project wedding cake: ta-da!

[Previous Project Wedding Cake episodes: An Introduction, Mango Curd, The Cake is Baked and Swiss Buttercream]

Oh, I’m sorry. Were you looking for me? Was I supposed to tell you something? It’s just that I left this wedding at 5 p.m. on a Sunday so exhausted, I’m pretty sure I stormed home in my 3-inch gold heels, promptly fell asleep on the sofa and didn’t wake up until 8 this morning.

But here I am, all caffeinated and human again! And look! Someone took some pictures of the wedding cake. (What, you expect me to remember the camera? I thought remembering all three cake tiers and some offset spatulas was enough!) And, lo, we had a wonderful time and the cake was great and there are smiles all around.

And the rest is history.

cutting the cakecake, plated, small

Wait, you want more details? Well then here’s my attempt at a run-down that you can feel free to skip if the details of cake assembly rightfully bore you.

Since we last spoke:

  • A few days into this project, Torrie, a blogger, photographer and pastry chef who used to work for a caterer where her specialty was wedding cakes emailed me and offered her assistance if I ran into trouble and needed someone to talk me through it over the phone. Ha! I was like “phone, schmone. I mean, I know you just moved to a new house three weeks ago and have a one-year old to chase after, but don’t you want to drop everything and ice some cakes in your flawless style for me so that I can take all the credit?” Astoundingly, she agreed.
  • Torrie joined me for a few hours on Saturday and together (I’m lying, she did everything) we doweled, masked and iced the bottom tier. She took off and I did the top two, and stowed them in the fridge. Then I looked at the kitchen floor and asked Alex if we could get the cleaning lady to come back, oh, 72 hours after her last visit. It’s Tuesday, and the grimy floor and I are still awaiting his response.
  • Sunday morning at 7:45 a.m. we put each cake in a box with the lid cut off, carefully laid them in the back seat of the borrowed car (towels make an excellent leveling device, as car seats are naturally angled back) and drove the .25 miles to the restaurant at a snail’s pace. I had also packed a bag that included a turntable, icing knives in different sizes and angles, four bags of frosting, two with different size tips, some damp towels in a zip-loc, scissors and a long serrated knife we could use to separate the boards. And the kitchen sink, because you just never know.
  • From there, it was fairly easy. We plopped the cakes on top of each other, I filled in the gaps with a little frosting, piped the border pearls, the decoration (I was going for this, and almost got it right–maybe next time!) and then iced the board (a Torrie trick I liked). We cascaded some orchids down the side and arranged some on top. And then we went home and showered. Thank god.

cake boards were the wrong size, of coursechocolate fillingmasking the buttercreamtorrie did this one

The hardest parts:

  • The math: People, Alex and I have done so much math in the last months, our brains are still hurting from the squeeze. And we like math! Seriously, kids (are there kids out there?) do your math homework. It might be the only thing you need as an adult. Um, if you need to scale pastry recipes.
  • The tiny kitchen with one counter and no dishwasher: Look, I don’t like to complain. I love our tiny kitchen with the skylight. I wouldn’t trade it for a bigger one (well, unless it had a Viking range, in which case all bets are off. I’m sure you understand.). But I can see why cakes like these are generally made in professional kitchens, or at least large suburban ones. Each 12-inch cake layer was from a separate batch of batter (because uh, my KitchenAid doesn’t hold 21 cups!). Every cake layer was baked separately. We had to nix a 14-inch base because the pan didn’t fit in our oven (not that we needed it anyway). You know, stuff like that. But heck, if I can pull it off, anyone can so be ye not intimidated! Just plan for everything.
  • And this thing, too: Seeing as this is not one of those blogs where every single detail of my life gets transcribed for Internet eternity, I didn’t really get into this as it happened but now think, “why the heck not?!” You see, three weeks before the wedding? I quit my job! And two weeks after that, started the contract work that is taking up most of those hours I used to spend in a flourescent-lit cube, dreaming of a different gig. I know what you’re thinking: how wonderful! You’re a freelancer! You had so much extra time to put into this project! Here, let me send you lots of kick-ass freelance assignments at two dollars a word! But in actuality, it was like the perfect storm, starting a new gig right in the middle of that mega-project. The good news, however, is that with this new arrangement I should theoretically have more time to put into this site.

piping the pearlspiping the design

And now I must shower these people with praise:

  • When Elise read that I was undertaking this project, she called me on the phone and told me all about the wedding cake she helped a friend bake and assemble last year–a project so huge, she has yet to blog it! It was great to hear someone else’s tips and tricks, and the photos she shared were stunning. (I think we should all root her on to publish her story already!)
  • Shuna–the sweetheart that this Eggbeater is–picked up the phone and called me this week to explain to me in great detail how to get the mango curd to set and was a total lifesaver.
  • Torrie, for all of the help I listed above, and a buttercream recipe to boot! She rocks.
  • You! Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm for this project. Would you believe I even considered not sharing this? It was too… absurd. But you all saved me more than once, with your advice and hints and cheering. Give yourselves a big hug.

orchids, everywhere

Finally, to answer the question I know you’re going to ask: Yes, yes I would do it again. [And yes, that’s Alex you hear sobbing in the background.] But no, I am not going into the wedding cake making business. I am not insane, I just love my friends and when people are trying to pull together a wedding on a limited budget and are asked to shell out $700 and more for a cake that is categorically underwhelming, it upsets me. I can fix that. Plus, it’s so much more fun than buying a set of china that probably won’t even come out when you visit them!

Note: The top four photos in this post were taken by our friend and wedding photographer extraordinaire, Elizabeth Bick.

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407 comments on project wedding cake: ta-da!

  1. Long time lurker, delurking to say WOW!!! Wow is this amazing!
    What an incredible effort, and beautiful results. Do you offer overnight service tastings? =)

    Congrats on surviving the perfect storm, you must feel so good to be coming out of the craziness, I hope having this project done, eaten and enjoyed is a real load off.

  2. Woohoo! Isn’t that a great feeling, knowing that you made your friends’ wedding a little more memorable because their delicious cake was made for love and not money? And also, now you know you can totally make a kick-ass wedding cake if you need to. When I made my friends’ cake as their wedding present, I said that I was doing it because (1) years from now, they will REMEMBER what I gave them as a wedding gift, and (2) now I can oh-so-casually say, “Oh yes, I’ve made a wedding cake before.”

    Great job, Deb!

  3. *Huge round of applause*

    Dude. That looks AMAZING. My jaw is on the floor; I barely have the bravery to make a regular 8-inch cake and frost it–baking scares me a little. And I love cake! I need to work on this, you’re very inspirational.

  4. Deb you rocked it! It’s so beautiful!

    Haven’t you said before that you wish you had made your own wedding cake? So…what do you think now? And keep in mind that I’ve read thesmitten. :)

    Congratulations on the job change!

  5. Wow, that cake is amazingly beautiful. My wedding cake also had a cascade of orchids, so it brings back good memories :) I can’t imagine baking that in a tiny kitchen so you have even more to be proud of!

  6. kim

    wow! what a gorgeous cake! :) i’m very glad you shared the story… just picturing trying to bake all of those layers in a normal oven!! you are dedicated :)

  7. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this final post. I always enjoy your blog, but this was the most fun entry I think you’ve posted yet. Thank you for taking the time to blog about it, and congratulations on making writing your way your full-time work. I think you’re very gifted.

  8. Heather

    Long time reader – first time to comment. I love the website!!
    The cake is beautiful!! I enjoyed reading through this project, it inspires me to push my own baking limits. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Barbara

    What a wonderful cake!! Thanks for sharing the whole process – I’m so relieved that it all worked out perfectly in the end and I had absolutely nothing to do with it!

  10. Juliet

    Congratulations to you, Alex and of course the lovely couple!

    The cake looks beautiful and I’m sure tasted equally stunning.

  11. Beth

    I was so happy when I opened my RSS feed and saw you posted the final cake! I was actually in a wedding this weekend but couldn’t stop thinking about how your cake turned out. Congratulations–it’s lovely.

  12. Faye

    A magnificent effort and cake! I admire you so much. Thank you for taking us along on this ride. This series of posts are some of your best!

  13. mollysusie

    Oh, it looks lovely! And I’m sure it tasted fabulous.

    I would ask if you got a piece, but I think you probably had enough tasting during the test phase(s) to know how it turned out.

    And congrats on the new job! I’m currently in the dreariness of needing a new job while terrified of doing anything that might lose me my old job.

  14. martha in mobile

    That was a wild ride! Congratulations on the magnificent cake, on leaving cubicle-land, on your organizational skills, and for being such a good friend!

  15. Jen

    Wow. The cake looks amazing. I found your blog a long time ago and follow it through Google Reader. Tackling a wedding cake is a huge project and you did it wonderfully. I’m sure the bride and groom are very thankful for having a friend like you. Thanks for sharing this and all of your stories.

  16. Kara

    I usually don’t comment because i’m such an amateur cook compared to you, but that cake is BEAUTIFUL. What an amazing gift!

  17. RA

    My awe over the wedding cake has subsided slightly since having a sneak peek on Flickr, but can I just say WHOA BABY about the new freelancing status! That is awesome! Are you a worker-at-homer now? Just another thing to make me insanely jealous!

    (Congrats, on all accounts!)

  18. liz

    The cake looks gorgeous (and delicious) — thanks for sharing the whole process with us. Congrats on the move to freelancing, as well!

  19. I have made cake. I have made curd. I have made frosting. All many times. I have been baking since I was very wee.

    But I can’t imagine taking on a wedding cake for someone.

    How outstanding! You rock like Springsteen! (Or whomever you listen to, but seriously, who beats Bruce?!)

    And congrats on the new gig! You gots to be someone special to command $2/word in the freelance realm.

    Have you ever posted a wide shot of your kitchen? I’d love to see it.

  20. All I can say is WOW again, because, hell, that is one gorgeous cake. And I got to eat it bothe chocolate and the mango. I am so lucky. I know I keep asking, but doesn’t Alex want to take me as a plural wife? I want home cooked Debbie meals and cakes all the time. AND I know you would make the most kick-ass wedding cake for your sister-wife! Please?


  21. ZAKIA

    Congrats on the cake!
    You have given me the inspiration to tackle my nieces(3 of them/1 party) 4-tier birthday cake next month.
    would you mind sharing how tips on how you got the curd to set?

  22. Marie

    Debbie — Wow!Wow!Wow! I love the cake!! Love, love, love it. It is EXACTLY the cake I’d wished I’d had for my own wedding. Dots, orchids, proportions, especially the chocolate. The bride and groom are beautiful. The cake is beautiful. You are beautiful.
    I’m so happy you shared with all of us, all the details. I tell you, I’ve been sitting on the edge of my chair, waiting for each post. Better than a suspense movie.
    Hope you plan to share the ganache recipe, too? And tips on slicing and how much time you need to defrost the cake. Do you frost it while it’s frozen?

    Elsie — I’d love to read about your experience with making a wedding cake. Both of you have given a gift to remember! A gift of love is forever.

