Since my decorating of mother's cake for mother's day/Birthday (the 9th of may), Jim and I have been thinking about doing our own wedding cake. This brought up the following subjects.
- How much cake are we really going to need? (how many people are coming?)
- What is everybody allergic to? (Rachel and Uncle Joe = Strawberries, Cousin Kimberly = Peanuts, Me = Coconut!)
- What flavors don't taste like elephant manure?
- What cakes types/flavors are best for stacking/layering/icing into a wedding-cake shape?
- Do we want a traditional wedding-cake-shape?
- What kind of icing should we use? (Fondant? Glaze? Regular out-of-the-can icing?)
- What kind of decorations are we capable of? (Keep away from the Kroger's Cake Aisle!)
- What kind of colors do we like?
- How many layers??
One thing i know for sure, is that i want us to be "unique". (the bane of DIY brides everywhere! *cry*) but by "unique" i mean something we made ourself, that we put our heart and soul into. not "something funky and out-of-the-ordinary!" because there's already a lot of brides out there who have tried that. Take the overly popularized Topsy Turvy cake. I've seen so many of these i'm sick of them. I mean, there's nothing wrong with them -- they're cute and adorable and brightly colored and look as though they're about to topple over and would be perfect for a mad-hatter's tea party... but that's just it. my wedding isn't going to be a Mad hatter's tea party. So i'm not going to be pressured into buying one. They're not my style, they're not my idea of "wedding."
Well, let's take things one step at a time. This doesn't mean we'll settle on an exact cake today -- we will most definitely be doing some practice cakes over the next year and a half to decide if a DIY cake is right for us. (and trust me, you'll all get spammed with photos and recipes. this i promise.)
- First off, let's discuss amount of cake. I know this can seem a daunting task (and will probably cause many arguments with friends and family...) but decide how many people are going to be at your wedding. You don't have to send out invitations just yet (especially if you're like me and are a year-and-a-half early o.O all my family would forget it a week after they got the invite since the date's so far away!) but at least sit down and decide about how many people. (It might be easier if you sit down with your mother/father and mother/father -in-law and discuss it, that way you won't be forgetting anybody!)
- Once you have an approximate amount of people, decide on how much cake you'll need to FEED said group of people. (The amazing wonderful people at DIYbride posted a perfect chart to help brides decide a little easier. They've also done a post about DIY'ing your own cake, and deciding whether or not it's the right thing for you! Definitely worth a looksee.) Keep in mind that the usual piece of wedding cake is smaller in size than a real slice of cake you'd bake at home...
- Speaking of family, you might want to call up friends and relatives and ask them a quick question or two about food allergies. For example, if you're having a Reeces cup wedding cake, make sure that nobody's allergic to peanuts! Or if you're like me, you don't smother your big-day-dessert in your favorite fruit (strawberries...) or your uncle and your sister-in-law-to-be will be puffed up like pinatas. Bad idea. As i mentioned above in my list, find out if anyone's allergic to food dyes either. (Especially if you're going organic. You never know if somebody's allergic to blueberries or beets!)
- Next? browse the internet, or some old cook books and write down some types of cake you're willing to try. If you're having a beach wedding, why not try something key-lime? Try grandma's old German Chocolate recipe, or even go out of the ordinary and try a chai spice or an Eggnog! (Flavors of the season can be great inspiration too! Since we're doing something in October, i can see us playing off the spices usually found in Pumpkin Pies and Apple cider! Mmmm... Caramel!) (I'll post some helpful and yummy links at the bottom to help you guys out with some inspiration and AWESOME recipes!)
- The next thing i'd suggest? Bake. Bake a lot. Bake all kinds of cake until you're sick and tired of seeing cake, and the next cupcake to cross your path is being gouged with a sharpie until it's nothing but smears of icing and bloodied crumbs. (okay maybe not bloody o.O) If you have to, make a list, and bake them off one by one. Try different icings, fillings, toppings, layers, etc. You'll eventually narrow the list down to one (or three...) you want.
