First Time Wedding Cake

Discussion in 'Cakes' started by Abby126, May 9, 2018.

  1. Abby126

    Abby126 Member

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    Hi! I'm making a good friends wedding cake this summer for about 80 people. Does anyone have any recommendations for transporting a 3 tiered cake 2+ hours away in August??! I live in Maryland where it gets super humid...thanks for any advice in advance! Happy Baking!
     
    Abby126, May 9, 2018
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  2. Abby126

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    Oh you have your work cutout for you.

    Here’s some tips on transporting cakes.

    Pack an emergency cake repair kit. Include tools for assembly and repair. Extra decorations, fondant, buttercream
    etc.

    Dowel all your tiers. Even if the top tier is just 6”, run a center dowel through it. Two hrs on the road during summer vacation when everyone is heading to the shore means you may hit your brakes a few times. If the cake is jolted during the drive, the layers may slide if the tiers aren’t doweled.

    Assemble the tiers on site. Do not try to transport a fully assembled multi-tier cake that far.

    Place each tier in a good quality cake box. Then place the cake boxes in an insulated cardboard box. See link below on DIY insulated cake box. Just make them large enough for each tier.

    Given the distance, I would chill the cake tiers overnight.

    If it’s a fondant covered cake, read Erica O’Brien’s blog post on how to refrigerate a fondant covered cake. Link below. Also look up her method on repairing fondant just in case you need to do a repair. Link below.

    Two hours drive is just the beginning—the cake won’t be sliced for several hours after arriving at the venue, so you want the cake to remain cool for as long as possible. Contact the venue to find out whether climate control storage is available once you deliver the cake. If not, you may need to put dry ice in the insulated boxes.

    Blast the air conditioner for 10 minutes before loading the cakes into the car. If you use the trunk, put the seats down to allow the cool air to circulate to the trunk. Then check the temperature before you load the cakes.

    Do not place the cakes on the car seat. Place the cake box on the floorboards or in the trunk. Trust me on this one, it’s experience talking here. Use the floorboard.

    Bed, Bath, and Beyond sells non-skid mats in the rug department. You’re going to need non-skid mats in the cake boxes and under them. Just buy a big mat and cut pieces as needed.

    Place a piece of non-skid mat in the cake box, then place the cake board on it. Secure the box.

    Then place a piece of non-skid mat in the insulated carrier box, then place the cake box on it.

    Then place non-skid mat on the floorboards/trunk before loading the boxes in. I like to tuck rolled up towels around the boxes to take up as much space around the box as possible. The non-skid pads and towels work well to keep things from moving.

    Just one last thought...if it’s a naked cake, you have about 4 hrs top to slice and serve. Beyond that and the cake may get pretty dry due to air exposure.

    http://ericaobrien.com/blog/yes-you...rate-your-fondant-covered-cakes/#.WvJwJhZlDYU


    http://ericaobrien.com/blog/gunge-its-a-miracle/

    https://avaloncakesschool.com/delivery-box/
     
    Norcalbaker59, May 9, 2018
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  3. Abby126

    KatsInTheKitchen Member

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    This is the greatest tp for keeping cakes COOL during the Summer season


    You would be using 3 smaller boxes as assembling on site is the smartest way to go.
    I live in Florida so this video was a great find. Norcalbaker59 hit all the rest of the crucial points!!
     
    KatsInTheKitchen, May 24, 2018
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  4. Abby126

    Leofric Member

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    I was recently voluntold to make a wedding cake - my first wedding cake! And there were several things I learned that might be useful 1. choose a cake recipe you are comfortable with - don't fall for the the bride really really wants this recipe unless you know that you can pull off the recipe. I was stuck with a French Pound cake recipe that was an absolute failure when I did the test run. Luckily, I was able to improvise a recipe together that followed the family recipe while giving me the required height (first recipe baked up wholly flat, tasted great but was flat.) but still retained the desired taste and texture.

    2. Are any other desserts being served, and does the cake server know about wedding cake servings? We had enough cake for 200 with the strawberry shortcake being served if the slices were less generous. So with only 109 guests, I was expecting at least one tier of wedding cake and one whole strawberry shortcake to come home. Nope there was 1/2 an 11 inch cake round left. Thank goodness there weren't more guests.

    3. Settle with the Wedding couple their cake desires asap. I was told the bride was OK with a two tier cake, but found out later she really wanted a three tier cake which changed how I approached the structuring of the cake. In fact, the bottom layer of the wedding cake was my standard 1234 cake tarted up with lots of orange rind.

    4. Weather and all butter buttercream - if you are going this route - if possible ice the cake at the reception or at least crumb coat the cakes and put the initial layer of frosting. I had crumbed coated and frozen the cakes but did the final icing at the reception hall in 27 C heat with an iffy air conditioner so I got the weird thing of the icing freezing on the frozen cakes but melting in the icing bag. As someone who doesn't loving piping, I soon realized that the simple design planned for the cake would be a failure so I taught myself how to pipe and with a sterling silver candy dish and fresh flowers pulled off a very nice cake - but it was damn scary for a while.
     
