Whether you’re a championship baker, or you’ve been tasked with picking up and delivering the cake on the big day, it’s essential to know how to successfully transport a wedding cake.
A masterpiece of tiers, intricate sugar work, and frosting, your cake needs to be properly structured and supported if it’s to take pride of place at the reception venue!
Transporting a wedding cake, and ensuring it arrives unscathed, is not impossible, but you do need to follow all the simple steps we’ve outlined below to make it happen.
Otherwise, you may end up with something in the back of your car that looks very different from how it did when you started the journey!
Our Guide on How to Transport a Wedding Cake
For this post, we’re going to assume you’re making your own wedding cake. And that it has 2-3 separate tiers.
If you’re just delivering it to the reception location, or you’re making something smaller, then feel free to pick and choose the information you need.
Stack those Tiers with Care, and Dowels!
2-3 tier cakes (max 4 tiers) need to be tethered together with wooden dowels. Even a modest 2-tiered design must have this kind of structure in place if it’s to have any hope of being delivered safely to the wedding venue.
You may be asking, “why don’t I just assemble the cake tiers when I reach my reception venue?” That would be a fair question, and it certainly is the approach for many bakers. However, by attempting this, you’re more likely to make mistakes.
If you scuff some cake frosting when assembling on-site, for example, you won’t be able to quickly apply extra frosting or even fix your mistake, because you won’t have all the necessary tools to hand.
By assembling your tiered cake at home, the day before, or that morning, you’ll be in a better position to fix any last-minute cake icing disasters. Or even replace a whole tier with your backup cake tiers. You’ve made backup tiers, right?!
To properly support the higher levels in multi-tiered bakes, you need to use plenty of cake dowels within each tier, especially the foundation tier. The base of your design has to support the weight of the entire cake, so pay extra attention when placing the dowels on the bottom section. And be sure to place one in the center!
For tall cakes, with five or more layers, possibly even four, you should only assemble the bottom 2-3 tiers before traveling. Keep the top two separate, placing them on top when you arrive.
Without proper experience or equipment, elaborate cakes with many tiers are always liable to topple on bumpy roads.
It All Begins with a Sturdy Base
When creating something as momentous as a bespoke wedding cake, it would seem silly to cut costs on your base. As we mentioned, the base of your wedding cake is the most important part of your design, and what goes underneath that base is just as significant.
Purchasing an actual cake base is a must, and so much better than a cut-up old cardboard box. A mat with non-skid cushioning will offer the support you need and eliminate the load from each cake tier combined with careful doweling.
A proper, non-slip mat for when you place your cake box into the car is also highly recommended. Using large non-skid padding will avoid any moving around in the back, and give you a spotless surface to transport your cake box on.
If you can’t get your hands on a non-skid mat, a yoga mat will do!
A cold cake is a sturdy cake!
Keep your well-frosted cake in the fridge the day before you need to assemble it and you’ll gift it the armor it needs to survive the journey. When the icing is cool, it won’t slide around and move so much every time you hit those pesky speed bumps.
Best-case scenario, you have a fridge big enough to fit your entire pre-assembled cake. If not, keeping your cake cool as separate upper tiers is also just as good. Just allow yourself plenty of time to assemble it in the morning!
A Tall Cake Calls for a Tall Box
Any size cake should be transported in a robust cake box or container that’s tight enough to stop the cake board from sliding around. But, it also needs to be roomy enough to stop the cake from touching the sides.
You’ll find cardboard cake caddies that can accommodate 2-3 layer cakes at most cake supply stores, and online. Or you could consider making one yourself; just be sure to choose sturdy cardboard that doesn’t bend excessively.
Crank up the AC
As we said, a cold cake is an armored cake, and on hot summer days, you’re going to need all the armor you can get!
Try to keep the temperature cool in your car and give your bake some additional chill time. You won’t be able to replicate your fridge, but you’ll be able to get somewhere close with a bit of prep.
Go out to your car 5-10 minutes before you need to leave and prepare the trunk area for your cake. Give the area a good clean, prepare a flat surface, and put up a window shade in the back if you have one.
Once that’s done, turn on the air conditioner, and keep it running with the doors closed for at least five minutes before bringing the cake out.
If you have a naked cake, you may want to avoid this part, as the AC vents could dry out your bake. But otherwise, don’t worry, as a well-frosted cake will form a moisture barrier around your precious sponge.
Drive Like Grandma
Remember in the movie Speed, that if the speed of the bus dips below 50mph, the bomb inside it will go off? Well, for you, it’s the opposite!
Your mission is to drive as slowly and as carefully, as you possibly can; like there’s a sleeping tiger in the back that could be awoken by the slightest bump in the road.
Give yourself ample time; not always easy on your wedding day! Or deliver the cake the day before. Any kind of time pressure will force you to drive more like Keanu, and less like Grandma.
Give the Wedding Venue a Heads-Up
You’ve gone through all this careful preparation, driven like a geriatric, and have now arrived at the reception location. However, they weren’t expecting you, and you have no idea where to go.
Your cake is now melting in your arms as you race around the venue trying to find a walk-in fridge. The horror!
Avoid this wedding cake delivery stress, and call ahead. Find out exactly where the best place to arrive is, and try to get someone on the event staff who can guide you when you arrive. Your wedding planner would be the ideal person for this.
If the venue doesn’t have fridge space big enough for your masterpiece, then ascertain where the coolest spot is, or which air-conditioned area is the safest to leave it.
Prepare for Minor Cake Mishaps
Even with the sturdiest cake box, the best non-skid mat, and some super careful below the speed limit driving – accidents will still happen.
It’s just not possible to eliminate every risk, so plan ahead and look into cake repair kits!
The type of kit and cake tools you’ll need will depend entirely on the wedding cake you’ve made. Buttercream cakes will require additional buttercream frosting and spatulas for applying and smoothing over any disrupted areas.
While fondant cakes will need more fondant, a rolling pin, a knife, icing sugar, and spare cake decor.
When it comes to cake repair kits, the best thing to do is to think of your worst-case scenario and work backward.
How would you fix a certain element on your design if it got damaged mid-delivery? What would you do if the florist disrupts your frosting with their cascade of flowers? Do you have enough additional frosting for each layer?
Prep your kit according to the potential little dramas that might unfold.