- Now comes the really hard part. Icing. Once you've decided on your cake, you have to decide what to cover it with. (If you're going to at all. some cakes are perfect the moment you tip them out of the pan! :-D) Though there are practically endless possibilities for coverings, it seems the most popular choice lately has been Fondant. (Fondant is a thick dough-like icing that can be rolled out like sugar-cookie-dough and wrapped around a cake (first thinly iced with a "crumb coat" of icing...) to give it a smooth appearance.) Fondant can be shaped, molded, painted, pinched, hardened, sculpted, all kinds of things. It's like better-tasting playdo. But for grown ups. and it's actually edible. (If you buy the right kind.) Some Fondant tastes like dirty pool water. BEWARE. Some? Tastes like heaven in your mouth. You simply have to buy/try what's best. If you're ballsy, you CAN make it yourself and decide what it will taste like. If not? go out and buy it. DIYbride has an entire section dedicated to fondant. Read it. lol. (they did their research. I'm poor and did not.)
- Another (and more elegant and DIY-looking approach) is just regular out-of-the-can (or homemade if you're crafty like that...) Icing. Though it's a bit harder to control, and doesn't always cooperate when you want it to, it does give your cake a handmade feel. It's also (usually) more pleasing to people who have had bad experiences with Fondant and may not be willing to forgive and forget their differences. All kinds of decorations can be achieved with simple dollar-store (or Wal-mart.. haha) piping tools that are easy to come by, and will do wonders once used properly. (This will take a lot of practice, so you may want to grab some foam, or some cardboard and a jumbo-tub of icing and practice for a few hours before attempting something like realistic flowers or perfect beading.)
- One amazing (but totally rich...) idea is Modelling Chocolate. It's totally expensive, but totally good. It's like fondant, but Chocolatey and amazing. I'm not sure where you can get this as of yet... (i'll keep looking though!) but i'm gonna guess you can get it from your local restaurant supply store. (or you can try and make it yourself, but i've no idea what goes into such a wonderous thing as modelling chocolate.)
- IF your cake doesn't like to be icened, covered in fondant, or wrapped in chocolate (oh my!), then you can always opt for a glaze. Lemon glaze, caramel glaze, Chocolate glaze, all kinds of amazing glazes can be achieved with (sometimes) less ingredients than the latter three. They can (of course) be used in conjunction with the other three options, or simply poured over the cake itself. (Throw on some berries and some chocolate shavings and we've got a party! haha.) The thicker it is, the more like ganache it can be, and the more decadant the dessert.
I hear you i hear you it's okay. Not everybody wants a cake for their wedding! That's perfect! the more personalized it is for you, the better. the more intimate the affair and less cookie-cutter bride! (unless you want cookies. you could do cookies o.O)
A popular trend lately has been cupcakes. And although i think it's entirely overdone, i will admit, i love the damn things. They're a perfect portion of cake, slathered in icing, and decorated as a personal hunk of sweet. Depending on how many people are at your wedding, you could easily pull off a cupcake tower. (Jim and I have been talking about doing a combination of small cake and cupcakes... but more about that later!) Just be sure you know the approximate number of people showing up (this might have to be done after the RSVP's are sent out or else you could end up with too many or too few cupcakes!) and then ROUND UP. Keep in mind there may be some people who will want seconds. or thirds. or twenty seconds. (if they go back for more than two or three though you may have to set up some security gaurds with fly swatters and rolled up newspapers...)
Another adorable idea is that of the wedding pie. Instead of the grandeur of a layered cake, or the cuteness of millions of cupcakes lined up on a table, there's a pie. (usually with more pies around seeing as one pie doesn't usually feed a group of 50+...) This is definitely a DIY touch that's perfect for a backyard bbq wedding, or something simple and homey. (or if you just really like pie o.O) I've toyed with the idea of having a couple decorated pumpkin pies at our wedding as side-desserts, but not the main thing. But if you want to have your DIYcake and eat it to, Pie may be your way to go.
Brownies, cookies, ice cream, anything you want can take the place of your wedding cake. You could probably even have a huge bowl of greasy bacon if your heart so desires it. Me? i'm sticking with cake tyvm.
