Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wedding cakes make poor popsiciles

I do not know if you need my instruction on this point, but I assure you there are a few who do: When biting into a wedding cake, one should not encounter an enormous chunk of frozen strawberry between their teeth. The creators of the memorable wedding cake which prompts this thought intended it, possibly, to be a "strawberry shortcake" which entailed whipped cream and frozen berries rather than icing and filling.

The Hostess will be the first to side with those who do not enjoy eating fondant cakes which truly are better for admiring visually, picking apart, and nibbling than consuming. However, unstabilized whipping cream is not the answer for a bride on a budget, that would be cupcakes. Anyone who tells you they can stabilize whipping cream and berries in a four tier cake for many hours at room temperature is a bold face liar. The reason I bit into a frozen strawberry is that the berries were incorporated in their frozen state into the cake, the cake placed in the walk-in for as long as possible, and cut shortly into the reception to prevent a melting disaster.

The up-charge for many cake finishes can be weighty, nonetheless you are committed to them if you are having an outdoor, humid, or unreliable atmosphere in which the cake will be served. Here is where using a pastry chef rather than say, Costco or a friend from the chorale group, will pay off: They have been trained as to optimum conditions. Versus the former which does not care and only wants to sell you a cake or the latter which has a limited amount of knowledge and skills.

The cake at the top of the post does not have to be expensive, can mimic a shortcake inside, and depending on the icing does not require the cake be kept at 40 degrees until serving. The cake below would be a budget buster as is but is another reminder that there are a million options and you need to beat the pastry street until you find the one right for your event, climate, conditions, and tastes. If you decide to have a multi-tiered monster, then be prepared for some expense in purchasing the right cake. If you need less expensive options, there are so many, the Hostess needs ten more hands to name the alternatives.

Here are a few tips for choosing the person who will make your wedding cake:

1. Get recommendations from friends, facilities, caterers, and event planners as to what bakery and pastry chef has performed well for others with wedding cakes specifically.

2. Interview the chef, find out how much experience they have with weddings and your conditions. Review their portfolio as you would any designer or artist and find a style you like. Listen to their advice and decide if you trust it. Look them in the eye and decide if this is someone with whom you can work.

3. Two weeks before the wedding, schedule a tasting of your mini cake. Not a cupcake, not a slice. You will have to pay for this and it may be discouraged or cast aside, do not accept anything less. Put it in your budget and do not try to get away without. This is your only chance to be sure the cake tastes and appears the way you ordered it.

4. Look at the contract and be sure you have a means of recourse if the cake is not delivered, is damaged, or incorrect. If it is not typed on the document, you can write your agreement onto the order and then both you and the vendor will sign in agreement. Keep a copy. Stand your ground, reputable business people have nothing to be afraid of: Damaging their reputation is far more expensive to them than a dispute over one cake.


LIMOM said...

The wedding cake jumped the shark to insanity long ago.

A good friend who is an expert baker shared this gem, "the problem is that tasty icing and icing that is good to decorate with are usually completely different things." Those of you who have been to more than three weddings are likely nodding your heads in agreement. The cake can be wonderful, the filling can be wonderful, but if you encase it in the culinary equivalent of wall paper paste the end result will be yucky. I've actually bitten into wedding cake and the icing CRUNCHED, not good. Now when I encounter a wedding cake that looks like it belongs in the Macy's Flower Show I pass altogether.

Simple is always better.

Teacats said...

My wedding was many years ago -- and I had a typical Scots cake -- a "fruit" cake! Not that horrible much-maligned Christmas one -- but a moist, tender fruit cake from one of the oldest bakeries in Toronto. By the wedding day - that cake had already been cut into tiny slices, wrapped and placed in a basket for me to give out to each of the guests! The "cake" itself was fake for the photos (except for the top tier!) -- but beautifully and simply decorated (VERY odd at the time! LOL!) with white and cream fondant and fresh flowers (radical at the time!) In a Scots wedding -- the bride and groom carry around the pretty basket and give out the cake slices to each guest along with their thanks for attending the wedding and best wishes for "sweet dreams"! Many gals have slept with the wrapped slice of cake under their pillow so that they will dream of their own "True Loves" The bride and groom freeze the top part of the cake -- to serve at their first anniversary dinner!

Jan at Rosemary Cottage (who had NEVER heard of a "groom's cake" before she moved to Texas! LOL!)

TJLoop85 said...

I love the first wedding cake pictured. You offer some great advice for anyone looking for the "right" cake designer.

- Timothy

Miss B said...

Loved this post. My fiance went on for about 30 minutes on the importance of a great tasting cake, not one that just looks pretty. I think that is what most brides go after.