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 capricorn011959@hotmail.com





.

33 comments:

  1. Hi Debi:

    Again, thanks a million for this post.... and I didn't realize you had a blog... now I have "follow" your blog and will make some coffee to read some of your posts... I'm sure there is tons of helpful information here... thanks

    here is my blog... feel free to visit me sometime :-)
    http://nataliecakes.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Awesome, awesome, awesome! As someone that has been cutting wedding cakes the hard way for over 10 years... thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you so much, i have to make a wedding cake for my sister's wedding and i was very afraid for cutting (we're french our wedding cake are different, easy to cut but not so beautifull) you have really help me a lot. Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  7. So this probably is an obvious question, but do you remove all the support dowels before you begin cutting the cake or as you go along?

    ReplyDelete
  8. what's the serving amount you get from each size? Is it closer to the Wilton guideline or the Earlene? Thanks,

    ReplyDelete
  9. Excellent post! Thank you so much! :D

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is wonderful! I don't know anything about blogs. Where do we find the answers to the posts?
    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sorry for what seems to be a lack of responses. For a time, there appeared to be a system issue with blogspot and I was unable to post any replies!! Tested it today and it seems to be working again!

    First, yes I remove the dowels before cutting. After de-stacking the cakes, just pull the dowels out and lay them aside.

    My serving size is about the same as Wilton's, which is the industry standard. Earline's chart is about 50% more cake per serving (so be sure you are charging appropriately ... 50% more cake per serving means a 50% higher price). And actually ... I get about 10% more servings than what Wilton shows, so you some flexibility. That means in a 10" round cake, that the Wilton chart shows serves 38, I can get about 40-42 slices. So by using the Wilton chart numbers and my cutting method, you can rest assured you will yield the correct number of servings!

    ReplyDelete
  13. This may be a dumb question but how, exactly, do you disassemble the cake? I have to do this for my best friend and her cake is round with 3 tiers and no dowels. I'm assuming you don't just "lift" each layer off with your hands. What do you use?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Koreen: My first reaction is "YIKES!!! NO DOWELS??!!!" I dont' know of any caker who puts together a 3-tier cake without any dowel support. Rule of thumb is there should be dowel support every 4" of cake. I urge you to reconsider the engineering of this cake. To answer your question, each tier (4" of cake) is sitting on a cake cardboard and the cardboard is supported by dowels or another support system. Simply slide a large knife under the cardboard to give it a lift, and then yes ... use your hands to lift the cake-on-cardboard up and off.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is brilliant! I too have catered a long, long time, but this is the most effective cake cutting method I've seen yet! What a great blog, I want to explore more.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I will be the cake cutter for a friend’s wedding. She is having fondant roses cascading down the three tiers. Should I cut through the flowers or take them off? If you take them off, do you serve them with some of the cake slices? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would remove the flowers. Once fondant flowers dry they are usually VERY dry. Trying to cut thru them could create a crumbling effect. When I remove flowers from the big cake, I set them around the top tier (which I have removed and set aside on the table, like a centerpiece) for extra decoration. Kids love it when I place an extra flower on their piece of cake!

      Delete
  17. Like this much better than the circular manner. THANKS!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. So helpful! I'm making a 40th birthday cake for my husband, struggling over how much to have and what shape I can fit in my freezer as I work on it...looking at how to cut a round cake effectively is making the decision easier. We'll have 24 people at the dinner and cake is the only dessert. I can be flexible with size. Am thinking a filling between one layer I cut in half or just filling b/t two normal size layers. Would love your advice, the design I'm doing will work with anything. Thank you!~Ann

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To have a two-layer cake or to have a torted cake depends on how large (tall) you want the cake to be. If you are planning on just a single layer, the torting it (slicing it in half to make 2 small layers) will add some extra "prettiness" to it. A one-layer-torted cake will need to be cut in larger pieces to get a standard serving to everyone, so the cake itself might need to be larger (unless you are having a fabulous and large dinner and project that folks will only need a 'bite' for dessert!) :-)