    Deb, I’ve no idea what it is you do, but if you’d like to share with your adoring readers — I’m sure some of us would be happy to send you an assignment? No wedding cakes! Right?


  23. Wow, for your first wedding cake (I think), this is spectacular! Hell, for your 100th wedding cake, this looks great! :-) I love the simple elegance of it and the flowers add just the right touch. I can’t believe that cake came out of the kitchen you describe. What an accomplishment! And great point on the ridiculous price of wedding cakes and how cool of you to help your friend save money. You’re a cool chick.

  24. Oh my goodness, it was beautiful! Such a wonderful job, I love it. And yet I am upset, felt myself welling up because it is over, no more drama of the wedding cake to wait for a post. I guess you will have something else to keep me on the edge. Thank you so much for sharing and I know I heled you gain an audience by posting it on my blog roll! I wish I could have had a pice, looks extremely good!

  25. Amy

    Gorgeous cake! How impressive. I am pretty new to your site, but I am completely addicted. And I tried the Swiss Buttercream last night. Wow. I may never make any other frosting again!

  26. Kimberly

    The cake was GORGEOUS. If I didn’t know it was done by a non-prof, I never would’ve guessed. You did a great job with it.

  27. Amanda

    First let me echo everyone else and tell you how amazing this cake looks!!! Of course, I have a couple of questions… Were you able to make all of the buttercream in advance? Did you just bring it up to room temperature and frost or did you rewhip it? Did you wind up using a moistening syrup? The cake is amazing and I hope the cakes I make for my SIL’s wedding turn out half as nice! Congrats!

  28. I have enjoyed the cake-making-saga. I hope you got to enjoy a slice at the wedding, fruits of your labor and all that! haha. I wanted to say I like your reasons for taking on such a huge task considering your small kitchen etc etc, a friend of mine always said, “give memories, not stuff.” Your friend’s wedding cake is now more than just a cake, it’s a whole story, an event in of itself. Cool.

  29. It is absolutely beautiful, but, having read your blog for eons now, I would have expected nothing less. You are an amazing chef/chef/baker-extraordinaire! Congrats on quitting cube life and taking this on full time! I’m sure most of us (as I am) are totally jealous!

  30. Deb, you are awesome! I, too, have a small kitchen with no dishwasher, so I love that I get the courage to attempt crazy recipes after I see that you can do it. Good luck with your new gig!

  31. Bravo! Absolutely stunning cake, Deb. Thank you for taking us on this journey with you. I learned a lot and I’m inspired to try this on my own. I have a wedding shower cake to make in August and I’ll be taking the lesson learned here with me.

  32. beth

    deb, i was so eager for this post — and here it is! the cake is just beautiful, and i’ll bet it tasted even better than it looks. congratulations on surviving the math!

  33. emj

    This is such a beautiful cake – You did such an amazing job – if this cake were for me, I wouldn’t want to eat it :)

  34. bmk

    The cake is absolutely stunning! With all the work and devotion you put into it, I imagine it tastes as good as it looks. Congratulations on such a great accomplishment.

  35. Heather

    My first time commenting but I HAD to say:
    Is it sad that I have been checking for 3 days to see if you had posted the final result?? I either love cake, your site or culinary drama way too much!
    Congrats on a job well done! I need more friends like you.

  36. Tammy

    What an amazingly beautiful cake! Thanks for sharing. Wish you only the best in your new endeavors, whatever that may be. hmmm.
    I have to say, (first time to comment) that you are truly a special person and it really shines through in your blog.
    I’m am selfishly delighted you will have more time for your blog, as I can’t seem to get enough. You are really inspiring.
    Again, Congratulations!

  37. I HEART this cake! I totally want to get married again so you can make my cake ;) Wait – I totally want to get married again so I can get more presents, but having this cake and being able to eat it too would really take the cake. Oh man, that was lame!

    I also HEART Torrie. She pretty much hates everything. Found her from this blog, and can’t stop going back for more.

    Excellent excellent excellent! Thank you for sharing!! Good luck with the new gig. Can’t wait to hear more.

  38. Absolutely beautiful! It looks so pro, and orchids are my favorite flowers. I honestly think that cake is every bit as beautiful as the cake I had at my wedding – no, make that MORE beautiful ( here, take a look if you don’t believe me: ), which was done by some over-paid pastry chef I don’t even know. Fortunately, my cake was included in a package, so it wasn’t so bad. I only now their regular price because my cousin had a cake made at the same place and paid top dollar for it!

  39. Kelly

    Man, I have been waiting days to see this thing, and it was worth the wait! Beautiful. This is totally inspiring! Would it be weird to make a fancy cake for no reason? I just might have to do that… Thanks for sharing.

  40. ap

    Deb, I loved following along on your adventure, thank you for doing the extra work to put it on your site.

    Also, congratulations on the quitting and the freelancing. If anyone deserves to be able to someday make a living at this, it’s you. My boyfriend and I enjoy reading you so much, and we constantly bake/cook things off your site without a second thought simply because it is “smitten approved”

  41. Nancie

    Stunning, what a wonderful gift for your friends. Now I have to try that frosting, after seeing how beautiful it is when finished.

    I look forward to continuous inspiration from you… Thanks for sharing.

  42. Deb, you are amazing! The cake looks as beautiful as it does delicious. By the way, did you get to eat a big ol’ hunk of it? I hope so!! Congratulations – it is absolutely breathtaking.

  43. Hey, you ROCK!!! What a wonderful cake (it came out awesome, I wish MY wedding cake had been half as pretty… and half as tasty, I’m sure it was incredible). And what’s more important, what a terrific thing to do for your friends!

  44. Jenn

    I was so excited when you posted the first part in this project because I’ve always wanted to learn how to make a really good cake. I showed this to a co-worker and we’ve been eagerly anticipating the conclusion. I can’t wait to try out the recipe for my birthday… but I won’t be doing nearly as much cake, just one is enough for me! Thanks for sharing Deb!

  45. Scout

    Very nice! You should be very proud of yourself. Everyone should have a friend as thoughtful and generous as you! Beauty.

  46. Liz C

    i think what we all realize is to what great lengths one will (and should) go for great cake. i’m sure your friends can’t thank you enough!

  47. Deb, oh my goodness! The cake looks gorgeous! And delicious! And those two things do not normally coincide in a wedding cake. :-) Just really a fabulous job. Very well done, my dear!

  48. Sheila

    I guess I could say ditto to all the comments but I wanted to tell you how much your act of friendship touched me. There are people who claim to be friends but will give nothing of themselves. You give freely of your gifts to the people you care about. Yes, I’ve enjoyed the “journey of the cakes” but even more I have enjoyed your selfless expression of caring .
    That said, I now am determined to make a wedding cake for SOMEONE. Maybe my daughter will get married again. LOL

  49. I’ve read your blog for a long time, but never commented until now. First of all, the cake looks beautiful and I’m sure it was delicious. I just wanted to take a moment to tell you not only how entertaining and informative reading your kitchen adventures has been, but also how inspiring. It makes me a lot more adventurous and willing to try new things, especially when you’ve shown how rewarding it can be!

  50. Lyra

    Oh, it was GORGEOUS. Deb, you are an amazing, phenomenal baker-friend.

    I’m so happy this worked out. Looks delicious, and I thoroughly enjoyed your chronicling of the process.

  51. deb

    OMG, thanks everyone! (I just went out to lunch and, ahem, shoe-shopping–the life of a freelancer!) and came back to all these cheers! You’re going to give me a big head.

    These are the questions I caught, please yell at me if I missed yours:

    Bridget — Well, I now see why it would have been insane to make my own wedding cake. That said, it might have been fun to have a project besides the wedding to work on that week, esp. when everything is realistically done. I regret having nothing homemade–truffles as gifts, cookies, etc.

    Amanda — I made the buttercream on Saturday, but it keeps, even at room temperature for at least a day. Otherwise, you can chill or freeze it. When it’s back at room temperature, you can re-whip it.

  52. Ali G

    Like so many others, I have read your work for quite a while and am reticent to comment, but your work is outstanding and I wanted to add my voice to the chorus of praise! Thanks for letting us in on your life and projects.

  53. I’ve been following your weeding cake baking posts and I’m so happy to finally see it. You must be even happier, no? Congratulations!!!!!!! It looks absolutely amazing inside and out! Very well done you!

  54. That cake is so spectacular it almost makes me want to get married again. ALMOST. But not really. However, my birthday is Friday so if you get started right now, you could make me a fabulous cake for my 56th. Ahem.

    Really, I’m SO proud of you. Which is weird because I don’t even know you, but man, you tackled something big and you asked all the right questions, and you solved all your butter creme problems and made the most gorgeous, professional looking cake. With mango curd. I mean, really. MANGO curd. You are superwoman. You are my baking idol. You totally rock. I love you, man!

  55. Mona

    Wow Deb, you are amazing! Such a great friend…….truly, they will remember this way more than some dishes in a cupboard somewhere.

    I wish you luck in your new job, and think it’s GREAT that you quit your other one! Life is way too short to sit in a cube farm hating every minute of it…I know!


    Love your website!

  56. GORGEOUS! You go girl! On the wedding cake and quitting your job… thanks for taking us along the wedding cake train the past couple of posts. It has been really fun and inspirational to little bakers like myself. :)

  57. Allie

    Is each layer on its own board? And can you explain what doweling is. What a beautiful cake! Congrats on the cake and on the new job.

  58. Ohiogirl

    It was like Christmas — “GASP! Deb posted pics of the cake!”

    It looks BEAUTIFUL. What an amazing gift to give. And I hope you were able to truly relax and celebrate at the wedding!

  59. deb

    Jasmine — I have no idea, but we did figure out at one point that it had to be at least 10 to 15 boxes of butter! Seriously, next time I’m having my mom buy me butter out in the ‘burbs or at Price Club!

  60. Linda

    FAAAANNNtastic! Ah man, I felt like one of those goofy people addicted to a TV show like LOST or 24. I mean, I kept checking for updates and even though I knew better, I would check again just in case two hours later. And then you had to rest. And then you had to work. Cake gorgeous, wedding couple adorable, pics fantastic and wow what a cool accomplishment. Thanks for telling us all about it and introducing Torrie, too. Good luck with your freelance work (you’ll still have time for us, won’t you?).

  61. deb

    Allie — Each cake is on a piece of cardboard the exact size of the cake (some people use plastic boards or pieces of 1/2-inch foam core instead). The dowels can either be plastic, 3/4-inches and hollow or wooden, and chopstick-thickness, and they’re the height of the cakes with frosting. (Like this.) This way, the cake boards don’t rest on the cakes below (they’d sink) but on the support dowels, which are driven into each cake and hidden.

  62. karen

    A couple of questions
    1. Was there enough cake? How much was left?
    2. Did you use any soaking syrups in the layers?
    3. Would you do anything differently next time?

    I’ve enjoyed following this project alot. I’ve made a couple of wedding cakes myself, transporting is definitely the worst part of it. I’m glad you went with the swiss buttercream, too.

  63. Allie

    Deb, thanks for the explanation. Now I finally understand how wedding cakes stay stable… your blog has inspired me to learn to decorate cakes (my current strategy is some powdered sugar and berries on top; would be fun to make some fancy cakes). Does the 3 layer cake book explain how to decorate cakes?

