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Easy DIY Wedding Cake

Thinking about making a wedding cake, but not sure you can do it? Well, rest easy! I’m going to give you step-by-step instructions so that you can create this easy DIY wedding cake on your own, without involving a bakery! Best of all, you can bake it at home, in the comfort of your own kitchen.

It Starts With a Box

This wedding cake recipe starts with a boxed mix. (That’s what this site is all about, after all.) But I absolutely promise you it’s going to taste yummy and your guests will be mesmerized when you tell them you did it yourself!

Wedding Cakes Used to be Complicated

Weddings cakes used to be elaborate and over-the-top. Back in the 80s, many of them were built using plastic bridges and fountains. And many were piped with traditional scrolling.

Occasionally you’ll still see a piped wedding cake. I’ve been asked to make a couple of black on white piped cakes in recent years. And I’ve done some anniversary cakes that involved piping, as well.

The biggest trends in recent years, though, are much, much simpler. And that’s why I’m convinced you can make your own easy wedding cake. For the sake of this tutorial I’m going to talk about a simple method that I call a textured cake. And hopefully you’ll get some simple, inexpensive wedding cake ideas by looking at the photos I’ve posted below.

DIY wedding cake
Three-tiered textured cake

The cake above came together very quickly but made a great impression at the wedding. It’s a three-tiered textured (9-layered) cake with silk flowers. The pans I used (from top to bottom) were 6″, 9″, and 12″. Because each tier is triple layered, this cake will feed 75 – 100 people.

Let me show you another example of this same design in a four-tiered look. This is the style and size that I do most often.

DIY wedding cake
Four-tiered textured cake

The four pans I used (from the top down) were 6″, 8″, 10″, 12″. These four triple-layered cakes will feed upward of 150 people. It has a total of 12 layers of cake.

Look at the versatility of this method.

Believe it or not, these are all the same simple cake style, just decorated to suit the needs of the various brides and grooms. And here’s the best part. . .this is an easy method. You can do it. No, really!

Determining the Number of Tiers

Maybe you’re expecting a bigger crowd and you’re not sure those four tiers will be enough. No worries. You would simply use bigger baking pans or add a 5th tier (a 14″ round on bottom).

Below you’ll find an example of a textured four-tiered cake I made using larger pans. This cake fed close to 200 people. The pans I chose (top to bottom) were 8″, 10″, 12″ and 14″. (You’ll notice I did a slightly different texture on this one, using a cake comb.)

DIY Wedding Cake

It’s important to remember that not everyone at the wedding actually eats the wedding cake. And here in the south folks usually offer a groom’s cake, as well, so there’s a second option. Brides these days are also presenting smaller cakes (on display) but actually serving up sheet cakes, which are sliced in the kitchen and brought out on plates. The options are truly endless.

Questions People Are Asking About DIY Wedding Cakes:

How much will it cost me to make this cake?

If you’re making a 3-tiered cake for your wedding day, you’ll probably spend $75-$100 on ingredients. (Note: With inflation being what it is, you’ll probably spend more as time goes on!) This isn’t taking into account the baking pans, spatulas, decor, etc. But that estimate does include boxed mixes, oil, eggs, extracts, boards, cake drum, and bubble tea straws, as well as frosting supplies.

Should I bake my own wedding cake?

Most bakers would respond with a resounding “No,” because you’ll be so busy doing other things, but I think it’s doable, especially if you prep everything in advance. You can always bake/freeze your cakes a couple of weeks before the big day, then decorate a couple of days before.

Remember, baking is meant to be therapeutic. You might just find yourself pouring out your heart to a bridesmaid about your incoming in-laws as you whip up that cake! Or maybe you’ll finally have a chance to share your decompress as you slap on that frosting.

Maybe you’re not the bride-to-be. Perhaps you’re a friend or loved one. If you’ve landed here on this site because you’re going to bake a cake for a friend or family member, go for it! Just give yourself plenty of time to fix problems that arise. If you find yourself in trouble you won’t be so stressed if you’ve given yourself an extra day or so.

What special skills will I need to make this Easy DIY Wedding Cake?

BAKING: You should practice in advance using a white cake mix and homemade frosting. I recommend my Dreamy Buttercream but I will also share a simple traditional buttercream recipe below. We’ll talk about how to doctor a cake mix below, as well.

TIERING: I would start by reading my How to Tier a Cake post. It covers all aspects of cake tiering and structuring, which will be key.

DECORATING: Because the application of this frosting is a simple technique, most anyone can do it. You can practice in advance but these days messy is in, so don’t spend too much time fretting over making it perfect.

How far in advance should I bake the cake?

Cakes can be baked, wrapped/sealed, and frozen weeks in advance, so you might consider that option if you don’t want to be stressed out at the last minute.

