This Chick’s Favourite Wedding Cake Trends

Well it is official. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have finally gotten engaged.  And I have to admit, I am really looking forward to seeing what their wedding day will look like. What will her dress look like, what colours will we see pop up, will it be formal or casual, but most of all, and spoken like a true cake designer, what will their cake look like?! Will this wedding have flash and bling, or will it be quiet and understated? I think with this couple it could go either way. I mean there is definitely a true Hollywood power couple side to Brangelina, but then there is a close knit family side that you we get to see from time to time. Either way, I am looking forward to seeing at all unfold.

Now whether you are waiting for a Hollywood wedding or looking forward to your own special day, there is no shortage of cakes designs and colour palettes to choose from this year, and I’m loving them all!

Here are a few of This Chick’s favourites!

The first cake trend to pop up, or I suppose make it’s return is more accurate, is thanks to Kate Middleton and Prince William and their royal wedding cake. We are definitely seeing a return to more vintage cakes in tones of creams and ivory with touches of gold and ornate details here and there. And heavy on the piping too please! These lovely tone on tone cakes make an elegant statement and quite honestly what bride doesn’t want to feel like a princess on her wedding day?

Another great trend is having multiple wedding cakes.  A lot of brides are opting to do these “sets” of cakes rather than having just one big stacked cake. I think this is a ton of fun and it gives a bride the option to have a few different cake designs while still staying within the theme and colours of her wedding, and they can be done anyway your heart desires. You can have all single tier cakes, or opt to have a few smaller stacked cakes mixed in. No matter which way you decide to lay out your cakes they will be a definite conversation piece at your wedding.

But by far, one of the funkiest and most fun cakes to pop up is “Naked Cakes.” Naked cakes are these crazy cakes that have all the fillings and flowers and decoration of your typical wedding cake, minus the fondant. Well minus a cover period! So what you end up with is this awesome cake that is just letting it all hang out. Filling and all! And what’s more it really gives the cake designer some room to get creative. These cakes are just fun, and all the while still managing to have a simple elegance to them. I love these cakes, they break all the rules of what wedding cakes should look like and you should break a few rules now and then! ;)

And while we are on the topic of breaking rules, cake flavours are changing too. Brides are becoming more daring and wanting to wow their guests with unique or exotic flavor combinations. Although vanilla cake still stands as a wedding cake staple, brides are also picking bold flavours that are not typically “wedding” flavours. I have done my share of peanut butter, chocolate chili or Chai Tea flavoured cakes lately and I think it just adds to the drama of the day.

So with all these new cake flavor and design trends I would be remiss not to mention all the great colour combinations popping up this season too. Shocking red paired with royal purple, soft peach and pink, pastels, bold and bright, the sky’s the limit. Really with all the colour and design choices out there these days brides can really set themselves apart from the crowd. Making a statement has never been so fun!

Can You Have a Dragon Cake, and Eat it Too?

So it’s wedding season. Well, pre-wedding season. And over the coming months wedding planners, florists, dress shops and cake designers alike will be working overtime to help blushing brides create the wedding of their dreams.  The perfect location, the perfect photos the perfect date – a lot goes into your day and there is no shortage of professionals to help make those dreams come true.

I love wedding season. Suddenly girls that were strangers to you just weeks before are bringing you into their world and asking you to be part of making their perfect day happen. There is a certain quick friendship that occurs doing this job. I have met grooms and moms, best friends, sisters, even grandmas and grandpas. These people hold a special place in the hearts of our brides. You share stories and ideas, and laughs, and it is all pretty badass on the whole. I Iove the pace, the pressure, and mostly the people. Along with all of this also come a lot of questions: questions about cake, and buttercream, and tiers, and designs, and the ever present questions about fondant. Oh fondant, this little misunderstood hunk of sugar that seems to freak people out A LOT! So I am here to, hopefully, explain some of what goes into your wedding cake and maybe end the love-hate relationship between brides and their fondant.

