Creating your wedding cake

Creating your wedding cake

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(15 ratings)


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Cooking time

Several hours depending on ability

Skill level



Serves 104

Jane Hornby's wedding cake is our simplest ever. And each tier is flavoured differently, so there's something for everyone...

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition info


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The cakes

  • 1 x top tier, see 'Goes well with'
  • 1 x middle tier, see 'Goes well with'
  • 1 x bottom tier, see 'Goes well with'

For the marzipan

  • half a 454g jar apricot jam, you'll use the rest later
  • 500g pack natural marzipan

For the buttercream

  • 500g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1kg icing sugar, sifted
  • jar good-quality lemon curd
  • 142ml carton double cream
  • 200g bar plain chocolate (70% cocoa), broken into pieces

For the icing

  • FRUIT CAKE - 500g/1lb2oz white ready-to-roll icing, cream food colouring paste
  • LEMON CAKE - 1kg/2lb4oz white ready-to-roll icing, dusty pink food-colouring paste
  • CHOCOLATE CAKE - 1.7kg/3lb 10oz white ready-to-roll icing, ivory food-colouring paste
  • FOR THE BOARD - 800g/1lb12oz white ready-to-roll icing, ivory food-colouring paste

For stacking the cakes

  • 200g icing sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • dowelling rods

Special equipment you will need

  • 15cm, 23cm and 30cm deep-round cake tin
  • plenty greaseproof paper
  • thick 35cm diameter silver cake drum (base)
  • thin 15cm, 23cm and 30cm diameter silver cake board
  • long serrated knife
  • palette knife
  • cream, ivory and pink food colouring pastes
  • long roll ing pin
  • 6 standard plastic dowelling rods
  • strong kitchen scissors
  • 1m ivory ribbon, 15mm wide
  • medium artist's paintbrush
  • cooling rack
  • string for measuring
  • 20cm, 25cm, 33cm cake boxes with lids (if transporting the cake)

