How long does it take to make a cake?
How long does it take to make a cake? Well, that’s a little bit like asking “how long is a piece of string”. It really depends on the size, shape, decoration and countless other things.
If you’re baking a lovely Victoria sponge for your family, then that doesn’t really take very long but if you’re baking a wedding/birthday/any form of celebration cake for a client, well, that can take hours because, you see, us cakers are perfectionists and we want your cake to not only taste delicious but we want it to look absolutely amazing.
I’ll give you a rough idea how long a three tier wedding cake takes from start to finish.
Now, all my cakes are five inches tall so I bake in two tins at a time. Each cake takes an hour plus to bake but luckily I have a big oven and can get more than two tins in. Mixing the ingredients and tin preparation is generally about 15 minutes per cake and then there’s the washing up. So let’s say we have a 6”, 8” and 10” cake to bake that’s 45 minutes of mixing batter, preparing tins and 3.5 hours of baking then the washing up that takes about 10minutes. So we are sitting at 4 hours 25 minutes so far. Then there’s the cooling time which is anything from 2-4 hours depending on the size of the cake. I take the cake out of the oven, put a clean tea towel over the top and leave it to cool, I’ll wrap it in cling film once it’s cool and leave it overnight to cut, fill, crumb coat and cover the next day.
So on to cutting and making the buttercream to fill the cake and the ganache to coat the cake. I would say I take about 5 minutes to cut all three cakes. I have a fabulously sharp cake cutting tool called an Agbay. It’s changed my life and I have no idea what I did without it! It cuts perfectly every time and the cakes are always level. It's roughly 5-10 minutes to make a standard vanilla buttercream, maybe more if I’ve got to grate lemon rind and another 10 to make ganache. Filling each cake takes about 5 minutes for each one. I’ll check its level then they are popped into the fridge for 20-30 minutes depending on what time of year and how warm it is. After they have chilled for a bit it’s time to cover in ganache which is done with a Profroster, there's a knack to it but it currently takes about 20-30 minutes per cake and it gives a nice smooth surface to attach the fondant to. They are put back into the fridge for 20 minutes before the fondant is put on. If each cake has a different flavoured buttercream there’s washing up in between each cake. That’s 1 hour 40 minutes for filling, chilling and ganaching three cakes so now we are up to just over 6 hours. I’m actually scaring myself with the length of time this all takes as I’ve never really written it down before.
Covering one cake takes 15 minutes (on a good day) once I’ve rolled out the fondant and done all my sharp edges and smoothed everything and made sure there aren’t any air bubbles. That’s another 45 minutes for the three cakes.
If my maths is correct that means I’ve spent 6 hours and 50 minutes (let's call it 7 just to round it up) mixing, baking, washing up, making ganache, buttercream, filling and covering three cakes. Obviously this excludes the cooling time. Remember, this is a plain three tier wedding cake covered in fondant. No decorations. None. Zip. Nada.
Now if I went on to make flowers for this cake some of them would take an hour and others can take three hours per flower. Yes, three hours, for one flower! I know, I have the patience of a saint but I love shutting myself away creating beautiful things. If the customer wants a shimmer effect on one of the tiers this takes time in between coats to dry. Piping beautiful patterns takes a huge amount of time (and skill), not to mention a really steady hand. Ruffles, don’t even get me started on ruffles! They can take 4+ hours to cover one cake! If the customer wants a stencil on one of the tiers, again this takes about an hour as you have to wait for the royal icing to dry and then there’s all the finishing touches like the ribbons around the cakes, covering the cake drum, dowelling each tier so that the cakes don’t fall in on each other and any other little bit of prettification us cakers can add to make your cake a showstopper.
It’s no wonder it takes several days to make a wedding cake and also no wonder why we start to make any flowers/decorations we need for it well in advance. I'm sure I've missed out a load of things I do without thinking about which would add time on but as I said, this is just a rough idea.
Blood, sweat, tears and a lot of love goes into every single cake I make. Obviously not literally as that would be totally disgusting and I’d be shut down but you get the idea.
So thank you to everyone who orders a cake from me. As you can see it’s not “just a cake”, it’s love, dedication, skill, learning and lots and lots of patience.