Let's Talk Cake!

The dessert part of a wedding is one of the best parts for a number of reasons. Have you ever been a bridesmaid? Crammed inside a dress that may not be the most flattering, painful shoes and paraded down an aisle in front of dozens of families with their camera phones out ready to capture the moment you trip on the runner and crush your bouquet? How many vegetarians, gluten intolerant, or peanut or shellfish allergies do you have in attendance at your reception? Looks like it's time to rethink the menu! Have you planned out your timeline so perfectly that even if everyone took an extra 15 minutes for pregame shots you'd still say "I do" on time? Did you happen to take into account the best mans plane being delayed 6 hours because some guy snuck a bunch of exotic birds onto a connecting flight in his underwear?

Of course the dessert is not the most important part of the day, the most important part is that you and your boo get to say that you love each other forever and promise that you'll only ever mash your tongue down the others throat exclusively as long as you both shall live. But every little part of planning a wedding can become overwhelming once you discover how many moving parts there really are. Today I'm here to help you with the most delicious one, the dessert! 

In most traditional weddings there is a cake cutting, in fact in most non-traditional weddings there is a cake cutting. The cake needs to be served somehow after all, it just depends on how formal or informal you want the process to be. With all the variations available, you may end up with 30 different options presented before you and have no clue where to start. Well don't you worry your pretty little head, I'm here to help! Now you can spend more time working on a seating plan that keeps aunt Lucille at a table with the most indirect access to the open bar.

Cake: Fondant

Fondant has quickly gained in popularity, especially with the help of shows like Cake boss, Ace of Cakes and Ultimate Cake off. Fondant is a sweet, rolled frosting that is made of either a marshmallow or glycerin and gelatin base. The fondant is typically rolled out and covers a cake that has either been prepped or layered in buttercream. Fondant is popular because of the versatility of it. Because it has the consistency of play dough, it can be rolled, molded, cut and shaped into a multitude of different shapes and characters, adding a depth and decor to a traditional cake. 

PROS

  • Molding fondant into shapes adds 3-dimensional character to an otherwise plain cake. Also allowing the decor to spill or flow down the side and onto the cake platter. This is great for 3D flowers, edible cake toppers or fulfilling your lifetime dream of having an alien chest-burster adorn the top of your cake.
  • Because fondant is rolled out and smoothed over a cake, it creates a smooth almost plastic look with seams at each tier that can be covered by more fondant shapes or ribbon.
  • Fondant won't melt as quickly as buttercream at an outdoors reception site and thus is good for summer weddings

CONS

  • Taste: Because fondant is made as a sticky base and powdered sugar is added to it to create the soft and smooth texture, there is a lot of sugar and can get very sweet. Oftentimes artificial flavors are added to change the taste but it typically doesn't add much to the flavor of the cake.
  • Texture: the texture of chewing play dough can be a turn off for some, kids often tend to like it though!
  • Drying out: Because getting the ratio of ingredients needs to be exact, the fondant can either be sticky and unable to smooth or can dry out and crack at the seams. Unless you're going for an apocalyptic, rusty old junker theme this doesn't look good.

Cake: Buttercream

The tried and true frosting of the baking world is buttercream. There are several variations of buttercream that can make even the pickiest of eaters happy. For example italian and french buttercream contains egg white while french buttercream contains egg yolk. American buttercream is the simplest of all forms and has butter, cream, sugar and a flavoring.  Not only are there many variations of style, there are also endless flavor possibilities. You can easily create a custom chocolate peanut butter cake with a basic chocolate cake and a creamy peanut butter frosting. There are also many piping techniques that can add a beautiful decorative element to your cake such as rosettes, lace look, swirls and swags basket weave and more. Royal icing decor can also be created and easily adhere to buttercream. 