    Leofric, Jun 5, 2018
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  5. Abby126

    Becky Administrator

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    What a great word! :D Glad to hear the cake turned out well, despite all the stress.
     
    Becky, Jun 5, 2018
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  6. Abby126

    Abby126 Member

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    Wow this is such great advice, I will follow it to a tee! Thank you for taking the time to respond to me, it is so helpful!
     
    Abby126, Aug 24, 2018
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  7. Abby126

    Abby126 Member

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    Fresh fruit is the death of me in the summer! She wants fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Thank goodness I found a recipe for stabalized whipped cream. I hope that it holds up in a climate that is humid and on the water (chesapeake bay in Maryland)! Thank you for the wonderful advice, I cannot tell you how much you put my mind at ease. The wedding is for 60-80 people. I am also making a Smith Island Cake and a chocolate cake in addition to the wedding cake! THANK YOU!
     
    Abby126, Aug 24, 2018
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  8. Abby126

    Akos Well-Known Member

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    Wow wow wow @Norcalbaker59. What in depth advice. I've also learnt a lot.

    What if it's a 4 tiered cake with the middle 2 as dummies (since you can't dowel rod)?
     
    Akos, Aug 24, 2018
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  9. Abby126

    Abby126 Member

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    Well since the middle tier is going to be a Smith Island Cake (thin 10 layer cake with chocolate ganache) I have to use a dummy cake for the 9" tier since I cannot cover it with fondant, it will be a cholcolatey mess! How long do you think the cake can sit on display with fresh strawberries and whipped cream for filling and I.M.B.C on the outside for the crumbcoat base for the fondant?
     
    Abby126, Aug 24, 2018
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  10. Abby126

    Abby126 Member

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    This video is a savior! I will be making the boxes this weekend so I will let you all know how they turn out! Thanks again to all for your help and kindness!
     
    Abby126, Aug 24, 2018
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  11. Abby126

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    @Akos,

    I wouldn't advise sandwiching two dummies in the center. Dummy tiers are very light weight. Real cake is heavy. When you stack a cake, the weight of the cakes create a center of gravity, which provides some stability, But if you break up the center of gravity with two light dummy tiers you have a very top heavy cake. If the cake table is jolted or even if you place the top tier slightly to one side, the cake could topple over.

    Usually dummy tiers are used on either the top or the bottom to create that center of gravity.

    If the top tier is a dummy, the heavy real tiers are centered over each other to create that center of gravity. The bride and groom can easily slice from the bottom tier without too much worry of knocking the cake over.

    If the bottom tier is the dummy it acts more as a cake display. The cake is stable as the upper tiers are centered on the wide dummy base. If the bottom tier is a dummy, there needs to be enough difference in size between tiers so the couple can cut a small slice from the second tier.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Aug 25, 2018
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  12. Abby126

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    @Abby126,

    A two hour drive and display time in the summer heat and humidity will not work for this type of cake. The type of cake has to be appropriate for conditions.

    All whipped cream, whether stabilized or not will deteriorate when exposed to heat and humidity. Stabilization simply slows the deterioration process over 24 hours of refrigeration. Stabilizing the whipped cream is not a substitution for refrigeration.

    The addition of fresh strawberries potentially increases the rate of destabilization due to the natural water in the strawberries.

    Sugar is hygroscopic, meaning it pulls water from its environment. The sugar in the whipped cream and cake will pull water out of the berries. If the whipped cream is exposed to air, the sugar will also pull moisture from the humidity in the air. You can see sugar’s hygroscopic properties by mixing a bit of sugar with berries and let it sit. In about 30 minutes there will be a lot of liquid in the bowl and the berries will be soft. That's what is going to happen when you put the fresh strawberries in the whipped cream.

    It’s impossible to know how long a whipped cream and berry filled cake will hold up. To be honest, the transportation time and weather conditions are such that most experienced cake bakers would not agree to bake such a cake.

    I really encourage you to bake a test cake very similar to the cake as ordered. Then box the cake and place the box outside for the time you allocated for transportation. After the estimated transport time, remove the cake from the box and leave it outside for the amount of time you anticipate the cake to be on display. If the cake is still intact—and it may not be, slice it to check the quality of the IMBC and filling. A cake sitting in warm and humid conditions might look intact, by the icing and filling may not be edible. A real buttercream that sits in hot humid conditions will be very greasy as the emulsion begins to break down. Also, if the IMBC begins to break down, any moisture it releases from the butter will start to disintegrate the fondant. Similarly, a heat sensitive filling like whipped cream and fresh berries will become runny if it sits at room temperature or higher for too long.

    I know baking a test cake is a lot of work, but if you decide to proceed with this cake, it is the only way to get a rough estimate of the tolerance range of the components and an estimate of your window of time for getting the cake delivered and served.

    Given the components, there’s another important issue that should be addressed: food poisoning. The government uses water activity level to establish food storage requirements to guard against food poisoning. Foods with high water activity levels must be stored at or below 40°F or at or above 140°F. The longest food can safely consumed after sitting at room temperature is 2 hours. But that 2 hour window is just a guideline.

