White or ivory — that used to be the color choice for brides. No longer, color is everywhere at weddings. Even the cakes — more than ever artistic showpieces — are splashed with color.
“Our most popular cake has a blue background with white decoration,” says Tami Despres, pastry chef at Jacques Fine European Pastries in Suncook (www.jacquespastries.com). “People are very excited about color.”
Pink, green, purple, red, gold and orange — you can now find cakes in any of those colors. They even come in black. Well, not all black, but Jacques has one that is white with black decoration. ‘We do those a lot,” says Despres.
A cake with differently colored layers — one periwinkle, one sage green, and one pink, perhaps — is a frequent request at Frederick’s Pastries in Amherst (www.frederickspastries.com), according to lead designer Brenda Lozier. Also popular are cakes with white layers that are separated by a layer of colorful flowers, usually roses — a design inspired by Martha Stewart. “It’s very striking,” says Lozier.
Whatever the color, cake designs have become much more intricate. Swags, bows, scrolls and complex flowers are now among the design elements. The use of European fondant, an icing that can be cut and shaped like dough, allows pastry chefs to do designs never possible before.
Fondant, Despres says, is chewier and sweeter than the more typical buttercream icing — and more expensive, too. Also expensive are the elaborately sculpted handmade flowers made out of sugar paste and gum paste, like the ones on the cake featured on the cover. “They’re expensive because they take so long to do,” she says. Most people choose fresh flowers instead.
Another, less expensive, way to get a different look is to have your cake hand-painted with food coloring, a specialty at Frederick’s. Another specialty — the hand-painted glasses that bakers use to separate the cake’s layers, instead of the columns of days past. “It’s beautiful, and a very romantic keepsake,” says Lozier, “something you can pull out every anniversary.”
As brides venture into new territory in design, they’re also trying different flavors. Despres says white and chocolate cakes are losing ground to flavors like gingerbread, lemon, almond hazelnut, spice and carrot. For fillings, fresh strawberries are popular as is Swiss-made raspberry jam.
The cost of a wedding cake — anywhere from $2.50 to $13 a slice — is determined by design, ingredients, size and the baker. One money-saving suggestion: Do a cake that’s smaller than the number of your guests. Then have a less expensive “kitchen cake” that can be cut to make up the difference.
Other suggestions from the bakers:
– It’s never too soon to select your wedding cake, Plan to do it six months to a year ahead.
– It’s OK to go to the baker with clippings of the cake you want, but see what cakes the baker offers, too.
– Don’t eat before you come. You’ll want a good appetite for tasting.