Wednesday Food: Here Comes the...Wedding Cake!

Tis the season for bachelorette parties, dress fittings and of cakes! My two favorite things about weddings are the all night dance-a-thon and the gorgeous cake. Gawking at the many layers, seeing the detail in the gum paste flowers and being in total awe of the craftsmanship and artistry that goes into their design and construction.

What initially drew me into the world of baking and pastry was wedding cakes. Can you imagine a naive young woman going to the most prestigious culinary school in the country and saying "I wanna make pretty cakes"? Thank god I learned that and so much more while I was there. Most of my time since graduation has been away from wedding cakes, and more in restaurants and hotels. But wedding cakes are always in the back of my mind...and maybe in my future!

When you attend the CIA, you are required to complete a 6 month externship, at an establishment that meets the requirements of the school. I did mine at a small bakery called Just Desserts in Ithaca, NY. It was a small operation, just the owner and myself, but boy did we crank out some wedding and special occasion cakes! Wedding cakes in all different shapes and sizes, along with grooms cakes, vegan cakes, cheesecake wedding cakes, the list can go on and on!!

All this talk of weddings is coming right in time for my own 5 year anniversary!  I thought I would share my wedding story and cake, along with some tips on choosing the right wedding cake for you and your special day!

Our wedding experience was a bit different. We got married at City Hall in Boston, MA. Eric and I weren't planning a big party, but once friends knew it was happening they were in their cars/buses/planes and ready to travel for the big day! It was quickly thrown together but we even able to squeeze in a pre-wedding bash at Kings Bowling Alley.

Probably the only thing I knew I wanted, for sure, was big pink gerbera flowers and buttercream icing. I actually made it myself in a kitchen with very little counter space and my only useful pieces of equipment was my offset spatula and my trusty KitchenAid!

Erica was my unofficial last minute wedding planner and decorator.  She took it upon herself to do favors and well...I let her do whatever she liked! She knew my cake was going to have pink flowers, so she ran with that color scheme of pink, silver and white - making our small shindig look like we actually put an effort into it!! Thanks big sis!!

Being around many wedding cakes in the past, I was pretty set on what I wanted. But sometimes many couples are lost and confused! Here's a few questions to ask yourself to narrow down the options.

1) Cake or cupcakes?? I know many are crazy about the little cuties, but on the other hand they don't have the traditional cake look. Most cake pro's will make a cake for the bride and groom to cut so they still can hear "How Sweet It Is" while smashing the cake into each others faces.

(like that for example!)

2) How many people are we feeding??  Even if you are having a small affair you can still do a mini tiered cake. And they are oh so cute! For a larger party, you can have a smaller cake (if it fits your style) and some supplemental cakes to make sure everyone gets a piece.

3) What are the dietary needs of our guests? Do we need to have a vegan option? How about gluten-free? Many bakeries are able to accommodate your needs, and believe it or not - they are pretty tasty!

4) Buttercream or fondant??  Buttercream tastes better, but fondant has a nice matte finish to it. Bearing in mind that most people scrape off the fondant anyway, cause it doesn't taste so good.

The cake on the left is covered in fondant, the right is buttercream.
(both not done by me!)

5) With wedding cakes, it tends to be best to leave it to the professionals. I've had many offers to do friends wedding cakes, and I always turn it down. Right now, I just don't have the equipment, space (oven or counter tops) or access to superior ingredients that a bakery would. I know sometimes its nice (and less expensive), to have a friend create your own special dessert, but really...the experts know what they are doing. Case in point:  The Sweet Life Bakery and Treats on Washington. These two bakeries are owned and operated by some of my dearest culinary school friends. They all do amazing work!

6) If the cake pro has some suggestions that you didn't consider or are not exactly your vision of what you wanted, for the most part - take their advice. Like I said they know what they are doing, and what will work best!

7) At your cake appointment, bring pictures to help narrow down the style you are going for. If you want the design on the cake to match your dress, bring a closeup of the dress or fabric swatch. You can bring in any visual aid, and still add suggestions to give it your personal flair.

These are just a few tips, but the ones we came across often, when I was doing wedding cakes on my externship, so many year ago!

As if my timing couldn't be better, to coincide this blog post with my own anniversary,  I also just learned my bestest friend Claire is getting married this fall in New York City! More weddings, more love, it's all so beautiful!!

I'll be back in the kitchen next week!


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