If you’re making the cake fresh, then shoot for a couple of days before the wedding, then keep everything refrigerated once it comes together to preserve freshness for several days. Fun trick: if you put the cakes in the fridge while they’re still slightly warm it will lock in the moisture.

What will I need to buy in advance?

I recently wrote a post titled 20 Must Have Tools for Cake Bakers. Check it out in advance and make sure you have enough of the items to pull off this cake. By far the most important thing will be the pans. I would suggest starting with this set from Wilton, which you can purchase online from Amazon. You can probably get buy with just one set, though I have multiples of each size and will show that in my photos below. 

You will also need a cake leveler, cake drum (larger than your bottom tier of cake), cake boards (with holes in center), and bubble tea straws, as well as a center dowel. 

Is it Okay to Use a Boxed Mix for a Wedding Cake?

I’ve used a boxed mix for every single wedding cake I’ve ever made and have never once had a complaint about taste. I doctor the cake mix (as you’ll see in the recipe below) but even if I didn’t, the icing is so yummy that it truly dresses up the mix.

TEN TIPS FOR USING A BOXED CAKE MIX:

These are my top tips for making your own wedding cake. Enjoy the process. . .and have fun!

TIP ONE: Determine how many boxes of cake mix you will need and buy plenty in advance. Always have extra, just in case something goes wrong (or in case you change your mind on pan size). If I’m doing a three-tiered (6-9-12) cake I’ll buy 10 – 12 boxes of cake mix: 1 for the top tier, 2-3 for the middle tier, 6 for the bottom tier.

TIP TWO: Each boxed mix calls for 3 whole eggs. Instead, use 4 egg whites. This will keep the color bright white. (Funny side note: most “how to doctor a cake mix” posts will tell you to add extra eggs. This is a great idea IF you’re doing any cake other than a pristine white one! For this recipe, stick to egg whites and make sure they’re room temperature.)

TIP THREE: Use oil instead of butter if you’re making a white cake. Again, most “how to doctor a boxed cake mix” posts will tell you to use butter. That’s great. . .unless you’re going for a super-white cake. And most wedding cakes are lily-white inside.

TIP FOUR: As far as cake brands go, I use Pillsbury because it’s a denser cake. If you use Duncan Hines you might need to slightly adjust the water. I also find Duncan Hines cake mixes sometimes have lumps, and they show up in the finished product. I often sift them in advance, which is a pain.

TIP FIVE: Use a clear vanilla extract instead of traditional/brown extract to keep the cake white, as well. I add a teaspoon of vanilla for each boxed mix.

TIP SIX: Speaking of extracts, I always add almond extract to my wedding cakes (and the frostings). I add a half teaspoon of almond extract to each boxed mix.

TIP SEVEN: Another tip for tiered cakes is to cut back on the water (or milk, if you use that option) a little bit. Don’t overfill your measuring cups. You might even opt for a “scant” cup of water in your mix. Too much water and your cake will be light and fluffy, (which is perfect for a layered cake, but not so great for a tiered cake, which needs to be dense enough to carry the weight of the layers and tiers above).

TIP EIGHT: Use a flavorless oil. I never use olive oil or any of the other flavored oils in wedding cakes because they will change the flavor/taste of the cake. I stick with vegetable oil.

TIP NINE: Don’t overfill your pans. I fill mine about halfway up. Any higher and three things will happen: First, they will take longer to bake, so they might firm up too much and taste over-baked. Second, you could have inconsistency in the bake, meaning the center doesn’t fully cook but the edges are over-done. Third, as the cakes swell during the bake they might spill over and create a mess (and a terrible smell).

TIP TEN: You can always lower the temperature of your oven a little bit for the larger cakes/pans. If I’m baking 12″ or 14″ cakes I’ll often drop the heat to 325° and bake them longer.

DIY wedding cake

ARE YOU READY TO MAKE MY EASY DIY WEDDING CAKE?

DIY Wedding Cake
four-tiered wedding cake

Are you ready to give this project a try? Let’s go over the ingredients so you have everything handy. This will vary depending on the number of tiers you’ll need, but you get the idea.

You will find a full printable recipe card at the bottom of this post. For now, here’s a quick peek at the ingredients you’ll need.

CAKE INGREDIENTS:

  • Cake mix (Pillsbury or other)
  • water (or milk, your preference)
  • vegetable oil
  • egg whites
  • almond extract
  • clear vanilla extract
  • box of vanilla pudding (optional)

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:

This is what you’ll need to make my dream buttercream frosting. You can do a simple buttercream by just using butter and powdered sugar with a bit of milk, but the yellow butter will cause the frosting to be off-white, not true white. The addition of Crisco and cream cheese will stabilize the frosting and make it true white.