PROS

  • Taste! There are hundreds of different flavor combinations, basically if you can dream of a flavor you can turn it into a buttercream. Also, because of the way buttercream is made, you can make it as sweet as you want it (and we all know that you're so sweet you don't need any of the extra sugar) 
  • Decor: While you can't create as many designs as you can with fondant, there are several beautiful options from piping and royal icing attachments.
  • buttercream can compliment a cake so that creating a gourmet style cake in a more formal event is possible.

CONS

  • Temperature sensitivity: When buttercream is exposed to a large fluctuation in temperature it can become discolored or will melt. If you've ordered a cake for an outdoor reception, be sure to have the cake delivered not too far in advance so it doesn't melt and make the flower girls cry.
  • design limitations-while buttercream is still absolutely beautiful, it doesn't allow for a lot of fun, 3D effects or multitude of color layering
  • Guests may not like frosting. You can't please everyone no matter what you choose. But fortunately those who aren't fans of frosting can scrape it off and move on with their lives.


Cake: Naked

Naked cakes have also had a huge jolt in popularity starting in 2014. Many say it's thanks for the owner of Milk Bar, Christina Tosi who is a creative genius behind things like "crack pie", "cereal milk ice cream" and other items I covet in my diabetes-inducing food-lusts.  However it was invented, it has taken over Pinterest as one of the more popular wedding cake options. It runs the gamut between rustic, laid-back weddings to an artsy interpretation for a formal gala. The funny thing is, they really are just unfrosted cakes frequently topped with berries.  Similar to what strawberry shortcake has been for years, but now in a variety of flavors and often covered in flowers. 

PROS

  • Naked cake is great for people who aren't huge fans of frosting, who have issues with sugar or just like their cake without the extra accoutrement. 
  • You still get the benefit of filling the cake layers with frosting, so you can still accent the cake with any flavor buttercream or even a fruit filling.
  • cool factor: look at you being the trendiest wedding your friends have been to in a while! Not like that last one you went to, where instead of a naked cake they had a mishap with a naked ring bearer refusing to put his suit on.

CONS

  • If you are a traditionalist, a naked cake may not be for you. Creating a grand, formal statement is difficult to do with a naked cake, and you definitely won't be able to create beautiful designs with frosting.
  • Design limitations: Yep, you're limited to berries, flowers or perhaps a sprinkling of confectioners sugar.
  • Baker hesitation: believe it or not, some bakers aren't yet on board with the naked cake thing so you limit yourself with options as to who will create your cake for you. This may or may no be a good thing depending upon how stressed you get with too many options! 

Cupcakes! 

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I know I'm a little biased, but cupcakes are one of my favorite wedding dessert options. By far the most versatile of all the above options, cupcakes are individual servings that you don't have to cut and serve. Just set a table up with them and let your guests go at it. There are countless flavors of cupcakes and you can use any frosting technique or style you choose. The beauty of cupcakes is that if you still want to do a ceremonial cake cutting you can order a small top tier to cut into with your bride/groom but then have the cupcakes to serve guests. 

PROS

  • Less staff and cleanup! Having a waitstaff or caterer cut your cake, plate and serve behind the scenes takes additional help, meaning additional cost. It's also messier, and oftentimes they serve everyone even if someone doesn't want cake which creates a lot of waste
  • flavor options! Whatever flavor combination you can think of can be turned into a cupcake. Also, decor options are similar to a cake juts scaled down to size.
  • boxing up and taking home: putting cupcakes into a box and bringing them home after your wedding day to freeze for your anniversary takes up much less space and much less coordination than a small cake. You can also send guests off with cupcakes at the end of the night so there is no waste. People are always willing to take extra cupcakes off your hands! 

CONS

  • If you want a grand 3 tier cake, you'll have to buy a stand that can mimic this with the cupcakes but it will still never look exactly like a cake. Even cupcakes that are frosted together as one giant cake can't beat the look of one solid tier.
  • cupcake wrappers will be left over at the end of the evening, meaning additional trash
  • I can't come up with another con for having cupcakes. Although this isn't an endorsement or ad for cupcakes, I think you get an idea on what my preference is! 
Rachel RiceComment