One of our food editors has made wedding cakes for family and friends and, in fact, made her own, based on the following recipe. The techniques involved are straightforward, although the endeavor takes a bit of planning, the proper equipment, and sufficient freezer and/or refrigerator space. Once you have all the components ready to go, allow 3 to 4 hours for assembling the cake, depending on your level of experience.
Serves about 50 (including top tier).
for the syrup:
for the assembly:
about 5 cups raspberries, picked over
five 8-inch plastic straws
*available at specialty baking stores
Make first batch of batter:
Preheat oven to 350°F. and line a buttered 10-inch round cake pan (at least 2 inches deep) with a round of wax paper. Butter paper and dust pan with flour, knocking out excess.
Into a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy and beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and vanilla. Add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating until just combined after each addition, and beat in zest (do not overmix).
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in middle of oven 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto rack. Peel off paper and cool cake completely.
Make second batch of batter:
Line a buttered 6-inch round cake pan and a buttered 8-inch round cake pan (each at least 2 inches deep) with rounds of wax paper. Butter paper and dust pans with flour, knocking out excess.
Make batter in same manner.
Pour 1 3/4 cups batter into prepared 6-inch pan. Pour remaining batter into prepared 8-inch pan. Bake 6-inch cake in middle of oven 30 to 35 minutes and 8-inch cake 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans on racks 5 minutes and invert onto racks. Peel off paper and cool cakes completely.
Cake layers may be made 2 weeks ahead, wrapped well in plastic wrap and foil, and frozen. Defrost cake layers (without unwrapping) at room temperature.
In a small saucepan combine sugar, water, and zest and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and let syrup cool completely. Discard zest and stir in lemon juice and framboise. Syrup may be made 2 weeks ahead and chilled in an airtight container.
With a long serrated knife halve each layer horizontally. Put each 10-inch layer, cut side up, on a 9-inch cardboard round. Put 8-inch layers similarly on 7-inch rounds and 6-inch layers on 5-inch rounds. Brush cut sides of all 6 layers generously with syrup, dividing it evenly among layers, and let layers stand 15 minutes to absorb syrup.
Spread about 1 1/2 cups buttercream on top half of 10-inch layer, cut side up, and arrange enough raspberries, side by side and open ends down, in concentric circles to cover entire layer. Invert bottom half of 10-inch layer, cut side down, on top of berries and gently press layers together to form an even tier. (Discard top cardboard round.) Frost top and sides smoothly with some remaining buttercream and chill while assembling remaining 2 tiers.
Assemble and frost 8-inch tier in same manner (use about 1 cup buttercream between layers) and chill while assembling remaining tier. Assemble and frost 6-inch tier in same manner (use about 2/3 cup buttercream between layers) and chill until buttercream is firm.
Cut 3 straws in half and insert 1 straw piece all the way into center of 10-inch bottom tier. Trim straw level with top of tier and insert remaining 5 straw pieces in same manner in a circle about 1 1/2 inches from center straw. (Straws serve to support tiers.) Carefully put 8-inch middle tier (still on cardboard) in center of bottom tier. Cut remaining 2 straws in half and insert into middle tier in same manner, with 1 straw piece in center and remaining 3 straw pieces in a circle around it. Carefully put 6-inch top tier (still on cardboard) in center of middle tier.
Fill in any gaps between tiers with buttercream and transfer remaining buttercream to a pastry bag filled with a small (#66) leaf tip. Pipe a decorative border around top edge of top tier. With a medium-sized (#70) leaf tip pipe border in same manner around bottom edges of top and middle tiers. With same tip pipe 5 evenly spaced ribbons from top to bottom of cake. (These ribbons will support cascades of crystallized flowers.)
Transfer cake to a cake stand or other serving plate and with a larger (#113) leaf tip pipe border around bottom edge of cake. With same tip pipe mound of buttercream on top of cake. (This mound will support crystallized flower arrangement.)
Arrange crystallized flowers and mint leaves decoratively on top and sides of cake. Chill cake at least 6 hours and up to 1 day. Let cake stand at cool room temperature (buttercream is sensitive to warm temperatures) 2 to 4 hours before serving.
Serve cake with Crème Fraîche Ice Cream and additonal raspberries.