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A Slice of Style

Toni Carlson


Wedding cake is an essential part of every wedding. Better yet, the days of dry, tasteless wedding cakes with boring icing are over. Today, cakes provided by artistic bakers and caterers are a banquet for both the eyes and the lips. Wedding cakes are visual and culinary extravaganzas, edible art that can look like gift boxes, ships, musical instruments, city landmarks, square shapes, heart shapes and any other imaginable shape or item. Many couples still choose a wedding cake that looks traditional on the outside, but inside is full of surprises, such as carrot cake with cream cheese, pound cake with lemon filling, chocolate cake with mocha mousse, classic genoise with white chocolate icing, even cheesecake with ice cream. While most wedding cakes are still primarily white, don’t feel confined by tradition. Whimsical designs and colorful accents can turn the outside of a cake into an impressive piece of art. As for the inside, you should also feel free to express yourself. You can have whatever kind of cake you want, even if it seems unusual for a wedding. Find the perfect baker to create your dream cake, and the only limitations are the creativity you, your fiancé, the baker and the caterer bring to the project. Check out our local pro's page for some of the best cake designers in Austin.

Your cake should coordinate with the rest of your wedding. Because other stylistic choices about the wedding are more central to the event, your choice of wedding cake should come after these decisions have been made. Decisions such as dress style, theme and reception decor can serve as a guideline for the design of your wedding cake. Many brides choose to decorate the cake or cake table with fresh flowers. If you choose flowers for your cake, be sure they are pesticide free. You will want to coordinate between your florist and baker to decide who will do that aspect of the decorating.

Choose a cake that is well suited to the venue’s style, the season, your dress, the flower arrangements or the menu. You may choose to add colored accents such as sugar flowers or icing ribbons. Have samples of fabric swatches for your baker if needed. By working with a creative baker, you can create a cake that will be a beautiful part of your wedding, not a sideshow.

One of the hardest decisions about the wedding cake is the selection of the flavor. You might consider a multitiered cake containing several different flavors. This is a wonderful option if you want to give your guests diversity. Some brides choose a layer of chocolate cake, a layer of carrot cake and a layer of yellow cake. This ensures there’s a little something for everyone. Ask your baker for ideas and make sure to taste cake flavors at the same time as you taste the other desserts you are considering. Seasonal cake possibilities, such as light lemon cakes filled with fresh strawberries in the summer, or chestnut puree in the fall, will complement seasonal menus.

Many couples wonder whether to serve dessert in addition to the wedding cake. Experts will say that there’s no absolute rule. Some couples do choose to serve additional dessert options, especially if their budget is not an issue. But extra dessert is in no way mandatory. The wedding cake may be a beautiful work of art that you hate to see sliced, but it was created to be eaten. Wedding cakes aren’t just for show anymore; most couples expect them to be the main dessert. On the other hand, you might consider serving a small wedding cake as a part of an extravagant dessert rather than as the main dessert. Individual wedding cakes for each guest are in vogue. They are sometimes displayed on round platters in wide tiers to resemble a large wedding cake.

Begin shopping for the wedding cake three to four months before the date, or even earlier if you’ve requested a truly unique cake, if the bakery you have ­chosen is very popular or if you are being married in a peak season. Make sure that you are familiar with the style and quality of the chef’s work before you buy. When shopping for the perfect baker, come prepared. Be sure to bring all the specifics about the size and type of wedding you are having, as well as information about the reception location, room decor, ceiling height, temperature, lighting, linens and wedding colors. Also have the names and numbers of your caterer, florist, wedding planner and anyone else the baker may wish to contact in order to consult about details and delivery.

Inquire whether the baker bakes fresh or works from frozen cakes. Some will bake early in the week and then freeze the cakes, decorating them the day before the wedding. Generally the finishing touches are added on the day of the wedding. Fresh cakes will probably taste better, but may cost more. Wedding cakes are usually priced per person. The baker determines what the per-person charge will be. When you place your order and make your deposit (usually 50 percent), get a written agreement or contract that specifies the kind of cake, filling and frosting, the number of people it will serve, the design details you have agreed upon, and the delivery date, time and procedure.

Also, put in writing any additional fees or rental charges, and ask how the final payment is to be made (cash, check, credit card). Here are a few cake dos and don’ts:

• Keep the weather in mind if your reception will be outdoors. Direct rays from the sun could melt the frosting.

• Cakes don’t tolerate heat, particularly those made with butter cream frosting, nor do they tolerate wind. Cakes should be kept indoors, if possible, or in the shade. If the cake will be placed outdoors, first place it in a refrigerator or freezer, if possible, but don’t leave it in long enough for it to actually freeze. A cake made with a jelly filling will also withstand heat better than one with a thicker cream filling.

• Place the cake on a level surface. Otherwise, the layers may tip or slide. Shim the table legs if necessary to make them level.

• Cakes that have pillars between the layers are more apt to tip or collapse than those in which the layers are stacked on top of one another or placed on individual pedestals.

• Have the cake delivered as late as possible so that it doesn’t stand for several hours before being cut.

• By considering your location ahead of time and choosing a style of cake that works best in that location, you can have a lovely cake without unpleasant surprises to spoil your day.

For many couples, a wedding cake is a major part of the reception. The cake may be the only thing you get to sit down and eat the entire day, so make sure it’s delicious and reflects your style.

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