While I didn’t do this for our wedding since I was already DIY-ing a lot for our wedding and the cake was included with the reception venue, I know quite a few brides have considered the idea of a DIY wedding cake. It does take a lot of work and preparation, but in the end, you can save major moo-lah and STILL have a beautiful cake for the big day!
Over the past year, I’ve taken all four Wilton courses. Wilton offers these classes at franchise craft stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s. Usually they are 40-50% off the going rate of $35, which isn’t bad at all if you spread it out over a few months to a year like I did.
Here’s how they divide the classes up and you have to take course 1 first. After that, you are free to take any other class in any order you want!
Course 1: Discovering Cake Decorating
Course 2: Flowers and Borders
Course 3: Fondant & Tiered Cakes
Fondant & Gumpaste
The course descriptions are here if you want specifics.
If you are considering a DIY cake but are apprehensive, let me tell you, with these courses and a good bit of practice, you will REALLY improve and become a pretty good decorator in no time! In fact, you might even catch yourself critiquing bakery decorating after taking some courses (hey, even bakeries aren’t perfect! 🙂 )!
Here’s some proof…while I’m not perfect at all, I think I improved vastly!
Here’s my last pre-Wilton cake that I made for my mom last year…and yes, I used canned frosting (gasp!).
Here are some of my favorites that I’ve made throughout the Wilton courses with the course #s to give you a feel for what you learn:
Course 1 cakes (ignore my impatience on the crumbs in the last cake. Remember to let your cake FULLY cool before icing!)
Course 2 cake and flowers (from top to bottom: apple blossom, primrose, pansy, daffodil)
Fondant and Gumpaste class (daisy and fantasy flower)
Course 3 cakes/flowers: From top, present cake (ignore the kleenex..it holds the bow’s shape as the fondant dries), easter lily, and my final tiered cake for the class! (Geaux Tigers!)
As you can see, while not perfect, it can look pretty close to professional. A lot of the flowers can be made 1-2 weeks in advance, so it’s not too overwhelming!
For you fondant lovers, who don’t want to spend a lot of $$ on the boxed stuff, here’s a no-fail recipe that I have used for most of the cakes pictured!
Marshmallow fondant (Source: Wilton forums)
16 oz. bag of marshmallows
2 tbsp water
0.5 tbsp vanilla or almond extract (or mix of both!)
2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar
Grease a microwave safe bowl with crisco. Place marshmallows in the bowl and add the water and extract(s). Put in the microwave for 1 minute or in 30 second intervals until the marhsmallows soften and puff up. Take out and stir with a greased spoon/spatula until it is combined well. At this point it looks kind of soupy. Then add the sugar in 1 cup intervals and mix and fold until all is incorporated and it is no longer sticky. After adding 3 cups of sugar, add at 1/4 cup intervals, because you do not want to add too much sugar to where the fondant is too dry and starts to crack. I like to take it out of the bowl when it gets to the point where most of the sugar is incorporated and I knead it in my hands. If your hands get sticky, add some Crisco to the fondant and continue kneading. This takes roughly about 5-7 minutes. Take a greased fondant roller or a regular rolling pin and roll out just as you would any fondant. You can get this fondant almost paper thin and it also repairs well.
(You can do this in a stand mixer with a well greased dough hook, but you still want to knead it by hand after it’s done mixing.)
Also, if you are stuck on anything and worried your cake will become a Cake Wreck, I definitely recommend checking out YouTube for cake tutorials, the Wilton Forums and also Cake Central for inspiration/help! Those three have helped me immensely!
Have any of you brides considered or are making your own cake(s) for your big day?