“A party without cake is just a meeting,” the indomitable Julia Child once said. As myriad details and checklists accompany a great wedding reception, we queried some experts on wedding cake tips. Don’t wait ‘til the last minute; bakers recommend booking six to nine months before the wedding.
More organic and natural cakes are popular, says Anna Carreiro, owner of Scrumptions in East Greenwich, and Kim Curtis, owner and pastry chef of Sweet Althea’s in Wakefield. Curtis sees an increase in requests for “rustic and simple and natural, and textured buttercream rather than fondant. In our area of South County, it’s a lot more laid back; more ‘chilled’ brides and weddings.”
Isis Brighton, of Isis Cakes, says rustic, vintage-looking cakes are gaining in popularity, with fruit between layers or draped outside the cake. “They’re very romantic looking,” she says. Fresh fruit fillings are always popular, says Brighton, especially fresh blueberry filling or raspberry lemon filling.
At Sweet Cakes Bakery & Café in Peace Dale, beach themes remain popular, says Lauren Wingate, pastry chef. A recent beach-themed wedding cake was topped with tiny Adirondack chairs, white chocolate shells, miniature flip-flops and a little wooden fence.
For summer weddings, Sweet Cakes’ “Strawberry Tall” cakes, reminiscent of old-fashioned strawberry shortcake, and lemon raspberry cakes are especially popular, says Wingate. Winter wedding cake choices often feature heavier flavors — chocolate or red velvet — and ganache.
Some brides think outside the box, Brighton says, including a bride who wanted a spice cake that didn’t include apple, so she created a pumpkin spice cake with a spiced mousse filling and a thin layer of caramel.
How to please everyone
Making each cake tier a different flavor is a popular trend, says Carreiro, the perfect solution when she likes vanilla and he likes chocolate. Everyone can be satisfied when a multi-tiered wedding cake incorporates the bride’s and groom’s favorite flavors, says Brighton.
“I am doing a lot of ‘tuxedo cakes’ – one layer of chocolate and one layer of vanilla, with buttercream frosting,” says Curtis, who notes that the bakery also makes multi-tiered cakes of lemon, chocolate with salted caramel and vanilla, for example. Large weddings, with 200 guests or more, are likely to have the grand, four-tier cakes, says Wingate.
Cakes or cupcakes?
Many wedding receptions feature a small cake for the bride and groom to cut and cupcakes – with a wide array of flavors, such as chocolate, peanut butter, carrot or red velvet – for everyone else, says Wingate.
Cupcakes, which allow guests to pick them up and take them — rather than being served — work well in a more relaxed atmosphere, says Carreiro, who did three cupcake weddings in one summer weekend.
At Sweet Althea’s, however, Curtis finds the cupcake trend has died down, adding, “I honestly think it was kind of a fad.”
Brighton sees a growing interest in dessert tables, which she will offer at her own upcoming wedding. Dessert tables often include pies, bite-size pastries and cake pops. She’s making her own rustic-themed wedding cake, of course, which will be a three-tiered vanilla cake with raspberry filling and vanilla buttercream; figs, cherries and vines will adorn the sides.
People are requesting gluten-free and vegan cakes, says Curtis, who has made a 12-tiered cake with buttercream and fresh flowers. At each table, a different tier was displayed on a cake stand; one layer was vegan, another gluten-free, still another nut-free, etc., she explains, to meet guests’ needs and preferences.
More tips from the experts
“Heat is awful,” says Wingate, as everything melts without air-conditioning, and cakes can be affected by the weather.
Be conscious of the look you want to achieve, Carreira says. A couple may want an ice cream cake in the summer, which is tough to pull off. Come in with an “open mind and [consider] different options to choose from … details may change, designs may change,” she suggests.
“When you go in for a tasting, trust whomever you’re working with and be open-minded,” says Brighton. “They know more than you do. Let the cake decorator use a little of [his or her] creativity in the process.”
Isis Cakes | facebook.com/IsisCafeCakes | 714-7907
Scrumptions | East Greenwich | scrumptions.com | 884-0844
Sweet Althea’s | Wakefield | sweetaltheas.com | 932-9473
Sweet Cakes Bakery & Cafe | Peace Dale | sweetcakesbakeryri.com | 789-5420