The Perfect Wedding Cake
Your wedding cake is the crown jewel in your wedding feast, so you'll want it to be not only awe inspiring but incredibly tasty as well. While there is room for the traditional white layer cake with white frosting rosettes, today's spectacular new cake designers have turned wedding cakes into an art form, adding architectural elements, all manners of textures, embellishments and decorations. When selecting your wedding cake, you will want to take into account the visual appeal of the cake as well as its flavor. The two elements combined will ensure a perfectly unique cake that will cause breathless admiration from both you and your guests.
Starting At The Top
Cake toppers are a fun way to personalize your cake and they come in a wide variety of themes, styles, materials & sizes. If you want to be unique & creative, choose a topper that reflects your personalities & interests.
The Great Cake Hunt
You should begin researching wedding cakes at least 5-6 months ahead of your wedding date if you have your heart set on a spectacular one.
Get recommendations from friends, wedding consultants, caterers, reception site coordinators, bridal fairs, regional bridal magazines & online local wedding service directories. Review the bakers portfolio so you can see pictures of the cakes they've created. Most bakeries have opportunities for you to come in and have a tasting, so take full advantage of this service. When you're ready to order your cake, make sure you cover the specific terms such as size, tiers, flavors, fillings, colors, decorations, presentation, delivery, date, time and location.
Your baker will need to know:
* Number of guests
* Season or room temperature
* Overall room size
* Final decorations
* Any other desserts being served
* Room decor, decorations, and colors
* Kitchen logistics (refrigeration)
* Name of reception site coordinator, florist, and caterer
* Address of reception site to which cake is to be delivered, along with clear, concise directions and any specific instructions regarding delivery
Wedding cakes have a wide cost range, beginning at around $300 and going up to $1500 plus. Many of the absolutely stunning ones that you see in national magazines can be upward of $2000. Cakes are also priced by serving, with the range being from $2.00 per serving on up to sometimes $20.00 per serving.
Types Of Wedding Cake Bakers
Many times your caterer or reception location will provide the wedding cake. Since wedding cakes may not be their expertise, ask to see pictures and taste a sampling of their baking skills. They may be limited in design ability, but then again they may be great. By having your caterer or reception site provide the cake, the fee for cutting the cake is usually included in the price. It will probably be an extra charge of $1.00 to $2.00 per slice if you choose to purchase a cake from another source.
Commercial, specialized bakeries are the most common source for wedding cakes. Many specialize in nothing but wedding or special occasion cakes. These bakeries produce a large quantity of cakes, and generally have a variety of cake styles and designs from which to choose.
Non-commercial wedding cake bakers usually work out of their home (or rent a small kitchen somewhere) and specialize in unique, creative wedding cakes. Each cake is individually designed to your specifications. Many of these bakers are true artists, and their love is to create spectacular cakes. The trend to use this type of baker has grown over the past few years, and prices vary widely. In some cases they can be less expensive than a commercial baker because of lower overhead; in other cases they are more expensive because of elaborate detail and personalized design they offer. Also, finding this type of baker may not be easy as finding a commercial baker.
Wedding Cake Components
You will want to take into account your overall wedding style, colors, and degree of formality when considering cake designs. Another important element will be the reception site and how it lends itself to the cake's presentation. A starkly modern wedding style will lend itself to a grand structure of a cake, complete with elements pulled from architecture and unusual textures. Romantic or traditional themes will benefit from beautiful flowers, pastel colors, and ribbon or lace motifs. Round layers are the most common, but many cakes are made with square, rectangle, or heart shaped layers as well.
Another style element is how the cake is assembled. Most wedding cakes are tiered, with the three to four inch high tiers being either stacked or separated. Stacked cakes have the layers placed on top of each other, usually with foam rounds in between to protect and reinforce the layers. Separated cakes have some sort of arch, column, or other architectural element, which keeps the layers separated. This requires some heavy reinforcement, with both foam rounds and wooden dowels to support the cake's weight and to keep it from being crushed.
Other Creative Ways To Personalize Your Wedding Cake
Coordinate the decorations on your cake with an element on your wedding gown, such as the lace, buttons, swags, bows or bustles
Decorate around the cake layers with flowers (fresh or icing) that match your bouquet
Match the cake color and design to your new wedding china. Use the new china when you cut your first slice
Incorporate a personal hobby or interest onto your cake, such as a nautical theme, fairytale theme, or historical theme
f you're using a wedding theme, pull that element into your cake as well, either in coloring or overall style. A pastel pink, or light celadon green frosting, for example, or fall fruit and foliage on an autumn themed cake. Use (sugar) seashells for a wedding by the seashore, a basket weave design for an outdoor garden wedding
Flavors & Fillings
In addition to which flavors set your mouth watering, you'll need to consider a few logistics when selecting flavors & icings. For example, season and temperature will be critical to the success of your cake. Some cakes can't be refrigerated, or it will ruin their frosting. Some cakes must be refrigerated, or it will ruin their frosting. How hardy is the filling you've chosen and will it stand up in your location ?
