I am working on my first wedding cake. I plan on using buttercream icing (butter based, not shortening) to decorate. It will be a three-tiered cake. I will bake and decorate on a Friday night and the wedding is Saturday. What's the best way to store? I have read forums about putting the layers in a corrugated box. Would it be best to do all the layers the night before, each have their own cardboard bottom, and then put them all together the next morning. Also, should I do a cake base for each layer (the cardboard circular kind)? And is it best to refrigerate buttercream overnight so that it will harder? Any other advice anyone has will be greatly appreciated!
First, I think baking the day before the wedding is asking for trouble. You cant work on them until they are completely cooled anyways which will be pushing you for time as far as filling, crumb coating, icing, decorating etc.... So I would recommend baking it Thursday at the least. I usually bake all my cakes on Wednesday, fill and crumb coat on Thursday and refrigerate and decorate on Friday for Saturday cakes. Second, each cake has to be on its own cake board so that the dowels or support system you put into the lower tier will support the upper tier without it falling apart. Third, yes it is better to refrigerate buttercream overnight so that is so much easier to transport. Lastly, to transport, I would stack the bottom two tiers, box them up and box the top tier by itself then assemble at the venue. HTH
You might want to allow yourself more time. Perhaps bake and make up your icing and refrigerate the icing on the Thursday. Decorate on the Friday. You could bake the cakes as early as the Wednesday ahead.
I often bake my cakes up to two weeks ahead, wrap the cooled cakes well and freeze them up to about two weeks ahead. I make all decorations that can be made ahead of time up to about a month ahead. I make the icing the week of the wedding ensuring that best before dates on my butter and cream are well ahead of expiry dates by the date of the wedding.
Do as much as you can ahead. It can really be tiring to do in a day or two when you are not used to doing wedding cakes. Spread it out over a few days.
If you are using all-butter buttercream, you need a cool room to work in - around 20 celsius, 70 F. Transportation must be air-conditioned and 70'ish. Where the cake is on display must be out of the sun and air-conditioned or under 75f. Otherwise you should use a shortening based icing which would be ok up to about 92-95F and also should be out of the sun.
You may be mixing up layers with tiers. Each tier of cake is made up of layers of cake and each tier needs its own supported cake board. The main reason that each tier needs its own cardboard is to enable it to be removed and served. Depending on your construction method you may have dowels or bubble straws, pillars, separator plates and a centre dowel. And if you are not using a separator plate system or a silver plateau as a base for all of your boarded/plated tiers, you must have a base or cake drum or something sturdy supporting all of the tiers. Cardboard will not be enough.
But each tier must be supported by a system that basically stops that tier from sinking into the tiers below it.
The easiest method for a first timer would be to box each tier in boxes the same size as the cakeboard or separator cake they sit on or line the box with non skid shelf liner. Refrigerate them yes, especially with the all butter buttercream - until transportation time. Then set up at the venue and if not using a separator plate system that uses a centre dowel, cut and place a centre dowel through the centre of all the tiers.
So is this cake a stacked cake where each tier sits supported directly on top of the others? Or is it a three tier cake with spaces in between each tier?
Also, all butter buttercream can be difficult to work with because the heat of our hands tends to melt it if we do lots of piping. So you are better off putting less icing in the bag and taking breaks and putting your hands in coldwater when you can.
reginaherrin, sorry - I didn't see your post until after I entered mine -I got interrupted while typing. You gave great advice.
Great advice above. Bake ahead and freeze layers- even if it is just overnight. It makes the layers so much easier to handle and frost. ( yes, thaw them before frosting)
Layers vs. tiers Tiers require the cardboard base. A layer is part of a tier and does not have a cardboard base. For example: two layers (or more) with filling in between make a tier.