  64. deb

    Karen — There was enough cake, and I’m sure extra. However, I wasn’t in the back cutting it, so I can’t say how much.

    I did use syrups, I forgot to tell you all. For the vanilla cakes, I used a lime simple syrup (2 cups sugar + 2 cups water + zest of one lime boiled then strained. Once cool, I mixed in a few tablespoons fresh lime juice.) and for the chocolate, guess what Torrie’s trick is? She brushes the cakes with just water that has a splash of vanilla in it. The chocolate cake is insanely moist, however, and really didn’t need it. We were just being careful.

    I would stress less next time, but I suppose that’s just what needs to happen the first time ’round.

  65. Lisa

    Truly amazing! The cake is stunning and I’m sure it was insanely delicious, but what I wanted to comment on is your writing. I’ve been reading Smitten Kitchen for many months – finally made my life easier and made it my homepage – and I’ve always enjoyed your writing, but these last few posts about the wedding cake have been amazing. Really fun to read – you have a great, natural voice. I’m sure you’ll be a smashing success in the wacky world of freelance writing (I live there too)!

  66. wow. just wow. the cake is beautiful and you are a trooper for pulling through! go get some well needed rest, and think of wonderful things to scintillate our taste buds with next!

  67. Deb, what a fabulous job! I am making a wedding cake for this weekend and so your documentation of the project was fascinating. I think I am insane. And I have done wedding cakes before. Each one is a nerve wrack. :)
    I love square stacked cakes and dotted frosting, the flavors sound phenomenal. Congreatulations!
    You have inspired me to document my saga this week.

  68. Bri

    Lovely job Deb, congratulations! The cake is beautiful and I’m sure there were many sighs of appreciation as the wedding guests took their first bite. I was so happy to see the final pictures, I scared a few co-workers when I squealed, “ooooh, the wedding cake is up!” One guy even came into my office to see what all the fuss was about. Thanks for letting us come along for the ride, I’m so happy that everything worked out well.

  69. tanja

    Congratulations! The cake looks stunning. Personally, I think it is the best present possible. You put so much effort and enthusiasm into making it, your friends are very lucky. Great job and thank you for writing about it.

  70. I’m usually a lurker here but I’ve been following your wedding cake adventures, and just wanted to say a hearty CONGRATS! The cake came out so beautiful, I’m sure the bride and groom were absolutely thrilled. Yay you!! :)

  71. Becky


    I am sure you will understand when I congratulate you first on quitting your job! That’s fantastic news and I know it feels good because just about this time last year I quit that place too. :-)

    What blogging has yet to afford its readers is taste, touch, smell and I’m sure all of these were absolutely wonderful. Now you can say you’ve baked a wedding cake (and people will ask you to do it again).

  72. deb

    Beth — I missed your comment before. Haha, no I do not get paid $2 a word. What I meant if there is someone out there with a overflowing freelance budget that they should by all means feel comfortable throwing some in my direction. I was joking, er, mostly. (Call me!)

    Also, I want to rock like Bon Jovi because I’m going to see them next week! Jersey in the house!

    Becky — Oh, I remember. And I was so jealous too. :)

  73. JG

    It is a testament to your talents that 1) I am already (at least) the 122nd comment within hours of this post and 2) I actually drove home from work this evening wondering to myself, “I wonder if Smitten has posted pictures of the wedding cake yet?” Blessings on your house for bringing happiness to your friends on their wedding day and letting the rest of us in on the secrets of your talent!

  74. Elisabeth

    Hey, I can’t remember how I came across your blog but I love it, and this has been like a soap opera for me — I stewed all weekend wondering how the cake was coming alone. I had total faith in you, for what it’s worth!

  75. shinie

    Congrats! It looks great. I am inspired to try a birthday cake for my father in law, using your recipes. Thanks!

  76. Ever since the first post in this gripping mini-series, so to speak, I’ve been simply awestruck by the scale of the entire project — as well as your amazing perseverance. I can tell from the photos that it was absolutely delicious, the cake of dreams. Thanks, Deb, for taking us along on your wild ride.

  77. Geens

    Deb, what a beautiful cake, and beautiful gift to the couple! Oh how I would love to bake a wedding cake for someone special. I have three daughters…..maybe, maybe….oh heck, do you want any wedding cake buisness outside of Wash. D.C?? I understand your new work situation……my girls are 14, 12, and ooopsy 3. There is time…… could decide to go into that line of work….please!!!!!!

  78. Corey

    Just gorgeous! Almost too pretty to eat, except it looked too delicious not to eat as well! As a wedding cake should be, I guess.

  79. Donna

    Like the other commenters above me, I’ve been waiting for this last post with baited breath. I’m not big into television, but this was my soap, err, cake opera. The cake looks incredibly delicious–and, as always, your blog is phenomenal!

    I can honestly say that having someone you love bake your wedding cake is the best present. (My sister-in-law and her mom did mine.)

  80. OMG OMG I HEART this cake! Love the pearl blumps! Love the entire post! Congrats on the Freelance Gig! All the best to you and yours! FAN-DAMN-TASTICK!

  81. I am not going to lie – I have been checking back compulsively to see the finished project – and though my little index finger was getting tired of clicking, I am so, so happy I kept trying – this is amazing! What a great gift – it looks flawless.

  82. clayton

    i can’t tell you how many times i checked-in over the past couple of days to see how the final product turned out. it’s.gorgeous! congrats!

    it makes me hope that one of my friends gets married soon and they ask me to make the cake! it’s been quite the inspiring process…

  83. The wedding cake was truly spectacular. This is the reason food blogs were created. You took us step by step and showed all of us that it could be done. I have been inspired. Thank you.

  84. Congrats! Thanks so much for letting us all follow along while you took on this insane task! I can’t believe you weren’t too stressed to blog about it. I think I would have kept it all to myself fearing that some disaster would occur. It looks so pretty and delicious – what a wonderful gift. Now I want to make a wedding cake – I just need my most laid back friends to get engaged!

  85. smittengroupie

    *bows down* The mac & cheese recipe drew me in but this has made me a loyal fan! You probably get this a lot but you should consider trying out for Top Chef!

  86. Kate M.

    WOW!!! It looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing your first wedding cake journey with us. It looks fantastic and I’m sure that it tasted even better than it looks. Congratulations on a job well done.

  87. Janet

    That cake is amazing, great job! I hope your cleaning lady hasn’t broken up with you, and that those beautiful flowers were from Alex :) !!!
    You are so right about the math! everything has to be scaled up and down
    Congrats on the new job. hope lots of contracts come your way!
    Enjoy your “Lazy” this weekend

  88. D

    Next time, consdier being the first to video tape the process from start to finish and put it on you tube. I’ve been long searching for someone to do this.

  89. I don’t even know you, but I’ve felt so invested in this whole project. Beautiful, beautiful work and you’ve inspired me so that if any of my friends are ever mad enough to ask, I might just say yes to baking them the most special treat of all. Congrats!

  90. Neesha

    That cake is so beautiful. you did a fantastic job and thanks so much for sharing it with us. =)

    btw, did your friends know that in exchange you get their first born? you might/should remind them of that ;)

  91. mazel tov! that is a beautiful cake, and you really put the rest of us to shame. we all knew it was going to come together, and truly, it is an honor that you shared the experience with us!

  92. I’ve had your blog in my RSS reader for the longest time, but this is the first time I’m commenting. That wedding cake is lovely! And I enjoyed reading through each “phase.” :D Beautiful, is all I can say. (:

  93. charlotte s

    wow! that cake is just gorgeous! i’ve always wanted to make wedding cakes for my friends- you’ve just made it seem possible! when i do, i’ll be carefully reading this whole series again- thanks so much for posting all about it…

    and best of luck with your new freelancing… this site speaks for itself in terms of incredible writing!

  94. Peky

    This is so awesome! Magical in fact! I’ve been following anxiously on this project and voila! it’s finally done..and kinda over too! Hehe..I’m so envious of the bride & groom for having such a wonderful friend. Would you by any chance bake me a wedding cake too? :D Hahaha..Kudos kudos!

  95. Maiken

    Like many here before me, you have inspired me to get out of lurkdom and actually comment. What a project to pull off!!! It looks sooooo pretty!!! However, I am not an American and in my country (Estonia) the taste of the cake is always much more important than the looks of it.

    So, how did that turn out?

    Did people scream for seconds?

    Was there an overall favouritism towards one of the flavours?

    I can definitely say that my taste buds sure come awake while looking at these photos! It has been an incredible honour to be along with the ride of making this cake and you pulled it off beautifully!!!

  96. may

    Delurking to congratulate you on the masterpiece! I’m sure the newly-wed couple are very happy and very moved. I’m moved just watching the scale of this project!

    And while I’m at it, let me just say that how wonderful your blog is. I too (sometimes) get obsessed to the degree of insanity about making beautiful, good-tasting food. So it’s nice to watch you go overboard :D ! Sadly I now live in a tiny apartment with essentially no kitchen. Hopefully not for long though!

  97. What a fabulous cake, Deb! You must be so proud–and tired–of yourself. Thr bride and groom look thrilled with your cake, so definitely a job well done!

  98. Deb

    You are an angel. “Hugs and Kisses” to you for an outstanding job. I’ve made “one” wedding cake and know first hand the “anxiety” associated with this “honor” and nightmare. I’m awarding you 5 Stars for excellence above and beyond. (PS…….do you have any leftover scraps you’d care to share!)


  99. Sarah

    I just had to comment to tell you how beautiful the cake looks, and what a fantastic friend you are:) So very impressive and lovely! Congrats on the freelancing as well.

  100. rubarb

    Deb – I always read your blog and comment here and there, generally staing quiet on the sideline – but I must must say something – The Cake Looks GORGEOUS!!!! I’m incredibly impressed. What a spectacular baking feat and my apron’s off to you!!!

    What’s up with Gia’s comment, is that some sort of ironic joke?

  101. WOW WOW and WOW you DID it! Amazing and not only that – all these wonderful people pulling together to help. Really AWSOME. The cake looks out of this world – Blown away I am! My mouth is watering!

    Saying DH “do you want to get married again – I know this GREAT cake maker” (grin)


  102. Lauren

    So lovely! I can’t imagine taking such an important project on and you did such an amazing job! You should be very proud of yourself :)

  103. Congratulations Deb – what an achievement! I don’t care if you had help or not, it’s staggering what you came up with. I would never have the nerve or the skill to pull that off, what a lovely gesture to your friends. Good luck with your new work too,whatever it may be. I too dream of getting the hell out of this fluorescent box one day….

  104. Sharon

    It looks great! Any chance you will write about the assembly – putting in the dowels and all that technical stuff? Also, I would love to know what you did to get the curd to set.

  105. Hey! The cake looks great!

    Congrats on the freelancing as well! I quit my job when I moved in September and have been working on getting my own things up and running as well. My friend sent me this funny freelancing comic as soon as I started which feels very appropriate at times: Freelancing Comic

    :) It’s true but there is nothing better than having finished most of your work at 2 pm in the afternoon being like “Hm it would be great if I could go to the store/take a bike ride/go to the library/make funfetti cupcakes/paint my toenails ridiculous colors” and then realizing- wait- I can.

