It’s already June, which I’m okay with since July means Emily is with us at last. They say June is wedding season, and I have to believe them since I’m so uncool I never get invited to any weddings. I did have a wedding a little over a year ago, though, and I definitely have some strong thoughts about the situation.
The amount of money people will spend on a wedding makes me want to cry. The average cost of a wedding in America is $20,000. People spend what, for some of us, is half a year’s pay on one party for one day. I realize your wedding is a very special day that you definitely want to remember, and I’m sure you want all those people you truly love to be with you. You want to treat them to a nice dinner and make sure they have a wonderful time. I totally get that. But half of your salary? That’s just insane.
We spent about $2000 on our wedding, and comical series of disasters not withstanding, it was absolutely beautiful. How did we save so much money? For one thing, we kept it small. Rather than inviting everyone we’ve ever met, we kept the list to under 50 people. You can’t really make a meaningful connection with more than that number at a party anyway. Too many people and your wedding becomes theatre for an audience, not an expression of love.
We also did just about everything ourselves. I prepared a majority of the food. We made our own decorations. The bridal party made their own bouquets (more on that later). I even made my own wedding cake.
The average wedding cake is over $400. Those multi-tiered, fondant-covered confections take hours of detailed work. They’re absolutely beautiful. There’s also no way I’d be able to afford one. Besides, it’s just a cake, and cake is something I want to eat even more than I want to take a picture of. Also, fondant is gross.
If you have even the slightest baking experience, you can make a beautiful and delicious cake that everybody will actually be excited to eat. A great recipe, an abundance of vanilla frosting, and a few fresh flowers is all it takes to make your own wedding cake. Even if you splurge on a vanilla bean for your wedding day, you can make your wedding cake for under $50.
This recipe comes from cake genius, Sweetapolita. Bake the cake the night before, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it until you’re ready to decorate it in the morning. I used my offset spatula to create the swirls on top and the stripes up the side. Then I just bought some pretty carnations, rinsed them with cool water, and pressed them into the border. Use your favorite flowers. Just have fun and don’t take yourself to seriously.
I just saved you $350. You’re welcome!
On my wedding day, I wanted to be able to relax, enjoy my friends and family, and be overwhelmed with love. I wanted to show my guests I cared by making them food I knew they’d want to eat. This cake? You wont’ be able to stop eating it.
- 5 egg whites
- 1 egg
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups (345 grams) cake flour, sifted
- 2 cups (400 grams) sugar
- 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
- 3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) butter, softened
- 3 cups (475 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350. Butter, line with bottom with parchment, and then flour two 9-inch round cake pans. You don't want to take any chances on this cake sticking.
- In a small bowl, stir together the egg whites, whole egg, 1/4 cup of the milk, and the vanilla.
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients. Whisk or use your stand mixer on stir to combine for about 30 seconds.
- Add the butter bit by bit with the mixer running on low. Beat about 10 second after each piece. You'll have a crumbly texture like when you make biscuits. Add the remaining 3/4 cup milk and beat for five minutes on low.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl and then begin to mix in the egg mixture on low. Add it in three stages and mix thoroughly between each. Scrape and fold the batter a few times to make sure everything is completely mixed.
- Divide the batter evenly between your two prepared pans. You can even weigh them to make sure they're even. Smooth out the batter with an offset spatula to help avoid a domed top.
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick insert in the center comes out with a few small crumbs. Be careful not to overbake. Let the cakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then cool, tops up on a rack until cooled completely. If you're working ahead, wrap your cake layers completely in plastic wrap and store in the fridge over night.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for 8 minutes. This will make it very light and fluffy.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low speed until combined, then turn the speed back up to medium and beat for another 6 minutes. It will be fluffy and dreamy and beautiful.
- Place the bottom layer of your cake onto a pretty board so you can transport it easily. You can fill your cake with your favorite flavor. I like raspberry jam or lemon curd. You could also just go with the frosting. That's awesome, too.
- Place the second layer on top of the bottom layer with the bottom of the cake up to ensure a flat surface. Scoop a good amount of frosting on top of the cake and spread evenly. Frost the side of your cake carefully. You're better off having too much frosting so you can take some away.
- To make the swirls on the top slowly rotate your cake while applying slight pressure with your small offset spatula or a butter knife, slowly bring the spatula toward the center of the cake in spiral. To make the stripes up the side, simply pull your offset spatula straight up all the way around. If you have a rotating cake stand or a lazy susan, this will be a lot easier.
- Cut the buds off of your favorite small flowers and press them into your still soft frosting all the way around the border of the cake. You can add a few flowers to the top as well. Just make sure they're clean.
- Pop everything into the fridge for a bit to set. Then go get married and have a beautiful day!