This wedding cake traveled 500 (five hundred!) kilometers from Frankfurt to the Dutch countryside earlier this month.
I can’t mention any of this without giving a huge amount of credit to Anton, who kindly coped with heavily airconditioning our car and really managed to avoid any bump or curve in the road.
Considering I (we) managed, I am happy to share my tips on transporting the wedding cake over a long distance.
Choosing your cake & ingredients
Whenever choosing a cake, make sure that you do not use the softest or most crumbly cake recipe you can think of. I did make one tier out of a rather tender chocolate cake, but I made sure I prolonged the baking time just a little, to make sure it wouldn’t all break apart. The fact that the cake had enough time to settle into the buttercream compensated for this loss of liquid.
We started traveling two days prior to the wedding, so I took care to not use any fresh fruit as a filling, and I was also extra careful with making sure that none of the buttercream ingredients were extra perishable (I didn’t add fruit puree or fresh cream for example).
In addition, I avoided using anything ‘slippery’ as a filling as it might cause the cake layers and buttercream to start moving (think of the architecture behind building a no-slip sandwich). Instead I used a limited amount of concentrated marmalade and mostly buttercream.
As the day prior to the wedding was a national holiday, I decided to use silk flowers, instead of fresh flowers to make sure the flowers wouldn’t look old or wilted.
I was really happy that I went for the safest options possible, as the week of the wedding of our friends was incredibly hot, but you might feel more comfortable choosing otherwise.
Allowing time to let the cake get firmer
To ensure that all cake layers would arrive in one piece and largely undented, I made sure that the cake tiers were finished at least one day in advance. Doing so allows the cake, buttercream and marmelade to ‘sink’ into each other and to get more grip (this prevents cake layers from sliding off one another).
In addition I used wooden skewers that I stuck into the cakes to also prevent further movement. Even though this leaves little holes in the buttercream, this is easy to cover up once you assemble the cake.
To be extra-extra sure I completely froze each cake tier before traveling. This meant that our freezer needed to be empty, but it was a huge peace of mind during our travel which made me feel like it was worth the effort.
Materials to wrap the cakes for travel
In short: each cake tier was made on its own cake board and packed separately in a sturdy cardboard cake box, large enough to fit a cake board larger than the cake resting on it, and high enough so that the buttercream wouldn’t touch any of the sides of the box.
- 3 sturdy and large cardboard cake boxes (I used these)
- 2 thinner cake boards (that can be cut into shape with scissors, I used these)
- 3 extra thick cake boards (two of it you will be able to reuse, I used these)
- wooden skewers
I made each cake tier on a cake board that was larger than the diameter of the cake, to make sure that no cake would touch the sides of their cardboard box.
As I still wanted each cake tier to be smooth (without any cake boards sticking out), I made sure that I made the two smaller cake tiers on cake boards that were a bit thinner and that I could cut to size with scissors once we were at the venue.
To be sure that these smaller cakes would still have enough support during travel, I put thicker cake boards under the thinner cake boards inside the box. Because I can reuse the thicker cake boards (no cake has touched it), I didn’t feel too bad about using double materials.
Transporting the wedding cake
I placed the cake boxes in an empty car trunk, so that nothing could slide into the cake boxes during our travel.
To be sure, I did my best to keep the temperature in the car as low as possible, which might not be necessary, but my advice is to prevent transporting (or leaving) your cakes in a burning hot car, as I am afraid you might end up with puddles of buttercream speckled with cake.
Things you will need at the wedding venue
So you have made the drive with the cakes in the back of your car and you have carried the cake boxes safely into the venue!
So now that your cake arrived carefully at the location, try to put the cake tiers into the fridge for a bit. Even if it is only 20 minutes, it will firm up your cakes exponentially and will make it so much easier to assemble your cake tiers together (here is a really useful video on how to dowel and assemble your cake).
- a power socket
- a kitchen counter or working space
- a fridge (although not necessary, it is a really nice to have)
- an hour to an hour and a half at the wedding venue to finish your cake in peace
- half of a portion of Italian Buttercream, packed in a ziplock bag
- a handmixer (to smoothen and soften the buttercream)
- a (disposable) piping bag
- silk flowers (or any other decoration you’d like to use)
- enough wet wipes to clean any counter you will work on
- 2 tea towels (you’ll be happy you brought these)
- a microwave or hair dryer (or any other device that will help you warm up your buttercream so that it will not curdle when you whip it up)
- knife (to fit your dowels to your cake)
- Scissors (to cut the cake boards of your upper two tiers, so that none of the cake board is visible after assembling)
Not technically needed, but great to have is some support by means of someone helping you carry the cake boxes, open the door for you, supplying you with coffee (thanks Anna and Anton) and to encourage you during the process.
Conclusion: you can transport a wedding cake over a long distance as long as you are thoroughly prepared. Wishing you the best of luck!