How to cut a wedding cake

by admin on September 3, 2007

Cutting a multi-tiered wedding cake may look like rocket science and surely some caterers want to keep you in that delusion so that you are obligated to pay an extra service charge of as much as $2.50 per slice to cut your wedding cake. The information in this page will give you the power to delete that charge from your catering bill and save hundreds of dollars by doing it yourself.

Most American wedding cakes are multi-tiered rounds with numerous plastic structural pieces. Don’t let this intimidate you though!

The cake used in this page is a four tiered cake with 16 inch round bottom tier. Before the bride and groom cut the cake symbolically, you need to have prepared the following:

  • Apron
  • Rolling cart or small table
  • Food service disposable gloves
  • A thin, long knife – NOT the silver cake cutting knife the bride and groom used to cut that first slice of cake. It’s too thick for precision cutting.
  • A spatula/cake server onto which the sliced piece of cake will fall.
  • If the icing is Crisco based, have a hot, wet towel on hand to wipe your knife blade between cuts.
  • Serving plates, forks and napkins.

After the HC has fed each other that taste of cake, step in to begin cutting the cake or wheel the cake back to the church for cutting and service.

You will remove the cake topper and place it out of the way. Remove the top tier which some people save for their first anniversary and place it aside on your serving cart. This top tier is on a small plastic “plate” and is most likely connected underneath to plastic pillars which supported it. Remove the pillars and set aside as well.

Keep removing tiers of cake and pillars and setting aside on your serving cart until you get to the large bottom tier.

Nearly all large cake bottom tiers have four to eight wooden or plastic dowels inserted to support the weight of the tiers above it and depending on the size of the overall cake, the next to the bottom tier can have the dowels inserted in the cake to support weight as well. Remove these dowels with your fingers (wearing food service gloves!) and set aside.

To cut the cake, view it from the above and make a circle within the tier as shown in the diagram about 4 inches from the outer edge of the cake.

Cut clear through this circle with your knife and then slice wedges of cake from the outer perimeter of the cake as shown in the next picture.

I prefer a two handed approach wherein I cut the cake with a knife in my right hand and using a cake server in my left, place it on the cake plate. This is best done with two people…one who cuts the cake and another who has a prepared plate right there to receive the cake slice. Two people will cut a cake faster than one.

If the bottom tier is huge (18 -24 inches wide), cut a second concentric circle within the first also spaced about four inches in. You want cake slice wedges that are anywhere from 3-4 inches in depth, 4 inches tall and 1/2 -1 inch wide , depending on serving size.

Smaller tiers are cut similarly with ever smaller tiers cut like a regular layer cake.

Note from Priscilla:  As a professional baker and cake decorator, I have one word of caution for the cake cutter. If you slice a circle 4″ deep from the edge of the cake, the slices should be 1/2″ wide, or you may not get enough servings from your cake.  The industry standard is 2″x1″x the height of the cake slices. These are the servings you are paying for. By slicing 4″ x 1″ servings, you are giving each guest two servings of cake. Another method of slicing that I recommend, especially for a novice, is to simply cut the cake into 2″ “strips” and cut 1″ slices from within these strips. The first and last slice of each strip will need to be adjusted, since they will be odd-shaped, but the cake gets less mangled in the process, and it is easier to do.

In practice, it is difficult to get the exact numbers of servings from each tier, so that is why I count each tier as fewer servings, to allow for “fudge factor”.  A vase or other container of very hot water to dip the knife into before each slice is also helpful, you will still want to wipe off most of the water with the towel.

When you are finished, you need to wash all plastic parts to the cake which include plates, pins, and pillars. Place all these in a clean baggie because the cake baker will want them back.

Helpful Articles

Earlene’s Cake Serving Chart

Wilton’s Cake Cutting Guide


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