By: Kristen Castillo
On your wedding day, of course you will be the center of attention for the day’s festivities. However, there’s something else that will share the spotlight with you at your reception and provide a perfect ending to your perfect day; the wedding cake. This decadent dessert is more than just sugar, flour, and eggs. It’s one delicious treat your guests will talk about long after they leave the event as they recall its appearance, size and taste. Finding that perfect combination of flavors, fillings, and frostings is possible; you just need to know where to look. Read on and we’ll give you hints to help you find that perfect cake.
The secret to a great looking cake depends on one thing; the icing. The icing that covers your cake provides the base for the other decorations, and helps seal in the moisture and flavor of the cake itself. By far, the most popular icing for wedding cakes is buttercream – a creamy, spreadable icing that is made from butter and sugar.
Rolled fondant is another often chosen icing for wedding cakes. Fondant is literally rolled out flat and then draped over the cake to provide a completely smooth, firm surface for decorating. Made from sugar and gelatin, fondant has a distinct flavor that may not appeal to everyone; but cake designers can add flavoring to rolled fondant to make its taste more appealing for your guests.
If you love chocolate, you could choose ganache, an icing that is made of heavy cream and chocolate. Ganache has the consistency of a thick mousse, making it ideal for use as a filling as well as an icing.
A lesser-known choice for icing is marzipan; a rolled paste of ground almonds, egg whites, and sugar that can be draped over a cake in the same technique as fondant. Most people are more familiar with marzipan in holiday cookies and candies, but it’s also used for icing and decorating wedding cakes. This is a good option for couples who don’t like the flavor of fondant, but love the smooth surface it creates for decorating.
While it’s the icing that creates a beautiful cake on the outside, it’s what’s inside that really counts. A cake isn’t worth the flour it’s made of if it doesn’t taste as good as it looks, and the best way to give a cake flavor is with the batter and the filling. Usually, wedding cake batter is a very simple flavor so that it doesn’t compete with the sweetness of the icing or the filling. The most popular batter for wedding cakes is plain white, but yellow and pound cake have been increasing in popularity. Chocolate is always a popular cake flavor, but it is seen more often in the groom’s cake as opposed to the wedding cake. When you meet with your cake designer, ask them for a sample of their most popular batter flavors. This will give you a better idea of the differences between each, and you’ll be able to select a filling that complements the flavor you ultimately choose.
Cake batter can be any flavor you want, but the filling is what gives a wedding cake its real personality. Filling separates the layers of a cake, and adds additional richness and flavor. It is usually cream or fruit based and depending on the number of tiers, many brides like to select two or three different fillings for their cake. Two of the hottest trends in fillings today are tropical fruit or liqueur infused fillings with everything from Grand Marnier and kumquat to Kahlua and devil’s food.
Thankfully, plastic bride and groom statutes, kissing doves, and lacy hearts are a thing of the past. Cake toppers today have a style and look that reflects the personality of the bride and groom. Even though fresh flowers that coordinate with the bridal bouquet are traditional favorites, there are many other options to make your cake as original as you are. Handcrafted gum paste or sugar flowers, a flowing ribbon created from marzipan, or a shiny spun-sugar ribbon create drama when placed atop a tiered confection. Not quite your style? Couples who are very sentimental might select an antique or heirloom cake topper, perhaps one that was used by their parents or grandparents. It’s a wonderful way to pay tribute to their family when it’s combined with a cake in a complementary style.
If the toppers we’ve suggested so far are too run of the mill for you, you should consider having a topper created just for the two of you. There are many online sites that will custom design a topper to look like the two of you. Incorporate your interests and hobbies into the design idea, and they’ll sculpt a unique topper in your likenesses. Then following the wedding, you’ll have a great keepsake and conversation piece for your new home.
For a different twist, go against the tradition of having only one cake as the show piece of your reception, and use cakes as the centerpieces on each guest table. Have your baker create individual confections that serve the number of guests seated at each table. Each cake can be unique – with different flavors, fillings, and decorations – and you should encourage guests to stroll among the tables and sample all of the other cakes. This is a great icebreaker to help get your guests acquainted with one another, and everyone will definitely find a combination they think takes the cake.
Another option that remains popular at weddings is individual wedding cakes and cupcakes. A miniature wedding cake served for dessert creates quite an impression, and it can be taken home and enjoyed later. If you’re looking for a less expensive and whimsical way to serve an individual dessert to each guest, there’s always the option of cupcakes.
If the two of you really don’t care for cake, there are many other tasty options for you to consider. Caribbean black cake is a favorite in the islands, created with fruit that has been soaked in rum before baking. A traditional French croquembouche, an almost tree-shaped confection, is made from balls of pastry filled with cream and then covered in a sugary caramel. A late morning reception is the perfect occasion for a warm coffee cake laced with cinnamon and dressed up with a crumbly topping. Even cheesecake makes a great wedding dessert when served with a selection of decadent toppings or fresh fruit.
For a change of pace, you might want to leave the cake traditions behind and serve a delicious dessert or treat guests to a sweet table. Sweet tables are outfitted with a variety of sweets including specialty cookies, candies, petit fours, and other delectable goodies. If you’re serving dinner at stations, a sweets table is the perfect way to tie it all together and provide dessert that even the most finicky people will find fabulous.
Once you know the terminology, it’s time to meet with your cake designer. Collect recommendations, or take a closer look at the culinary service section of San Diego Style Weddings magazine. Armed with this information, the right professional will help you choose the best combination so you can have the wedding cake of your dreams.