      Delete
  19. Deb , Thank you so much for this picture tutorial. One question though, do you serve the rounded pieces that are made from the first row? Thank You!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Yes, I do. When they are cut into the 1x2x4" pieces, they look the same as an "interior" cut. The corner pieces (if a round cake can have a corner!) are also served. Sometimes I cut the last piece into a "V" instead of two rectangles, but it all works! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Deb, thanks for the pictures they really helped. But my question is when the bride and groom make the first cut do we have them to cut in a "V" shape or in a square (1x2x4) then we continue to pattern?

    ReplyDelete
  22. That's a whole blog article in itself! but it's really no biggie. I helped the couple get started with some initial cuts made by me (wipe knife clean, hand knife to bride) so all they had to do was make two cuts straight down and remove the piece of cake. If they want to cut a SMALL V-shaped piece out (make sure they don't cut a piece the size of "I'm going to watch TV and eat cake!") Either way, I just worked around the (again, let me say) SMALL piece they had cut out.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Mrs. Debi,

    I've been baking cakes for about 2 1/2 years now and I am always trying to improve on my cake recipe or try new cake recipes and your cakes look so delicious and moist. :-) Would you be able to share your cake recipe with us?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi Debi,

    Would it be too much to ask for your cake recipe that you used in this wedding cake? It looks so tall and fluffy. Mine always come out thinner. I would have to tort several layers to get mine this high (instead of just two, like yours). If not, I understand. thanks a ton.

    ReplyDelete
  25. hate to disappoint some, but I'm a mix-baker. I start with Betty Crocker cake mixes, add an extra egg plus one envelope of Dream Whip per cake mix. The white cake mix calls for 3 egg whites. I would use 3 egg whites plus one whole egg. For a really richer tasting cake, use 4 whole eggs. Note that the one with the 4 whole eggs will have a yellow-tint to the cake. Use just egg whites for pure white. I would describe these cakes to my brides as "wedding white" (egg whites only) or "extra rich wedding cake" (whole eggs).

    As my business grew, I began using some of the 25-lb containers of commercial cake base mixes but didnt' like the taste very much. I went back to Betty C!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Oh my goodness...what an incredible project and your final wedding cake appearance FANTASTIC! Well done :) therefore glad to possess discovered your site!When meeting your cake decorator for the primary time, bring the maximum amount data as possible; theme of the marriage, color of your dress, woman dress and inspiration from the area and flowers. it'll create the choice easier.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Debi, Thanks for this method. I'm planning on doing some tiered cakes for a 50th wedding anniversary reception and have never assembled or cut tiered cakes before. This looks rather easy. I do have a question, though. You don't show the actual rounded ends of the cake. How do you cut those? How far in from the sides do you make those first cuts? Thank you for your help.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Pretend you are going to throw away the "corner" of the round cake. WIth that in mind, I'm going to cut in far enough so that the first "real" piece is a perfect rectangle. That corner piece, which we are not really throwing away, is a rounded-edged-triangle and I will cut it into two pie-shaped pieces. (Or if someone coming to the cake table requests a really big piece, it's nice and handy!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Debi. I think I understand. As the time gets closer and I find out exactly what the clients want, I may have more questions for you. I hope it's alright to call upon your expertise again in the future, if needed. Have a wonderful day!

      Delete
  29. Anytime! I'm more easily reached via my email @ capricorn011959@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi Debi,

    This is great advice to show people how to actually cut a wedding cake. I always find portion sizes is an issue when it comes to wedding cakes and once the cake leaves you it's on the hands of whoever cuts the cake. I now provide to couple with a slicing guide. I use the "cake slicer" app from http://cakeslicer.bakingit.com. The bride/groom can choose their portion sizes and they take a copy of the guide with them. This way whoever cuts the cake doesn't cut the portions too big.

    ReplyDelete