The first thing I have to say is making cake takes a lot of work and a lot of time. Television shows like Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss have allowed us to see cakes in a whole new light. Gone are the days of tiered cakes held up by pedestals with a bundle of roses sitting on the top. No, now we can make cars and dragons, topsy turvy cakes with stripes and polka dots and smoke that will come out of the top. But how reasonable are these cakes for the average person? The magic of television makes it seem like these cakes are made in an hour. Elaborate designs limited only by the imagination suddenly appear at weddings or birthdays to the ooh’s and ah’s of a delighted room full of guests. But how much do these works of art cost? And how long do they really take to make? More than once I have heard the disappointed “OH, really?” when I have explained the process, the time, and the expense of creating those edible works of art. People are shocked when I explain that the cakes we see on T.V. start at a base rate of $1000.00+  or the cost per slice can range anywhere from $12.00- $20.00, ending up with a price tag in the thousands! So what goes into making your perfect cake?

Let me start at the beginning. There are generally two things that go into pricing a wedding cake: cost per serving, and the design. Every cake designer will base their quote on these two things. The cost may vary a little from city to city or designer to designer, based on their location or their experience making cakes. But we all expect wedding cakes to cost some money. Why is that? Well because to make a cake these days you not only need to know how to bake a mean cake and whip up a pretty great buttercream you have to know a little about engineering! Suddenly you are looking at physics. How can I suspend this piece of sugar from that structure to make this look like its coming out here while still making this go this way and put the flowers on here … it can get pretty intense! Can we do it? Sure we can, is it easy or inexpensive? Probably not.

What I hope to do here is shed a little light on what goes into making your cake from we humble cake designers that haven’t gotten our television show yet *grin*. And hopefully prevent a few disappointments along the way when someone hears that the six-foot dragon cake they wanted costs several thousands of dollars to make!

Basically there are two types of cakes, tiered/stacked cakes and sculpted cakes. I’m just going to explain the process for a tiered cake right now. For a sculpted cake just take everything you’re about to read here and put it on steroids!

First thing would be the obvious, buying the ingredients and making the cake. This is where a designer will need to do a little math and figure out your serving amounts and how much cake you will need to make to accommodate your design. Once you have done that the cakes are baked, and keep in mind a regular 3-tier cake can mean you have baked off 6 pans of cakes in any range of size from 18 inches down to 6, you will then have to level the cake and torte it. Torting it is where you cut the cake into layers in order to create a single tier. This is where the buttercream comes in. Buttercream is your filling. It can be almost anything. Ganache, mousse, cream cheese, strawberry, raspberry, blue, pink, pretty much anything you can think of and it goes between the torted layers. So, once you have bought your ingredients, baked the cakes, made your buttercream, leveled, torted and filled the cake you now have to crumb coat it. Crumb coating is where you cover the whole tier, after it has been layered, in a smooth coating of buttercream to get it ready for the fondant, the dreaded fondant.

As I mentioned earlier, fondant is this misunderstood piece of sugar that has earned a bad rap. People are never totally sure what it is. Does it go in the cake or on it? Is it flavoured? Is it thick? Can I take it off? Can I cut it? Can I eat it? Oh the fear! And if there is one thing I have learned in my life as a cake decorator it is people either hate fondant or love it. There is no middle ground. No “meh, I could take it or leave it.” Oh no! It is always, “I HATE that stuff!” or “I LOVE fondant.” So what is it exactly? It is essentially play-doh in sugar form that we knead and roll out and use to cover your cake. Fondant is what allows the designer to be able to create all those awesome wedding cake designs you see everywhere. It molds and bends and covers your cake with a beautiful smooth finish. It is essential for making any of the designs you see these days.

