wrap, and freeze it. The layers will keep in the freezer for up to one month.
Assemble the Cake
Use cardboard cake rounds underneath the layers as you move them, for stability. Assemble each tier separately, placing a cardboard round on the bottom layer of each tier. Pace squares of parchment paper or waxed paper along the edges of the rotating cake stand. Set the assembled bottom tier on the stand, and ice it there. Cut 1/4-inch dowel rods into sections to hold the tiers together. Insert these sections into the bottom and middle tiers, from the top, using four per tier. They should be long enough to reach the tops of the tiers, level with the icing. When you decorate the cake, pipe a line of decorative accents around the bottom of each tier, to cover the cardboard rounds.