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Flavor and Flair

By: 
Amy Jurek

Flavor-and-Flair-1

Flavor and Flair: Looking for that edible masterpiece to complement your wedding’s theme?  Start by selecting your baker and all the other elements will delightfully taste just right. If at the top of your wedding to-do list sits the wedding cake, why not begin the planning there?  A wedding cake can be your own concoction – from grand to petite, stacked to tiered and richly decorated to elegantly understated. You may select one, two or 200 cakes, depending on your budget and your tastes.  The best part is you get to taste around.  So enjoy…and you will discover that finding the right baker will not only add flavor to your cake, it will add flair to your reception.

Keep in mind that Austin’s seasons should provide a little framework for determining what kind of cake you envision, as certain ingredients will be disastrous in the hot Austin sun. Established local bakers know Austin’s weather and will therefore know what will and won’t work. To get a sense of your wedding cake appetites, begin with your imagination. Then flip through magazines and books, browse the internet, take notes and sketch an idea or two.

Consider favorite family desserts growing up, cravings you and your future husband share, thematic schemes you intend to weave through your wedding, and even your family’s history. Your baker can mirror the embroidery on your dress in piping on the cake or your parent’s wedding cake could be an inspiration for style and shape. You can even have your cake designed to reflect where you will go on your honeymoon. Once you have some ideas, begin looking for your baker. 

First find a baker that can accommodate your schedule. You may need to book the popular ones as far as nine to twelve months in advance, but typically you should book three to six months before the wedding date. There are some delectable bakeries in Austin that can create a cake with only two to four weeks notice, but there are no guarantees. For names, peruse this magazine and ask family and friends who married in Austin.

Other good resources are your other vendors, especially the photographers and videographers. You can bet they’ve tasted a lot of cakes as they do their job at a wedding. As you call to schedule appointments to sample cakes, the first question should always be if they are available on your wedding day.  Ask what kind of cake the baker makes.  You need to make sure they offer the flavors and types of icing you desire. You should also determine if they fit your budget. Then taste around...and bring someone to enjoy it all with you. If your fiancé cannot join you, then bring your mother or a friend to act as a second opinion. All good bakers have portfolios and offer tastings. Taste at least three baker’s samplings before selecting so that you have a good feel for your options in not only flavors and quality but also design and price. Bakers will show you designs of cakes they’ve done and will be able to provide suggestions on how to create your vision. “Most brides ask the regular questions,” says Judy Lee of Simon Lee Bakery. “Don’t ask just how much per serving. Taste, see and work with the baker,” she says. Lee encourages brides to factor in the quality of the product.  “Sometimes it looks very pretty but it doesn’t taste that way,” she stresses.

As you nibble, ask a few other pertinent questions. During your meeting be sure to discuss where the ceremony is being held and the reception time. Lee emphasizes how important it is to find a baker who doesn’t overbook weddings. Some established bakeries have the capacity to do as many as 15 elaborate wedding cakes in one weekend. The smaller, more specialized boutiques limit their orders considerably so they can pay attention to detail. Some bakers only take two weddings a weekend. So the bride doesn’t have to worry about anything else, most bakers will deliver and set up the cake. A big concern is cakes not making it to the wedding. 

Ask about reliability, record and policies in terms of delivery times as well as working to accommodate the bride and groom’s schedule. Address any delivery concerns early, to avoid problems later. If you are using flowers to adorn your cake, you and your baker should work together to ensure that no poisonous blooms or blossoms sprayed with pesticides will be used. Be sure to figure out who will actually arrange the flowers: the florist or the baker. An experienced baker will inquire about your colors, theme, dress and details on cake preferences, such as if you prefer a stacked or a tiered cake. Be sure to inquire about and select cake flavors, fillings, icings or frostings you want, as well as all the design elements.

Be prepared to discuss any necessary issues, such as allergies, and therefore be flexible. Bakers have ways to invent delicious creations within your limitations. Keep in mind, too, that the pictures you show your baker should offer them insight into your style, but don’t expect an exact reproduction, instead let them add some of their unique flair and style. As you narrow down the design options, you should discuss how many people you are expecting at your wedding. Within that estimate, you and your fiancé should decide if you want wedding cake slices, which are thinner, or a dessert slice. If you are having an elaborate dinner with additional desserts, wedding slices may be exactly what you need, but if you want the cake to serve as dessert, you need to work with your baker to budget that into the number of servings. 

Some couples opt for more than they need because they want their cake to have a certain look. Wedding cake prices are quoted by the serving. In Austin, costs for a wedding cake with more traditional design, frosting and flavor averages out to be approximately $2 per serving. Your specific cake flavors, fillings, frostings and design will then determine the additional costs. There are a couple ways to stay within your cake budget. Shop around, but don’t scrimp quality for savings. If you find a scrumptious cake that you just have to have, you can order a smaller version, with less tiers for instance, that feeds one hundred people and order sheet cakes that can be cut in the back to feed the remaining guests.

As another option to save money consider incorporating a chocolate tier into the bridal cake instead of a separate groom’s cake. This creates the look and feel without the price, she says. Once you’ve selected the baker, design, colors, style, flavors, fillings and toppings, you need to discuss a contract.  The contract should include as many details as possible. Outline the exact design features you discussed including all the flavors and fillings. Include the cost per person, delivery times and expectations, including additional mileage charges for sites further away, location of the ceremony and reception and explicit directions to the reception. 

The contract should always list not only your and your fiancé’s phone numbers, but all contact numbers so that your baker can reach your consultant, the florist, the reception site coordinator and/or your aunt whom you designated to be in charge of the cake if they need any assistance the day of your wedding. Determine and specify how the cake will be served; if the cake will need to be moved at all during the reception; and where the leftovers, if there are any, will go.  If you decide to save your cake’s top tier for your anniversary, you and your baker need to determine how that will be handled.

Remember one last thing. On your wedding day, be sure to enjoy at least a taste of this delicious masterpiece, even if it is that one bite that he leaves on your nose after you cut the cake.  It will be a sweet memory for you both to cherish.