A Bride’s Dessert Dilemma
Cover Photo from left to right: Wildewood Pastry Shop, Kara V. Marie Photography, The Cake Courtesan
Go Traditional, Trendy, Elegant, Whimsical?
Planning for wedding sweets isn’t always a piece of cake
Writer: Carol Harvat
Like bridal gowns, dessert offerings at wedding receptions also have trends that wane while new designs become all the rage.
“Rustic has really gotten big for weddings the past few years,” says Sharon White, the owner/artisan of The Cake Courtesan of Waldorf, whether it’s lightly frosted peek-a-boo or naked cakes, textured, or cakes with a movement element, popular colors are toned down, and brides are requesting grays and browns.
A beaded icing that creates texture, concrete-style icing, has taken the place of the flat fondant look, which was a recent fad. Finishing touches with movement are also in fashion, Sharon says. She has decorated many cakes with edible sails made from wafer and rice paper or clear candy.
Of course with desserts, it’s not just about how it looks.
“We’re seeing bolder flavors,” Sharon says.
Lemon berry made from lemon curds and fresh raspberries is her best seller. It’s light, refreshing and good for a summer day. Champagne and strawberries are also a trending flavor.
“It makes you feel like you’re celebrating,” she says.
VARIETY THE SPICE OF LIFE?
Her advice to future brides and grooms: taste plenty of flavors to decide what appeals to them. And, also to consider dessert tables with a variety of pastries, cookies and cupcakes.
With 35 years as a pastry chef, Peter Schmitter of Wildewood Pastry Shop says many brides have been getting naked cakes with simple greenery and flowers.
“Recently, the most popular style of wedding cake has been a more natural look,” he says. “My favorite part of making wedding cakes is knowing the bride has something special and personalized for one of the most significant events in her life and knowing that I was able to contribute to that.”
He says that now many couples opt for smaller cakes and supplement with cupcakes.
Beth Mead and Gerardo Mello Rodriguez chose cupcakes and a small cake for their wedding.
They were married in August 2019 at Woodlawn Farm in Ridge. They offered their guests cupcakes — gluten-free coconut with cream cheese icing and red velvet — baked by Julia Carkhuff, owner of For Cake’s Sake of St. Mary’s County. At the wedding, the cupcakes were displayed on two tiers with a bridal cake placed between.
Prior to the wedding, Beth and Gerardo sampled a dozen different-flavored cupcakes with options of icings on the side.
“We really liked the coconut,” Beth says. They selected icing colors of red, light blue and white, which matched their wedding colors. They saved the small cake to eat later. After mentioning the tradition of saving a piece of cake for their first anniversary, Beth says, “We were told about that, but we totally forgot.”
Calvert couple Emily and Mike Rogers, who married in May 2017, say they were on a budget so instead of a wedding cake a friend stacked store-bought cookies into two-tiered pyramids.
“It was pretty cool actually,” Emily says.
CAKE FLAVORS FLOURISH
La Plata’s Charles Street Bakery owner/cake decorator Deborah Taylor says a naked cake surrounded by fruit or flowers is the most commonly requested design.
“We really only do custom cakes,” she says. Many couples also want drippings of icing or chocolate ganache running down the cake’s side. Deborah enjoys using flowers whether fresh, silk or Ling’s vintage artificial flowers she purchases. “I love using Ling’s, they have muted colors.”
Despite the rustic trend, a menagerie of cake flavors flourish.
“I love that they want different flavors,” says owner/executive pastry chef Cindy Selby of Blondie’s Baking Company.
Wedding cake clients of the Chesapeake Beach bakery ask for chocolate mocha, strawberry, and cookies and cream.
Cindy, who earned a spot on the “Cupcake Wars” television show in 2012, is also pleased to see butter cream making a comeback, noting that it is her expertise.
All the bakery chefs interviewed agree that bolder-flavored cakes with a rustic or textured look are in.
“Today’s cakes are not your Mother’s cake, they’ve changed, Sharon says. “Flavors have elevated, and couples expect the cake to taste as good as it looks.” •