Welcome to the Cake Decorators Q&A

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asked January 25th 2018

Disney Castle wedding cake .

Hi
I have a daunting task of making a Disney Castle wedding cake , I am starting to doubt myself , so maybe you can re-assure me on what I think I need to do , please ?
1) I am going to make 4 X 35cms cakes 2 vanilla , 1 chocolate & 1 strawberry & 12 X 10 cms cakes this I hope will cover 100 people with generous slices ? As I find madeira a little too dense could you recommend recipes & timings , please ?
2 ) My intention is to cover each of the cakes ( 35cms )with butter icing & sugar paste & then dowel & stack one on top of the other . The 10 cms cakes I will make 4 towers to go around the 35cms , cut slightly into the 35 cms cakes & then cover with sugar paste to form the wall of the castle . Then using dummy cakes for the clock tower & long cardboard tubes covered in sugar paste for the towers / turrets . As some of the towers & turrets are much longer than the longest dowels , how much dowel actually needs to be in the tower ?
3 )I tried a 35 cms cake , it sprung back at the touch & the toothpick came out clean in the centre , however , when I cut into it the center was not cooked , how can I ensure that the cake is cooked right through ?
4) I was thinking of baking & then freezing the cakes , is there any disadvantage to this , will the cakes be more moist or dryer ; also if you use sugar syrup will this make the cakes even sweeter ?
5) How much butter cream icing & sugar paste ( I am intending to make my own have you got a good recipe) would I need for just 4 X 35cms & 12 X 10cms cakes , please ?
6) How far in advance can I start decorating the cakes ?
7 ) Also I am intending to cover one wall of the castle with poppies ( I have started making them now ) how should I attach them to the castle wall ?
8) How long will Royal icing last before it hardens , as I have to travel from France to the UK & I am intending to mount the dummies & turrets in the UK , I hope to do the rest before I leave ? Would you secure the towers / turrets with dowels & royal icing ?

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Hi Tinbh,

There's a lot in there to be thinking about so here goes trying to answer all your points.

1. We don't have a strawberry recipe so perhaps something we need to look at but you'll find all our cake recipes including Paul's chocolate cake via this link....https://www.cakeflix.com/course-category/baking

To work our sizes and portions please use our portion calculator (bottom left) via this link.... https://www.cakeflix.com/cake-calculators

2. I'm not too sure I've picked up exactly what the design is, but in terms of dowels Paul always uses the 9 dowel method or as many as you can manage - you'll never get a complaint about too many dowels if you assure the customer its for stability.

3. The best way is to use a metal skewer the type you would use for the BBQ. Prod several times to make sure that no mix at all comes out and you shuld be safe then. Best to try it out well before it's needed and freeze the cake so as not to waste it.

4. Paul always freezes his cakes. Firstly it allows for better prep and planning and secondly he prefers the taste!

5. Check out the ganache and sugarpaste calcultors....https://www.cakeflix.com/cake-calculators

6. Oil based receipe cakes you can start decorating a week before, but for butter Paul tends to make then 2-3 days before the event.

7. Royal icing and support with a cocktail stick till it dries or posey pics to hold in place if it'd a wired poppy.

8. Royal icing hardeneing depends on the consistency and amount used, but somewhere between 5-50 mins. The more structure i.e. dowels and royal icing the better, especially if the cake has to travel.

Good luck!

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Hi tinbh

David has comprehensively answered many of the points in your question. Adding to his answer, I would also suggest viewing the four castle cake tutorials which we have on the site. Each tutorial has something different to offer and may be useful to you when constructing the pillars and turrets.