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  1. COVER THE FRUIT CAKE WITH THE MARZIPAN: How to do it: Boil the apricot jam with 2 tbsp water and sieve into a bowl. Brush the 15cm cake board with a little of the apricot jam. Cut off the rounded top of the cake and turn upside-down onto the board. Measure across the top and sides of the cake with string, cut to length and set the string aside. Brush the cake all over with a thin layer of apricot jam.
  2. Dust the work surface with icing sugar and roll the marzipan into a circle big enough to cover the cake top and sides, using the cut string as a guide. Lift over the cake and smooth with your hands. Trim the marzipan to the base of the cake (so you can’t see the board) and leave to dry for one day if time. If not, the cake can be iced straight away.
  3. FILL & COVER THE CHOCOLATE & LEMON CAKES WITH BUTTERCREAM: Adding good-quality lemon curd or silky chocolate ganache transforms simplebuttercream into an indulgent filling.
  4. How you do it: First make the buttercream. Beat the butter until creamy, then gradually beat in the sifted icing sugar. Weigh 600g/1lb 5oz of the mix and stir 5 tbsp of the lemon curd into it.
  5. In a small pan, bring the cream just to the boil, then pour over the chocolate. Leave to stand for 2 mins, then stir until smooth. Once cool but still liquid, fold into the remaining basic buttercream.
  6. Once each cake is completely cool, level off the top using a long serrated knife. Spread a little of the corresponding buttercream over the matching thin cake board. Turn cake upside down onto the board and brush all over with a thin layer of the sieved apricot jam – this helps to prevent stray crumbs getting into the buttercream.
  7. Cut into three layers horizontally - don’t worry if you cut the layers unevenly as it won’t affect the finished cake. If it’s a hot day or warm in your kitchen, refrigerate the cakes for a while – it will firm them up and make cutting and lifting much easier. Lift off each layer as you cut it, and set it aside so that when you re-stack the layers they are in the right order.
  8. If you’ve made the buttercream in advance and it has hardened slightly, warm in the microwave on Defrost for 10 secs and beat well. Using a palette knife, spread approx 1/4 of the buttercream over the first layer of the cake. For the lemon cake, swirl another tbsp or so of lemon curd over the icing. Stack the remaining layers this way, spreading all of the remaining icing over the top and sides of the cake, smoothing it down to meet the cardboard cake base. Smooth all over with your palette knife and set aside. The cakes are now ready for covering with ready-to-roll icing. Filled with buttercream and iced, the cakes will keep for up to 3 days.
  9. COVER ALL THE CAKES WITH READY-TO-ROLL ICING: The next stage is to subtly colour the different tiers with the ivory, dusky pink and cream colouring pastes.
  10. How to do it: For the marzipanned fruit cake only, first lightly brush with cooled, boiled water to help the icing stick. For all the cakes, dust the work surface with icing sugar and knead the icing until pliable. Add a few specks of the food colouring with a toothpick or the end of a skewer – be very sparing as a little goes a long way. Work the colour in until you have an evenly coloured, smooth paste. Add more and knead again if you want the colour to be more intense.
  11. Lightly dust the work surface again and roll the icing into a circle large enough to cover the sides and top of the cake, with a little excess. Use string to measure as before. Lift the icing over the cake, using your rolling pin to help you.
  12. Smooth the icing around the cake with your hands, then trim off the excess with a sharp knife. Leave overnight to dry. Once iced, keep for 3 days.
  13. Once you’ve iced the cakes, cover the 35cm base. Lightly brush with cooled, boiled water and cover with ivory-coloured icing. Trim and leave overnight to dry.
  14. STACK THE CAKES: Dowels give stability and strength to tiered cakes. By measuring and cutting the dowels to the same length, you’re providing an even platform for the next cake to sit on, even if your cake is a bit wonky. For this cake, the tiers are stacked like steps, just off centre.
  15. How you do it: In a large bowl, gradually beat icing sugar into the egg white until thick and smooth. Cover with cling film until ready to use.
  16. Starting with the chocolate cake, insert three dowelling rods in a triangle, slightly offset to one side and no wider than the base of the lemon cake that’s going to sit on top. With a permanent pen, lightly mark where the top of the icing comes to on the dowel.
  17. Carefully pull out the dowels and line up on the work surface. Using a ruler, re-mark each rod to the highest point. Score the dowels with scissors around the new marks and snap the plastic cleanly.
  18. Re-insert the rods in their original holes, rounded end down. Cut the thin ivory ribbon to fit around the thick base board, securing at the back with glue or double-sided tape. To stack the cakes, spoon a little royal icing over each of the dowel holes. Carefully lift the chocolate cake onto the covered board, then stack cakes on top of one another, positioning each cake and gently lowering one side of it onto the base or cake below. Slide your palette knife under it at this point and gently lower the cake down. Slide the knife out at the last minute. (If you’re moving the cake to the venue, put the cakes into their boxes and take the icing with you.)
  19. THE TIME PLAN: UP TO A MONTH AHEAD: 1. Make the fruit cake and cover with marzipan. 2. Make the chocolate and lemon cakes if freezing – they will freeze for up to 1 month (although they are best made fresh if you can).
  20. UP TO 4 DAYS AHEAD: 1. Make the chocolate and lemon cakes if making fresh – keep well rapped in baking parchment and cling film in a cool place. 2. Make the chocolate and lemon buttercream and keep in the fridge. 3. Make the chocolate and lemon cakes if making fresh – keep well wrapped in baking parchment and cling film in a cool place. 4. Make the chocolate and lemon buttercream and keep in the fridge.
  21. UP TO 3 DAYS AHEAD: 1. Fill and cover the chocolate and lemon cakes with buttercream and cover all of the cakes and the board with icing. 2. Insert the dowelling rods.
  22. UP TO 2 DAYS AHEAD: 1. Frost the rose petals.
  23. ON THE DAY: 1. Stack the cakes and decorate with petals once the cakes are in place.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, June 2006

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Comments, questions and tips

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Show comments
frankiemckenna's picture

Where can I find the recipe to freeze the rose petals? Or can you tell me how to do it?

laurawd's picture


Can anyone tell me if I'm only adding buttercream in between the layers and not icing the cakes (my friend wants a naked wedding cake) should I wait until before assembly to cut and add icing and insert dowels or can I do that the day before then wrap in parchment/clingfilm to keep fresh until the wedding day?

Kind regards!


katebaking's picture

Hi Laura,

By naked do you mean no fondant covering? If so I'm sure the cakes will be fine if you add the buttercream the day before but if you have the time do it fresh on the day you can. I sometimes think it's bit nicer done before as all the buttercream goodness helps keep the cake moist. Also worth checking out "cake stacker" calculator will help with assembling the cake so it's sturdy. Good luck with the cake.

