Thanks to the advice and encouragement of chowhounds I decided to tackle making a wedding cake for my boyfriends sister last month. Special thanks go to Caitlin Wheeler for all the information and inspiration contained in her post about making her own wedding cake and to Irwin Koval for directing me to the white chocolate fondant available from Sweet Inspirations/Cal-Java International.
The bride did not really have any ideas about what she wanted for her cake, so I was able to make most of the choices myself. Her only request was that the cake have a tiny top tier (3) and not be too elaborately decorated. We settled on a four-tier cake (12, 9, 6 and 3), covered in white fondant and decorated with fresh, fall-colored flowers.
The cake was a raspberry-champagne cream cake, one Id made several times before to appreciative reviews (but only in a single tier size). Basically, its four thin layers of vanilla genoise, soaked with a framboise syrup and layered with lightly-sweetened raspberry puree and champagne sabayon. I covered the cake with a substantial layer of mousseline buttercream from the Cake Bible, flavored with a bit of framboise. The cake was finished with a layer of white chocolate fondant, grosgrain ribbon around the base of each layer, and scattered with fresh flowers.
I had several months to plan the cake, so I read the Cake Bible diligently and made several practice cakes. I used the Genoise Riche recipe from the Cake Bible, after first making the Genoise Classique recipe and finding it too dry and grainy without the syrup (I figured the raspberry puree I was using would provide enough liquid -- I was wrong) and too sweet and wet with the syrup. The Genoise Riche recipe is exactly the same as the Classique, but has twice as much butter and uses half the syrup.
After my first trial cake with store bought rolled fondant, I sought advice from the hounds about making my own, because the purchased stuff was terrible. No one recommended making it from scratch, but Caitlin suggested flavoring it with candy oils and Irwin suggested white chocolate fondant. After testing champagne and raspberry flavorings and the white chocolate, I decided to go with the white chocolate, which wasnt quite white enough, but could be made so with liquid whitener (available at baking supply stores, made from titanium dioxide and glycerin).
I made as many elements of the cake in advance as possible. Freezing the buttercream a month ahead of time and the raspberry puree and smaller cake layers about a week in advance. I made the large cake layers and the champagne sabayon two days before the wedding and assembled the layers and fillings the day before. The wedding was in the evening, so the day of the wedding, I covered the layers with buttercream, then the whitened fondant. I stacked up the layers, wrapped ribbon around the base of each layer, and took it to the reception site. I did the final decorating with the flowers at the reception site.
Everything went pretty smoothly, despite the fact that my power went out for three hours while I was assembling the cake. Luckily, I didnt need to bake anything else and had already re-beaten the buttercream with my kitchenaid before the power went out. So, after my mild panic attack subsided, I found myself rolling the fondant on my living room floor (on top of a non-stick rolling mat) because it was too dark in my kitchen to see anything clearly. My biggest worry was that it would get too hot with the a/c off (I live in Phoenix, which is still brutally hot in October) but the power came back on just in time. The fondant covering the cake was not quite perfect, I had to patch a little spot on one of the layers, but I was able to disguise my repair work with a well-placed flower. Most importantly, the cake was delicious and the bride and groom were quite pleased.
Here are some links to chowhound posts that were invaluable in helping me with this somewhat daunting project:
Caitlin Wheelers wedding cake post: [BROKEN LINK REMOVED]
The fondant discussion: [BROKEN LINK REMOVED]
And heres the champagne sabayon recipe: [BROKEN LINK REMOVED]