Not Your Grandmother’s Wedding Cake
New tastes, shapes and colors make the typical white wedding cake a thing of the past.
The Color of Cake
Trend watchers agree: white on white is out; color is in. For Southern California, the surprise color hit of the year is green. “Not ordinary green,” muses Rosa Leung, “but celery, avocado, teal, olive, mint, sea foam…brides are very, very specific.” Loree McKee says jewel tones used to be limited by the season, but nowadays they’re popular no matter what time of year. Both fresh and edible flowers are easy ways to add splashes of color to a monochromatic palette. “Real blossoms make a cake come alive,” observes Loree McKee. “Flowers are a cake’s final touch.”
Roses, orchids, lilies and cheerful gerber daisies are sought-after selections, but these days anything goes. “Lately I’ve been getting a lot of requests for exotic flowers,” says Paul Vargas. Indeed, “the tropical look” has become Southern California’s signature style. “Pastels have had their day,” notes Vargas. Making the scene at fashionable weddings are vibrant fuchsia, orange, or citron blooms that transform cakes from ho-hum to hubba-hubba. Bakeries like Bridal Sweets and The Bread Basket often take advantage of the visual punch provided by fresh fruit. Why not combine little orange kumquats or sassy limes with magenta stargazers for juicier appeal?
Some of the most enchanting blooms you’ll see on cakes are actually fashioned of chocolate. Luscious purple roses with gradient hues right out of nature separate the tiers of one of Bridal Sweets towering masterpieces. (You wouldn’t guess they were chocolate until you took a bite!) Most cake makers work with a bride’s florist to coordinate the cake’s flowers with the bridal bouquets, boutonnieres, and the centerpieces for a very ‘tied together’ look. A word of caution from the Cake Studio: “Flowers should never overpower the cake—they should enhance it.” Paul Vargas agrees. “Sometimes just one magnificent, perfect flower is enough.” Cake jewelry is another way to add individuality, color and sparkle. Bridal Sweets makes pearlized cake brooches with edible gold leaf. La Starr & Company uses a proprietary sugar compound for amazing cake gems like amethysts and crystals destined to become treasured keepsakes.
Cake Do’s & Don’ts
Flowers can play another important role by separating the tiers. Plastic pillars are way pass, but a cluster of coral rose buds between layers? Bellisimo! Stacked cakes—the term for tiers that rest directly on top of one another—are the configuration of choice at the moment, while savvy stylists recognize that displaying each tier on its own stand can maximize a cake’s visual impact. Currently, four tiers replaces the customary three, and The Bread Basket often stacks the bottom three layers while elevating the top one, perhaps dangling crystals or beaded swags from the edge. One definite faux pas is a topper. Be it a bell, dove or a plastic bride and groom, nix the chachkas and use flowers instead. One exception is if you’ve found something truly lovely and vintage, such as a pair of expertly handcrafted statuettes from your parent’s wedding. In that case, the nostalgic theme should also be woven into the rest of your event. Rosa Leung, herself a noted artist, does 4"x5” hand-painted portraits of the bride and groom out of gum paste or fondant, which make cherished souvenirs.