Project Wedding Cake: The Ingredients And The Recipes

Empty your freezer, kids, it’s cake time. There’s no concise way to do this, so we’re just going to plow ahead. Recipes and instructions for the component parts are below, in the order you make them. I’ve provided a master ingredients list at the end, along with some scheduling tips. Assembly instructions/transportation advice will wrap everything up tomorrow. Let’s make a wedding cake!

All recipes are adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2003, and Martha Stewart’s Wedding Cakes.

For the Orange-Buttermilk White Cake: you will make this in two separate batches. When I give the instructions, it will be for one batch at a time. The first batch makes the 14″ cake, and the second makes the 10″ and the 7″ cakes. As always with cakes, but especially so with this, Your Friend’s Wedding Cake, all ingredients should be at room temperature for best results.

16 1/2 c. sifted cake flour
16 1/2 tsp. baking powder
4 (scant) tsp. salt
4 1/2 c. buttermilk
9 tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
7 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 3/4 c. (4 1/2 sticks, 1 1/8 lbs.) unsalted butter
10 c. granulated sugar
2 1/4 c. vegetable oil
3 3/4 c. egg whites (about 30)
3/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour a 14″ cake pan with 3″ high sides, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour a 10″ cake pan with 3″ high sides, lining the bottom with parchment paper. Finally, same drill, 7″ cake pan with 3″ high sides.

Sift together 8 1/4 c. cake flour, 8 1/4 tsp. baking powder, and 2 (scant) tsp. salt. Set aside. Stir together 2 1/4 c. buttermilk, 4 1/2 tbsp. orange juice concentrate, and 3 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat 2 1/4 sticks (1 1/8 c.) butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about four minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Gradually add 2 c. sugar, beating until well combined, and then beat in 1 1/8 c. vegetable oil. Beat in an additional 1 1/2 c. sugar. The batter won’t be perfectly smooth; the texture will be somewhat oily and gritty at this point.

Gradually beat in the flour mixture in four additions alternately with the buttermilk mixture in three additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after every addition of flour, making sure all ingredients are well combined. Set this mixture aside.

Using clean beaters and a clean bowl, beat 15 egg whites and 3/8 tsp. cream of tartar at low speed until they start to foam. Gradually increase the speed of the mixer until soft peaks form, then gradually add 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar, beating until the egg whites are thick and glossy and they fall from the beaters in thick, puffy ribbons. Begin folding the egg whites into the buttermilk mixture in four additions. My KitchenAid bowls were slightly too small to take all of the batter in one, so I sort of had to fudge it and do my best to split the batter between the two bowls while making sure that each bowl contained equal proportions of egg whites and batter. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, transfer the batter to the prepared 14″ cake pan. Bake the cake on the middle oven rack until brown and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean (or with just a few crumbs attached), about 90-100 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes before inverting it onto a rack to finish cooling completely.

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Make the second batch of batter following the instructions outlined above, just dividing the batter between the 10″ and the 7″ inch cake pans. Bake the 10″ cake for 80-90 minutes and the 7″ cake for 70-80 minutes, or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Allow both cakes to cool in their pans for 30 minutes before inverting and allowing to cool completely.

For the Lemon Curd: this recipe makes three batches of lemon curd. You will have so, so much lemon curd. Again, the instructions will be for 1 batch, and you’ll just follow them three times.

9 c. granulated sugar
13 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
4 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
54 egg yolks
4 1/2 c. (9 sticks, 2 1/4 lbs.) unsalted butter

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In a medium saucepan, whisk together 3 c. granulated sugar and 4 1/2 tsp. cornstarch. Whisk in 1 1/2 c. lemon juice, followed by 18 egg yolks. Dice 1 1/2 c. (3 sticks, 3/4 lb.) butter into small cubes, then whisk into the lemon-and-sugar mixture. Cook the curd over medium heat until it thickens and begins to boil, 18-20 minutes, whisking regularly. Pour the curd through a mesh sieve into a heat-proof bowl. Press a layer of plastic wrap against the surface of the lemon curd. Make the second and third batches of curd following the same instructions, adding each batch to the one before, each time replacing the layer of plastic wrap against the surface. Refrigerate lemon curd at least one day.

For the Lemon-White Chocolate Mousse: you only have to make one batch! Hurray!

21 oz. high-quality white chocolate (Lindt, Baker’s, Valrhona, Callebaut)
2 c. heavy cream
6 c. lemon curd (see above)

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Finely chop the white chocolate and place it in the top of a double-boiler over an inch of simmering water. Stir the white chocolate until it is just barely melted and smooth, then immediately remove from heat. It should be just barely warm. Beat the whipping cream in the large bowl of an electric mixer until medium-firm peaks form, then fold in the melted white chocolate. In a large mixing bowl, fold the lemon curd in into the white chocolate cream. Cover the mousse and refrigerate until set, at least one day.

For the Vanilla Bean Swiss Buttercream Frosting: this recipe makes two batches. You’ll make one to fill, assemble, and crumb-coat the tiers the day before serving, and one to frost and/or decorate the cake on the day of the wedding.