Chocolate is overtaking the more traditional white and yellow cake in popularity, but there's also a whole new crop of cake flavors showing up on the scene as well.
Lemon Creme or Mousse
The Icing On The Cake
Butter cream frosting is smooth and creamy with a delicate buttery flavor that isn't too sweet. The soft texture is easy to cut, but needs to be kept refrigerated until just a few hours before serving, otherwise it can bead, run, drip, or melt its way into a mess. The texture also lends itself well to decorations such as basket weaves, swags, swirls, fleur de lis, and flowers. It offers one of the best values in terms of price.
Whipped cream is a very delicate and, unfortunately, temperamental frosting that doesn't like heat or humidity one bit. It MUST be kept refrigerated until is served. Its lighter, fluffier texture tends to limit its decorating options.
Fondant is usually rolled out like a piecrust, smooth and flat. Made primarily of sugar and corn syrup, it should not be refrigerated, so make sure that you select a filling that is equally sturdy. The rolled sheets of fondant are wrapped around the cake, creating a smooth, flat surface on which to pipe icing decorations or place flowers. Looks gorgeous, but is not particularly tasty and can be hard to cut.
Royal icing dries to a very hard finish after being piped onto the cake in a variety of shapes and patterns, and is used for creating many of the decorative touches you see on cakes. Finishing touches may also be added with marzipan (almond paste), spun sugar, and pastillage.
Hot Trends In Wedding Cakes
More sophisticated, less overly sweet flavers such as coconut, cheesecake, tiramisu, fruitcake, sponge cake, or angel food cake.
Frosting infused with delicate, unusual flavors such as champagne, Kahlua, Grand Marnier, ginger, or mocha.
White cakes with lots of visual interest in the way of texture, design, fine detailing, or mixed white-on-white tones.
Frosting that have a lustrous, opalescent, or pearlescent finish, which is achieved by a special luster wash. Think shimmering make up trends.
Dr. Seuss or Alice in Wonderland cakes that sport a charming whimsy of wild, vivid colors and off-kilter and out-of-the-ordinary shapes.
Smaller individual cakes for each table of guests, sometimes differing flavors, fillings, and frosting decorations.
Miniature individual cakes at each place setting. This takes the concept of cupcakes to a whole new level.
Fresh flowers used to decorate cake layers.
No jewel is complete without the setting, and the wedding cake is no exception. The cake table should be carefully thought out since it will be a focal point at the reception. Using lovely linens and flowers, along with a special cake knife and server, will really set the stage for the cake cutting.
The size of the cake will determine the size of the table, and make sure it's sturdy ! If you will be having a toast along with the cake cutting, set out a spectacular pair of toasting flutes as well. The bride and attendants' bouquets can also be placed on the table to give the feeling of flowers spilling about everywhere.
The Cutting of the Cake
A popular tradition and reception staple, everyone loves to gather to watch the bride and groom cut into this stunning creation. The groom places his hand over the bride's as it rests on the knife. Together, they slice into the bottom layer, carefully making three cuts, and removing a small piece onto a cake plate. Then, gently or enthusiastically - it's their choice - they feed each other a bite.
A nice touch is for the bride and groom to cut additional pieces and serve the cake to their parents. After the bride and groom have cut the first piece or two, they turn the rest of the cake cutting over to the caterers or servers.
The Groom's Cake
The groom's cake has traditionally been a dark fruitcake or decadent chocolate cake that's been cut into pieces and placed in boxes for the guests to take home. With the revival of this old tradition, many brides are adding a creative touch by opting for a chocolate-layered cake in a variety of shapes representing the groom's favorite sport or hobby. These cakes are either being served at the rehearsal dinner or the reception, along with the wedding cake, or, following the old tradition, placed in a box for the guests to take home. Legend has it that a girl who places this cake under her pillow at night will dream of the man she will marry. However, considering the huge cost of weddings these days, many brides choose to omit this tradition. This is perfectly acceptable.
** Money Saving Tips **
Find a non-commercial baker who works out of his or her home, and whose overhead is lower
Keep decorations simple. Don't select a cake with extremely elaborate decorations, such as hand-made sugar lilies that look if they've just been picked
Add height by using Styrofoam tiers. If you love the look of a tall cake, but don't need to feed a lot of people, cut your cost by decorating Styrofoam shapes and using them for two of the tiers
Order an elaborate, smaller cake for the ceremonial cake cutting. Then have sheet cakes of the same recipe made to serve the guests
Don't save the top tier. Tradition has always been that couples save the top of their cake to eat on their first anniversary, and then take one look at the cake a year later and, sad to say, toss it into the garbage. Time doesn't do much to improve the quality or appearance of wedding cake. IF, for reasons of tradition, you want to save something, consider just one or two pieces of the top tier. Or, for your anniversary, have a duplicate of the top tier made.
Order less cake. If you're serving another dessert in addition to the wedding cake, or having a sweets table, plan on fewer servings of your cake and having smaller portions served
Skip the groom's cake. If you're working on a tight budget, eliminate the groom's cake. It's an old tradition, but probably won't be missed