It seems so far Jim and I have decided on only a few things about our cake. *sigh*. We *do* want a cake, and we're going to try for fondant. He's not allowed to make the icing. (No baby. just... no.) and we'd love to have not only cake (probably in two or three separate flavors, designated by layer...) but a few cupcakes as well. (The Grooms cake*). We're not really into box-mixes, and we can't have strawberry (nuuuuu! *sob*). We love autumn leaves, and earthy bits. and we totally want that cake stand there. We've no idea if we're having a cake topper or not, and there will definitely be chocolate somewhere. And that's as far as we've gotten it.
*Grooms cake = Since most of the wedding is "about the bride" a lot of brides get together with a cake decorator or a friend, and make the groom a cake that's symbolic to him. These are usually extremely nontraditional and really unique and artsy. I've seen everything from the bridge of the star trek enterprise, a box of cigars, his dog, to an x-box. (But a grooms-cake does not necessarily mean it's for the groom. though these are usually wild and crazy cakes that aren't tiered and usually shaped like objects, They can also be for the bride, but are still called grooms-cakes. Weird huh?)
Helpful links and junk
- DIYbride wrote a few amazing posts about DIY wedding cakes and deciding if they're right for you. Totally worth a read.
- Ming Makes Cupcakes is an awesome blog/website dedicated to the most nontraditional mouth watering cupcakes i've ever seen. (Malted milk ball, Caramel Apple, Key lime, Chocolate Beet!)
- How to Eat a Cupcake is my latest favorite thing to stalk. er... follow. The writer is extremely fun to read and really does some amazing recipes. To the right, she even has a few drop-down menus that allow you to pinpoint certain recipes. Cupcakes, icing, brownies, breads, savories, and etc! Awesome with an A.
- The Broke-Ass bride has an awesome sense of humor as well as helpful advice. Considering the name, you can probably guess there are a lot of money-saving tips there and a few DIY projects. The wit in each post is worth reading in and of itself so stop by and stalk her for a while.
- Cut-out and Keep is a community-run craft website with millions of How-to's and inspirational projects. There is literally everything on this website. It will teach you how to cook chicken, bake a rainbow cake, make mini lolita hats, tie your hair in a bow like lady gaga, turn plastic bottles into amazing beads, knit, crochet, bead, sew -- everything! This is one of those websites i check every single day, right after "the devils panties" and "girls with slingshots"... (and my other 8 webcomics that are my guilty pleasures...)
- Etsy. If you haven't been there you've been slowly dying inside without knowing it. Get there. NOW. There are seriously millions of hand-made crafts made by fantastically artistic people. They will literally make ANYTHING. seriously. i've seen camoflouged garter belts, Steampunk jewelry out the behind (love!), the most adorable cake toppers i've ever laid eyes on, Photos and Artwork i would plaster my living room with if i had one! It's an amazing site to buy human-hand-made things, and supports us starving artists.
- Dog n' Bird artful weddings has been such amazing inspiration! They're very offbeat, with a little bit of coutoure mixed with Boheme... gorgeous ideas all of them!
- Offbeat bride was the first wedding site i ever actually read. My friend Caitlin sent it to me and i swear to god i check it every day. The totally off beat weddings that go on on that site amaze me! Lego weddings, vampire weddings, zombie weddings, Vintage hollywood, Handfastings, you name it! The owner of the site really supports DIY things, as well as being totally yourself. There is nothing cookie-cutter about this site for sure. I'm in love. haha.
- My Sweet and Saucy is a party/wedding planner's website that has given me some of the best inspiration ever. Lots of homemade looking touches, but all very unique.
- Last but not least Create My Event is another party planner's website i'm absolutely crazy for. She always has such adorable ideas i never would have thought of! Many times she'll tell you either *how* she made it, where she bought it, or where to find how to make/but it. Really fantastic inspiration and help!
If you have any websites you're running, or are your guilty pleasures, please feel free to leave them in the comments! i'd be more than happy to share them with everybody!
So what did you do/are you doing for your wedding cake/pie/sweets-in-general? I'd love to hear about it! (if not snatch a recipe or two ;-D)
P.S-- coming up? Cake porn.