5 lbs. (20 sticks, 10 c.) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 1/4 c. granulated sugar
25 egg whites
4 vanilla beans
2.5 tbsp. vanilla extract

In one mixing bowl, beat 2 1/2 pounds (10 sticks, 5 c.) butter on medium speed in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Set the butter aside.

In a second bowl, whisk together 3 1/8 c. sugar (I know we don’t really measure in eights of a cup. Fudge it) and half of the egg whites. Place the mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water and continue to whisk until the sugar has dissolved, the mixture is smooth, opaque, and foamy, and the whites are warm to the touch. Transfer the bowl to an electric mixer and beat the whites on medium-high speed with a whisk attachment until the mixture has cooled and the whites are fluffy and form stiff peaks, around 10 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low. Add the beaten butter a few tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. As you get to the end of the butter the mixture will start to look lumpy and “separated”, and you will feel slightly horrified about the prospect of having to start over and separate more eggs. Persevere. Once the butter’s incorporated, scrape out the seeds from two vanilla beans and add them to the frosting, along with 1 1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract.

Remove the whisk attachment from the mixer and replace it with a paddle. Beat the buttercream on the lowest possible speed for five minutes. This will remove the air bubbles and any lingering textural weirdness, leaving you with a gloriously glossy, rich buttercream. Make the second batch as needed, following the same instructions.

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While I made mine right before I wanted to use it, the buttercream can also be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 3 days. Allow it to return to room temperature before beating at medium speed until smooth again.

* * * * *

Here’s your master ingredients list for the whole thing (assuming my math is right, God willing and the creek don’t rise):

8 1/2 lbs. unsalted butter
4 1/2 dozen eggs
4 1/2 c. buttermilk
2 c. heavy cream
9 tbsp. orange juice concentrate
25 1/4 c. sugar
4 vanilla beans
10 tbsp. vanilla extract
16 1/2 tsp. baking powder
13 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
16 1/2 c. cake flour
3 3/4 tsp. salt
2 1/4 c. vegetable oil
21 oz. white chocolate
SO MANY LEMONS: enough for 4 1/2 c. juice, probably around 30-40. I had to keep ducking out to the bodega for more, so I lost count.

* * * * *

So, some logistics. Obviously these tips are what I, personally did. You could probably do everything in 3 days, 2 if you’re a crazy person and don’t sleep, but I have a job and had other bridal-party responsibilities, so I spaced it out:

2 weeks to 1 month in advance: bake the cakes. Allow them to cool completely, then wrap each cake whole in parchment paper, then plastic wrap, then heavy-duty aluminum foil. The parchment keeps the cakes from tasting like plastic wrap, the plastic wrap seals them air-tight, and the foil insulates them and protects them from freezer burn. Pop the cakes in the freezer. The day before you plan to assemble the wedding cake, transfer the individual cakes to the refrigerator to thaw.

[About the eggs: so, lots of egg whites, right? And also egg yolks? Did you know you can freeze them? Once you’ve made the cakes, you can save the egg yolks you didn’t use, so you’ll have them on hand to make the lemon curd later. Egg whites can simply be frozen as they are with no ill effects, but with egg yolks, you’ll need to add 1 1/2 tsp. sugar for every four yolks, to keep them from going gummy and weird when they thaw. Just whisk the yolks with the sugar and freeze them in a heavy-duty ziplock bag, LABELLED WITH THE DATE AND NUMBER OF EGG YOLKS. You will not remember. I know you think you will, but you won’t. Label them.]

Four days before the wedding: transfer the egg yolks to the refrigerator to thaw (if necessary– I’d used all mine up on ice cream in the interim between cake baking and cake assembly, so I just separated more as needed).

Three days before the wedding: make the lemon curd (it has to chill overnight before you can move on to the next step).

Two days before the wedding: make the white chocolate mousse (it ALSO has to chill overnight before you can move on to the next step). Also remember to transfer the cakes from the freezer to the refrigerator.

One day before the wedding: make half the frosting, slice the cakes into layers, assemble the tiers, crumb-coat each tier, and refrigerate the cakes.

The day of the wedding: make the second half of the frosting, box everything up, take all your stuff to the venue, and finish assembling on site (tier the cake layers, apply the final coat of frosting, and then wait for your friend the florist to make it beautiful).

The next and final Project Wedding Cake post will cover cake assembly and transportation.  Happy baking!

8 Comments on Project Wedding Cake: The Ingredients And The Recipes

  1. Ev
    July 18, 2013 at 9:42 am (6 years ago)

    Sounds like you’ve got your hands full! Hope everything goes well. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Erica of A Sophisticated Pair
    July 18, 2013 at 10:42 am (6 years ago)

    What a tasty sounding receipt and a lovely gesture from you! This cake reminds me a little bit of the Cuban Opera Cake I make in that you have a lot of components all of which require different set times and different application times too. It’s a lot of work, but the end result is a multifaceted desert that really lights up the palette. When I get up to NYC, I’d be down for swapping some baking tips and tasting one of your desserts! 😀

    Reply
    • Sweets
      July 18, 2013 at 10:56 am (6 years ago)

      I would LOVE that, Erica! We’ll have to schedule baking time 🙂

      Reply

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