Prince William and his blushing bride-to-be, Kate Middleton, have selected their cakes for their wedding day, but, unless you have your pick of primo bakers at the ready (and desire to serve your guests fruitcake!), you may need a little help when it comes to picking your day-of pastries. We talked with Pastry Chef Anita Adams of Jacksonville, Florida’s Let Them Eat Cake to get the scoop behind the beaters. She told us what your baker wished you knew before you booked your wedding cake.
1. Make It Your Own
Kate & William kept with tradition, selecting a brandy-flavored fruit cake for their official wedding dessert. While Kate is letting the baker work her magic by creating themed tiers showcasing British ingredients, she’s speaking up where it counts, requesting a traditional cake infused with modern style. It’s been reported that Kate showed up with a “mood board,” a collage of colors, fabrics, and images that she’s crafting the wedding around. Take a tip from Kate and think ahead to what you want. Fondant? Fresh flowers? A dynamic filling? Think about what matters to you.
2. Beware of “Cake by Committee”
While it’s unlikely that Kate is able to dash off to the local bakery with just her Mom in tow for a tasting, the rest of us seem to think that we should encourage our own possee of attendants to tag along. The problem with this, says Adams, is that you end up trying to please everyone, requesting a layer that speaks to Mom’s love of Key Lime, your best friend’s flair for apricot filling, and your soon-to-be hubby’s dreams of marble swirling. “Allow your baker to work with you and create a cake that flows from layer to layer,” said Adams. “You can have different flavors; you just don’t want your guests’ palates to end up confused”
3. The Great Debate: Real Flowers vs. Sugar Flowers
Kate opted to use sugar flowers on her cake, delicate hand-made blooms crafted from gum paste and spun sugar, among other edible items. While brides have been debating real flowers verses edible blooms for decades, we can all agree on one thing: Kate’s use of symbolically important buds, ones that stand for endurence, strength, and their home country, is an elegant move indeed. When you’re deciding on blooms, consider their meaning.
Other things to consider? Cost (in-season fresh blooms are generally less costly than the sugar version), arena (sugar flowers may wilt in the heat of an outdoor wedding), and your true vision (if the flower needs to look a certain way, then going the sugar route may be your best option).[pagebreak]
4. Involve the Groom
They may not care about what paper you print the invitations on, or what song Grandma walks down the aisle to, but you can bet that most grooms-to-be will be oh-so happy to tag along to a cake tasting. Prince William, its been reported, specifically requested a Groom’s Cake, a traditionally Southern dessert idea from the United States. Ask your guy if he’s ever considered what he’d like at the wedding. Be prepared: Some grooms request cakes in the shapes of cars or guns, to celebrate a hobby, or in the colors of their alma mater. If camo-colored icing isn’t your slice of cake, then steer them in William’s classy direction: a simple, indulgent cake absolutely doused in delicious chocolate. Who can argue with that?
5. Plan Ahead, but Not Too Far Ahead
When the country is on-call for your nuptials, it’s less important to nail down what you really want. For brides who don’t have the royal hotline at their disposal, it’s important to book the baker you want as soon as you know. “We only take one wedding cake order per weekend,” said Adams. “So that may mean that calling four months ahead is fine, but you may call six months ahead and find that we’re already booked for a popular weekend.” She encourages brides to come in and make a small deposit to save their date, then to come in between six weeks and three months before the wedding to finalize their details. “We like to taste closer to the date, because we know you’ll change your mind!,” said Adams. At least you don’t have to worry about Kate’s predicament; a fruitcake tastes better as it ages, so the bakers began the four-week process in late March.
6. Be Practical When It Comes to Color
We’re sure Kate will have someone on hand to let her know if one of those bits of fruit gets lodged in her gorgeous smile, but for those of us depending on busy bridesmaids, it’s best to look out for yourself. Adams says a top wedding request that she has to turn down is red velvet cake. “Red velvet is beautiful,” said Adams, “but it gets on everything.” The dye used to color the cake layers easily gets on napkins, table linens, and even your dress. “We warn against anything with food coloring,” said Adams, “even icing, though we do tint a light pink if a bride requests it.” For the record, Kate is going all white with cream-based icing. No pink-tinted teeth for the Princess!
Craving more cake? Check out our interview with celebrity cake baker Ron Ben-Israel.