The Importance of Structure.
It doesn’t matter who you entrust with the creation of your wedding cake. A professional cake designer, family friend, or even if you decide to go for off the shelf, there are some key structural components that must be present. This will ensure the cake of your dreams doesn’t become the cake of your nightmares. For a perfect wedding cake, that tastes great, is structurally sound and looks amazing, the following must be taken into consideration.
Cake Base and Filling Choices.
Not all types of cake are suitable for a wedding cake. Even the smallest tier of a wedding cake will be covered in lbs of fondant, buttercream or ganache (chocolate mixed with cream). If the cake is too soft it will buckle under the weight of the coating and will be unstable. Fruit cakes, being the densest of cake bases, provide the greatest overall stability for a wedding cake. The stability of flavoured madeira cakes/sponges and softer cakes such as red velvet can be increased by using a firmer filling and coating such as a chocolate ganache. A dense madeira cake with a ganache filling are best for carved cakes. Naked and semi-naked cakes, (cakes with no fondant coating), are very popular, but during summer months extra measures will be required to prevent the soft coating and filling from becoming too warm. e.g. transportation of cakes in a chilled environment.
The internal structure of a tiered cake is crucial to its overall stability. Each tier of a stacked cake sits on its own cake board. Each tier that will support a tier above must contain plastic or wooden food safe dowels to support the tier above. In addition to these supports, and depending on the height of the cake, a central dowel that goes through all tiers prevents the cake from leaning.
Once the internal structure has been sorted, the same considerations must be given to any decorations. Any heavy toppers will need to be adequately supported. The integrity of the cake must be considered if anything is to be inserted into it. More importantly It must be food safe to ensure toxic products do not come into contact with the food. Inserting flowers, fresh or sugar into posy picks before adding to the cake, prevents any cross contamination. See my flowers on cakes blog here.
Once your cake maker has invested all that time and effort into making sure your cake is going to taste great, is structurally sound and looks amazing, there is the question of delivery and set up. Strong cake drums and boxes are essential and keep play within the structure to a minimum, as does avoiding bumpy roads….