Not Your Grandmother’s Wedding Cake
New tastes, shapes and colors make the typical white wedding cake a thing of the past.
by HCTG Senior Writer Jolene Rae Harrington
Your wedding vows brought everyone to tears, the guests are raving about the food, and the band is so lively that even old Aunt Ethel took a spin on the dance floor. Now it’s time for the Grand Finale, and all eyes turn to…the wedding cake. Maybe it’s been displayed in a corner for guests to admire in mouthwatering anticipation; or perhaps it makes a dramatic entrance as your caterer wheels it into the ballroom. Everything has gone perfectly so far, yet you wonder: Will it be divine or a dud?
If you’ve entrusted your dessert to one of Southern California’s hottest confectionery wizards, you needn’t worry. Your cake is sure to be not only a masterpiece of cutting-edge style but also the embodiment of gastronomic ecstasy.
Have It Your Way
If you’re like most brides, you want your celebration to convey something unique about you and your husband-to-be. Working closely with a cake maker to create your own wedding cake is one way to “express yourself” at your reception. The best dessert artists specialize in custom work, and it all begins with the consultation. In a private brainstorming session with your cake maker, you’ll look at photos from their past designs, exchange ideas and taste some samples. Many cake experts have an art background, and will sketch out possible ideas right before your eyes. The artistic geniuses at Regal Bakery have even gone high-tech, often using computer programs to help capture a design that meets their clients’ specs.
Before planning a cake, each aspect of the wedding needs to be taken into consideration. Where will it be held? During what time of year? Will you be having a garden reception or dining in an elaborate ballroom? What will the bride wear? What type of cuisine will be served? Which flowers and colors has the bride decided on? “The cake design should be tied in to the other elements of the wedding for a unified look and feel,” explains The Bread Basket’s Paul Vargas. Often cake makers ask the bride to bring in color swatches, their dress or a photograph of it, as well as their floral choices.
Such details can directly inspire the cake maker’s creativity. When Loree McKee of Bee’s Knees Bakery heard that a couple had chosen the Courtyard of Cal Tech for their wedding, she suggested an “earthquake cake,” which looked as if the tiers had fallen over on one side. (They loved the idea, and so did the guests.) One bride planned a December wedding around a crystal snowflake theme: from invitations edged with snowflakes to Swarovski crystal snowflakes sewn onto her gown, this bride envisioned a winter wedding wonderland. La Starr & Company’s wedding cake was the climax of the magical evening: owner Starr Heiliger created dazzling, three-dimensional, snowflakes that appeared to be falling in a delicate cascade over the ivory cake.
Cake designers often take their cue directly from the bride’s gown. The richness of satin, delicate clusters of seed pearls or an intricate pattern of embroidered lace incorporated into the cake’s landscape mirrors the bride’s attire, and makes a striking visual motif. Linda Goldsheft of The Cake Studio is known for her gown-to-cake adaptations. She once fashioned a 4-tier cake to look like the bride’s corset dress, including ribbon eyelets and lacing!
Cakes might even capture a couple’s sentimental nuances. A pet-loving duo asked Loree of Bee’s Knees to include their extended family on their cake. Loree made miniature statuettes of their three Scotties and two cats climbing the tiers to reach three birds on the top. One romantic groom had given his bride a diamond necklace as an engagement present, and made a Xerox copy of it for The Cake Studio’s Linda Goldsheft, who recreated the pattern and draped it on the side of the wedding cake. “Unique touches turn the cake into a personal statement,” observes Linda. She also enjoyed making a cake that depicted a seal on top of a rock for a couple that had met at the pinniped section of the New York Central Park Zoo! “There are absolutely no rules—it’s your wedding, and your cake should follow your taste and personality.”