by Laura Firenze
The wedding cake has always been an important part of the reception, but these days it has taken on even greater significance. Some brides are actually planning their entire weddings around the design of the cake. These are the types of cake and frosting that you are likely to find:
White cake: The most traditional wedding cake flavour; for more oomph, add a flavoured filling between the layers, like raspberry buttercream or apricot preserves.
Chocolate cake: A crowd pleaser! Brides are getting more brave about serving chocolate cake. It can either be concealed under white frosting for a traditional appearance, or frosted in chocolate for a decadent treat. Chocolate is very popular for grooms' cakes.
Marble cake: Can't decide between white cake and chocolate cake? Then a marble cake is the answer.
Lemon cake: Tart and refreshing; try a lemon cake for a summer wedding. From personal observation, I should mention that women seem to like lemon flavoured deserts much more than men, so make sure that your groom is okay with lemon before finalizing your order with the baker.
Carrot cake: A nice option for an autumn wedding. If you are hoping for the cream cheese frosting usually found on carrot cake, be aware that it is likely to be more cream coloured than pure white.
Buttercream Frosting: The most popular frosting, buttercream is both light and rich at the same time. It requires refrigeration, however, so it is not a good choice for an outdoor wedding reception.
Fondant: This frosting is the one that you will often find on elaborate couture style cakes. Fondant is rolled into a sheet and then laid over the cake for a very smooth finish. It makes an excellent base for decorations, and holds up well in heat. Fondant is chosen more for looks than flavour; you might want another layer of more delicious frosting underneath it.
Royal Icing and Gum Paste: These are used to create the decorations on the cake. Royal icing is good for delicate decorations, like a monogram, and pliable gum paste is ideal for making exquisite frosting flowers.
Once you and your baker have determined the right type of cake for your wedding, it will be time to decide on decorations. Fresh flowers are always a beautiful option, and they are very affordable. You may need to coordinate the baker and the florist for the blooms. Another pretty idea is wide ribbons around the base of each tier. Satin or grosgrain ribbon works very well, or you can have the baker create frosting "ribbons".
From there, the designs get more and more elaborate. A very hot trend is to coordinate the cake to the bride's gown and wedding jewellery. You might see lace or embroidery replicated in frosting to mimic the pattern on the bridal gown. Another popular idea is to decorate the cake with crystals or faux pearls to tie in with the wedding jewellery. The fun thing about this type of design is that is is very personal, and will be a completely original design.
Prices of wedding cakes can run from the hundreds to the thousands. If you want a showpiece cake but have a limited budget, order a smaller tiered cake for display, and then have a sheet cake in the same flavour that can be sliced in the kitchen and served to your guests. No one will be the wiser.
Selecting your wedding cake will be easy once you know the basics about cakes. Of course, you will want to have an extensive cake tasting anyway, just because it is fun. For a sweet surprise, ask the baker if she will be able to create a tiny replica of your cake for your first anniversary. A great cake is too delicious to enjoy just once!
Laura helps brides with their wedding plans by offering advice on selecting bridesmaids gifts, reception ideas and other aspects of planning a wedding. Wedding jewelry can be as affordable as it is beautiful.