One of the anticipated pinnacles of any wedding reception is the wedding cake. Today’s “pièce de résistance” may be a tapestry of muted designs, a delight of delectably blended flavors and colors, a tiered work of art adorned with an array of fresh flowers, or a simply stated dessert. A bride or groom may have many questions when it comes to all of these choices. Here’s your guide to wedding cake.
It’s a Tradition
Cake has been the centerpiece of weddings since Roman and Medieval times, and it remains at the forefront of today’s nuptial celebrations. Thankfully, some of the less favorable wedding cake customs have not stood the test of time. For instance, it was once thought that if a person slept with a piece of wedding cake under their pillow, they would dream of a future partner. The evolution from a dense, fruitcake-type loaf to a delicate, icing-laden cake was probably the reason this tradition didn’t endure.
Other traditions, like cutting the multi-layered culinary creation and feeding the first bite to the new spouse, remain a ritual, along with ceremoniously tossing the bouquet and garter. For some couples, saving the top tier to enjoy on their first anniversary is still a tradition.
Many brides, however, are not traditional when it comes to their wedding cake flavors. Red velvet, key lime, and champagne are some of the more popular flavor choices today with some unusual flavors such as carrot, spice and pistachio showing up periodically. Endless selections of flavored fillings and lush crèmes sinfully complement the richness of the cake and icing.
One of the biggest trends this year in wedding cakes is the rustic look or what some in the industry refer to as the “naked cake.” The cake — not the adornments or the icing — is the focal point. The naked cake has a natural look and is left unfrosted or lightly frosted so the goodness of the cake and filling is temptingly exposed. This cake is often stacked with filling in between the layers that may cascade down the sides. It may be simply embellished with in-season fresh fruit or flowers. Texturing techniques are frequently used to give icing and tiers a dimensional effect.
Brittany Moss of Chattanooga has selected her cake for her July 2016 wedding to Christopher Styga, formerly of Peachtree City. “I want the cake to be soft and romantic to tie in with the theme of our wedding,” she says. “So, we are having Italian crème and white chocolate cake with ivory icing. It will have the spatula-texturing look on one of the layers. One of the four round layers will be feathered, and we are using gold metallic on a smoother layer.”
Future brides tend to be choose blush colors and green mint hues as well as white on white or ivory scroll designs. Many, like Brittany, are adding the popular gold or silver metallic touches, described as an “edible kind of luster dust.” Tilted cakes and tiers of different sizes, heights and shapes add an appealing feature to artfully decorated masterpieces.
Here Comes the Groom’s Cake
The groom’s cake is a tradition that began in early American weddings. It continues to make its appearance at weddings, particularly in the South. A groom’s cake allows the couple’s and the baker’s creativity to shine in untraditional and fun ways.
Groom’s cakes vary from standard cakes that complement the theme of the traditional wedding cake to cakes that showcase the groom’s favorite hobby, profession, or sports team. Often the groom’s cake gives the wedding guests an insight into his personality and his tastes. You may see a cake in the shape of a corvette or running shoes, or topped with the groom’s well-worn baseball glove. The cake may incorporate his favorite flavors such as a deep chocolate, carrot or spice cake. There seem to be no rules when it comes to groom’s cakes.
Brittany says she and Christopher are not doing anything creatively crazy for the groom’s cake. “I guess I’d call it a semi-naked cake,” Brittany remarks. “It will look unfinished and have raspberry filling oozing out of the lemon cake layers, giving it a muted yellow and pink hue.” Fresh raspberries and blackberries will enhance this scrumptious creation.
The groom’s cake is usually displayed on an adjacent table and served along with the wedding cake, although some choose to serve it at the rehearsal dinner.
It May Not Be All About Cake
Today’s couples may break from tradition, and their crowning culinary glory may not be a cake at all. Some select unique desserts, such as beautifully decorated gourmet cupcakes with mounded icing peaks served alongside, or in place of, the formal wedding cake. There may be a temptation-laden dessert table offering pastel-hued macaroons, mini-cheesecakes, fudge, cookies, cake pops, fruit tarts and other delectable treats for guests to enjoy at the reception or to take home in provided boxes. Some wedding guests have been treated to doughnuts, an array of pies, or even a cake made from Twinkies. In today’s wedding world, anything goes.