How To Make A Wedding Cake Out Of Doughnuts

Photographed by Davide Luciano.
Hannah Kirshner is a food stylist, recipe developer, and occasional wedding-cake baker based in Brooklyn, NY. She’s the founder and editor of Sweets & Bitters, a blog and mini-cookbook series. You can tweet your cake-hack questions to her at @sweetsnbitters.

It’s the ultimate wedding-planning conundrum: You don’t want to overspend, but you want everything to be really special. Well, for once, you can have your cake and eat it too. Wedding cakes tend to be outrageously expensive (I know because when I make them, the amount I charge is generally proportional to the anxiety of preparing and delivering a flawless cake in time for the customer's big day). But, thanks to these clever hacks, you can save a lot without sacrificing style — and the best part is, they don’t involve any baking on your part.

With minimal planning and 15 minutes of help from a creative friend or relative, these simple tricks will help you save big bucks. Multiply the price per serving (estimated below) by the number of guests to see just how much. Depending on the size of your wedding, we're talking hundreds or even thousands of dollars.    
Advertisement
Photographed by Davide Luciano.
For An Urban Wedding: Tier Up
Do you get choked up thinking about the cost of a wedding, and not in a good way? By stacking pastries on a tiered stand, you can achieve the spectacle of a traditional wedding cake without the traditional price tag. Serve a dessert that says something about you as a couple, instead of the same old cake.      

Scavenge thrift stores, browse Etsy, or DIY a pretty cake stand, and ask your caterer or a designated family member to pile it high with your favorite sweets. We bought this foamcore stand from NY Cake, spray-painted it gold, and trimmed it with satin ribbon attached with foam-mounting tape (all for under $100). For the cake alternative, we chose fluffy coconut donuts from Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop. They have all the visual impact of a fancier confection, without the drain on your savings account.     
Photographed by Davide Luciano.
Traditional wedding cake: $8 to $20 per serving
Doughnuts: $1.50 to $3 per serving

Photographed by Davide Luciano.
For A Simple Country Wedding: Go Floral
Instead of ordering an ornately decorated cake, ask for simple buttercream icing and decorate it yourself with fresh flowers. According to Betsy Thorleifson from Nine Cakes in Brooklyn, a simple tiered cake for 50 guests is a minimum of $500 during high season ($250 during off-season), compared to $750 for a decorated cake.

Snag a handful of the blooms you're already using for decor, or if you have a garden, pick your own for approximately zero extra dollars. Even if you go all out and buy flowers just for the cake, you’ll be hard-pressed to spend more than $100 — still far less than you'd pay for a decorated one. Classic farm flowers like dahlias, zinnias, and bachelor's buttons not only look stunning but also hold up well. It's best to use organic or edible flowers, and be sure to wash them.

You’ll have other things to worry about on your wedding day, so ask a friend with a good eye to place the flowers on the cake a few hours before serving. Simply trim the stems short and poke them into the icing. Beware of toxic plant varieties — if you are unsure, wrap the stems in plastic. Cluster the blossoms on top of the cake, and gracefully spiral them down the side, leaving some gaps to let the eye rest. If you mess up the icing, just cover it with petals. There’s no need to be too fussy — fresh flowers look great no matter what.   
Photographed by Davide Luciano.
Advertisement
Decorated wedding cake: $12 to $25 per serving
Simple cake with fresh flowers: $5 to $10 per serving


For A Destination Wedding: Hot Sheet 

Photographed by Davide Luciano.
Fancy, tiered wedding cakes are like stilettos: They look fantastic, but can be more trouble than they're worth — especially at a beach or destination wedding. In fact, at traditional weddings, some couples choose to display a formal tiered cake, and hide an additional sheet cake in the kitchen to actually serve the guests. But, why not forego the tiered number altogether, and just order a big sheet cake? Any bakery will make one, and you won’t have to worry about it toppling or melting in the sun.

For a truly tropical effect, cover the table in banana leaves. (Even if you’re not on a tropical island, you can get them frozen from a Latin American or Southeast Asian market for around $2.50.) Surround the cake with colorful, exotic fruit (you can fill a shopping bag for $50), and palms picked from overhead (or purchased from a florist for about $5 to $10 each). Use some supermarket gel-icing to write something romantic — a favorite quote or your names. The cost is easily half that of a tiered cake. You can spend the savings on an extra night of honeymooning.      
Photographed by Davide Luciano.
Tiered wedding cake: $8 to $20 per serving
Sheet cake: $1 to $4 per serving
Advertisement