Now that you have prepared your cake tiers it’s time to stack them. Each cake tier needs to be placed on a cake board, and then each tier needs to have dowels placed inside. Dowels are placed inside to support the weight of the next tier sitting on the top. Otherwise the weight of each tier would just crush the cake below it. Once the next tier is on its board it is then carefully placed making sure to have it centred over the dowels in the cake below. When all the cakes are stacked, a centre dowel is pushed through the whole shooting match so that the cake won’t shift.  So next time you see a beautiful wedding cake you will know that inside of it is a whole unseen structural support! WHO KNEW!?

Once your cake is baked and covered and stacked, next comes the decorating.  This is where the most fun comes in! Shaping and molding and creating figures and beads and flowers are where you can really get your groove on. It is also where the most time comes in. Making simple handmade roses is a process that takes a long time to produce just one, then it has to dry for several days, and finally be painted or dusted to look real, then steamed to seal it all in. So a beautiful cascade of flowers means weeks of work has gone into making it. I can hear angels sing when I make a really awesome sugar flower!

So there you have it, albeit the short and sweet version. A cake, especially a good cake, can’t be pumped out in a day like T.V. makes us think. It takes hours, days and sometimes weeks to make and create all the elements on a cake, and generally there isn’t a brigade of people working on various pieces of a cake in a fully loaded bakery the size of a house. It is more than likely a very dedicated cake designer working hard to help make your dream cake come to life.

 

Dresses You Can Eat?

For as long as I can remember I have always liked things that are over the top – loud, in your face, brassy things.  I never quite knew why or where this came from, but I have come to understand this about myself. So naturally my tastes in all things also became loud and brassy too.  I love abstract art, loud music, tattoos and pin up girls, for example. I love outspoken women, and I have a soft spot for overdone Hollywood blondes. I also love fashion, and the more outrageous and over the top the better. Betsy Johnson, Alexander McQueen, or Viktor & Rolf for example; I’m a sucker for obnoxiously high heels, haute couture gowns and of course glitter. The more glitter the better. One can never have too much glitter I say.

So how does this tie in with being a baker? Well, it ties in like this: several months back, as I was roaming about online I came across a site that blew my mind. The site was Wedding Inspirasi, and on it I found a wedding dress designer the likes of which I have never seen. Her name is Stella de Libero. The dresses were so over the top that I’ve become obsessed with looking at them every day. The colours and the style spoke to my inner fashion diva/brassy broad, and I was in love. But every time I looked at these works of art, I kept thinking, “My God that gown would make an awesome cake!”  So with the help of a few friends who allowed me to “create” cakes for them, I came up with my own designs inspired by these gowns and ended up with a few pretty cool cakes.

Check them out in my new Couture Cake gallery!

Reality TV is No Cake Walk

Starting a blog is a little strange. I mean what do you tell people about first? I decided I would skip all the hoopla of telling you about myself, boring, and get right to telling you about my foray into reality television. Yes, I was on T.V. Cake Walk to be exact. And let me tell you, armchair cake designing is nothing like actually being there, in front of people you don’t know, in a kitchen you aren’t familiar with, and under conditions you are not usually under. Cameras, lights, time restrictions, rules all of it was not conducive to making a cake. Was it crazy fun? Yes. Would I do it again? In a second.

Let me take you back to the beginning of my reality T.V. adventure.

Last spring I received an email from Buck Productions inviting me to become part of their new T.V. show Cake Walk on Slice Television that would be airing later that fall. They asked me to contact them if I was interested, and after 10 or 15 minutes of wondering if I had just been punked and hyperventilating at the idea that I hadn’t, I made the call. Everyone was very nice and very helpful, and after making double sure that THEY had the right person, I said “YES!” I mean c’mon as terrifying as the idea of well, making an ass of myself on T.V. was, it was after all an opportunity that doesn’t come your way often. So the next thing I know I am wrangling up an assistant to be on the show with me and went headlong into this adventure!

