Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How to Cut a Wedding Cake

Cutting a wedding cake can make even the bravest person quiver in their shoes. It's really not that hard. If you do it right.

Many cake charts show what I refer to as "The Dreaded Circle Method" of cutting a cake. I've not yet met someone who can cut a good circle with a knife and I find this method just messy and inefficient.
I've been cutting cakes for 30 years and I can cut and serve a cake for 200 in under 15 minutes .... in less time if I have a helper.

Here are some step-by-step photos of how to cut a wedding cake. This method can be used on round or square cakes and coordinates with the Wilton Wedding Cake Serving Chart servings, based on an industry standard 1x2x4" dessert sized piece of cake.

First, I disassemble the entire cake so I can cut the largest tier first. Why? Because if there is any cake leftover, it will be the smaller, easier to store, tiers that will fit in your freezer instead of a partial big cake that won't fit anywhere.

Then cut a 2" strip of cake down the side.

This part is optional, but easy. When pushing the knife down on the icing part of the cake, this can cause a "squishing" effect and some of the filling can be pushed out, creating a messy piece of cake to serve to your guests.

Using a gloved hand (or I highly recommend the cake cutting comb as shown in the photo) and the knife, gently lay the 2" strip on it's side. It won't fall apart, I promise. I do it all the time. And it really helps eliminate the "squishing" effect.

The easy part.... just begin cutting the 2" strip into 1" pieces.

Helpful hint: Did you know that if you bend your thumb, the distance between the bent knuckle and the end of your base nail is about one inch? So you always have a ruler handy to know how wide one inch is!!

Using a cake cutting comb or a gloved hand is a sanitary way to move the cut pieces of cake to the serving plate. Less messy, too!

Many decorators and venues have emailed me from across the country to let me know they've printed out these photos and left them on the cake table so those cutting the wedding cake will know how to do it. It is extra helpful when a bride has family cutting the cake rather than a professional caterer (and I've even met caterers who have confessed, "We don't know how to cut a wedding cake!"). So feel free to link to this page or print it out for your brides to help them ensure a smooth cake cutting at their event!

Debi can be reached at


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Speaking of Buttercream Roses....

A friend, whose birthday falls on Valentine's Day, always throws herself an office birthday party for her and her co-workers. She mentioned she wanted a cake with yellow and red circles. I was a little confused and said, "You mean like a target?" She hesitantly said "yeah..... something like that."

I told her not to worry. I'd make her a cake that looked prettier than a target circle!

If you're a person who fights over the big buttercream roses on family birthday cakes, then you would have just loved this cake!

Instead of just flat stripes in a circle, I created circles of color using 30 big buttercream roses and about 15 smaller rosebuds.

In a world of over-the-top fondant cakes and push-the-material-in-a-mold decorating techniques, the art of making buttercream roses is in danger of becoming a lost art. I was thrilled to be able to showcase this edible art again!!

When I dropped it off to her, she almost cried at how pretty she thought it was! Which is the best compliment a caker can get!


How Much Ribbon?

Wrapping ribbon around the base of a cake is a very popular design these days. Many bakeries/bakers ask the bride to provide the ribbon simply to assure the correct color the bride is looking for. I can do a week's worth of stories on how brides were upset because it was sage green instead of hunter green, or it was baby blue instead of pastel blue! To avoid these issues, it's usually best for all concerned when the bride hands the baker the ribbon and says, "THIS is the ribbon color for my cake!"

Many times I've been given a quantity of ribbon that wasn't sufficient to go all the way around a cake. Fortunately in the couple of instances this happened, it was a color that was easy to match and I ran out at the last minute to pick up some additional feet of it.

But as a bride, how do you know how much to provide?

Remember those math, algebra and geometry classes where you tried so hard to stay awake? Well, let's hope you did because those lessons will apply here.

Square cakes are pretty simple. A 10" square cake means each side is 10" long. So a minimum of 40" is needed (10" x 4 sides = 40"). But don't hand your baker just 40". Add a little extra to allow for the icing that will extend the sides ever so slightly. Add a little extra to give the baker some slack to work with in case something happens. A cake that requires 40" of ribbon, I would recommend at LEAST 50 to 60 inches.

And that's just for one tier.

Round cakes is where the geometry class comes in. A 10" cake is 10" across the diameter. To find the circumference (the distance around the cake), it's a simple case of "diameter times Pi", or 10" x 3.14 = 31.4 inches of ribbon. Again, add a little extra "just in case". I'd recommend 40 to 48".

And that's just for one tier.

Seriously, I had a bride who was thinking out loud and said, "So for a 10" cake, two feet should work, right?" Uh......... No. So I had to do the math with her so she could see how much she would really need.

As you, the bride, shop for your wedding cake, find out if the baker provides the ribbon or if the bride provides the ribbon. If you, the bride, are required to provide the ribbon, work with your baker to make sure you provide enough ribbon to create the cake of your dreams.