  • powdered sugar
  • salted butter
  • cream cheese
  • Crisco

FILLING OPTIONS:

  • I usually use strawberry preserves between the layers of a wedding cake, but preferences vary. I’ve offered everything from berry to chocolate to nuts and caramel between the layers.

HOW TO MAKE MY EASY DIY WEDDING CAKE:

First, start by baking your cakes.

DIY wedding cake
  • Grease and flour your pans.
  • Prepare the mixes no more than two at a time (Your oven can only hold so many pans at a time, after all!)
  • Bake according to the recipe on the box, substituting four egg whites for the three whole eggs in each recipe. I substitute milk for half of the water. And don’t forget to add the extracts! Some people prefer to use milk instead of water in the mixes. I always use water and vegetable oil. If you’re adding dry pudding mix this is the time to put it in.
  • Fill the pans halfway, no fuller.
  • Bake the smaller cakes first. I can usually fit the three 6″ pans in my oven with a couple of the 9″ pans at the same time.
  • If your oven temperature isn’t consistent, you might need to swap out the pans on the bottom and top rack at the halfway point in the baking.
  • Cakes will be fully baked when they pull away from the sides and spring back to the touch.
  • When your cakes are fully baked, cool them to room temperature, turning out onto wire racks.
DIY wedding cake
leveled cakes

Make Your Frosting

  • Bring butter and cream cheese to room temperature. (Yes, you use salted butter for this recipe. The tartness of the cream cheese balances out the salt in the butter, I promise!)
  • Mix cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
  • Add Crisco and continue to whip until fully incorporated.
  • On low speed slowly add powdered sugar
  • Add extracts (vanilla and almond)
  • Make sure your frosting is a good consistency–not too thick, not too thin. You can always thin it down with a bit of milk.

Stack and Tier Your Cakes

For a full tutorial on this, visit my How to Tier a Cake post. I’ll give simple instructions here, but please forgive the colorful cakes in the pictures below. They’re from a brightly colored project!

  • When all cakes are completely cooled, place a layer of the largest cake on the drum
  • Frost the top of the cake only
  • Add a ring of frosting around the edge to hold in the filling
  • Fill with preserves or filling of your choice.
  • Add another cake (same size) on top
  • Repeat frosting/ring/filling
  • Flip top cake upside-down over the other two.
  • Cake layers should be even-steven.
  • Add bubble tea straws to support cake that will go above this one.
  • Cut them flush with the top of the cake.
  • Frost the outside of the cake and scrape off most of the frosting with a bench scraper. (This is called a crumb coat.)
  • Chill in refrigerator

Repeat the process for the middle tier and top tier, putting each on a cake board that is slightly larger than the cake. I will have to refer you to my How to Tier a Cake post to see more photos of this process. In the end you will have multiple tiers of cake.

How to Frost Your DIY Wedding Cake

DIY wedding cake tiers

Working one tier at a time:

  • Set your cake on a turntable.
  • Using an off-set spatula, add generous amounts of frosting to the sides of tops of the cake.
  • Smooth it, but don’t worry about making it perfect.
  • Using a small off-set spatula (or the back of a spoon) turn your turntable and create lines/texture on the cake by scraping away a bit of the icing.
  • Continue up the cake until it looks like the picture below. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. “Imperfect” is in with this style.

Storing my DIY Wedding Cake Before Transport

Always store this DIY Wedding Cake in the refrigerator since the frosting contains cream cheese. You will notice that I completely emptied my shelves so that no smells bleed over into the cake. If you’re concerned about smells, put the cakes into individual bakery boxes before refrigerating.

Preparing to Deliver the DIY Wedding Cake

If I’m delivering a four-tiered wedding cake I’ll usually put the bottom two tiers together at home and wait to add the top two when I get there. (I once had a four-tiered cake topple in the back of my SUV while turning a corner. . .even though it was doweled.)

As you can see from the photo below, I put together this three-tiered wedding cake at home and transported it in one piece to the wedding. I usually only feel safe doing this if it’s carefully doweled in the center and if it’s not a tall, narrow cake. (For instance, I wouldn’t transport a 6″, 8″, 10″ cake but I would transport a 6″, 9″, 12″ cake.) The tall, narrow cakes are more inclined to topple.

DIY Wedding Cake

Loading the DIY Wedding Cake into Your Vehicle:

  • Box smaller cakes individually and make sure larger ones are secure.
  • Load cakes onto a flat surface that is well protected from germs. (I put a sheet down in the back of my SUV.)
  • Gauge your time properly for the drive and setup.
  • Have your directions in advance.
  • Make sure you arrive at least an hour or two before the wedding to set up.

Items to take with you when delivering a wedding cake:

When transporting a cake I always take:

  • extra frosting
  • spatulas
  • scissors
  • cake decor
  • paper towels
  • extra dowels

How to Assemble the Cake

  • See my How to Tier a Cake post for specifics on this but stack the cakes upon arrival and dowel them before adding any decor.