1- The tutorials can be accessed here:

Front Page

2- There are many other tutorials/guides on youtube, again useful tools for gathering techniques
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=disney+castle+cake+tutorial+

3- To make strawberry flavoured cake, use either flavoured syrup in the cake batter or freeze dried strawberries. Freeze dried is the better option to avoid changing the consistency of the batter.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Freeze-Dried-Strawberry-Powder-120g/dp/B00H84T8CC

4- For more recipes please check out the site's baking section here:
https://www.cakeflix.com/course-category/baking

Mrs Jones' madeira cake recipe is not over dense or dry. You might find this a good base for the strawberry flavoured tier. I would recommend making a trial cake. It gets better with keeping a few days in an air tight cake tin before cutting. You'll be able to judge for yourself how good it is.
Her vanilla cake recipe can also be used likewise. It is a good cake for stacking, however she recommends to increase the flour quanity by a further 10% to give the cake a more stronger structure.

5- Using sugar syrup will add extra sweetness and moisture to the cake. The sweetness isn't excessive as the syrup is only brushed on the cake layers, it is not used for saturating.

6- I find wooden skewers more reliable when checking cake mixture for doneness. Any unbaked mix tends to cling on to wood and for me, a better indicator that the cake is baked through.

7- For buttercream quanitites guide peek here:
https://www.cakeflix.com/cakelife/buttercream-covering-and-filling-guide/

8- For flavoured icing sugars check out the Sugar and Crumbs site for their products.

9- Royal icing will keep fresh without refrigeration for a long time. First cover it with clingfilm. Let the film touch the surface of the icing, expel any air bubbles before sealing.

10- I think between David and I, we have tried to cover most points. However, if anything has been missed, please post again.

Good Luck! 🙂

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Hi again , thank you both for your responses .
I do have a few more questions :-
1) Dowels should I use thick dowels or the normal plastic ones .
2) As some of my towers are over 50cms high how should I secure them ?
3) As I have had trouble cooking a 35cms cake & testing with wood or metal skewer , which came out clean but when cut into the cake was very clearly not cooked , is there a way of ensuring that it is cooked ? I have heard people mention cake nails ( which I thought was for making flowers & baking belts ?
4) How long would I cook a 35cms & 10cms Paul's chocolate cake , the vanilla sponge & madeira cake of Mrs Jones , please ?
5) How long in advance can you freeze cakes ? I assume you have not used syrup , filled , butter creamed or sugar iced at this point ?
6 ) I was thinking of individually sugar pasting each cake , dowelling , stacking & then putting a big piece of sugar paste as the wall of the castle , is that too much sugar paste ? I will have 3 different flavoured cakes one on top of the other .
Thanking you for you help in advance .
Kind regards
Tina

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Hi Tina

I'll try and go through each point one at a time as follows:

1 - Use which ever dowels you feel comfortable with. I use the white plastic dowels same as Paul does in most of his tutorials. However, he has also been trialing out bubble tea straws which a lot of people are now using. Both are available via cake decorating outlets online or through Amazon and ebay.

2 - When I did a castle cake, I stuck all the towers down on small round cards so they had a 'platform' of their own. Then each one was stuck down on the cakes in their required positions with white ganache. I did that at the venue so no worries about travelling them adhered. If you want to travel them in situ use royal icing as it sets a lot harder.

3 - 35cm cake pans?? wow that's too big for my humble oven to take 🙂 However, what you could do is place several upturned flower nails in the middle of each cake batter to act as heating cores. I used to do this when I baked my 32cm cakes. I graduated to using Ateco heating cores which look like flower nails except they are more substantial. You might have trouble sourcing these as everyone seems to be out of stock, you may get lucky! Additionally it helps to use baking belts or similar belt home made with foil and wet towelling. Here's all the items on one page to browse:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ateco-1449-Cake-Heating-Core/dp/B0061UGRIC

4 - I couldn't possibly say how long to bake 35cm moist chocolate cake as I've never done it myself. I would suggest baking a trial cake at the given temperature and timing it. Have you already tried baking it in your oven? One way would be to bake off sheet cakes and cut rounds/squares to the size you need. This would prevent the uncertainty of the bake time and whether or not it will be successful. Another way would be to bake layers in sandwich pans rather than in deep pans.

