Designing Your Perfect Wedding Cake

Whether it’s a flower-covered extravaganza or a chic and elegant fondant confection, the pièce de résistance of any reception is the wedding cake. Here are a few tips on designing a cake that will reflect your personal style and garner rave reviews from your reception guests.

First Thoughts.

There are a few facts to consider before you dive into the creative part of designing your cake. First, decide how many guests will be present at the reception and whether you want your cake to be the main dessert or simply part of a sweets table. It’s a good idea to choose your chef or bakery before you begin designing so they have an opportunity to educate you about the pros and cons of different selections.

Choose your wedding bakery based on the quality (read: taste) of their products as well as their reputation for timeliness.

Check with friends, coworkers or neighbors for recommendations and visit local bakeries. Always ask for samples to ascertain which bakery has the general flavor, texture and quality that you are looking for.

To Cake or Not to Cake.

Does your wedding cake even need to be a cake at all? Not really. Today there are many wonderful and creative options to the traditional tiered creation. For an informal wedding, consider a cake composed of individual cupcakes, cake pops or even doughnuts. Some brides have even served cakes made of rice cereal and marshmallow molded into shape!

A simple, yet stunning wedding tradition from the 1700s, a Croquembouche (choux pastry served as a cone of cream-filled profiteroles bound with threads of caramel and decorated with sugared almonds, chocolate, flowers, or ribbons) also makes a wonderful substitute for the traditional wedding cake.

Cream-filled Profiteroles

Cream-filled profiteroles are certainly different, but different can be good when it comes to choosing a wedding cake.

If you really want to shake tradition, you can opt for individual mini soufflés, mini angel food cakes, or even strawberry shortcakes. Almost any dessert you can dream up can be made wedding-worthy by a talented dessert chef.

The Devil Inside.

If you are choosing a cake-based dessert, then it’s time to choose a flavor. Traditionally, wedding cakes have been white inside, but today you can have devil’s food, red velvet, pound cake, sponge cake - even banana or pumpkin cake. Truly, the sky is the limit on cake flavors. A really creative chef can devise a special flavor for you - white amaretto, maybe? Or how about champagne flavor?

If you are feeling especially adventuresome, why not add the element of surprise to your wedding cake by filling it with such delectable delights as jam, chocolate mousse, vanilla custard, Chantilly cream, pudding, liqueur or even fresh berries!

The Icing on the Cake.

Now that you have the inside of your cake tasting the way you want, it’s time to choose the part that makes everyone want a “corner piece”! Luckily, the icing on modern cake creations goes far beyond plain old buttercream. You can choose whipped cream for a light, creamy taste; fondant for an elegant, simple flavor, drizzles of chocolate or flavored liqueurs, chocolate ganache and even chocolate mousse. Smooth, rich ganache made with white chocolate can be blended with almost any essence. Your wedding bakery will help you choose the icing that will best complement the flavor of your cake and may even be able to provide you a sample taste if you ask nicely.

Wedding Cake Chocolate

All sorts of delightful topping can be used instead of icing, like deliciously rolled chocolate tubes.

Embellish it.

Here comes the fun part...embellishing! Use marzipan fruit, flowers or other objects to highlight elements from a theme or try pulled or blown sugar decorations to add a delicate, romantic touch. Of course, a lot can be done with the traditional buttercream: rolls, scrolls, flourishes, flowers and figures can be added in any arrangement you can dream up. Even real flowers and sugared fruit can be used to add extra elegance or whimsy to your design.

Wedding Cake Icing

Get creative when designing your icing flower arrangements, all sorts of colors and sizes can be used.

For theme weddings, consider a topper that brings it all home - a Claddagh ring or Celtic cross for an Irish or Celtic wedding, a starfish and assorted shells for a beach wedding, or a simple vase of posies for a woodland wedding. Of course, the traditional bride-and-groom topper still looks right atop any cake, but these days you can have those figurines dressed in sports gear, bathing suits, Celtic dress, or even riding a Harley. Really, anything you can think of can be made into a cake topper that will represent your unique wedding vision.

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