    Good luck!

  106. Congratulations!! You’re an inspiration to all of us! The cake turned out BEAUTIFULLY… what a lucky bride and groom! My wedding cake sure didn’t look this nice…

  107. cw

    Congratulations on your beautiful cake! Like everyone above I too have been anxiously awaiting your pictures and comments. Thanks for including and inspiring us!

  108. heidi

    Just wanted to add my kudos to the choir! The cake is beautiful and your friends are so fortunate to have you. Thanks for sharing this project and good luck with the new gig.

  109. You know, about the mess on the kitchen floor, you might try Swiffers. They have mops and basic dust rags, and they are easy to use (faster than pulling out a vacuum or a sopping, raggedy mop as well.) My family always cleans our floors at least twice a week due to the fact that we own two corgi dogs who shed, and these push brooms pick up a surprising amount of gunk. The thing is, if we actually HAD a cleaning lady, my Mom would make sure we cleaned BEFORE she even came so Mom wouldn’t have to be ashamed of her house. Which doesn’t make sense to me, but that is the way Mom is.

  110. Maureen

    Thank God for the wedding photographer….as I was reading all the posts leading up to this I kept thinking “I can’t wait to see what it looks like.” It’s beautiful and actually looks oddly similar to my wedding cake (which I paid way too much money for due to lack of friend like you!). I love a square wedding cake!

  111. helena in sweden

    Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! The wedding cake is so beautiful! You did a fantastic job, Deb! For days I’ve been behind behind the scenes, looking in on your huge (but very exciting) project every so often – and here’s your cake! :) Super work!

  112. Jeni

    It’s beautiful! I bet it tasted fantastic, too (I was drooling when I read about the mango curd). Great job!

    Congrads on the new gig, as well!

  113. Jen

    Simply amazing and beautiful. I love your site, found you on Pioneer Woman. And have been lurking for months. Congrats on the new job, and the wonderful accomplishment of that cake. I plan to keep reading whatever you post.

  114. when i clicked over today, i honestly just gasped “it’s beautiful!” i’ve been waiting for these final pictures. thanks for sharing the journey with the interwebs – and congrats to your friends on their wedding and to you for making such an incredible cake.

  115. Evil Charity

    I’ve read your blog for a while, and never commented before…but, I gotta say that cake looks fantastic. What a wonderful thing to be able to do for friends. Oh, and the bride’s dress looks lovely as well.

  116. Wow, congratulations to both you and the beautiful bride.

    You have lucky friends. The cake is stunning and no doubts tastes phenomenal.

    I wish I was 1/100th as talented as you are in the kitchen … you say anyone can do it, but I truly wonder — so I promise before the summer is out I will give one of your recipes a try (the thought of it frightens me, but they are entirely too enticing to ignore). So I am the test – if I can do it – ANYONE can do it. My first will not be this gorgeous cake but the mango curd is screaming my name!

  117. Kristin

    Congratulations on finishing this monumental project! I agree with everyone else – you’ve got some lucky friends!

  118. I have been reading for months now and I finally have to say,
    You are awesome!! I am so glad to have witnessed this wonderful display of friendship and talent. I have ventured into these same waters with even less experince than you and I definitely understand how intimidating it is. Bravo!!! The cake was BEAUTIFUL!!!

  119. Jess

    PHEW! It took me ages to get to the bottom of all those comments of praise but I couldn’t help adding mine!

    BEAUTIFUL CAKE DEB! You’ve given me hope that I too can make a gorgeous cake in a tiny kitchen!

    Thumbs up!

  120. Santadad

    agnespterry – “if we actually HAD a cleaning lady, my Mom would make sure we cleaned BEFORE she even came so Mom wouldn’t have to be ashamed of her house. Which doesn’t make sense to me, but that is the way Mom is.”

    Deb’s Mom is just like that. Before the cleaning people come, I have to put everthing in order, and even make sure that the pillows are covered with shams … which are only used for the cleaning people.

    Go figure. :-)

  121. deb

    We do SUCH a cleanup before the cleaning lady comes… so she can get to the dirt (you know, without moving a pile of papers or clothes). But right now, I think I might cave on the kitchen floor grime because I can’t let her know that we live like this. It’s undignified.

  122. I’ve been following you for YEARS, and now had the pleasure of following this delightful saga via your widget on my blog. I’ve loved every last detail, and you? You did AMAZING work. Well done!

  123. taash

    Three rousing cheers!! How beautiful, and how happy the bride and groom must have been. Here’s to the lipstick stains on your gold shoes — surely your feet ought to have been kissed for this. You deserve a spa day (or even week) for all your hard work.

    Well done!

  124. Shilpa

    I just want to say, will you make my wedding cake?
    Of course, in the time it takes for us to become friends and you to agree, maybe I will finally find that perfect man for me!

  125. Heather

    Wow!! I have been reading your posts about this cake and all I can say is how impressed I am! You did such a wonderful job and should be very proud of your hard work!
    Congrats on coming through it all successfully at the end!

  126. D

    How did you actually position eah tier on top of each other without distoring the bottom tier? Did you use your hands or a wide spatula? I am being trained to do wedding cakes at my work and that is the most nerve-wrecking part of the asembly for me.

  127. D

    One question on the mango curd: the recipe calls for one 15-ounce mango, pitted and cut up. How much mango would you use if you were to use pre-cut mangoes?

  128. Jacqueline

    Oh my goodness the cake looks fabulous!!! The orchids added a nice touch.. Oh man, I want my wedding cake to be something like that.. :) I’m sure it tasted fantastic too.. i mean, mangoes and chocolate.. YUM!

  129. Jen

    What a great friend you are. Fantastic job girl!

    We had our cake made by a friend and only now can I appreciate how hard it must’ve been for her. Well done!

  130. Oh, yes! You can finally breathe. I feel like through this entire process, I have been running 90 miles along side with you. It turned out quite well I must say! Now get back to your normal cooking! ;)

  131. Janet

    Way too many comments to read, but I’ll pipe up anyway. The cake is (was?) GORGEOUS!! Congratulations!! You are truly a fabulous friend. I can’t believe you almost didn’t blog about it — don’t you know, the more over the top, the better? (Hey, and congrats on the freelancing thing, too!)

  132. Kc

    How wonderful. I actually found your website on accident. I’m a web designer and my web business is called And when I found Smitten Kitchen, I thought, how wonderful! How fun! What fabulous photos! I love to cook and bake and have really enjoyed your posts. Congratulations on a beautiful cake and defying the ripoff wedding cake culture. What a wonderful wedding present. I attacked a much smaller scale cake last weekend – a combine harvester birthday cake for my son’s 4th birthday. I wish I had tried your swiss buttercream! I think I will try it next month. My sister has enlisted me to do it again for her 4 year old son’s birthday, too! I need a better “kid chocolate cake recipe”, though – do you have one?

  133. Nicole M

    Wow, it’s fabulous! And I bet for once people enjoyed eating the cake. After following these posts I was bit by the baking bug and make some savory muffins and a chocolate beer cake last weekend. I’ve even been cooking dinner this week! My husband would like to thank you for the inspiration.

  134. JR

    You definitely should take a bow! Amazing, and so much effort in such a tiny kitchen. I won’t complain about my kitchen size ever again. If you can do all THIS with just that, KUDOS woman! (I too want a new stove/oven). Just think how much more miraculous your tasty treats would be…A girl has got to have her dreams…

  135. ms ellie

    What an awesome wedding gift. Not only the cake, but this story about how it came to be that is forever recorded.
    Good friends like you are hard to come by.
    Give yourself a big hug from me!

  136. nan

    I’m very impressed! The cake looked fabulous and I’m sure it tasted great! So cool – I’m clapping wildly at this very moment for you!

  137. Big pat on the back! It looks beautiful. Be careful .. . it is like child birth. It was an ordeal but after you see your baby (cake) the feeling of euphoria from your triumph and your pretty pictures will make you forget what a pain it was; then, pretty soon you’ll want another. :-)

  138. Wow, wow, wow. I must make my own cake. Do you want to come to Maine next summer and help? I think I’ll also need someone to stand in for me at the alter so I can have a few extra hours to decorate…

  139. Wowsa, if that’s not a stunning wedding cake, first time or no, I don’t know what is! I know exactly how you must have felt post-wedding cake project, exhausted and elated!

    p.s. My DBF threatened to go on vacation should there be a next time after my first (and second) wedding cake adventures. LOL!

  140. Katie

    Congrats! I found your site a couple of months ago and have had fun following this particular project. It’s also nice to know that there’s someone else out there who enjoys cole slaw as much as I do! Your posts are so interesting & photos so beautiful…I’ll be coming back often.

  141. Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Gorgeous! I’ve really enjoyed your updates throughout the process and admire your bravery….though I think, despite your fabulous results, seeing the process in detail has convinced me NOT to bake my own wedding cake next year. Though I do have a cousin in pastry school….hmmmm. Thanks for sharing!

  142. Tracy

    Deb – what an amazing cake! Out of curiosity (hope I am not repeating what was already written/asked) – what did you end up separating the layers with? Coconut/parchment/cardboard…?

  143. Keira

    You did such an awesome job on this! I am very impressed and a little bit jealous of your skills.

    I have actually been recently asked by a close friend to make her wedding cake, fortunately I have almost two years to get myself fully prepared but these posts have helped me a great deal in getting some ideas. I will definetely be refering back to these as that big day gets closer.

    Keep up the good work!

  144. Chris (from one Chris to another, haha) – the recipes are in the previous “Project Wedding Cake” episodes, and they look wonderful. Congratulations, Deb!! :-)

  145. The Bride

    To the Amazing Debbie!!! We just got back from our Honeymoon and the whole time we were away…I was dreaming of the cake. As we walked into the door, I ran not walked to the frig for a few pieces of both the mango & chocolate cakes.
    Thank you so much for your beautiful & yummy gift. Not only did it look good, but boy it’s the best cake Kev and I have ever had.

    To all of Debbie’s readers & follower’s she is truly truly a wonderful, beautiful, loving and amazing friend not to mention an awesome cook and baker extraordinaire. Thank you for making our wedding day sweet and delicious.

    Thank you and Alex for everything again.
    Lots of love,
    Pearl & Kevin!!!

  146. I read your blog often. I am so impressed with the effort you put into it, but this cake blog saga was truly expceptional and inspirational. Thank You for sharing.

  147. Great cake! Keep the skylight,btw, screw the Viking range. I have had one for 9 years now. It sucks. Viking customer service sucks even worse. New, out of the box the frame was twisted such that it is not possible to have both the stove top and the oven racks level. (Viking service guy: That’s the way they are, you have to take your pick). The door didn’t close all the way (again, the twisted frame). Waited two years for the replacement door. Once it was installed the self-cleaning feature ceased to work. Oh, and several months after purchasing the stove, they sent me a questionnaire about how I felt about their fine product. I told them exactly how I felt and attached a letter explaining in greater detail the many many problems I was having. Their response was to send me a postcard thanking me for my interest in Viking appliances and recommending that I shop at a different dealer than the one I’d purchase my range from.