How to Decorate the Cake:

DIY Wedding Cake

If you’re using fresh flowers, make sure the stems are wrapped in floral tape. It’s best not to jab them directly into the cake, but to make mounds of frosting to set them in. (Not all flowers are food safe, so be careful!)

When adding flowers, alternate sides or run the flowers from to bottom on the diagonal. Make sure you know the bride’s preferences before you begin.

You’ve seen these everywhere–at weddings, baby showers, and even anniversary parties. To make a naked cake, simply stop at the crumb coat stage, with bits of cake peeking through. Apply frosting liberally, but scrape much of it all.

These naked cakes are gorgeous once decorated!

Variations on Cake Flavors

Multiple tiers means multiple opportunities for flavors! It’s not unusual for me to make 2-3 flavors, all within one cake. Most people love white/almond wedding cake, so I will often make the top two tiers white and the bottom/larger cake chocolate, (sometimes with the addition of turtle filling).

I recently did a cookie butter flavored wedding cake. And I can’t tell you how many Italian Cream Cake versions I’ve done! I’ve also got a terrific Old-Fashioned Pound Cake recipe that you might prefer.

The possibilities really are endless! (Folks will think you’re a professional baker! By the end of this process you’ll definitely be a more experienced baker, that’s sure and certain!

Other Helpful Posts

If you’re serious about wedding cakes, you’ll definitely want to check out all of these other posts from outoftheboxbaking.com:

So Easy, You Can Do It!

That’s it, friends. I’m dying to see the pictures of your wedding cakes. Let me know how they turn out in the comments below. I’m also here to answer any questions you might ask, so feel free!

I will leave you with a video montage of several of my cakes.

https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cdpmk71glBY/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Easy DIY Wedding Cake

Easy DIY Wedding Cake

Yield: 3-tiered cake
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 2 hours
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 5 hours

This tutorial with recipes will help you build your very own three-tiered wedding cake, complete with simple, textured frosting. Perfect for any style of wedding.

Ingredients

  • FOR THE CAKE: Multiple this recipe by 10 to make a total of nine layers (three tiers) of cake.
  • 1 box white cake mix (Pillsbury, if possible)
  • 1 cup water or milk (your preference)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 tsp clear vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 box instant pudding (vanilla) (optional)
  • FOR THE FROSTING: Multiple this recipe by 3 to make enough frosting for all three tiers.
  • 1 8 oz. block of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (two sticks) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup Crisco (white)
  • 1 bag (7-8 cups) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp clear vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • Strawberry preserves

Instructions

TO BAKE THE CAKES:

Pre-heat oven to 350°

Grease and flour all cake pans in advance

Add cake mix and dry pudding mix to mixing bowl

Add water, (or milk), oil, egg whites, and extracts

Mix until incorporated

Don't over-mix

Pour into prepared cake pans, filling halfway.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Cakes are done when they pull away from the edges of the pain and spring back to the touch.

Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool.

Remove from pans to continue cooling.

MAKE THE FROSTING:
Place the softened cream cheese into a mixing bowl and whip until smooth. Add softened butter and incorporate until light and fluffy.
Add Crisco and whip until incorporated.
Slowly add powdered sugar

STACK/TIER THE CAKES

  • When all cakes are completely cooled, place one of the 12" cakes on the drum (base)
  • Frost the top of the cake
  • Add a ring of frosting around the edge to hold in the filling
  • Fill with preserves or filling of your choice.
  • Add another cake (same size) on top
  • Repeat frosting/ring/filling
  • Flip top cake upside-down over the other two.
  • Add bubble tea straws to support cake that will go above this one.
  • Cut them flush with the top of the cake.
  • Frost the outside of the cake and scrape off most of the frosting with a bench scraper. (This is called a crumb coat.)
  • Chill in refrigerator

Repeat this process with the middle and top tiers.

FROST/TEXTURE YOUR TIERS:

Working one tier at a time:

Set your cake on a turntable.

  • Using an off-set spatula, add generous amounts of frosting to the sides of tops of the cake.
  • Smooth it, but don't worry about making it perfect.
  • Using a small off-set spatula (or the back of a spoon) turn your turntable and create lines/texture on the cake by scraping away a bit of the icing.
  • Continue up the cake. Don't worry if it's not perfect. "Imperfect" is in with this style.

STORE IN REFRIGERATOR UNTIL READY TO TRANSPORT

Notes

See notes in post regarding stacking/tiering and transport. Also see my post, How to Tier a Cake for detailed instrutions.

DC

Tuesday 8th of November 2022

does this wedding cake need to be baked, frosted, assembled and delivered the same day?

booksbyjanice

Wednesday 9th of November 2022

I usually make them the day before and refrigerate overnight.

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