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January 17, 2017

Wedding Cake 101

By Adam

You’ll be the center of attention on your wedding day, that’s a given. But there’s something else that will take center stage at your reception, something that will provide the perfect ending to your celebration. Your wedding cake is more than flour, sugar, and eggs. It’s the one dessert that your guests will talk about for months to come, raving over its size, its appearance, and most of all, its taste. The right combination of flavors, fillings, frostings and toppers is out there; you just need to find it.


1. Getting Started

Today’s cake designers are coming up with incredibly unique designs that are beautiful to look at as well as yummy to eat. The fancier your cake, the more it will cost. You can expect to pay $5 to $25 per slice, depending on the style, designer and ingredients you chose.

You’ll need to start shopping for your cake early and reserve your order about two months in advance of your wedding. Most designers include setup and delivery at your reception site in the cost, but check your contract to be sure. You should be allowed to taste as many flavors and combinations as you would like. Your designer may also provide you with flavor recommendations based on the food you are planning to serve at the reception. Spending some extra time with your cake designer will pay off in the long run and ensure you get the perfect cake for your taste. 

2. Take Shape

Cake Styles

  • Pillar Each tier of cake is separated by pillars (clear, white, colored, etc.)  The space between the pillars may remain empty or may be accented with flowers.
  • Stacked This cake is stacked one tier on top of the other, with no space showing between layers.
  • Cascade or Satellite Each layer is decorated separately and placed upon its own pedestal, which stands independently of the others.  The pedestals are of varying heights so that it appears the individual cakes are cascading.


3. Yummy Fillings

The icing may create a beautiful cake, but it’s what’s inside that counts. A cake falls flat if it doesn’t taste as great as it looks, and the best way to give it flavor is with the batter and the filling. Wedding cake batter is usually a very simple flavor so that it won’t compete too heavily with the sweetness of the icing or the filling. The most popular batter is plain white, though yellow and pound cake are increasingly popular.

The cake batter can be any flavor you want, but the filling is what actually gives a wedding cake, its personality. Filling separates the layers of a cake, adding additional flavor and richness. Filling is usually fruit or cream based and depending on the number of tiers, many brides choose two or three different fillings. Tropical fruit or liqueur-infused fillings are two of the hottest trends, with everything from Grand Marnier and kumquat to Kahlua and devil’s food.

4. Frosting, Icings & Decorations

A great looking cake is all about one thing: the frosting. Frosting covers the entire cake and holds the layers together. (Icing, on the other hand, is the term used to describe the decorative portion of the cake that sits atop the frosting.)


  • Butter Cream A creamy, spreadable icing that’s made from butter and sugar.
  • Fondant A thick concoction made from sugar and gelatin that is rolled out flat and then draped over the cake to provide a completely smooth, firm surface for decorating.
  • Royal A frosting made by beating together sugar and egg whites. It hardens when dried, so it is great for dots, lace or lattice work.
  • Ganache Chocolate and heavy cream combination that can be poured over cakes for a glass-like chocolate finish or used as filling.

Icing and Decoration

  • Marzipan A rolled paste of ground almonds, egg whites and sugar that can be draped and shaped.
  • Sugar Paste Also called gum paste, it is used like marzipan to make beautiful flowers and decorations.
  • Dragees Hard little sugar balls are painted with edible gold or silver paint.
  • Pulled Sugar Boiled sugar, water, and corn syrup used to create beautiful designs like roses and bows.