What To Look For In Cakes, Especially In 2011

What to Look For in Cakes?

2011 Cake Trends

The trend for this year and following year is to break the mold of the old or traditional while still adhering to it. The tiered system seems to be here to stay for a time, but with a bit of a twist as well. If you are keeping up with any type of media you know that cupcakes are the new affordable cake. Mostly in terms of it being less flour and less dense and of course less work for the baker. If you do not have enough cupcakes to go around or you don't want to have all cupcakes then you compliment the cupcakes with a sheet cake of the same flavor or another flavor all together. The beauty of cupcakes is that they are usually arranged in a tier for maximum display anyway and then you have your three to eight tiered wonder.

Other ways of showing off your individualism is to forget the cake altogether and have your and your new spouse's favorite desserts either served on a tray, dessert cart or even in some sort of tiered system. Don't forget, you can have a fake cake with pre-sliced cake for your guests, which will save you time and possibly money or have the fake cake as mentioned earlier for the pictures and cutting (Usually the baker of the fake cake will put some real cake pieces and guide the wedding parties' hand to the exact spot of the real cake in the cutting for the cake ceremony). After the official slice is cut, that fake cake is rolled to the back and the slices are brought out almost immediately or cut from sheet cakes and brought out for your waiting guests.

Speaking of the cutting ceremony, did you know that initially (when weddings were smaller), that the bride was the one who cut the cake alone and then fed a slice to her husband first. He fed some to her, but then she would continue to cut and feed her wedding guests until they were all served. That's not really being the center of attention in my book. It sounds like she became the wife to everyone right off the bat to me, just because she got married. That's not fun or fair, I don't think. That traditional went out the window fortunately when guest lists got larger. As the guest list broadened, as did the cake, the new spousal couple cut the cake together and then the knife was given to someone else to continue cutting and dishing out the cake to the guests. That is a much better solution, I think.

What to do first?

Decide on the number of guests, which will determine the size needed. Then decide on the type of dessert that would make you both happiest, then the design, and then the flavor. Maybe the flavor could go second, but if one person wants cake and other wants dessert, you can see why I put them in this order. Once you have decided the first three options, you can then go out and try to find the cake of your dreams within your budget.

How to Find Your Perfect Cake?

If you are not going with a white cake, but you want to match it with your wedding dress and your wedding partner's attire or just something that you both like, make sure you take a color swatch that you would like the cake to match, along with pictures of cakes that you have liked in your lifetime or cakes that you have liked in recent times.

What are you looking for?

Ron Ben-Israel says when choosing your wedding cake that location, fashion, nature, or the menu have to come into the equation. Depending on where your reception will be held, it is probable that some of the elements of design will have to come from the usage of a certain hall. Fashion denotes the elements within the bride or groom's wedding attire. Nature, would be any number of things, whether the reception will be held outside during the summer. (If you have a cream cheese frosting, you will need to take into account how long the wedding cake may be waiting in the sun (for both health reasons and melting of the frosting). And fourth the rest of the menu and whether or not the cake you choose flows well from the menu served prior to the cake.

  • Importance of Taste - In the early days before sugar was added to flour it became the norm as a major ingredient in the wedding cake, fruits were used. Fruits, as you know can be turned into liquid libations the longer they sit in the open air. Fruits also denoted a bit of richness, both of flavor and of money. The person who could afford a fruit cake was usually of the elite or royalty. Ah, that must be why William and Kate had fruit cake for their wedding cake to denote their wealth and royalty. Makes sense now, doesn't it. If you think about it most of the wedding cakes will have a fruit center anyway: Think raspberry, cherry, or even pineapple.

  • Important to whom? The importance of the cake should be between the two people getting married. What they want the cake to represent, maybe as part of their courtship or what they foresee their lives together to be. That is how the cake is chosen with the wedding couples' taste-buds and what they want their first cake together to represent. After all the importance will denote the style of the couple and that is what is important.

  • Texture - When I think about texture, I think about the inside of the cake, whether it is moist and has a porous quality, and whether or not the cake holds together well. In today's world of trends for the wedding cake it is different. Often texture means the texture of the frosting or outside of the cake. Texture nowadays corresponds to a particular design and whether or not that design's texture was captured, either from a picture or the imagination of the wedding couple or the swatch provided to the baker. There are so many ways to capture texture: for instance, through painting a cake with edible paint, non-toxic gold leaf (Not recommended-How non-toxic is it is still debated.), sugar or gum paste flowers, or lace. The list goes on and on. If you can conceive and explain it to the pastry chef, you can probably have the cake texture of your dreams. If you mean (inside texture or outside-frosting texture) either of these, make it clear to your designer or baker what you mean by texture so there is no confusion.