  148. As with everything you do, I am incredibly impressed! What a huge undertaking, and what fantastic results. Congrats, Deb!
    Thanks for sharing the journey with us. I’ve had a lot of fun reading it!

  149. Sini

    The cake looks simple but beautiful. Congratulations! I would be honoured if my wedding cake would look like the one you made :)

  150. You. Are. Kidding?

    That looks like a whole lot of very hard work!! Most impressive… I’ve come in late but loved this post – I could totally picture you driving the .25 miles at snail’s pace with one eye on the cake and the other on the traffic. He he.

    But now I am curious. What was the job you gave up?? Excuse my ignorance – I know I should trawl and find the answer somewhere in the bowels of this site, but I’ve travelled a long way and my internet connection is very dodgy. And it’s past my bedtime… anyone??

  151. StormSongs

    Absolutely beautiful!! I hardly post but, I love reading this site. The photos were what got me hooked in the first place… Lemons! :) I’ve told several friends about Smitten Kitchen. I hope they check your site out.

  152. Tim

    Congratulations. My mother has been a freelance cake baker/decorator all my life (I’m 34) and she always said she’d never do wedding cakes. Cut to ten years ago when she finally broke and has had several two-three cake weekends since.
    And hooray for unsolicited help from friends! It’s especially nice when they are doing it to help you save some mucho dinero. And if they are skilled in whatever they are offering to help with, all the better.

  153. L-A

    Oh wow! That is a fantastic looking cake. I’ve spent full days in my teeny kitchen (also with no dishwasher) decorating cakes for friends’ birthdays and I can only begin to imagine how much time/blood/sweat/tears went into this cake. Kudos to you! Also – way to save your friends $700!

  154. mer

    i just wanted to put in a big plug in for this frosting recipe. i used it for a birthday cake last night and despite the 85 degree weather and an even hotter kitchen it was FANTASTIC (especially mixed with crushed raspberries for the filling). thanks deb!!

  155. Congratulations! The cake looked great – you must be so proud and so relieved to accomplish such a feat. I bet it tasted wonderful too.

  156. I can’t even believe what a great job you did! You have never made a wedding cake before and it came out like that?! My goodness you are talented. Those flowers are beautiful, and the cake even look pretty after being cut! Just fantastic!

  157. Omg!!! Well done SO MUCH.
    I hope you find an amazing and fantastic job because you’re obviously amazing and fantastic, if you’re judging by the cake ;P
    It really does look wonderful, and the bride and groom look so happy! You’ve made me want to make a wedding cake someday. Erm. Maybe. If I could handle the stress…

  158. jess

    Thank you so much for your posts, you’ve inspired me to add Mango curd to the 11th hour wedding cake madness I’m baking for a friend. It starts with cake mix confetti cake – which was both the bride and groom’s favorite cake ever – I’ve got my boyfriend peeling the mangoes now . . .

  159. lindsey

    that is so fantastic… and very inspiring!

    at a bachelorette party this past weekend, i drunkenly agreed to co-bake a wedding cake (another couple on a limited budget… i have thus far done their wedding invites and currently tearing my hair out over their wedding programs). am even more excited to do their seating chart place cards… have i mentioned that it’s on Saturday?

    the wedding is on Saturday.

    we are baking Thursday. and i am using the buttercream frosting recipe.

    thank you!

  160. jessi

    oh my word, i have to leave a note because i made both the vanilla and chocolate cakes you used for the wedding cakes – and they are THE BEST CAKES EVER. I had two birthday parties to bake for and i use leftover batter for cupcakes – and the vanilla cupcakes are (soon to be were) SPECTACULAR in cupcake form (used a frosting / marshmallow hybrid to frost)….THANK YOU!

  161. Hi Smitten Kitchen! I am a new-ish avid fan of your site. I just wanted to tell you that I, too, recently made a wedding cake. I combed your posting for interesting information and it really helped. It was such as success in the end!

    Mine was a yellow butter cake with raspberry curd and swiss meringue buttercream. Gotta LOVE that frosting.

    Anyways, I just finished posting about it, which is SUCH a mental block.

    Just wanted to let you know that I linked you in and thank you for your help. It was very informative!!

  162. Liz

    Amazing cake, Deb!
    I’m making a cake for a friend’s wedding this summer (white ginger cake with lemon curd filling, and Swiss Meringue Buttercream), and was hoping you could give a few more details on the stacking of the cake. Did you cut the dowels flush with the levels or a bit taller? If you went with a small gap, did you use a central dowel thru the whole thing to keep it from sliding? I feel pretty confident with the baking and frosting, but the stacking is keeping me up at night!!!

  163. Sara (Bride to Be)

    I am amazed. I read your whole blog about the wedding cake trial and my hat is off to you. My mom and I made both of my little twin sisters’ wedding cakes and I decorated them…now it’s my turn and my sisters are no where to be found when I start asking about wedding cake help! lol I REALLY loved the mango and lime combination and am definitely going to try it.

    Thanks for all your wonderful information!

  164. Kim

    I’m wondering over all how many hours were put into the project and how much money? I assume it has got to be worth it compared to buying a cake from a bakery. Would it have been easier to do more smaller cakes or cupcakes than one large project like this?

    1. deb

      I did not budget the project, but know that it cost way less than a bakery cake would have. I am not sure I consider this equivalent to a bakery cake, to be honest, as I haven’t seen a whole lot that will lime zest a cake and mango curd the filling from the best mangoes around… the kind of specifics you can do when you make something yourself. Whether you make a smaller cake is up to you and what you (or the couple) want for their party.

  165. If this question was already asked and answered in the comments, I apologize; I skimmed through the comments but didn’t notice my question.

    How on earth do you get the corners so sharp on your tiers? I’ve done four wedding cakes so far; three of them were round (which I find MUCH easier than square), two of those were fondant-covered.. and the square buttercream-frosted cake wass a real bear for me. My corners were workable, but it took me forever and I was still dissatisfied. They sure didn’t look like yours. Do you have any advice?

    (for what it’s worth, this really is one of the classiest wedding cakes I’ve seen – major kudos to you!)

    1. deb

      It was a huge pain, and I wasn’t very good at it! The bottom tier, the one that is probably impressing you, was done by a friend who came over to help who used to work for a caterer and her specialty was wedding cakes. Her skills were impeccable.

  166. czl

    Nine years ago, I traded my best friend a home-made wedding cake for a Kitchen Aid mixer (I needed it to make the cake.) The ordeal left me sobbing in a corner on the day of the wedding (in retrospect, leaving the frosting & stacking to the day AFTER the bachelorette party and the freakishly hottest day of the summer with the cake being transported in an un-air-conditioned car was probably ill-advised) but in the end it came out beautifully, and yes, I would do it again. So I understand. Your cake is beautiful. And I am positive it was more delicious than a million store-bought cakes.

    (Lacking any baker friends to lean on, for my own wedding we did a table full of cheesecakes decorated with fresh flowers & served with berry sauce. Pretty & cheap. I recommend it to anyone with an aversion to $7/slice wedding cake.)

  167. Ramona

    I just completed my own project wedding-cake, and have to thank you for all the help. I read and reread, and reread your posts and consequently was able to pull it all off without any trouble. I made chocolate cake with lemon buttercream (your buttercream recipe). I’m not sure I will ever do it again – took about 20 hours all in all – but was happy doing it once. Thank you thank you thank you.

  168. New-to-baking

    Omg.. This looks amazing.. Been following the cake through each installment :-)

    Also, do you have the recipe for the ganache that you used between the layers of the chocolate cake, on this blog?

    Great job again! Cheers!

    1. deb

      Yes. I used the Brandied Bittersweet Ganache again in this recipe. I put about a pound’s worth of chocolate (rendered into the ganache) between each 12-inch square layer on the wedding cake.

  169. New-to-baking

    Thanks so much.. I only just realised I was congratulating you about a year late (oops!) Well deserved all the same :-)
    Love the pictures and your blog!

  170. Marie

    I stumbled on your site by accident and got completely hooked! I guess it’s the fact that you made mango curd (BIG Mango fan) using Philippine mangoes (I’m Filipino and think that Philippine mangoes are the best. But, then, I’m biased) PLUS, you also cook in a small kitchen!

    Anyway, I love your site and will definitely be around.

  171. Denise

    Lol. You are an awesome writer and very refreshing. Your recipe “designs” are beyond delicious. The tutorials are helpful and the pictures even better! My mom in law has actually requested I bake her wedding cake. You changed my life. Seriously, I have a two year old, 8 month old, and an athletic husband with an appetite. Six months ago, you would never find me in the kitchen. Never cooked and baked only box brownies. Because of you, my family eats homecooked meals and homebaked goodies. Without you, I’d be sitting in a restaurant right now, trying to figure out what I haven’t had on the menu. Thank you from the bottom of my heart (and my family full tummys). The wedding is in November AND I’m hosting thanksgiving. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  172. Kay Bingaman

    You did such a beautiful job on this cake!
    I am just getting into more intense interest in decorating cakes. Always made my children’s cakes for every birthday, but now with so many new tools and methods, I’m really excited. Next weekend is my first major cake…a “Tinkerbell” Fairies cake for my 3 yr old granddaughter’s Birthday…I ordered the five fairies from the new movie, and it shows a three tier cake….the bottom 1/4 sheet whole, then the next tier halfed at an angle, and the third a cut out rectangle piece for Tinkerbell to sit on top….a little stream, (They say to use the blue gel for it…) runs down the middle, longways of the cake.
    Thinking about using your vanilla wedding cake layer and the buttercream frosting. WIsh I knew if I could add colors to the icing as needed for flowers, greenery/etc….If you read this, could you email me and answer this…what do I need to use to color the icing? Food color (liquid) would change the icing…? Is there a paste or powder? I was going to go with Fondant, but I am scared to death of the stuff….One day maybe, and an air-brush, but I’m a long way from that. I found your site and it is possibly my favorite of all time, in all categories. You have the BEST attitude, wit and explain things so well, to people who are just starting out.
    Worst part of this cake is it has to travel from S. GA, to Mid Alabama, and it’s looking more and more with it’s ill height and shape, I have two choices….Put icing in cooler and do it there….or do it all here and sit and hold it allllll the way. WIth severe RA, I have a hard time traveling anyway. Any suggestions on my project and cake would be appreciated…I haven’t seen your entire sight yet. Have you ever worked iwth Fondant? ((huggs)) Kay

  173. Gina

    Hi! The cake came out amazing. I have a question: Was there a lot of cake left over? I am making my cousin a cake for her sweet 16 and there will be 130 people! This is by far the largest cake I’ve ever made. I am planning on making a 16″ round bottom, a 12″ round middle, and an 8″ round for the top. According to wilton thats plently but I am not sure if there servings are correct.

