Weddings are more than a gathering of friends and family to celebrate a nuptial. It can be the most expensive party you ever throw. From the flowers, dresses, photographer, reception location, invitations, catering, wine/champagne, favors, decorations, and the dozens of others things you never budgeted for, weddings are a cash cow! Wedding cakes from a bakery can cost anywhere from $3 – $15 per slice of cake. And honestly, the cake only sits for a short time before the bride and groom cut it and then served to the guests. Although I love wedding cakes and they definitely adorn the reception, the cost can be used in other areas that are long lasting, like the photography and videography.
I recently was asked to make a wedding cake for my friends daughter Sarah. She wanted a simple design with accent of fresh flowers of hydrangea and lavender. She expected 140 guests. The tricky part was driving the cake up through the snowy mountains to her destination wedding in Julian, California.
I created a three tier cake using flowers from the wedding florist. The total cost of the cake, filling and frosting was $60. That equates to under .50 cents per slice. Everyone loved the moist and delicious cake. If you bought the same cake at a bakery, the cost would be over $300 or more.
Here is how I did it:
- You will need to buy or borrow different size cake pans. Wilton sells a three tier set that you will definitely use in the future. Click here to purchase (Amazon)
- I used size 12, 10 and 8 inch round cakes.
- I used Duncan Hines White Cake Mix and added 1/2 cup sour cream to each box of mix to create a moist cake. I also created simple syrup cake wash to seal in the moistness.
- Sarah wanted strawberry and raspberry layers of filling, along with an almond buttercream frosting.
- I did not have to pay for the flowers as the florist left remnants of her bouquets and table decorations to use on the cake.
- My baking schedule was bake the cakes on Thursday and refrigerate. Friday was fill and crumb coat. Early Saturday morning was frost and decorate. Saturday mid-day was the transport of the cake to the wedding location (a two-hour drive).
- To decorate, i used a 1/2 inch wide spatula to create a corrugated look of the cake.
Ingredients and Supplies:
- 8 boxes Duncan Hines White Cake Mix (2.09 per box) Total: $ 16.72
- 24 eggs (1.99 each) 4.00
- 4 Cups canola oil 2.99
- 24 ounces sour cream 3.99
- 4 Cups Crisco Shortening 4.99
- 4 Cups butter (8 1/2 cup blocks) 7.00
- 2 32 ounce bags powdered sugar 4.00
- Raspberry filling 3.99
- Strawberry filling 3.99
- Bobo Straws or wooden sticks for support 2.00
- Cardboard circles (2 of each – 12, 10, 8 inch) from cake store 4.00
- Metallic wrapping paper from cake store (1 yard) 1.00
- 1 cup sugar for simple syrup .50
- Pure Almond extract (6 teaspoons) 1.00
Cake Support straws and cardboard circles you can purchase at a craft or cake store:
How to Make: Start by making your cakes. Use two boxes of cake mix for each 12-inch round cake, 1.5 boxes for each 10-inch round cake, and 1 box for both 8 inch round cake pans. You might have some extra cake batter to make cupcakes. Fill the pans to 2/3 way full. Bake until the center is clean when you put a knife through. Allow to cool on counter before placing in the refrigerator. Use the cake boards or plates to rest the cakes on while they cool in refrigerator.
While cake is cooling, prepare the bottom cake board. Cover the cake board with metallic wrap (I bought one yard at the cake store).
This if your bottom board to hold the 12 inch cake.
Prepare simple syrup by boiling one cup of water and one cup of sugar. Allow to dissolve. Then cool the syrup before spreading on the cakes.
Make Almond Buttercream Frosting:
Almond Buttercream Frosting (make two batches)
2 cup (4 sticks) butter (salted, or unsalted)
2 cups Crisco shortening
1/4 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)
1 bag 32 ounce powdered sugar
3 teaspoon pure almond extract (best quality available)
* In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix softened butter and shortening together.
* Add salt (if needed).
* One cup at time, add 2-3 cups of powdered sugar, beating after each addition.
* Add almond, or other flavorings and beat to combine.
* Add the remaining 2-3 cups powdered sugar, one at a time.
Continue to beat another minute or so. The frosting should now be smooth and fluffy.
Prepare to fill and crumb coat the cakes. Using a freezer bag or decorating bag, fill frosting. Make a ring around the cake. Make a thin layer of frosting on each layer to prevent filling from seeping into the cake.
The ring of frosting around the cake prevents the filling from pouring out the sides when you add weight of the layers.
You can make as many cut layers you want. I just make one cut through each layer to create 3 layers of filling on each tier. I alternated raspberry and strawberry filling on each layer.
Spread a thin layer of frosting around the entire cake. It helps to have a cake wheel or lazy susan to turn the cake easily. This thin layer is called a crumb coat as it seals in all the crumbs and filling. Refrigerate the cakes until you are ready to decorate.
Take cakes out the refrigerator and frost the cakes completely using a straight edge spatula. Add cake support straws. Measure and cut to the appropriate length within the diameter of the next size cake.
Using the end of a 1/2 inch spatula, glide as you traverse up to the top of the cake. It creates a beautiful, yet simple design. If you do not have a spatula, you can use the tip of a dull knife. Clean up the sides with a paper towel.
Refrigerate the tiers until you are ready to transport. When You get to the reception, make sure you have the wedding cake table set up before placing the tiers on top of each other. I did use a plastic cake plate and pillars for the 10-inch round, as Sarah wanted hydrangeas on the cake.
For $60, and over 140 servings, and a 2 hour drive on a winding road – it was a sweet success!
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