Make Your Wedding Cake

May 24, 2012 in handmade and vintage goods

Heather Baird
Heather Baird

Heather Baird is an accomplished painter and photographer, but her passion is creating eye-popping, mouthwatering desserts. She writes about her adventures in the world of creative dessert-making on her award-winning blog, SprinkleBakes. She is the author of the new desserts book, Sea Salt Sweet, and her previous baking book, SprinkleBakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire your Inner Artist was published in 2012. Heather lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, with her husband Mark and two mischievous pugs, Biscuit and Churro.

Making your wedding cake takes a good measure of bravery, but it’s an excellent way to cut some expense from the wedding budget. Practical considerations aside, you’ll also be feeding your guests something made with your own hands, and that is nothing short of special!

This pretty pale yellow butter cake is one of the most delicious and versatile recipes I’ve found. The accompanying moistening syrup can be endlessly varied in flavor, so customizing your cake will be easy. Although I’ve left the filling recipe up to you, suggested amounts for this component are included so you’ll know the exact quantities needed before you start!

Two of each: 6×2, 8×2 and 10×2 -inch round cake pans
Large off-set spatula
Pastry brush
12 inch foil covered cake drum
Two each: 6, 8 and 10-inch cardboard cake circles
One 8-inch plastic footed cake separator
9 plastic straws
3 feet, 3-inches length of 1.5-inch wide ribbon
3 pearl corsage pins
1 large fresh flower or other cake topper
1 large wooden dowel, for transport purposes (Optional)

Note: I also use and recommend a 5-quart standing mixer


Some components can be made ahead and refrigerated for convenience.  You can freeze the buttercream for up to 6-8 weeks. To thaw, simply leave at room temperate overnight and re-whip for 5 minutes with a paddle attachment.


Flavor Ideas

Orange Dream Cake: Orange extract flavored moistening syrup with orange marmalade filling.
Lemon Berry Cake: Lemon extract flavored moistening syrup with raspberry preserves filling.
Peaches and Cream Cake: Vanilla bean or vanilla extract flavored moistening syrup with peach preserves filling.
Lime-in-the Coconut Cake: Coconut flavored moistening syrup with lime curd filling (this combination is used for the pictured cake).

Butter Cake

Adapted from Wedding Cakes You Can Make by Dede Wilson. For a list of ingredients according to cake size, download our handy chart here.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease pans with shortening and line the bottoms with a circle of parchment. Grease paper; flour pans and tap out excess.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a standing mixer, beat butter using the paddle attachment until creamy and lightened. Add the sugar gradually; scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat in the vanilla.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with flour.

Divide batter between pans and bake approximately 22 minutes for 6-inch layers, 23 minutes for 8-inch layers, and 30 minutes for 10-inch layers.

Cool cakes in pans for 5 minutes, unmold and cool completely on wire racks.

Place on cardboard circles and double wrap with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Moistening syrup

Make this recipe 2 ½ times.
Yield: 3 cups

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp. extract of your choice

Place sugar and water in a saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat. When sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and let stand until cooled. Stir in flavoring extract or vanilla bean seeds.

Swiss Buttercream

Make this recipe 1 ½ times.
Yield: About 15 cups
Adapted from SprinkleBakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire your Inner Artist

15 egg whites
3 cups sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
3 pounds butter, cubed and softened
2 tablespoons clear vanilla extract or other flavoring extract

Note: It’s important to have extra buttercream on hand in case of mishaps or if the cake needs a little touch-up after transportation.
Set a saucepan filled one-third full of water over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.

Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt in a large heatproof bowl (pictured). Set over the simmering water and whisk until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar has dissolved.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

Beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Increase to medium-high until stiff peaks are formed.

Continue beating at medium-high speed until the mixture is fluffy and has cooled (the mixing bowl should feel cool to the touch).

Turn the mixer off and switch from the whisk attachment to the paddle. Turn the mixer on medium-low and add the butter, a few cubes at a time, beating until well incorporated before the next addition (pictured).

Add the vanilla extract.

Beat until the frosting is thick and completely smooth.

Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready for use.  When you are ready to frost the cake, bring buttercream to room temperature and re-whip in the stand mixer with the paddle until fluffy and smooth.

Cake Assembly

5 cups moistening syrup
7 ¾ cups filling
15 ½ cups buttercream
2 cups wide-cut unsweetened coconut (optional)

Note: Make sure to have plenty of room in the refrigerator to chill cake tiers.

