Brainstorming: A Piece of Cake

A show-stopping cake makes a dramatic wedding centerpiece, like this cake modeled after a bride's gown. Cake by The Pastry Studio. Photo by Al Dee Photography.

There’s no use trying to sugarcoat it (hahaha — pun intended). Wedding cakes are an expensive addition to your big day. They can also be confusing. Ganache? Mousse? Dowels? Which parts are even edible?!

Thankfully, you’re friendly neighborhood baker is there to answer your questions. Hey, don’t look at me!

All you’ve got to do is come up with your dream design — and even there, your baker will be more than happy to help!

But before you head into the bakery, figuring out a few key elements by asking yourself a few simple questions will save you — and your baker — a considerable amount of time. So sit back, enjoy the ride, and start daydreaming about fondant bows and tiers of tiramisu,

1. Rank in order of importance to you: Your cake must be ____
Stunningly beautiful
Delicious, of course!
Simply elegant
Inexpensive
A unique original

2. Are there certain flavors or flavor combinations you know you want — or want to avoid?

While the "bride's" cake is usually a sophisticated confection, the groom's cake is all about having fun and showing off some personality! Cake by The Pastry Studio. Photo by Al Dee Photography.

3. Are you open to cost-saving ideas, such as a mini cake for cutting and sheet cakes for serving; a decorated Styrofoam cake and sheet cakes for serving; a cupcake tower; a small cake for each table?

4. If you want a cake that fits certain dietary needs (dairy- or gulten-free, or Kosher, for example), have you already checked with your first-choice bakery to make sure they can accommodate you?

5. Budget allowing, are you in the market for a groom’s cake? Would you be willing to scale down your wedding cake so you can have a groom’s cake, too?

And a few tips when it comes to cakes….

  • Ask your caterer or reception venue not to place a slice of cake in front of every chair at your wedding; instead, have them hand-deliver cake to guests. That way, you’ll avoid serving cake to guests who have already left the party. Have the caterer or venue package up the leftover cake for family, or send it home with guests in boxes.
  • If your cake arrives and a detail or two aren’t perfect, try not to sweat it. I heard a story from a photographer about one bride who was terribly upset when the bakery delivered a round cake, although she had ordered a hexagon. When she found out that they’d had to scramble to make her a second cake after the original was ruined during delivery — another car cut off the delivery truck, forcing the driver to slam on his breaks — the bride cried again. But those were tears of joy.
  • Pre-designed cakes cost less than original designs -- and they can look beautiful and taste just as sweet. Cake by Publix. Photo by Laura Yang.

  • Plan with your fiance exactly where and how you’re going to cut your cake. With such a big dessert, figuring out where to put that knife can be difficult!
  • This sounds like common sense, but keep in mind that the oils in cake and especially frosting, as well as chocolate and fruity fillings, can leave a permanent stain on wedding gowns!
  • As with all other wedding day items, price-check before you sign a contract with any local baker. It’s a good idea to check their references and speak with several past clients just to make sure they have a record of satisfied customers.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell the baker exactly what you want, but bear in mind that they might not be able to deliver a seven-tier cake that weighs as much as you or hand-make sugar flowers that are the exact shape as the ones in your bouquet. Be reasonable about what you expect!
  • When you cut into your cake…remember to smile! You’ll have that moment captured forever, so even if you’re nervous you’ll spill crumbs on the tablecloth, flash a few pearly whites and look like you’re having the time of your life!

~ Laura


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