Today I had the honor of putting together a three tier bridal shower cake! It has been a while since I decorated a cake, so I was beyond excited to take on this project when one of my girlfriends asked me for the favor.
The most important thing about any fancy cake is making sure that it tastes good! My friend gave me full creative license with flavors, so I went with a springy combo of pink champagne cake, strawberry filling, and almond icing.
Putting together a nice tiered cake takes a little leg work but it's well worth it. I learned all my tricks from the Wilton Cake Decorating courses I took at Michael's. My instructor, Maxine, was amazing, and a little fireball. Her recipe for flawless decorator's icing listed at the end of this post is my go-to recipe for cakes that need to last a couple days and have decorations that hold up.
Are you thinking of trying out a tiered cake? Here's a few tips as you work through it. First, you want to make sure all of your cakes are level. Wilton sells a leveling tool, but I just eyeball it and use a bread knife.
Once they're leveled, pipe a border of icing around the edge of the cake, called a "dam." This will prevent your filling from oozing out the edges. Let the dam set for a few minutes (put it in the fridge to speed this part up if you'd like), and then add your filling.
Once your bottom layer is filled, gently place on the top layer. Make sure the flattest side is up.
Next, you want to "crumb coat" all of your tiers. This means putting a thin layer of your buttercream on to trap any crumbs that may come off into the icing. All of your cakes should be on cake boards the same size as the cake. You can buy pre-cut ones at most craft stores, or cut your own out of old cardboard boxes and cover them with foil to make them look nice. Make sure your crumb coat is nice and smooth, and let this set for at least 30 minutes. I like to let mine set in the fridge, as it's much easier to work with cold, stiff cakes than warm, soft ones.
While you're waiting, I highly recommend trying a tastie- we ate cake scraps topped with filling and icing to make sure everything paired well. After 3 or 4 tasties each, hubs and I agreed that this cake was going to be a hit.
After your crumb coat has set, it's time to create some support in your cakes. Depending on how big and heavy your cake is, you can use different types of support. I used plastic smoothie straws. Stick a straw in the cake (put it in a place that will definitely be covered by the next tier!) and pull it out. Trim your support and use that first one to measure others for your layers. I used 4 on the bottom layer and 2 for the middle layer. You want to measure and trim your supports, FULLY FROST your cake, and then put your supports in last.
Decorator's tip - see the pretty design on my cake? I achieved that look by gently pressing a paper towel onto the top! This is a nice touch when frosting with buttercream instead of fondant. Some people use a small foam roller to smooth out their icing. You can buy these for less than a dollar at any hardware store.
So now your cakes are frosted and supported, it's time to stack them! Very gently, place your middle tier ontop of the bottom, and then place the top tier on the middle. Depending on the size of your cake, tie all three layers together by putting a sharp support straight down through the middle. This cake was rather small and compact so I didn't include that here. Now's the fun part, decorating time!!
I used white and yellow buttercream and a spool of ribbon to decorate this cake. Pressing the ribbon into the icing while it is just barely still tacky will make it stick yet still be easy to remove without pulling off all the icing.
And, voila! Three tiered wedding cake! Best wishes to Stephanie and Dennis as your wedding approaches - enjoy every minute!
Maxine's Decorating Icing:
Note - S= small batch, M= medium batch, L= Large batch
Shortening - S, 1 cup. M, 2 cups. L, 4 cups.
Milk - S, 1/4 cup. M, 1/2 cup. L, 1 cup.
Confectioner's Sugar - S, 1 pound (4 c). M, 2 pounds (8 c). L, 4 pounds (16 c.)
Flavoring - S, 1tsp. M, 1 1/2 tsp. L, 2 tsp.
*I made a medium batch for this cake and had some leftover.
- Soften shortening by stirring it in the mixing bowl for about 2 min.
-Add confectioner's sugar in 3 - 4 batches. After each batch, add part of your milk, and part of your flavoring
-Continue whipping until desired consistency and flavor. Add more sugar to stiffen, more milk/flavoring to soften.