Tier assembly at a glance: Cardboard round, first torted cake layer, syrup, filling, corresponding cake layer, syrup, buttercream, second torted cake layer, syrup, filling, corresponding cake layer, syrup, buttercream.

Building tiers: If needed, level cooled cakes with a serrated knife or cake leveling tool.  Cut each cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife (this is called “torting”). Brush each torted cake piece with moistening syrup as you build the tiers on a same-sized cardboard round.

Syrup amounts per layer:
½ cup per 6-inch layer
1 cup 2 tbsp.  for each 8-inch layer
1 ¼ cups plus 2 tbsp. per 10-inch layer

Using a disposable piping bag with the end snipped, pipe a line of buttercream around the edge of two of each size torted cake pieces.

Apply fillings.

Filling amounts per layer:
½ cup for each 6-inch layer
1 cup 2 tbsp.  for each 8-inch layer
1 ¾ cups plus 2 tbsp. filling per 10-inch layer

Coat completely with a thin layer of frosting (known as a crumb-coat); refrigerate cakes for two hours.

Remove tiers from refrigerator and center the 10-inch tier on the cake drum by carefully sliding it off the cardboard circle.

Slide the 8-inch tier onto the plastic footed cake separator.

Frost all tiers with a final even coat of buttercream.

Tip: Swiss buttercream can be perfectly smoothed by dipping an off-set spatula in hot water and wiping it clean before passing it over the icing.

Optional: Gently press coconut into the sides of the 8-inch tier while holding it over a bowl to catch the excess.

Refrigerate frosted tiers for two hours.

Remove tiers from refrigerator.

Center an 8-inch cake pan over the 10-inch tier and trace around it with a skewer to mark the placement of the 8-inch layer.

Press 5 straws (spaced) into the middle of the 10-inch cake and snip off the excess with scissors.

Place the 8-inch layer over the marked circle and press until the cake separator’s feet are fully submerged.

Mark the placement of the 6-inch layer (in the preceding manner) and press 4 straws into the center as before.

Place the 6-inch layer on top of the 8-inch layer, supporting it with an off-set spatula and a hand.

Pipe or spread extra icing around the base of each tier to “connect” them (meaning, fill any conspicuous gaps with frosting).

This “connection” can be a decorative bead piped with a decorative piping tip or smoothed with a spatula for a plain finish.

Use a damp paper towel to tidy around the cake drum.

Carefully wrap base of cake with ribbon and neatly turn under the end so the cut edge of the ribbon is not showing. 

Secure with corsage pins and refrigerate cake overnight.

Transporting: Make sure there is a large flat area in the vehicle on which to place the cake. When transporting a cake with all the tiers assembled, I recommend submerging one long ¼” wide dowel pressed completely through the top two tiers. This is extra insurance that the tiers will not move with the jostling of a car ride to its destination. Also, have a large piping bag of extra icing in case of the need for touch-ups.

If using fresh flowers, transport them in water to maintain freshness.

When transporting in warm weather, make sure the vehicle has a working air-conditioner.

Presentation: Before presenting, top with a large fresh flower (artificial could be used) or other cake topper of choice. Serve cake at room temperature – this is key! Frosting is soft and filling flavors are at their best at room temperature.

For more wedding advice, visit SprinkleBakes or check out SprinkleBakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist, available from Amazon or an independent bookstore near you.

  • julerybox

    Julie Espy says:

    This cake is gorgeous Heather! It all seems so much less intimidating now too. Thanks for sharing!

    11 years ago

  • kba22

    Kyla Annear says:

    Very impressive. Am I to understand that in each tier there are four layers?

    11 years ago

  • cheep43chicks

    Jessica S from cheep43chicks says:

    I'm not making my own, but I am making a friend's wedding cake.. I agree with Julie! SO much less intimidating now :) Thank you!!

    11 years ago

  • BayMoonDesign

    Kathy Lindemer from BayMoonDesign says:

    I love pour timeline. A necessity!

    11 years ago

  • lumlet

    lumlet says:


    11 years ago

  • OncleHope

    Oncle Hope from OncleHope says:

    oh it was coconut that white sprinkle on the side! I was thinking white chocolate :)

    11 years ago

  • HeroDesigns

    HeroDesigns from HeroDesigns says:

    This is incredibly helpful--Thank you!!

    11 years ago

  • ErikaPrice

    Erika from ErikaPrice says:

    Looks delicious! Love the idea of using coconut on the middle tier, and having three contrasting layers!

