By: Bob Brichmann
Sweets for the sweet! One of the highlights of every wedding is the wedding cake or dessert time. Brides and grooms today want to make a statement with their dessert choice and presentation.
It’s often still a traditional cake with delicious flavors hidden beneath a beautiful display. Many are seeking a creatively sculptured cake that pops, makes your guests say “wow” and still deliver with the taste. There’s the modern thought of alternative options like mini cupcakes or a gourmet dessert tray, brides need to satisfy their guests’ sweet tooth in the evening. It’s trendy and cool. That sugar fix is expected!
“The traditional white wedding cake is still sticking around. However, brides are coming back from the fondant days. They’re loving the lighter icing cakes with whipped cream,” observes Linda Andrade, manager of the European Cake Gallery.
Cake specialists, though, are sprucing things up with unique flavors, fruits, styles and types. Leading the non-white cake voting in flavors are carrot cake, red velvet, chocolate and strawberry with Bavarian cream.
“Red velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting is the most popular. Remember Sex and the City? Some like sweet and soft while others love rich and nutty. I suggest they mix up the flavors and textures,” says Michelle Ciccarelli, owner of Cups.
Allergies are a big concern for many. The gluten-free, nuts, vegan and chocolate can all be a factor with your cake choice. Keep in mind, though, just as you have three layers of cake, you can have three different flavors. Problem solved.
“Fresh fruits are the best. The square cakes are very popular, as they look more modern. We’re also getting lots of calls for gluten-free and sugar-free cakes,” shares Isabelle Kauffmann, wedding cake coordinator and designer for The French Gourmet.
There’s also an upsurge in requests for grooms cakes. It’s often staged as a side surprise for the groom and is either brought out or displayed next to the wedding cake. The separate cake is decorated with his favorite college or sports team logo. Perhaps it’s more elaborate and in the shape of his classic muscle car or a fish (because he’s a fisherman, of course). Maybe it’s his favorite flavor of peanut butter that no one else digs. It’s a cute way to surprise the groom.
The Cupcake Craze
Cupcakes are no longer a trend. Their popularity at weddings has grown each year for just under a decade. They’re so popular that many brides are staging a cupcake dessert station in lieu of a traditional wedding cake.
“We’ll do full size and mini cupcakes. We can create a tiered cupcake station and still have a small round cake at the top for the ceremonial cake cutting. With some Middle Eastern cultures, you have to have a wedding cake,” explains Elaine Ardizzone, the right cheek from the Sweet Cheeks Baking Company.
One of the more interesting pluses with smaller desserts like cupcakes is the multiple flavor options that are available. Many bakers strive to offer a huge variety.
“Variety is key. We have 40 different flavors to choose from and vary them seasonally. Many couples want to reflect their personalities in their dessert choices, too. One set of cupcakes can be the bride’s favorite while another can be the grooms,” states Robin Ross from Cupcakes Squared.
From a creative standpoint, the cupcake display can be more attractive than the standard singular cake on a table. Many bakers will arrive early and work with the florist and/or wedding coordinator to tie-in floral, custom bridal cupcake papers, candy stations and other décor aspects to make the area really stand out.
Wedding Cake vs. Dessert Station
From a practicality standpoint, cupcakes are generally going to be less expensive than a wedding cake. Being more bite-size, you can also forgo the dreaded cake cutting or serving fee from the caterer or hotel. They’re simply easier to serve and can often be taken home.
“Cupcakes are the quintessential comfort food going all the way back to mom’s Duncan Hines days. Today they can be as decadent and diverse as the super fancy wedding cakes from specialty bakers,” explains Ciccarelli.
The jury is probably out on which of these ideas is best. It’s a personal preference thing. Your parents and older guests probably are more conservative and expect a cake. It’s traditional and they look forward to it.
Remember, you can still have your dessert station and top it off with a 6-8” round for that cutting ceremony.
When all is said and done, it’s your wedding. Enjoy the pre-wedding taste-testing search. Satisfy your sweet tooth first and foremost!