This week, after watching every episode of Cake Boss over the course of one day, the realization set in that I love cakes. The amount of creativity and resources that go into each and every cake amazes me to the point that I find myself going from page to page within Google in the pursuit of the “perfect” cake. But landing the “perfect” wedding cake involves much more than watching TLC all day or visiting the local bakery. It involves the mutual planning of both the to-be bride and groom, as well as a careful insight into how much money is available and the time required for the bakery to complete the cake to your satisfaction.
The first step to choosing a wedding cake is to:
DO YOUR RESEARCH
This is the most important, yet most overlooked step for anxious couples set on a cake before any of the logistics and numbers have been decided upon.
Pretend you are studying for “Wedding Cakes 101″
Check out wedding magazines:
1.)Already have a theme for your wedding set, at least down on paper. This will allow the cake to coordinate with other elements of the wedding and provide for an even flow of both color and style.
Take into consideration the overall color theme of the wedding, including, but not limited to:
-wedding dress style
-table clothes & center pieces
-overall wedding budget
-number of guests expected
2.) Finding the “perfect” baker requires not only a site-down interview with the possible selections, but also an in depth understanding of their previous work, culinary experience, reputation, and price ranges. You as the customer should not be shy in asking an overly extensive amount of questions such as:
-can you taste some of the different type of cakes?
-whats the baker’s specialty? (quantity v. quality, fillings, design & style, custom cakes)
-pricing? and what does this pricing include, such as toppers, delivery, consultation feeds?
-ingredients they use, and if an allergy-free environment is used to prepare the cake?(ex.peanuts)
3.) Once the possible bakery list is narrowed down, now you must move onto actually choosing the style, design, and flavoring of your wedding cake.
A.)Taste – Now this is probably the most important aspect of the cake, for no matter how “pretty” the cake come out looking, the real determiner to your guests will be how the cake tastes. While you may like a specific taste or filling, you must also remember that your guests must also like the cake, because you and your finance are only two of many people who will be attending the wedding.(hopefully!)
White, Vanilla, Chocolate, Marble, or Angel food cake are the normal selections, with the choice of icing also being an important factor in how it turns out. Some icing holds it form longer than others, which is an important factor to take into consideration if the cake will be sitting in a room temperature setting before the reception kicks off. Also, if your cake uses icing to hold toppings or decorations onto the cake, make sure to use an icing that sets quick and retains its solidity.
B.)Style – Wedding cakes nowadays have an endless variety of shapes and sizes which can be deemed appropriate for any style wedding. The choices include, but aren’t limited to: round, square, mini, oval and the less common – hexagon and octagon. The shape you end up choosing will be largely influenced by the style of wedding you wish to have. Those going for a more traditional wedding theme will probably choose a round, tiered cake, while those who want a modern feel to their wedding going with a square, hexagonal or octagonal cake. As for a personalized “touch” to the cake, this can be mutually decided between you and your fiance. Anything pastime that you both share or has been a big part of your lives can be included in the cake, either in the colors, toppers, or any sort of extra decoration such as flower layout or base design.
Just remember that no matter which design you go with, pictures will be taken and scrapbooks will be made. Twenty years down the road, how do you want your wedding to be remembered? The wedding cake will play a large role in this monumental occasion.
C.)Filling – Now comes the fun part. The first bite that every guest takes of the cake will be the deal breaker, deciding whether they leave the wedding telling all their friends “that fruit filling was amazing” or “that custard filling was too overwhelming”. This is also the step in which you must take into account what you believe the “masses” will like over something that you and your fiance might only like. Some of the different fillings are:
Buttercream – is a creamy, light and tasty frosting made with eggs, sugar and butter. The classic buttercream is made with egg yolks while a meringue version is made with the egg whites. Both versions are very tasty and a perennial wedding cake favorite.
Custard and pastry cream – is a filling made with milk and eggs. This delicious filling is a good choice for winter weddings or marriages held in a temperature controlled reception hall as warm temperatures will cause the filling to melt.
Ganache – is a truly sumptuous filling made from heavy cream and rich, dark chocolate. It can be used either as a filling or an icing.
Mousses or Mousselines – generally used as an alternative to buttercream. Easily flavored with fruits or liqueurs, this dreamy filling must be served chilled for the best effect.
Fresh Fruit – is an easy and delicious way to complement any flavor or wedding cake. Not only can fruit be used in between the layers but it can also be used to decorate the cake.
D.)Icing – One of the last decisions regarding the style of the cake, choosing the right icing can also have a big impact on the end result of your cake and the overall approval level. Some different types of cake icings are:
Fondant or rolled fondant icing – Made from glucose or corn syrup and shortening, fondant not only holds up well under most conditions, but it can also be given a shimmery look that adds extra dazzle to a wedding cake. Fondant can be draped to look like yards of ribbon, twisted, folded and applied easily to the surface of a wedding cake – making it a tasty, versatile and beautiful frosting.
Marzipan – This rich and tasty treat is made with crushed almonds, eggs and sugar. It can be made to look like fondant, but it’s exorbitant cost makes it better suited to fashioning flowers, leaves, seashells and other decorative elements from its flavorful paste. However, if a cake has marzipan accents it must be sealed properly before being placed in a refrigerator as any moisture will affect the way the confections look.
Rolled chocolate(cake boss favorite!) – otherwise called chocolate fondant, chocolate plastic or plastique. Chocolate is melted with glycerine or corn syrup to create this lovely covering that is being used more and more often for wedding cakes as well as groom’s cakes.
Watch Cake Boss, read bridal and wedding cake magazines, visit your local bakery’s, ask around about any local highly reputable bakers, and pretty much do everything in your power to get that “perfect” cake. Your wedding will truly gain the “wow” factor from friends and family alike depending on what style, design, flavor, and filling you end up choosing, and even more important is the childhood wedding dream that the “perfect wedding cake” can make reality. While the wedding cake will be gone by the end of the night, the experience you and your loved one, as well as your family and friends will take from the wedding, is priceless.