Guest Blogger: Heart of Light, DIY cake!

Categories   Wedding Advice

I saved my favorite topic for last, friends. I love cake. I will make it any chance I get, and my sister’s wedding was no exception. If you’re considering taking on your own wedding cake, or enlisting a talented friend to help you out, don’t delude yourself. Making a massive amount of cake is a lot of work and it goes better if you have some experience. But there are ways to make it work.


{image c/o Vanilla Bakeshop, Martha Stewart}

Keep it simple – The photos above are examples of cake styles I don’t recommend for an amateur baker. Fondant can be tricky to work with and those gorgeous smooth surfaces are tough to achieve. The intricate detail work is well beyond my skill level.


{image c/o the talented nikole, of Forty-Sixth at Grace & Herriott Grace}

Simple cakes are truly lovely, and relatively easy to create. Nikole’s creations always stun me and although she has bakery experience, they are attainable for the everyday baker, with a bit of practice. (P.S. – If you’re dying over her cake stands, she sells them in her shop).


{image c/o Martha Stewart, right side photos mine}

When my sister asked me to make her cake, we discussed the style first. The left hand photo above was the cake she wanted, and the right hand photos are a couple of cakes that I’ve decorated easily. Her chosen cake was similar enough (stacked layers with no major structural complications, charmingly imperfect buttercream frosting instead of fondant) that we decided I could make it work.


{image c/o Jessica Claire & Jose Villa}

Cover it with flowers – Adding some natural beauty is the easiest way to make a simple cake truly gorgeous. And it takes very little expertise. If your flowers aren’t organic, you’ll want to wash them carefully before putting them directly on the icing.


{image c/o Jordan Ferney}

Make multiples – The talented Jordan Ferney made a beautiful cake buffet for her wedding, displayed on a collection of vintage cake stands (you knew I wouldn’t be able to resist that). I love the idea of having several simple cakes. Not only does it offer guests a choice of flavors, but you could potentially ask several people you love to contribute their favorite cakes, spreading the work around and making it a much less daunting proposition.

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Andrea on Mar 19, 2010

I am so glad my husband didn't let me bake our wedding cake, I had a lot to learn! I will second that you should put some practice in, it makes it much easier. I also liked her ideas of covering the cake with fresh flowers or making multiple cakes on vintage cake stands. I love the idea of the way they look as a collection of cakes on a buffet table, possibly with other favorite family desserts that others can help provide!

kaleigh on Mar 19, 2010

i LOVE the idea of multiple cakes. now, if I can only find some antique cake stands, i will be set!

Margarita on Mar 19, 2010

I think it should be added that not only SHOULD your flowers be organic no matter what as pesticides will seep into the cake, but that some flowers are TOXIC. Toxic Flowers: African Violet Amarylis Anemone Anthurium Arum Lilies Autumn Crocus Azalea Bird of Paradise Bittersweet Black-eyed Susan Bleeding Heart Bluebell Buttercup Caladium Calla Lily Carnation – pink family Carolina Jasmine Christmas Rose Chrysanthemum Clematis Crocus Daffodil Daphne Delphinium Four O’clock Foxglove Fuchsia Gardenia Gloriosa Lily Goldenseal Holly Berry Honesty Hoya Hyacinth Hydrangea Hypericum Iceland Poppy Iris Ivy Jasmine Jessamine Jonquil Laburnum Lantana Larkspur Lily family Lily of the Valley Lobelia Lupins Marsh Marigold Mistletoe Monkshood Morning Glory Narcissus Nightshade Oak Ohio Buckeye Oleander Oriental Poppy Periwinkle Philodendron Poinsettia Primula Privet Rhododendron Rock Poppy Snowdrop Spring Adonis Star of Bethlehem Sunflower Sweet Pea Tobacco Flower Trumpet Vine Tulip Virginia Creeper Water Hemlock Wild Cherry Windflower Wisteria Wolfsbane Yellow Allamanda Yellow Oleander As a wedding planner it's my job to know when you see pink carnations on a wedding cake - don't eat it. I was at a wedding when that happened and the bride was crushed but sued her cake baker later.