  174. Wow! Amazing job! Thank you so much for blogging about the whole process. Friends of mine are getting married in May and also have a small budget so I volunteered to make their cake for their present. I feel much better about it after reading about your experience! I have made plenty of cakes and tested a billion recipes of cakes, fillings, and frostings. But, this will be my largest project yet! She just told me they invited 130 ppl, yikes! haha. I made a three tier cake for my own vow renewal this summer and a two tiered cake for my daughter’s bday in December – my first adventure with marshmallow fondant (yes i have a spoiled 3 yr old haha). Though I have my tried and true recipes, I am very compelled to try yours out! They seem much more easy than mine haha. I am making a four tiered square cake (6, 8, 10, 12 inch) – they want two layers to be chocolate cake with strawberry filling, and the other two tiers to be marble cake with chocolate filling. I have one recipe I have used before for each strawberry and chocolate fillings… you have a recipe for either/both of those that is as amazing as your other recipes sound? Thanks again for this, my confidence has been restored (lol, okay maybe im still nervous! but less than before). =)

  175. Tami

    Hi Deb. I feel like you’re my new best friend. I have read, I’m not kidding, every word of your “Project Wedding Cake” posts. I am making my niece’s cake for her upcoming wedding (2 weeks to go). Just made sample cakes of your two recipes for her to try this weekend. I have 2 questions: 1) Did you end up putting something between the cake tiers to protect the frosting underneath? (Some suggestions you had were coconut, cake crumbs, parchment) Don’t recall reading what your final choice, if any, was. 2) Regarding the orchids, did you apply those directly to the cake, “sticking” them directly in the frosting, or did you use the Wilton’s stem holders, straws or ? Did you get the orchids from the same florist that supplied the flowers? Do you know if they were pesticide free? Thanks so much, your blog is fun, fun, fun!

  176. Corie

    Hi Deb,
    I’ve been stressing about making my best friends wedding cake–the wedding is in 3 weeks. I made my father’s wedding cake 2 years ago, which looked fabulous. Although, I have to admit there was one problem. The buttercream frosted raspberry filled cake sat in a warm room for about 4 hours and began to…um tilt a little. Thankfully, my dad and his wife were able to cut the cake and take pictures before the cake actually got any worse. I now have this awful fear that my friends cake will also begin to tilt or even worse collapse. I used wooden dowels in my dad’s cake and thought I put enough in, but who knows if it was the heat or misconstruction of layers. Do you have any tips for making sure my cake is properly supported and doesn’t begin to tilt or fall over? The cake will be a 12, 9, and 6 inch cake
    BTW, your cake turned out beautiful! Thanks for documenting the process, it was really helpful.


  177. Janette

    Deb, this is the first time I have ever commented on a blog before, but I have to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all of your entries about making the wedding cake. My daughter got married this summer and she wanted to have a simple, non-matrialistic, but beautiful cake reception afterwards for about 100 people. She asked if I would make her cake and I about died! She and her fiance didn’t like the taste of the dry, stiff, super-sweet wedding cakes that they tried before and didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars for it, either. I’ve never made a cake like that before and this was going to be the centerpiece of the reception (not to mention all of the work doing the decorating and just being mother of the bride!), but I wanted to honor her wishes, sooo…. I searched until I found your blog and thought, “If she can do it, so can I!” I ended up making a 3-tier vanilla buttermilk cake with alternating lemon curd and raspberry fillings and the swiss buttercream. I live 4 hours away from her, so I baked and froze the cakes and made the frosting when we got to St. Louis. It turned out to be extremely hot and humid that day and I had a bit of trouble with the last-minute piping, but the white chocolate roses that I somehow managed to make earlier created an organic-looking and very pretty cake that she absolutely loved. The best part was that EVERYONE, including bride and groom, said it was the best tasting wedding cake they’ve ever eaten! I’ve sent links to SK to many people to give you the credit you deserve. Thank you again for the trial and error you kept me from and all of the descriptive pictures/techniques. I am very grateful!

  178. Hello, Deb- Just want to chime in with some other years-later commenters to say thank you very much for your wedding cake inspiration! I got married in this past August and together with my mom, yes, I made my own cake. It was a three-tier round vanilla buttermilk cake with lemon curd filling and an Italian buttercream frosting, along with 2 3-layered hazelnut brown butter cakes with dark chocolate ganache (it is my now-husband’s favorite, and I had to make two because three cakes standing in a row seemed cuter and more symmetrical than two, right??) The cakes came out totally awesome, and it was a blast of a project. I can honestly say it really was not so stressful, as most of the work can be done before, and I did two trial runs, and of course my mom was a HUGE help. And it was such a special project for the two of us to do together!! And I probably never would have attempted it without having read this blog…so THANK YOU!!

  179. Elissa

    I am a 17 year old aspiring baker, and reading about “project wedding cake” just made my week. I wish that one day I can create a beautiful cake like this!!!

  180. Gabby

    Ohmy goodness!! this is soo impressive! I just had to say that this is abosolutely amazing and the most beautiful cake ever.It never even occurred to me to homebake a wedding cake-especially in a kitchen w/out a dishwasher!
    GOOD JOB(:

  181. Broshe

    Hi Deb,
    your site is everything I hope the perfect cooking site would be. Thank you! My question is about storing the cake in the freezer. How long did you take it out of the freezer, the night before you iced, or the morning of?

  182. Emma

    Hi Deb! Just a question about stacking the cakes – did you end up cutting the dowels level with the cake or did you cut them to be a little bit taller? And how did you remove the cakes from the layers beneath them without damaging the frosting?

    1. deb

      I ended up cutting them 1/4-inch taller, and still do not understand why this is not advised by wedding cake makers. Next time, I’d cut them a little higher. The people in the back of the restaurant where the wedding was had no idea how to take tiers apart; it would have looked messy had there not been so much extra cake, there was no need to bring out the messy pieces.

  183. Wendy

    I read all the wedding cake posts a long time ago and last week it prompted me to offer to friends to make their wedding cake! To be truthful they’re just looking for a top tier, something to cut for the sake of tradition, but still – this will be my #1 source of information. It’s still a wedding cake!

  184. Jaclyn

    OK, so I have read and re-read this so many times I’ve lost count. I am making my own wedding cake (wedding is in June) and this was my inspiration. Right now I have my mango curd and vanilla butter cream waiting for me in the fridge for my trial run cake. My one question to you is this: you said that you baked every cake layer separately; I will also have to do this since I only have one pan of each size. I know you mixed the larger tier’s layers separately, due to mixer size constraints, but what about the smaller tiers? Can you mix up the batch for all three layers, and then only bake them one at a time, leaving the rest of the batter sitting out? Or in the fridge? Or did you end up mixing them separately as well? I just don’t know if it will affect the batter to leave it sitting out while the other layers bake. Thanks!

  185. Amelia

    I just made a semi-wedding cake for friends headed to the courthouse this week, and this series was such an awesome guide!
    I made the mid sized chocolate cake recipe (2 9″ layers and a batch of cupcakes) and your Best Birthday cake (2 7″ layers and a batch of cupcakes) and the chocolate cake especially got raves. I used the advice to cook for longer at a lower temp, and I barely had to do any leveling (although this is not a good plan for cupcakes, I had some spreading issues). I filled the chocolate layers with regular chocolate ganache and the vanilla layers with strawberries and whipped cream and frosted the whole shebang with the Swiss Meringue Buttercream. SO GOOD! I didn’t have any problem with soupiness, I followed someone’s tip to add the butter in smaller pieces and beat with a hand mixer for probably 15 minutes total, including pre-butter, and it never separated. I did have to make both a medium batch and small batch to cover the 4 layers. I used your idea for white chocolate melted with cream and a little food coloring to write their initials and some little heart decorations and everyone was thrilled!

  186. Amelia

    Also, my big question had been when to prepare and defrost and timing of everything, so I want to share my timeline.
    I baked and froze cakes on Tuesday. Made Ganache on Saturday. Took cakes out of freezer Sunday morning, made whipped cream and whipped the ganache. Cakes defrosted maybe 30 minutes before I filled them. They were definitely no longer frozen on the surface, but very cold and solid. Stuck filled cakes in the fridge covered in plastic wrap. Made Swiss Buttercream.
    Went to work, leaving cakes in the fridge and buttercream on the counter.
    Sunday, 5 ish, spread on crumb coat, popped cakes in the fridge for half an hour. Melted white chocolate for decorating. Frosted cakes, ran out of frosting, made small batch o’frosting, finished frosting, popped cakes back in the fridge.
    Ate dinner, piped on decorations, stacked cakes, placed in my cupcake carrier sans cupcake layers, carried the cake from Astoria, Queens to Union Square with only a tiny and easily fixed amount of smooshage. Yay!

  187. Sarah B

    I have a question for you. I like to bake. This has become known to my circle of friends and one recently asked me to bake a smallish wedding cake for about 40 people. For some reason, now that someone wants to pay me, Im freaking out. Ive made many of your layer cakes before but never a tiered cake, which is what they want. Do you have any suggestions on reference books for wedding cakes? Im just not sure of how big it needs to be, if I would need dowels for a cake that size, etc. I want to make a 3 tiered cake, but dont think it is necessary for the tiers themselves to be layered. I dont know. I always turn to you when I need to bake something and it seemed only right to ask you first for advice. Hopefully you see this! I need some confidence!

    1. deb

      Hi Sarah — Martha is a great-to for anything wedding related. There are also a lot of wedding cake recipes on With a small crowd, you definitely have a (fun) opportunity to make a cake but not have to deal with the hassle that a large volume cake is. The bottom tier could be 10 or 12 inches. The next could 6 or 8. You could make them a cute little 4-inch top tier to take home… etc. If it’s a tall wedding-y cake, the slices are cut very small and a typical 10 inch round is to serve 36 people…. etc.

  188. Sarah B

    wow! you answered! youre my savior!

    one more question while ive got you. so, if i do the layers like you suggested, say a 12, a 6, and a 4″ layer, i wouldnt need dowels, right? when would you say that dowels are necessary? if i do 2 layers per tier would they be necessary then? can you tell that poking sticks into cakes kind of freaks me out. thanks for your help, really.

    i can do this!

    1. deb

      Technically speaking, dowels are always necessary. Otherwise, an upper cake will leave a depression in or slightly smoosh a cake below it.

  189. Nola

    I just made the wedding cake for my father’s wedding and I just wanted to tell you that I absolutely, completely could not have done it without you and your wonderful site. I would have had no idea how to even approach this project but with your totally foolproof recipes and instruction, it was a total success. I had some scary moments with a mass of half-thawed buttercream in a reception hall with no mixer, and there was lot of cardboard to cover, but it came together somehow and looked and tasted great! I used your recipe for raspberry filling with the yellow cake and it was wonderful. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  190. Emily

    This weekend I was attending a wedding and the baker in me decided I could “easily” (lol) make my own wedding cake! I will be getting married next summer. When I got back home Sunday I started searching the internet for information on making homemade wedding cakes. Today I was scouring your blog (sorry…but I bake or cook off of it at least a few times a week!) for something for dinner when I came across your wedding cake section! I’m so in love! I will be “trying things out” to ensure I can take on the daunting task. I just think it will be so incredibly special if I can make my own wedding cake!