Awh-terace's picture

Can someone tell me where is the recipes for the cakes? I can't find them??

e_clark's picture

I also would like to know how deep the tins are for this? I want to adjust for different sized tiers but I need to know how deep the tins are to work out the proportions to adjust by!

flower123's picture

Can anyone tell me how deep the tiers on this cake should be ?

marikoshka's picture

"I made the 3 tier wedding cake for my best friend's wedding, was my present for their wedding. Took it all the way from London to county Armagh (Ireland).

Top and bottom tier were victoria sponge, filled with strawberry buttercream, and the midle was lemon buttercream. It turned out absolutely perfect, sponge was light and the buttercream fluffy and arromatic.

Little cheat though, used my granny's strawberry concentrate, to enhance the strawberry flavor, and her lemon gelly allongside the lemon curd for the buttercreams. It was scrummy.

Almost all guests went to the kitchen to ask for cake to take home. And I must say, it was the first time I ever made wedding cake, and used icing, the picture tutorial helped.

I research all new recipes on good food website, and I trust these imlicitly. Always good results."

ninnynookums's picture

This cake looks delicious and just what I need for my first ever wedding cake(?!) Can I make this cake 4-5 days before the wedding? I have an 8 hour car journey to the wedding venue in scotland and will be travelling up 3 days before the wedding. Maybe it's too much but I would really like to try for my son.

emilycraig14's picture
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finleymarchant's picture

I have been asked to make my brothers wedding cake in August - it will be my first and I am already nervous! I am glad that so many people have said how easy it was.

I was just hoping that some of you that have made it already could give me some info.
How many people does each cake serve?
Also, they want to keep the top layer for their christening cake in the future - how long will the fruit cake keep for? or would I be better with a rich fruit cake like a Christmas cake?

beckymaddock's picture

Does anyone know a rough cost to make this wedding cake?

regina1983's picture

Could somebody please advice me whether I have to put the filled and covered chocolate cake into the fridge over night since it contains perishable cream? I agree, there should be a Q&A as there are many unanswered questions such as 'how to store unfilled cake-room temp,wrapping or/and fridge'.

diane-kistell's picture
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i made this for my daughters wedding last year in white with pale blue to match their outfits, it was wonderfull and didn't last long everyone loved it

devonshire_dumpling's picture
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Just got back from my step-daughter's wedding, for which I made this 3-tier cake ... it was a complete triumph! Every layer was delicious (the lemon layer was slightly soggy with the drizzle, but still gorgeous) and it's difficult to decide on a favourite, although people were saying the chocolate cake was the best they had ever tasted!

It was the first wedding cake I had made on my own (have done one other with my sister) and I made the fruit layer about 2-3 weeks ago and covered it with marzipan; I made the chocolate and lemon layers on the same day and froze them ... they were still absolutely gorgeous! VERY highly recommended. Thank you, Jane Hornby and BBC Good Food website!

wattsli1's picture

Made all three layers for an anniversary party and scaled up, also using square tins. All three were delicious and had many fantastic comments. On scaling up/down - if you are going from one size round to another then it's not too difficult on the maths: simply calculate ingredient amount divided by recipe tin size then multiply by tin size you want to make.

fionam37's picture
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Brilliant cake, made it for friend's wedding, each layer was delicious and it looked fabulous

lindaloo2's picture

HELP I need to reduce the quantities of the chocolate cake to a 10 inch tin. I have already tried with disastrous results I have a month to get it right

sumhall's picture

I need to adapt the chocolate cake for smaller tin, probably 6 or 8 inch. Any advice on how to do this please? Am baking it now in an 8 inch with half ingredients in fan oven 140, but has taken over 2 hours.

masont's picture

I have made these cakes as a collective for a wedding cake and as individual cakes, especially the chocolate cake. A winner every time!

mevandem's picture

Hi there! I really want to make this cake for my best friend's wedding and I'm doing a couple of trial runs.
Just a question about the buttercream... how do I rescale it? I'm just making a trial small lemon cake; so I'd be using the smallest tin (7") and have noooo idea how to get the amount of buttercream to fit that size! Don't want to end up with too much/too little of course!
Would be great if they'd have all the recipes for all 3 sizes, so people can swap sizes & layers around...!
Can't wait to make this :)!!!
Thanks for your help!