Monday, April 27, 2009

Tales of A Tiered Cake #1 – Getting Started

This was the first tiered cake that I made for Ballantyne Country Club's Rally for a Cure, to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure. It's a lot easier to make a cake with columns because then you don't have to deal with damaging one tier while placing the next. I molded the top ornament out of chocolate plastique and gumpaste and poured pink chocolate into molds to make the golf balls. I don't remember what I used for the BCC logo, but it looks pretty good, I think!

You'll see a picture of my second tiered cake, with my next post in this series
I'm starting to think about my third tiered cake, which will be for an engagement cake for the double-engagement party we're having for both our son and daughter. My son's fiancée would prefer a cake that's not chocolate, but my daughter loves chocolate, so I'm currently planning on doing one big tier in chocolate and the two smaller tiers in white- with the outside frosting being white, so that they'll all match.
This time around I'm going to attempt to place the tiers one on top of the other, and I'm not using a unique decorating theme, but am using one that I found in The Wedding Cake Book, by Dede Wilson.
As with the previous two cakes, I plan on using real buttercream – no crisco, no powdered sugars and nothing artificial. The cakes will taste very fresh, because they’ll be frozen as soon as they are made. I'll be making 12-inch, 9-inch and 6-inch tiers. Although I'll be using my own cake, frosting and filling I like Dede's instructions for assembly better than Wilton, for example, because she also uses all fresh ingredients and buttercream.

Usually I like to make a whole dessert before posting, but making a tiered cake is a huge project, so I've decided to post as I prepare and make it. You’ll get to hear about what I’ve done wrong and right. You won't know until the very end what the cake looks like. It'll be a surprise for everyone (including my daughter and son who subscribe to my blog!). In addition, because I do not make tiered cakes professionally, I’ll be having the same problems that you might have if you were to make a tiered cake in your home. I’ll be freezing the cakes to keep them fresh, but also so that I'm not a nervous wreck just before the event. Ideally, you would want to make one tier from cake through frosting, freeze it, and then do the next tier, etc. This way each tier gets frozen as soon as it is made and the cake isn’t sitting around very long before it gets iced. Also you don’t have to re-freeze anything.

The first thing to figure out when making a tiered cake is how many people you need to serve. That will help determine the sizes of the tiers. The other consideration is the size of your oven, refrigerator and freezer space. I have a huge freezer, but my refrigerator won't accommodate anything larger than a 15-inch platter, so 12-inch is about as big as I like to go. Don’t forget that you need a sturdy base for this large a cake and it’s usually 2-4 inches larger than the cake that goes on it so that’s why I’m making the 12-inch base tier.
According to Wilton, a 12-inch tier should serve 55 people. Here’s an example of how you would cut a 12-inch tier:

wedding cake info 12-inch
This should give you an idea about how to figure out how many your tiers will serve, should you want to change the size of the tiers.

I figure that my 3 tiers should serve 90-100 people, if all of the tiers were the same. Since I’m making some white and some chocolate, there will be people who want a taste of each, so this size cake should be good for my party of 65.

In addition to the cakes, icing and filling, I’ll need cake boards for the bottom of the cakes, supports to stick into the tiers and a base board, masonite or cake drum, to support the cake once it is completely tiered. Since I’m freezing it frosted, I also like to have extra-long heavy duty aluminum foil and some kind of box to put each tier in. This year I was able to to find the perfect plastic box at one of the storage stores in town. The hard part about finding a box is that it needs to be rigid enough so that it won’t fall in on the cake and it needs to be at least 6-7 inches high.

So, to sum up, here’s the equipment you would need to make a tiered cake:
1. Cake pans in the sizes you want (12, 9 and 6 for me)

2. Cake boards for each tier (cardboard is fine) – I like to use either the same size as the cake or a little smaller

3. Supports – I use straws because they're very easy to cut, not dowels, which need to be sawn. I think I will need 8 to support the 9-inch tier and 4 –5 for the 6-inch tier

4. Masonite or drum board to support the entire cake ( see the picture above which is actually on two drum boards)
 5. Heavy-duty aluminum foil

6. Boxes freezing the cakes (peferably plastic) – 14-inch x 7-inch high the larger tier, 12-inch for the 9-inch tier and 8-9-inch for the small tier

7. Either a cake saw or a long serrated knife for leveling the cakes
  This one came from

8. Decorating equipment – spatulas, icing bags and decorating tubes

There might be more equipment, but that’s all I can think of now. Next post, I’ll be working on the filling …


Anonymous said...

What an accomplishment! I really admire people who can make tiered cakes. Hopefully one day I will get up the gumption to make one of my own. I have barely graduated from cupcakes to layer cakes!


Jean said...

Wow..I salute your great effort to get the tier cakes done... :)

Penny Wantuck Eisenberg said...

It's kind of scary, but fun and exciting, too.