  191. Nadia

    Wait, did you not do a crumb coat when icing this? I’m baking it this week for friends! (though, in two 9″ rounds, and two 4″ rounds…)

  192. Nadia

    Im sure your directions were clear (I’m working only off an iPhone here!). Cakes are made, buttercream is made. Will go to the site tomorrow am for assembly (day before the wedding). Planning to crumb coat tonight; would love any advice re freezing… Assume you suggest freezing pre crumb coat, and after? (after????) thanks! Love your site!

  193. Melissa

    I just got finished with a wedding cake project of my own for a friend and I wanted to thank you. Not only did I steal your Swiss Buttercream and Chocolate Cake recipes but just reading your blog calmed me down and kept me from freaking out during the process. Thanks so much! BTW I made Nutella Mousse filling for the chocolate cake and the combination with your slightly spicy cake was absolutely delicious!

  194. Hi Deb,
    I have always admired this beautiful wedding cake you made and now I’m facing a wedding cake project myself.
    I have a question-
    I saw the comment about the difficulty to coat a rectangular cake and I was wondering if you would recommend a first timer to go with a round one (I have good and steady hands but not much experience with projects like this)
    I also wanted to ask you if you recommend a certain turntable.

    1. deb

      dania — Just because it’s a little harder to frost neatly, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a squared off cake shape if that’s what you want. I don’t have a recommended cake stand. A friend brought over a really heavy one from pastry school which was great, but I just keep a cheap one around, though it would be less ideal if I were actually making a habit out of making gigantic cakes (I’m not).

  195. I took on a wedding cake project and the bride LOVED this cake in its entirety after I used your buttercream for her tasting samples (it was fabulous!). Do you think I could possibly get more details on your process (literally, every step)? For example, how to get such smooth frosting, how to scale the batter for these cake pan sizes, etc.? It would be much appreciated, as I am a little (understatement) nervous! Thanks so much!

  196. Deb. I just made my first wedding cake for 200 guests and I was brave enough to do it because of you and these posts. You were an inspiration – thank you for sharing all along the way! Getting the corners sharp on the square cakes was quite a challenge! I froze the layers and delivered unassembled in boxes like you did. I also finished the cake off at the site, thinking of how you did the same thing while doing it. It’s now 5 days post-cake and my kitchen floor (counters, walls, sink) has yet to recover (I have a full-time day job and no maid). It’s good to know I’m not the only one this happens to. :)

  197. Natasha

    Oh My Gosh this cake is beautiful I am officially inspired and almost confident enough to try this myself. Simply amazing, you did a wonderful job!

  198. Erin

    Ok,I just want to be clear about your processes {I know you’ve mentioned your not an expert, but you seemed pretty successful on your first go around}. You baked, cooled, flash froze, then wrapped and froze the cakes. Feasibly {for a Saturday evening wedding}, you would take them out of the freezer Friday morning, fill and crumb coat each tier and put them in the fridge to set. Then frost and decorate layers separately Friday afternoon/evening and refrigerate. On Saturday morning you would assemble, on location, and leave the cake out in a place with AC until a Saturday evening reception.

    Does that sound right? Does the frosting do anything weird between Friday evening and Saturday evening {get condensation, separate, move}? And would the filling be perfectly fine in between {presuming I was using the filling types that you used}? I just want someone to tell me that this process sounds reasonable, because it’s what I’m planning to use.

    Thank you so much for this series- it is inspiring confidence in home bakers everywhere :)

    1. deb

      That sounds about right. It’s been years so I don’t remember if there were other details you missed. The cake should be safe out all day, but see no reason to leave it out so long when you could take it out just a couple hours before the reception. Good luck!

  199. Wanda

    That is amazing. I myself bake cakes for occasional birthdays for family gatherings and I am contemplating with the idea of baking a wedding cake (my wedding cake). As you said many of them out there are so disappointing. I have a year to go, so I will take my time and see if I am up for the challenge, or wish for the best and hope I don’t pay over $500 for a cake that is only appealing to the eye and not the taste buds.

  200. Bobbie

    Fabulous cake. Beautiful. Have been asked to bake a cake for my son’s wedding. Not sure whether to agree so doing some research!! Your cake, and wonderful blog, have given me some good ideas. One question – how do you keep the flowers fresh?

  201. Cheryl

    I was doing some research into making my friend’s wedding cake in 2013 and I came upon your site. Reading your post and seeing your photos gave me a confidence boost. It looks doable!
    I just have a few questions:
    -How many people did this cake serve? I’m making the cake for 120 people.
    -Did you require a heavy duty mixer? I only have a handheld mixer.
    -How long can you freeze the cakes in advance?
    -Is there a special technique for flash freezing the cakes or can I just place it in the freezer?
    Cheryl :)

  202. Kathryn

    Soooo glad I found your blog! I am making a cake for a friend’s wedding in two weeks, and your blog has been my go to guide! I won’t be frosting with buttercream (I’ll use fondant), but I will fill it with buttercream. I was wondering how your cake held up? I live in Hawaii, and above everything else, the cake melting is my biggest fear. Although it’s ‘winter’ here, the reception will be outside, but further up a mountain (think 70ish degrees or cooler). I’ve been contemplating on making the buttercream with a 2:1 butter to shortening ratio. I REALLY don’t want to sacrifice any butter, but I’m waking up at night from fear of this cake melting!

  203. Dear Deb,
    I cannot thank you enough – I made a wedding cake for my cousin and it was a success – your site helped all the way through (plus some youtube videos on cake decorating)… I followed your recipe exactly and the only thing I would do differently next time is to take the cake out of the fridge MUCH earlier than 2 hours before stacking them – I was afraid that the frosting would be too soft, with the drive to the venue and all. In the end the cake was sturdy and I thought was pretty – but a little hard when it was served as I did not leave out long enough :( Again thank you so so much to you and the people who commented on this whole episode.

  204. Bronwen

    Hi Deb, do you cut the dowels slightly taller than the layers so that there is a very small space between the layers so that the frosting stays intact when unstacked?

    1. deb

      Bronwen — Every single online and human source I could find on this subject was very much ‘the dowels must be level or else!‘ but in the end, I wished I’d left just 1/4 inch margin. With thicker dowels, I hardly see how it would mess with the stability.

  205. Katie

    Deb- I was very excited to stumble upon this, as I just signed on to make a friend’s wedding cake. I have a question for you! I am planning on doing one main cake, and the rest in cupcakes. I would like to use the vanilla and mango curd recipe, as they are having a taco bar for their dinner, and I think the mango would be an excellent compliment to this meal. SO, any idea of how to include the mango curd in the cupcakes? Thank you so much for your help!

    1. deb

      Katie — An easy way to put curd into cupcakes is to cut a little cone down from the top edges into the center. Lift the cone lid, trim it a little, fill the cavity with the curd and replace the lid. Enjoy! (There was a blogger that used to have a great tutorial on this but I can’t find the site anymore. Here are some images.)

  206. Rina

    This whole series of you making a wedding cake has shed me some light as i will be making one plus mini cakes for my cousin wedding. I agreed with you about helping someone making their memorable day a little less burden for them.

  207. Sarah

    Deb — I’m a passionate amateur baker and at this point I basically use your recipes for everything. In addition to how well they always turn out, I really appreciate your attitude! Wilton guides are so helpful in content, but the emphasis on “perfection” is the opposite of what I need! Thanks for getting that.

    I’m making my first ever tiered cake for Saturday afternoon and I’m using your chocolate stout cake recipe for the layers, chocolate ganache filling, and chocolate swiss buttercream frosting. So far I’ve baked and frozen all of the layers and it’s looking pretty good, but I have a couple of questions about what comes next:
    • Do the layers need to defrost before I fill and frost them?
    • If so, how long do I need to leave them out (they’re 6″, 10″, and 14″ round layers)?
    • What about brushing them with syrup/water, do they need to defrost first to absorb the liquid?

    Thanks so much!

    1. deb

      I don’t think they need to be defrosted before they are filled. Just make sure they have a few hours (or more, if the layer is giant) to ensure they fully defrost before serving. There isn’t a formula to figure out defrosting time. Most cakes will defrost if left in the fridge overnight or up to a day, but if the cake is already layered and large, it could take longer. If you’d like to brush them with syrup-water, it’s best for them to be at least mostly defrosted first. Good luck!

  208. serenpoly

    I’m late to the party (reception?), I know, but I just found your wedding cake saga and thought I’d share some of mine.

    I’ve made lots of wedding cakes for friends and family, always as my gift to them. (“Take the money you would have spent on the cake and do something special on your honeymoon.” – but one time I ‘bought’ the newlyweds a refrigerator…) As you found, it’s a very satisfying thing to do for those you love.

    The first cake I ever did was for a wedding in Phoenix – and I lived in Los Angeles. (The bride had lived in the same dorm at UCLA, and my roommate was her maid of honor.) So, first time or not, we had to make the cake in LA and get it to Phoenix – by air! My dad kluged up a custom wooden case for the two bottom tiers (after checking with the airline about the maximum measurements under the seat – fortunately it was a small wedding), already doweled and stacked, and it flew as carry-on luggage.

    The TSA-equivalent of the day were willing to just X-ray it instead of making me open the box, although I had brought a screwdriver in case. It was definitely a wedding cake in the X-ray – they let us look – and they were amazed at how clearly the picture showed it. The landing in Phoenix was hard but no damage was done. The top layer was in a separate box under the other seat, and was set up on pillars at the venue. I had brought extra icing and decorating tubes, but didn’t really need them.

    I did have one friend’s cake crack _all_ down one side in transport (very hilly, wind-y roads in the area; we joked that there’d been an earthquake), but spare icing, turning the ‘good’ side – formerly intended to be the back – out, and fresh flowers stolen discretely from the decor camouflaged it adequately.

    My college roommate (yes, the MOH from Phoenix) got married in the Monterey area of northern California, and my parents took her cake 250+ miles from LA in the back of their station wagon. All of these were basic butter cake with a meringue-powder-based buttercream, which does get a slight crust but seals the cake itself well enough to stay fresh for a day or so, and doesn’t need refrigeration unless the weather is frightful.

    The winner on the saga front, though, was my brother’s cake. It was, no lie, Huge.
    The bottom tier was actually four 10″ round cakes trimmed to fit into a quatrefoil shape, and the next tier was a 14″ round – and four more tiers above that, plus separators and pillars… It was well over 5 feet high, assembled.

    I baked the cakes two days ahead, and came down to the dining room to ice and decorate early the day before the wedding – only to see the rear end of my brother’s cat sticking out from under the cloth (I had covered the cooling cakes overnight) while the front end nibbled. He had eaten his way around about a third of – naturally – one of the 14″ layers for the second tier. So I immediately had to jettison my schedule and bake another layer, and wait for it to cool, before I could even start on the foundation of the cake. (I worked on the upper tiers in the meantime.) Plus a rehearsal and rehearsal dinner later that day. It all worked out, but I must admit it was a rather late night.

    Nobody around where I live now knows I used to do cakes, so I haven’t done one in ages, but if I ever actually get married myself (and if he were to ask, I’d say yes!) I might just take another crack at it.