  • Moisture - According to Wilton, the best way to keep the moistness in the cake is to bake the cake ahead of time a couple of days. Let the cake cool completely, add a dusting of regular sugar and wrap it in plastic. Why? Sugar evidently sucks up moisture, so when you take the cake out to decorate it, having this extra layer will make the cake more moist rather than dry. This is all before it is decorated. The cake should be brought up to room temperature after you take it out of the freezer and have taken the plastic wrap, before any decorations are started. Why do I tell you all of this when you are hiring your baker to worry about this? Because you will want to know what to ask is happening in the bakery with regard to your cake from start to finish. Better to have knowledge than a surprise of taste and or dryness on the day of your event, right?

  • Baked When - It is of the opinion of the wedding industry that you will need to decide on your cake 3 - 4 months in advance. Often when you decide that early it gives the baker license to make your cake earlier rather than later and then freeze portions of it. Have you ever been to a wedding and the cake looks luscious, but when you get to eat it you are disappointed or dissatisfied with the taste? It could be that the cake was not defrosted well or was in the freezer too long. Remember what I said about bakers discouraging you from keeping the cake for a year? If they are freezing it before hand, that I think could be a challenge as far as taste. Check to make sure you can have your cake baked within a month, so that the moisture is not compromised by the time you get to your wedding day. You will want the cake you tasted and chose to have the same scrumptious taste quality for your guests.

  • Frosting & Filling - The frosting will depend on a number of things: 1) Indoor or outdoor wedding reception. 2) Desire and taste of the frosting or filling. 3) The time of year, will play a major role in the icing and how it will perform. If it is one of the hotter times of the year you will have to take in to consideration; timing, place, and atmosphere. Especially if your reception is held outside or the length of time the cake will be sitting once it is set up and waiting for the reception to start.

Questions to ask your baker:

  1. May I look at your portfolio or "look book"?

  2. Ask if they can make your specific cake and be very specific about what you want. (Do you have dietary restrictions, if so remember to ask the baker if they can comply with your restrictions.)

  3. How far in advance do I need to place an order?

  4. How far in advance will you bake my cake? Give them a date for your wedding.

  5. What types of flavors and fillings do you have (If you are going with a filling.)?

  6. Is the cake designer here? And will it be baked here? (Sometimes the designer and the baker are in two different establishments.)

  7. Do you offer taste testings? How much are they? Do I need to make a special appointment to do one? How many people can come to the tasting?

  8. How many cakes do you usually deliver in a weekend for weddings? (If your wedding is on a weekday, substitute the day.)

  9. How much deposit is needed to place the order?

  10. When is the balance due?

  11. Is the baker licensed in New York State? Is the baker licensed in the Tristate area?

  12. Are your cakes priced by size or by amount of work? Or How do you price your cakes?

  13. Is that an all inclusive price? (Sometimes the top tier of the cake is extra.)

  14. Can you tell me the process from baking to decorating for my cake? (This might be a picayune question, except if they are freezing 4 and 6 months in advance, the moisture level might be lost.)

  15. When will you be decorating my cake?

  16. If I want sugar flowers on my cake, are they included in the cost of the cake or do I have to purchase them separately?

  17. Can I go to a separate place that does sugar flowers exclusively, pick out the ones I want, and deliver them to you?

  18. If I want real flowers on my cake are you willing to work with my florist?

  19. How early do you need to get into the reception venue to set up the cake?

  20. Is there a delivery charge? How much is it?

  21. Will you slice it or shall I have someone at the venue slice the cake?

  22. How much do you charge per slice?

  23. For the ceremonial cut, will you supply the wedding knife and server, or do I need to purchase it separately?

*Sometimes the baker and the florist do not want to work together. I have read that the baker often does not want real flowers anywhere near their cake, since flowers are natural products of nature, they can bring other flavors to the cake that may not match or may even destroy the decorations. You will need to talk to both the florist and the baker to work out the details, but keep in mind they still may not want to work together.