Stacey Gilmore on Mar 19, 2010

Simply put....i just L.O.V.E. everything about your blog! I check it often, and it always pulls at my heart strings, makes me feel hopeful in love, and inspires me! Thank you!

Album Boutique Team on Mar 19, 2010

Having multiple cakes is a great idea in my opinion! Thanks to Margarita for the list of toxic flowers - that's so important to know!

noa (feather love photography) on Mar 19, 2010

OMG! cake porn. i'm srsly drooling right now.

Cheryl (Make Me Joyful) on Mar 19, 2010

I think multiple cakes are a wonderful idea. It looks beautiful (particularly if you keep a unifying detail between them all) and you get the chance to taste all of your favourite cakes. Gorgeous!

Rachel (heart of light) on Mar 19, 2010

@ Margarita - thank you for the list! I found out about this AFTER making my sister's wedding cake. And I had put hydrangeas all over it, which my florist friend informed me are toxic. Whoops. Luckily, no one got sick (the hydrangeas were just resting on the top layer, which no one ate anyways and I hadn't stuck them into the icing). Apparently, you can set up little barriers, like using a bit of plastic shield or plastic wrap to make sure toxic flowers don't actually touch your cake. I should have mentioned this in the post. Also, there are lots of wonderful completely edible flowers./EdibleFlowersMain.htm @ everyone - I just found out that Nikole (whose lovely cakes are featured in the second photo collage) not only has bakery experience, but is also a trained pastry chef! So it's no wonder that her cakes are always gorgeous. But I do still think that simply decorated cakes like hers are an excellent inspiration point for a less experienced baker. They're always beautiful and never fussy. Just don't beat yourself up if your first attempts at frosting don't look quite like hers!

Style Revolution on Mar 19, 2010

Gorgeous cakes!

Meredith from Penelope Loves Lists on Mar 19, 2010

I love the idea of doing a "cake buffet" with colorful cake stands. I wish I'd done that. I went with a more vanilla cake in the hopes of pleasing everyone. This way, I could get something for every cake taste. Genius idea from Jordan.

Meg Sylvia on Mar 19, 2010

These are all very lovely... the multiple cakes are a wonderful idea.

Heather on Mar 19, 2010

I LOVE the yellow cake with all the circles - so mod!! I also like the idea of multiple cakes - especially since my fiance and I have so many cultures I'd like to represent.

Mary on Mar 19, 2010

My sister had extra calla lilies from her centerpeices, so someone (the hall coordinator) decided to put them on the cake. My 2 cousins each got a flower on their plate with their cake, and my aunt (not their mother) told them that if the flowers where on the plate, it meant they were edible. So they took a bite, but spit it out after it was bitter. We later looked it up and learned they were toxic. Luckily they didn't get sick.

Rachel (heart of light) on Mar 19, 2010

@ Mary - Eek! At least I didn't make that mistake. I had put hydrangeas on top of my sisters cake (not stuck in it at all) and around the bottom of the stand. I took them off before cutting it, so no one even got a piece of a flower. In general, I think you probably have to eat quite a lot of flowers to get sick (not that I endorse testing this out on your wedding guests!). Better to be safe than sorry.

The Wedding Contessa on Mar 19, 2010

I saw a photo in an old magazine where several white frosted cakes were displayed at different levels. They were decorated with white icing done in simple varying designs done with frosting decorator tips. Use realistic looking faux(silk) flowers on the top or garlands around the different layers for a breathtaking display of wedding cake. I love the fact that brides today are being so creative with their choice of cake!

meg on Mar 19, 2010

my aunt made our wedding cake, and it was absolutely gorgeous in a wonderfully imperfect way. she lovingly delivered it early to the reception venue and frosted it on-site, and it was adorable. unfortunately, my husband and i both realized later that we were so overwhelmed with everything wedding, we forgot to have a piece of the cake! oh well, she grabbed the top layer to save for our first year anniversary, so we can try some then :)

Delwyn on Mar 20, 2010

amazing cakes i'd like to know if there is a tutorial in cake frosting to get the look of the rosey pink brown cake with flags on top. the icing looks delicious and not fake, which i like. wow wow wow i just want to make cakes all day now

olivia rae on Mar 20, 2010

rachel, you are a goddess. can i call you when i get married? i've always loved the idea of simple cakes in abundance, but the beautiful imperfect layered cake with flowers would be lovely as well...

blue bride on Mar 21, 2010

Totally love the cakes in here. Especially the chocolate cakes the yellow colored cakes. Yummy!