    11 years ago

  • Mikono

    Ling Abson from Mikono says:

    Wow, that looks yummy and simply gorgeous!

    11 years ago

  • ariella42

    Ariella Carver from HausofAriella says:

    That's amazing! I have my hands full with everything else in the wedding planning process and I'm not the best cook anyway, but it would be a great option for people with the time and skill.

    11 years ago

  • TreeCookies

    Jo from TreeCookies says:

    love this! especially since i'm thinking of making ours. any recommendations on freezing parts of the cake, so i dont stress myself out too much the week of ;)

    11 years ago

  • bekkyd

    bekkyd says:

    There are a few things that I think should be pointed out... 1. It is not recommended to use raw eggwhite in the Swiss buttercream unless the eggs are pasteurised (available in some countries). You can get pasteurised liquid eggwhites in some supermarkets, or powdered eggwhited from cake decorating suppliers. 2. You've suggested using fresh flowers to decorate but many are toxic and should not be used in direct contact with foodstuffs. Make sure you use flowers that are edible & have not been treated with any chemicals such as insecticides. 3. You have inserted metal decorative pins directly into the icing. This is not advisable according to general food safety guidelines,, both from a choking hazard & a hygiene issue.

    11 years ago

  • SomsStudio

    Som from SomsStudio says:

    The step by step pictures are very helpful! Thank you.

    11 years ago

  • SquirrelsSpot

    Ashley M. from SquirrelsSpot says:

    My husband and I made the cake for our wedding--and I was an amateur baker at the time (not anymore!). It was a three-tier red velvet cake, layered with Bavarian chocolate cream and frosted with home-made frosting. We used my husband's grandmother's recipe for the cake, the two of us baked it, his dad and sister made the frosting, and his sister decorated it and assembled it the morning of the wedding (having someone else take care of decorating and assembling was extremely helpful--I had enough to do on the morning of the wedding without trying to take care of the cake!). I received so many compliments on both the look and taste. Dede Wilson's book was my cake-making bible while I was going through the process. It was a lot of work, but absolutely worth it. I am so glad someone on Etsy did a post on this! The photos are beautiful! One thing I would strongly suggest-- and Wilson strongly recommends this as well--is making a practice cake (or several!) with the exact materials and methods which you will be using to make the final cake. It's very reassuring to practice and will ensure that you are confident and know what you are doing with the final cake. I think I did at least 3 practice cakes--one with two layers (6 and 10 inches)--and it helped a lot. To minimize waste I took the cakes to work and church coffee hour, and made cake balls with the scraps from trimming. My co-workers and fellow church-goers loved that!

    11 years ago

  • PlumPixy

    PlumPixy from PlumPixy says:

    Love this cake! Steps are really easy to follow

    11 years ago

  • urastarhouse

    urastarhouse from urastarhouse says:

    WoW well done! Yes I suggest a practice cake too!

    11 years ago

  • lighthouse50

    lighthouse50 says:

    we had the plain white cake made. and decorated with little fairies and sprinkled it with the edible clear really gives a plain cake alot of POP. And very pretty!

    11 years ago

  • fantasygarden

    Anna Kikute from fantasygarden says:

    what a good recipe

    11 years ago

  • thelittlemarket

    Debbie from thelittlemarket says:

    The cake looks amazing!!

    11 years ago

  • highfalutin3

    jetun bailey says:

    im def inspired to make my own cake when i finally am

    11 years ago

  • HobbiesandEvents

    Teronia (Tara) Bayonne from HobbiesandEvents says:

    I will have to make a "practice cake" first (ikr), I am definitely one for a challenge like this. I love the timeline breakdown and your rings are gorgeous btw!

    11 years ago

  • Julescelt

    Julie McCarty says:

    I love this idea! But, given the fact your using real butter and eggs, I would suggest not making the the buttercream more than a week ahead of time! First you want the cake to taste fresh and there's the risk of spoilage with these ingredients! I checked with my hubby whose an executive chef, he's done over 2000 weddings! And as someone else said practice cakes are a great idea, plus eating them is the best part! ; )

    11 years ago

  • daniellecicero

    Danielle Martin-Cicero from daniellecicero says:

    I'm not getting married and all my brides are not close by anyway, but it looks like i should try the recipe just because I love cake. Who doesn't??? Looks pretty and delicious AND edible!