    Three major components in this cake, IMBC, fresh fruit and whipped cream all have extremely high water activity levels. In addition, water activity increases with temperature. This cake will be exposed to conditions above room temperature, so that increases the potential for rapid bacteria development. In the presence of water and the right temperatures harmful bacteria can double in number in about 20 minutes.

    The water activity level of these three components is so high, that every state with cottage food laws prohibits the sale of baked goods made with these components. The rational is a home based business does not have the mobile refrigeration equipment necessary to safely transport and store high water activity food on site. I know this is not a commercial transaction, so does not fall under these restrictions. I just mention it so you have some frame of reference as to the potential health risks involved with this cake and the conditions you are up against.

    The baker is responsible for food safety during the production, transportation, and delivery of the cake. Once the cake has been delivered, the customer is responsibility for the condition of the cake at delivery and thereafter, including proper storage of the cake to guard against food poisoning. Even in a non-commercial transaction, its advisable to disclose and discuss the food safety issues with the bride and groom to ensure every one understands the risks and is in agreement on how the cake will be handled to guard against food poisoning.


    A bride may request any cake she desires, but it’s the responsibility of the baker to know what is possible, what the risks are given the cake components and the environmental conditions, and advise the bride accordingly.


    One of the most difficult lessons in baking for others is learning how to say No. I have to say No a lot, and it I still feel bad when I do.


    I do not in any way mean to sound critical or discourage you from baking this cake. My intent is to bring the baking and non-baking issues to light so your cake is successful and the experience is a memorable one for all involved. Most baking resources address the baking, with nary a word about the important non-baking issues involved in creating baked goods for an event.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Aug 25, 2018
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  13. Abby126

    Akos Well-Known Member

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    Thanks a lot @ Norcalbaker59. I really really appreciate your advice. With this, I'll make the bottom and top dummies and the middle tiers real cakes.
     
    Akos, Aug 31, 2018
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  14. Abby126

    Akos Well-Known Member

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    If Abby126 were using fondant, what advise will you give her in the type of filling taking into consideration the heat and humidity?
     
    Akos, Aug 31, 2018
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  15. Abby126

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Under those conditions, 2 hour drive to venue, outdoor wedding, lag time before cutting, I would go with a commercially produce fruit filling as they don’t require refrigeration. In the US they are sold in sleeves, so cake bakers call it as sleeve filling. Where I live the independent kitchenware store also sells them because of the exceptional number of caters. While I’m not a big fan of sleeves filling given the circumstances facing Abby126, I would go that route.


    For homemade options, chocolate ganaches or caramel. Both of these fillings can be very sweet so you don’t want a sweet cake.

    This is a link to a sleeve filling

    https://www.confectioneryhouse.com/strawberry-cake-and-pastry-filling.html
     
    Norcalbaker59, Sep 2, 2018
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  16. Abby126

    Akos Well-Known Member

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    Me da w'ase. That's I thank you, in my local language.
     
    Akos, Sep 2, 2018
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  17. Abby126

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    You’re very welcome Akos
     
    Norcalbaker59, Sep 3, 2018
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  18. Abby126

    Akos Well-Known Member

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    Hello hello hello. Can I do a 12" dummy of 4" deep bottom tier, with 10" of 5" deep, 8" of 3.5" deep and 6" of 5" deep (real cakes respectively?) The 4 tier cake will be covered in fondant. The 10 inch and 6 inch will be quilted, while the 12 inch dummy and 8 will have no decor at all. Will the cake any stacking problems in terms of weught?

    Another question please. Which is heavier a chocolate and red velvet cake baked in the same pan size?
     
    Akos, Sep 6, 2018
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  19. Abby126

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    @Ako,
    With the dummy on the bottom you should be fine stacking real cake on it. Just be sure you dowel each tier very well so the cake does not cave in on itself.

    Just an aside, you may want to consider 3" or 4" difference in diameter to create more distinction between each tier, especially if the fondant is all one color. A 2" diameter difference isn't much, and when each tier is covered in the same color, it looks more like a column.

    Another way to create a more dramatic look is to use a barrel tier in the center. It would still be 4 tiers since a barrel tier is made by stacking and covering two of the tiers to look like one.

    Regarding the weight of the chocolate and red velvet cakes....the weight will depend on the total weight of the ingredients for each recipe. Cakes made using different recipes will not weigh the same as the different recipes will call for different amounts of flour, sugar, cocoa powder, water etc. A red velvet cake is simply a chocolate cake with two bottles of red food color.

    To get a rough idea of the weight of the different cakes, just add up the weight of the ingredients (assuming your recipes are written in weight, not volume).
     
    Norcalbaker59, Sep 6, 2018
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  20. Abby126

    Akos Well-Known Member

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    Hello@Norcalbaker59, thanks so much. As always, thanks very much for the in depth information.
     
    Akos, Sep 6, 2018
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