Today’s blog topic is CAKE! There’s no denying that my love of cake comes from my mom, who spent years making wedding cakes in Charlottesville, Virginia. Am I biased about her making the best cakes? Maybe, but there’s no denying how good they are and how much she knows about them. My mom, Maureen, is answering some of the questions you might have about looking for a wedding cake.
My mom made my perfect 7th birthday cake from strawberry cake mix and a cake pan shaped like Ariel. Since my birthday is close to Christmas, there was one year when she made little gingerbread houses for my friends and me to decorate at my birthday party. As the years went by, she began to pursue baking professionally, working for people who trained at some of the best culinary programs in the world and making cakes completely from scratch with the best quality ingredients. Many years after making my Ariel cake, she made a Little Mermaid-inspired wedding cake with a cascade of handmade fondant seashells. She went from working all day on gingerbread houses for my birthday party to spending weeks helping make a huge, award-winning gingerbread house. She is a certified chocolatier and her work was featured in Martha Stewart Weddings. We hope this helps you with your cake decisions for your wedding day!
What’s your favorite thing about cakes?
My favorite thing about cakes is unlimited flavor combinations and design ideas! It's a privilege to be a part of one of the most exciting days of their life. It's a thrill to work alongside other talented vendors. Delivering a cake is exciting because when I arrive, other exciting things are always happening too. The florist is working their magic, the tables are getting set, the DJ or band is setting up, the smell of the food is in the air...it's just a fun and happy time! You can feel the excitement.
How did you get into doing cakes?
Since I was a little girl, I've always had a love of sweets and baking.
What’s one thing you think everyone should know when they start thinking about their wedding cake?
I believe a wedding cake should be about the couple's taste and personality. I always suggest they not copy a cake they've seen somewhere else. Use it as an inspiration to come up with something personal to them.
What are some ways a couple can save money on a wedding cake?
The more handmade decorations that are put on a cake, the more the cake will cost. Handmade flowers are very time consuming. A cake frosted with buttercream is less expensive than fondant. A cake done with buttercream can have an smooth finish and fresh flowers and still be quite elegant and more budget friendly.
Can having different cake and filling flavors add to the cost?
Yes. First, it adds to the cost of the ingredients. Second, it takes more time to scale out three different cake flavors than it does to scale out one flavor in a much larger quantity. An entire wedding cake of a single flavor can be baked at one time at the same temperature. Different kinds of cake or different flavors may bake at different temperatures or have a different method. This can add quite a bit of time to bake all of the cakes. Making separate fillings such as curds, ganache, jams, and flavored buttercreams are all delicious, but add to the cost as well.
What should couples consider if they’re having an outdoor wedding?
The type of cake, filling, buttercream, and decorations would have to be taken into consideration for a summer wedding. I would want to make a buttercream cake that is refrigerated as long as possible and delivered to the venue as late as possible. Naked cakes may be a better choice on a hot day and decorated with fresh berries or flowers. Sometimes an option other than a cake is more practical, like pies, cookies, or a dessert bar. Wedding cakes can be kept indoors until it’s time to cut the cake, but it’s always best if the cake stays in one place.
What are some alternatives to wedding cakes?
I've seen couples who actually do not like cake at all. They've chosen to have pies or a dessert bar.
What’s the biggest misconception about wedding cakes?
The biggest misconception about wedding cakes is that they have to be a white cake with vanilla buttercream. While that is traditional, most people pick creative flavors and have multiple tiers with different flavors.
What are some unique cake flavors you’ve made?
Cake flavors can be inspired from everywhere! Ice cream flavors, cocktails, childhood desserts that grandma used to make...I’ve done red velvet with strawberry and lavender, an Earl Grey tea chocolate cake, and bananas foster with bananas, vanilla, rum, and caramel. Kathryn (Christine’s sister/Maureen’s daughter) had a whole bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon in her 21st birthday cake.
What makes cake artists different from each other?
Our couples make us different from each other! When trying to make a cake unique to each couple, we discover new techniques and flavors inspired by them. Some bakers are known for their use of color, painting or airbrushing. Some bakers are known by their creative flavor combinations or sculpted cakes.
What are some trends you see with cakes and what's more classic?
A three tiered round cake is classic although it can be personalized with color, flavors and decorations. Wedding cupcakes have become very popular but still not as popular as the single wedding cake. Naked cakes and tall cakes are the newer trends I've seen.
Where can people learn more about wedding cakes?
I encourage couples to look at as many pictures of cakes as they can from Instagram or Facebook or just by Google. They will start to see a trend in the style that they like that will inspire their own cake unique to them.