The next few weeks would be filled with copious amounts of legal papers and rules, dates, phone calls and so on. I needed to provide them with a ton of information, sign things, organize everything and of all things make an audition video. Me? An audition video? What the heck was I going to say? What was I going to do? I finally decided I would do what I do best and talk about cakes. And since I have a little edge, and a lot of attitude I thought I would just be me. So audition tape made and delivered, all that was left was waiting to hear back about when this event was going to happen. Here’s the finished audition video:


 

Caroline, my cake assistant

I mentioned needing an assistant right? That would be Caroline. Caroline is a friend of my son’s and the only person I know that knew her way around a cake pan other than me. After all she went to school to be a pastry chef. Caroline is this spunky kid that became a family friend and the first person to ask me if I had ever thought about making cakes for a living.  So I got on the phone and called her and so became the team of Kristy and Caroline, it was that easy.

I finally got the call about when I would be coming in to film. All in all I wasn’t too nervous about any of this. I had, in hindsight, naively talked myself into thinking that all I had to do was make a wedding cake, a HUGE 31/2 foot wedding cake, but none the less still a wedding cake.  It wasn’t until I was on the set,  in the actual kitchen and voice from beyond yelled “Go” or “Start” or something to that effect and a cameraman got 6 inches away from my hands, that I thought I MAY be in for more than I bargained for!

The first thing I did was put the wrong cake tier on my support and things probably went downhill from there. We had come up with the idea of doing a wedding cake on top of a tree stump. Seemed reasonable, after all the couple was looking for “woodsy elegant” so it all seemed to fit. We thought we would do each tier to coincide with the, “something old, something new,” shtick that most brides follow. Our first tier was to be vintage looking, the next tier was to be funky and modern and green to tie in with the brides love of nature, the 3rd tier was something borrowed. This tier proved to be the most challenging, then of course the something blue tier, oh the blue tier. Put that baby on a tree stump made of cake and Bob’s yer uncle right…..wrong! Needless to say I was happy that I have a picture gallery on my website and a few years of cake street cred behind me because this thing was a disaster. It was time consuming and exhausting and like I said earlier, crazy fun.

So after 3 hours it came time for the cake tasting portion of the show. I was most nervous about that. I mean I can explain away an ugly cake, blame the stress, the time, the studio, but putting a crappy tasting cake out in the world did not thrill me. Thank God the judges liked my cake. And after a few deep breathes, it was back to work. 7 hours later there it was, my cake. I really don’t know what else to say. It was complete, we didn’t drop it and it wasn’t tooooo bad. I keep telling myself that anyway!

The judges for those of you who didn’t see the show, were Alexandria Pellegrino of Cake Opera Co., Gordon Bailey of Lot 30, and David MacCarfrae of David Cakes of Distinction. Funny thing about David, as I walked onto the set I kept whispering to Caroline that he looked familiar to me. He should have, I watch his videos and look at his cakes all the time. I was so focused on the task at hand that I didn’t realize I just watched one of his videos the night before. I will forever feel a little foolish about that one. But in my defense, he wasn’t sporting his signature white Tee.

So with judges and host, Caroline Rhea all in place I presented my cake to these cake/food experts and hope like hell I don’t get torn apart for this atrocity to cake. I didn’t. They were kind and understanding and the whole afternoon was giggles. Caroline Rhea could never quite get over the fact that I have 6 kids and referred to me as “Kristy, mother of 6” for the bulk of the afternoon.

Now came time for the final judging, the moment we were working towards all day. I was tired and terrified all in one. That combination makes for some interesting self-talk I might add. And as I stood up there praying for this to end and spare me any more torture the verdict was in. Second place. I was over joyed. Second place. Suddenly this weight lifted and I was happy with my place on this very strange, exciting day. I learned a lot about myself; one is that apparently I swear A LOT when I am under pressure. I met a lot of nice people and did something that was new and interesting. But best of all I had a great story to tell, all in all not a bad deal.

To see my finished cake, watch Slice’s Cake Walk online by clicking here.

Are you looking for something unique for your wedding? Ask This Chick about mini-cakes for your tables.