  209. Julianna

    Thank you for sharing this project with us Foodies! I am making my friend’s wedding cake for this Saturday and was hoping I could ask you a few questions since you have met the challenge before! It was so helpful reading your posts about the cakes and making the curd. I just still feel like I’m questioning a few things.

    I am not using swiss buttercream since the groom doesn’t like frosting usually. I had made a browned butter/brown sugar buttercream which he loved and now have to remember how I tweaked the combination of recipes I used haha If I refrigerate the frosting Friday evening and do the second coat Saturday morning, do you think it will keep up well throughout the day? I will assemble it at the country club around 9:30 am then have to go do the Bride’s make up at 10:30. I thought I’d assemble and do final piping, then can go back and set it out on the table with the flowers around 11:30. The wedding is at 1:30 so I feel like it shouldn’t be too bad out?

    Another thing is you froze your cake. I have heard others do this and I just haven’t made the actual size cakes to practice it, plus I’m doing it gluten-free and it can be quite pricey, which I’m sure you know :) I didn’t want to spend more on the GF Flours and xantham gum, etc. just to test out defrosting it and such. Should I freeze them Friday and then pull it out really early Saturday, or just refrigerate Friday through Sat Morning? I just wondered how the condensation would be and how long it has to sit out to come to room temp. That makes me a little anxious :)

    Lastly, I have tried making raspberry curd and failed. Too runny…never thickened. I was thinking of making a raspberry mousse and I’ll be cutting thinner layers of cake so there will be about 5 layers, about an inch thick, that way the mousse won’t be weighed down. Thoughts? Her friend is making cupcakes so this is only for her and her groom to cut and for the wedding party. I’m making an 8 in and 6 in tiered cake. Simple :) Nothing like your gorgeous, towering cakes. I appreciate any advice you have to give! Thank you!

  210. Caroline Beatrice Lillianna Watlyn-Gernleishtion

    Hi there,
    It’s Caroline Beatrice Lillianna Watlyn-Gernleishtion!!!!!
    I made this cake last week with my whole family for my baby sis’s wedding.
    I enjoyed it and so did everyone else. Thanks a lot Deb!!!!

  211. Mary

    Great looking cake. I’ve done five wedding cakes in 35 years of decorating, all for family members. it’s a lot of work, a little nerve wracking, and if you forget that the engineering of a tier cake is almost as important as the baking, you’re setting yourself up for grief. But at the end of the day, it’s quite a sense of accomplishment, isn’t it? I don’t think I’d do it for money, but I’ll do it for love.

  212. Darya

    Hi Deb,

    A very long time follower (an an occasional question ask-er), also NYC ex-pat currently living in DC. Everything I make from your blog and cookbook comes out exceptional (which is what attracted me to your blog in the first place) and I am not saying that just to be nice :)

    I am getting married this May and I would like to bake my own cake and thank god there’s a guide for that on Smitten Kitchen! I have followed your buttermilk recipe but I didn’t like the constituency, either I poured too much batter making the layers too thick or I overbaked it; the cake came out a little too dry. But I guess I have a more general question: 8 years later, would you have done anything differently? Would you have used the same cake recipe? Any additional suggestions/guides/etc?

    Thank you so much and looking forward to the 2nd cookbook!

    1. deb

      Darya — I definitely recommend auditioning small quantities (single layers in small pans) of a few recipes until you find the one you like most. I haven’t made this one in years so I’m not positive I still would, but I remember being happy with it at the time. Good luck!

  213. Meg

    I’m quite late to the game reading these Wedding Project posts, but you’ve really given me the confidence I needed to finish planning the wedding cake project I’m working on. You’re cake was much more grand and complicated than the 150 portions of miniature tea- cake style dessert I’m making, but boy is baking for that many people and such a special occasion stressful! So thank you for sharing, as always and I’d love to see the process laid out like this if you do another large scale project in the future!

  214. Dear Deb,
    I am again here for an advice! I am doing my first ever wedding cake (a 3 tier cake) and wish to use flowers in a cascading manner. I wish to use orchids or white roses. I have read about wrapping the stems in foil before poking in the cake but what about the flower base touching the cake? Is it ok if the flower base touches the cake? Or should I place a small piece of foil to avoid the contact? I hope you find time to reply before this Saturday.

    Thanks in advance,

  215. This looks delicious! Do you mind posting your chocolate ganache recipe? The picture above of the chocolate filling looks like a buttercream frosting, but I’m thinking ganache is thinner. Thank you!

  216. So, I’m finding this like 9 years later, BUT, I am in the same situation! I told my friend, who is thrifty, that I would make her wedding cake. She doesn’t want anything fancy, thank the lord of butter. I’ve made 6 or 7 practice 2-layer cakes over the past year, all of which turned out freaking delicious, and am going to attempt the first 4-layer cake tonight/tomorrow night/Saturday morning. I am hoping your Swiss buttercream icing will stand up to St. Louis Labor Day + outdoor wedding weather. I wasn’t nervous about this until a few days ago. Now I am wondering if I need to use dowels to hold the layers together? My cake will be a square cake, in 2 sizes.

    1. deb

      What are the sizes? Dowels are never a bad idea. They do two things: 1. Keep the upper cakes from crushing the lower cakes (or indenting them) — picture table legs except the chair legs hide inside the cake below it and rest on the board under that cake. 2. A thin, center dowel that goes through all cake layers keeps tiers from flying off each other in a car ride. Although it’s not terribly likely, it holds the *whole* cake together.

      Many readers have commented that they don’t even buy dowels, they use Starbucks venti straws (their largest) which are sturdy and can be cut with scissors. Not sure I trust them for a very heavy cake, but certainly not hard to get most places.

      1. I’m making 4 layers. 2 12″ and then 2 9″, all rounds.
        I will get some straws just in case. Tomorrow, I’m experimenting with ombre icing, since our plan for sugared borage flowers did not work. Thanks, Mother Nature!

  217. whamill23

    This is the cake that I have dreamed of making for my daughter’s wedding for a long time. I have made practice cakes for birthdays and some showers. It is always the best! Well, now my daughter is getting married and she wants me to make her cake. But guess what? Now she is vegan! I have veganized the cake, mango curd and swiss meringue buttercream and it is all still delicious. I am still fretting about how big of a cake to make, and am sad that you don’t know how many this cake fed. It is massive, but I am planning to make the same size for 100 guests. I really think it will be more than enough. Wish me luck.

    1. deb

      How did you veganize the swiss meringue? For wedding cake sizes, I usually look to the Wilton guide and then scale cakes up accordingly, always accounting for extra, because few places really will know to cut cakes that small.

  218. whamill23

    Aquafaba and Earth Balance! I used this recipe:

    I used the sticks, not the spread. I have added pureed strawberries to flavor and give it a pretty pink color. I am going to try your trick of adding the strawberry powder and see how that goes. Another test cake for next weekend’s bridesmaid’s dress shopping. Can’t wait to see what the taste tester’s think. BTW, the vegan mango curd recipe I found was a combo of another curd and your recipe, so I knew it would be good!

  219. BakerGirl

    Hey Deb! Its me, BakerGirl! I’m a kid(no really I’m 12)! yes, I do my math homework :P
    I was curious, if I made a lemon curd instead of mango, would you have any recommendations for changing the cake or buttercream?

    1. deb

      That’s so cool! I’d probably leave the cake as-is: vanilla cake and lemon curd are a very classic combination. I have a few recipes on the site, but my favorite and most straightforward one is in my new cookbook, which, no pressure (I didn’t have a cookbook budget when I was 12!) if you don’t have. Shoot me an email and I’ll share it with you.

      1. BakerGirl

        Deb- Is the recipe in the party cake builder at the end of SK 2? By the way, I have loved to be in the kitchen since I was a wee toddler smashing bananas for banana bread in my Princess dress while simultaneously making a big mess of my hair. I have both of your books, actually, thanks to a BJ’s run and a very kind friend. I also have parents willing to spend real money on thick books filled with words and pictures of food(omg I LOVE MY PARENTS) and a wide variety ranging from Joanne Chang, to you to Julia Child and Mary Berry! I have loved your cookbooks because of how simple and not-requiring-me(read-my parents)-to- go-buy-some-weird-ingredient-you-will-never-use-again. i even brought SK 1 on a flight to Columbus and read it on the plane!! Sorry that this is such a long comment but it is impossible to profess my undying love for SK in more than a sentence!

        1. deb

          Thank you so much! And no. Those are different; one-bowl, a little simpler, and a little less sturdy than these as they’re a bit plush for wedding cakes.

  220. whamill23

    I made a wedding cake. For my daughter’s wedding. Was it stressfull? Yes. Was it fun? Yes. Was it delicious? Yes. Did it tilt a bit? Yes. Did anyone but me notice? Probably not. The photographer said it was the best cake she has ever had, I am going to believe her. So, your perfect, delicious cake, mango filling and frosting can be veganized and everyone will love it. Thank you for the inspiration and recipes. If you haven’t tried it, the strawberry dust added to frosting makes it taste great and gives it a pretty pink color. Thank you for documenting your wedding cake journey, I read it probably 100 times. Oh, I made 3 tiers of 3 layers each, a 10 inch, 8 inch and 6 inch each. It was pretty much perfect for 100 guests,about a 1/4 of the biggest layer left. I also made an additional 3 layer, 8 inch cake just in case. It is now in my freezer. These were square cakes. Oh, it was so much fun and so yummy. You are pretty much my cake hero.

  221. Eliana Bondra

    My sister has asked me to make her wedding cake and I’ve never done such a thing. I was wondering, with the three you’ve made/posted about here, do you have details about how you stacked and unstacked them such that you didn’t ruin the tops of the next layer? I’ve been trying to find good examples of it online but haven’t been able to. Thanks!

    1. deb

      Honestly even years later I’m not clear on this. I left an eighth of an inch between the layers (i.e. the dowels were slightly high) but every wedding cake making guide tells you not to do this, and I don’t fully get it. You’ll need to pipe around it to cover the gap.

  222. Steph Wakelin

    Hi Deb! Could I have the original vanilla project wedding cake recipe?
    My daughter actually convinced me to make it a few years ago. Best tasting cake ever.
    Look you, I said yes ….without any experience. Well what a week that was! Tiny hot kitchen in August and water in kitchen sink stopped working. So my niece and I were doing dishes in the bathtub. Yup pure craziness! But the simple looking cakes turned out beautiful.

  223. Sarah

    Hi Deb,

    I’m making my brother’s wedding cake next week (at an AirBnB—wish me luck!) and will be filling the layers with your mango curd. I’m going to add agar agar to help it set a bit firmer, which has worked well in my practice runs.

    I’m wondering how long you think the finished cake can sit out at room temperature on wedding day. The wedding is at a restaurant in San Francisco, and the forecast is 65 degrees, 50% humidity so should be quite mild.

    I’d like to do my final assembly at the venue in the morning and then be done with it, but the wedding isn’t until 5:00pm that day, so I imagine the cake will be served around 9:00pm. Can the finished cake with the curd sit out all day, say for up to 12 hours?

    Thanks so much!