Becks on Mar 21, 2010

Do you know where to find vintage colorful cakestands like those online? Thanks! And beautiful beautiful cakes!! Love the ideas (:

Anni @ Lovely In Love on Mar 21, 2010

Thankyouthankyouthankyou for posting this gorgeous inspiration! I'm making our cakes (one tiered cake and many layer cakes) and am bookmarking about half of these pictures!

Lauren on Mar 22, 2010

These cakes are all gorgeous! I have a question, wonder if anyone can help. Obviously cakes made with "fondant" icing (which I think we must call royal icing in the UK) are a lot easier to handle (as in, move or pick up) due to the sturdiness of the icing. I've never decorated an entire cake with buttercream icing (although do make a mean buttercream to go on top of cupcakes!). Am I right in assuming that you'd need it to be on your chosen cake stand, ready to transport, before you ice it? I know that sounds a bit stupid, but I can only assume if you iced it before putting it on the cake stand, you'd never pick it up without leaving hand prints in it! I'm just thinking about how you get a clean line around the very bottom of the cake - wipe with a cloth? Thanks very much to anyone who can answer!!

Anni @ Lovely In Love on Mar 22, 2010

@Lauren - I'm making my tiered cake in buttercream, and have done a trial cake already. The buttercream recipe I used was simple and actually fairly sturdy. I'm planning on making the buttercream, freezing it, and rewhipping & assembling onsite. This is mostly because we have a very tiny car and live about 15 minutes from our venue. I don't trust that we could transport it safely. If you have a big enough cake stand/storage, I assume you could do it ahead of time. As long as you have the cardboard cutouts on the bottom of your cake, though, you should have flexibility in regards to switching cake stands. You can easily trim the cardboard down with an exacto knife or other sharp knife before you display it - that way there will be no fingerprints, but no obvious cardboard. Hope that helped!

Grace on Mar 22, 2010

Thank you for posting these beautiful pictures. This is the vision I've been cradling in my brain but have had a hard time helping my guy envision, now he understands and he loves it :) Great posts!!!!

Rachel (heart of light) on Mar 22, 2010

@ Delwyn - no tutorial that I know of, sorry! I'm not even sure what they are made of. @ Becks - I have my own collection of vintage cake stands very similar to these and several of them have come from local flea markets and antique shops. Ebay is a good source (try a search for milk glass cake stands) but shipping can be pretty expensive on delicate, heavy pieces. I recommend starting with your local sources first. @ Lauren - Anni had great advice on transporting cakes. For my sister's cake, I actually assembled it and frosted it at home and transported it to the site. It was on a cardboard cake board so we could just slip it into a box and then slip it out and onto the cake stand. Buttercream holds up pretty well, especially if you frost it the day before and then store it in the fridge overnight to firm it up (just make sure to take it out of the fridge a couple hours before it will be eaten, so it softens up again). I'm not sure that fondant is the same as royal icing. Here, royal icing is a hard icing usually made of confectioners sugar, egg whites and water. It sets up fairly smooth and hard. Fondant is almost dough like and you roll it out to your desired thickness and then lay it over the cake and smooth it out and trim it to fit.

Kim King Smith on Mar 23, 2010

I love these cakes! Absolutely beautiful!

Rose on Mar 25, 2010

Love the first chocolate cake picture. Looks yummy!

GG on Mar 26, 2010

A Swiss buttercream or Italian meringue might hold up a little better than straight buttercream, IMHO. But a well-refrigerated cake carefully transported on boards should be okay, anyway!

Belinda @ B Studio Wedding Invitations on Apr 11, 2010

Seeing these pictures make me want to eat cakes now! I love the look of having real flowers decorated around a cake. I just think it makes it look so fresh and even more inviting! yummy!

kevin on Apr 12, 2011

Hi There! Great cake love your ideas to! We have lots of products at Kleeneze that you might find useful. Have a great day, Kev.

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