Mrs Jones' madeira cake is a different type of cake and will probably take in excess of 4 hours to bake. This is just an approximation and not a definative. Paul's 10cm/4 " cake baked at the given temperature will approximately take 45 - 50 minutes. In all cases, I would advise baking trial cakes and baby sitting them, keeping an eye and a nose for doneness. Same for the vanilla sponge cake.
If you have time, please have a peek at my blog on baking problems and solutions which points to reasons why we can't really predict baking times accurately in different ovens.
https://www.cakeflix.com/cakelife/baking-problems-solutions/

5 - Cakes can be frozen as soon as they are cool. Wrap them up in several layers of cling film to prevent freezer burn. If storing for a long period, place them in cake boxes to prevent damage. Keep them well away from other foods which may cross contaminate flavours.

I never freeze cakes with syrup or filling although lots of people do as they find it works for them. I have found from time to time that syrup can crystalise. Cakes with fillings need to be brought to room temperature for at least 12 hours. Similarly, some people freeze enrobed cakes. I can't really comment first hand on how they fare. It can be done as long as the cakes are completely sealed up in double skinned boxes so lest amount of moisture gets in. Take care not to touch a defrosting cake as it will be soft from the moisture which collects on the icing. Any damage like finger marks are very difficult/ not possible to repair.

6 - I'm not quite clear on your last point. Is this wall to go around each separate tier? If it is, I would be inclined to design this out on paper so you have a visual on how it looks. My personal choice would be not to do it around each tier. Perhaps place the bottom cake on a bigger cake drum, decorate the drum and build a wall around that?? It's about aesthetics 🙂

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Hi .
Thank you for your answers .
5) How long before you need a cake , should you freeze it ?
6) The 4 X 35cms cakes are the the base of the castle , so if you imagine the base is the castle wall & on top of that goes the towers . I just want to know if I should individually sugar paste them & stack & then put the printed wall around them or just sugar paste the top of each cake ( as there are different flavours )& then wrap a large piece of sugar paste around all 4 ?
Thank you once again for your help

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Hi Tina

Not with you on 5.
Do you mean how long before you need a cake should you defrost it? Cakes can be frozen on the day of baking as long as they have cooled right down. Defrost the day before it's needed.

6 - If I'm reading this right, I would ice individually.

Can you set me a link of an example please.

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Hi
I wondered how long in advance you could freeze cakes ?
The 4 cakes would be stacked & then the wall of sugar paste put around , I just do not know whether I should individually sugar paste them then stack & then add the sugar paste wall ?
Do you think the deep sponge of Mrs Jones could take the weight of the 4 cakes & then towers or should I do the madeira ? Why does the madeira take double the time to cook & yet it has less quantity of ingredients when calculating them both for a 35 cms round ?
Thank you again for your help
Tina

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Hi Tina

Depending on which cake/recipe, cakes can be frozen for up to three months. However, I would be cautious of freezing sponge for any more than a couple of weeks. Cakes which freeze well for longer period include madeira and moist dense chocolate.

The four cakes would look much better if they were individually iced before stacking. I still can not visualise this 'wall' so I'm afraid I'm stumped! If you are able to link me to an example it would help me to give you a better answer.

Mrs Jones has mentioned in the past that her recipe will tier better if the flour is increased by 10%. The other ingredients remain as written. This will make the cake sturdier. If you dowel correctly there should be no problems with stacking, it is the dowels which bear the weight, not the cake. If you feel happier using madeira cake, Mrs Jones' recipe would be more than suitable for your project.

Madeira cake takes longer to bake because it contains a litte extra plain flour in the recipe. Plain flour has slightly more gluten than self raising which helps to strengthen the stucture. Sponge cake is light and more airey, requiring less baking time. Not all madeira recipes use plain flour. Instead, the self raising flour is increased in ratio to the other ingredients which makes the cake more dense and again the baking time increases.

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