    11 years ago

  • TheScarletSageTree

    Suzanne Furtado from TheScarletSageTree says:

    Beautifully detailed article - while my wedding's already past, perhaps I could do a grand birthday cake for my son, or better still, me ;)

    11 years ago

  • CoutureByAyca

    Ayca Hoser from CoutureByAyca says:

    Wow, that's amazing...Thank you for this helpful pictures!

    11 years ago

  • vsc83

    Victoria from VictoriaCampAllison says:

    Wow, that cake is gorgeous! I love the large coconut flakes, they look so pretty on baked goods. Thanks for the tip on making the frosting 'edge' when adding filling - fantastic! When my day arrives, I am definitely making the cake, no question about it. I think our family/friends would be disappointed if I didn't. ;)

    11 years ago

  • FromScratchSF

    FromScratchSF says:

    I'm all for DIY - but as a professional baker, I completely agree with bekkyd. Several things about this tutorial are not only HAZARDOUS, but DANGEROUS. So much so that I am re-posting her comment in hopes that anyone that wants to make this cake (or any cake like it) reads it: "There are a few things that I think should be pointed out... 1. It is not recommended to use raw eggwhite in the Swiss buttercream unless the eggs are pasteurised (available in some countries). You can get pasteurised liquid eggwhites in some supermarkets, or powdered eggwhited from cake decorating suppliers. 2. You've suggested using fresh flowers to decorate but many are TOXIC and should not be used in direct contact with foodstuffs. Make sure you use flowers that are edible & have not not been treated with any chemicals such as insecticides. 3. You have inserted metal decorative pins directly into the icing. This is not advisable according to general food safety guidelines,, both from a choking hazard & a hygiene issue." And adding my own comment: I am a professional baker - if I made my buttercream that far in advance and just refrigerated it, not only would it be disgusting and nobody would order a cake from me again, but I'd be cited by the Health Department. I hope that Etsy or the blogger makes a correction to this post either changing the icing to something *non-potentially hazardous and shelf-stable* like a shortening and powdered sugar-based American icing or changes the timeline to state making the SMBC no more then 2 DAYS in advance.

    11 years ago

  • heatherbomb999

    heatherbomb999 says:

    I think making your own cake is a great idea, and I am a pastry chef :), but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do test runs before your big day! The last thing you want is a crazy ass wedding cake staring you in the face after you walk into your reception . . . or worse yet, no cake at all!!! Beautiful wedding blessings to all you "Brideys"!!!!

    11 years ago

  • StayArtisan

    J.K. Ramirez from HudsonBlueArtisans says:

    This is one cake you don't want to get wrong.... Practice, test, taste...

    11 years ago

  • talbottsdesigns

    Melissa from TalbottsDesigns says:

    Love the How-To. I have always wanted to make cakes that are that beautiful. I have tried unsuccessfully a time or two. I don't think I had the icing right. Not only is this great for wedding cakes but also for anyone making cakes for birthdays, baby showers, or anniversary parties.

    11 years ago

  • chezviolette

    Coco Flower from CocoFlowerShop says:

    waou ! I'm impressed :)

    10 years ago

  • helenpeckett

    Helen from SweetDecorUK says:

    This is the idea behind my shop. making your own cake is a fantastic way of getting the design you want without it breaking the bank. A great blog!

    10 years ago

  • messinabella

    messinabella from BandBEstate says:

    beautiful cake!

    10 years ago

  • jetsigley

    Jennifer Sigley from WeddingButtonique says:

    I made my own cake for our wedding back in March this year. We took all three layers seperately and layered them together at the hotel the day before the wedding. It was nice to get the lovely comments knowing we had made it ourselves - plus it saved us £300+. I'd only recommend it if you don't stress too easily and that you have a few practice runs first. My work colleagues loved the lead up to our wedding!!

    10 years ago

  • daniellealston

    danielle Grimmer says:

    cake is beautiful!! just wondering though the purpose of the straws...and wouldn't they end up in someone's slice? can you do without them?

    10 years ago

  • MeloHandmade

    Charlee Fery says:

    FYI: I just tested the 8 inch cake recipe. The cake looks good (haven't tried it yet!) but they layers were pathetically small. 1 inch tall each TOPS. I'm now needing to figure out a way to make a super impressive filling layer to compensate. I guess maybe the recipe was for each cake pan... ? ? ? Glad this was a test run!

    10 years ago

  • sweeterthantherest

    Jennifer D'souza says:

    Cake look so delicious! I love the way you described the steps on how to prepare delicious and yummy cake! Thanks for sharing. For more cakes visit

    9 years ago