One of the most exciting parts of wedding planning is selecting your wedding cake! However, just like every other aspect of wedding planning, if you are not prepared for the tasting, things can get overwhelming quickly.
Many thanks to this weeks blog guest, Elysia Root. If you want super delicious cake in Chicago, Elysia is always a great bet!
Unless you’re a wedding planner, you probably don’t really know what to expect in terms of finding and booking your perfect wedding cake. It’s a fun process and can be very straightforward as long as you’ve been given a little introduction beforehand. We’ve put together some tips and general information that could be very helpful to know prior to diving into your wedding cake search.
Schedule your cake tasting at least 3 to 6 months in advance of your wedding date. Most custom cake studios have limited staff and dates do fill up (especially during popular wedding months and dates). Check the cake studio’s availability before making an appointment to avoid disappointment.
Do YOUR homework before meeting with a cake vendor. For example, find out if a wedding cake is included as part of your venue package. If it isn’t, see if there is a preferred vendor list. Are there extra charges for bringing in an outside vendor?
Bring as much information as possible for design inspiration (invitation, color swatches, photos of the attire, flowers, Pinterest boards). Be prepared to explain why you like certain elements. Talk to your partner prior to the consultation about what he/she wants as far as cake design.
Know how you’d like the cake to be distributed at your reception: plated or at a dessert station. If you would like the cake to be plated, then you must account for every single guest in your serving size. If you plan to have a dessert station, you can usually serve less cake (we suggest 20-25% less cake, and serve other desserts to make up the difference).
Know cake terms – tiers versus layers. Standard wedding cake slices are 1 inch deep, 2 inches wide and 4 inches tall.
Know how cake pricing typically works. Most wedding and custom cakes are priced by the slice. Each cake vendor will price differently based on skill, experience, location, ingredients, and other factors. Other aspects such as premium ingredients, sugar floral work, or complexity of design will most likely add to the cost of the cake. Keep in mind you are serving your wedding guests a meal equivalent to a fine restaurant experience at your wedding; a wedding cake slice should be thought of as equivalent to a dessert served at a restaurant.
Figure out the delivery. Who will be doing the delivery? Does your cake vendor provide rentals for the display of the cake, or do they have suggestions for rentals? Is your cake vendor properly licensed and insured?
Send all requested information prior to your cake tasting. If you were asked to make any selections such as choosing cake or filling flavors you’d like to try, send that promptly ahead of time. Some vendors do the tasting deconstructed (cake and fillings served to you separately) as opposed to constructed cake.
Know the difference between buttercream and fondant. There are many different kinds of buttercream such as American, Italian, and Swiss buttercream. Fondant is edible sugar paste made from powdered sugar, gelatin, glucose, glycerin and water, and it is only used as an icing (not a filling). In some cases, we recommend that you choose fondant. Why? Because sometimes only fondant can create the design that you’re looking for; it keeps the cake fresher, it makes it easier to handle (transport, slice, and most importantly, decorate), and it is heat-stable for warmer weather.
Tips on Choosing Your Cake Flavors
When discussing your wedding cake, we always recommend choosing flavors you personally love. We think that every detail of your reception should be a reflection of who you are as a couple. A wedding is more memorable when every details is a “favorite” of the couple and that absolutely applies to the flavor of your cake! Like the outside of the cake, the inside can be just as customized and we love working with our clients to create a scrumptious cake that tastes as good as it looks.
Analyze your palate – Do you enjoy fruity confections – or do you prefer something more nutty? How about dark, rich flavors such as a dark chocolate ganache? Or perhaps you enjoy sweet and salty combinations, such as a delicious salted caramel.
Seasonality – Think about what ingredients are available during the seasons: strawberries and raspberries in the summer, warm spice and pumpkin in the fall. Chocolate is available all year round (thank goodness!).
Recreate your favorite dessert – some of our clients come in with a favorite dessert in mind – we deconstruct the dessert and build the flavors up as a cake. Some of the fun flavors we have created for clients are as follows: “Almond Joy Cake” – Almond Cake, alternating layers of Dark Chocolate Ganache and Coconut Buttercream. “Peanut Butter & Jelly Cake” – Vanilla Cake, Peanut Butter Buttercream with Raspberry Preserves.
Don’t be afraid to go outside the box and treat the cake like a “composed” dessert. Mix up the four layers of cake and three layers of buttercream flavors to give your guests an unexpected surprise. Desserts are most memorable when they are unique and delicious. We let you choose three flavors of cake and five flavors of filling from our menu for your cake tasting so you can mix and match and come up with something that reflects your tastes to share with your guests.
Before launching Elysia Root Cakes, Elysia who has her B.S. in Business from the University of Illinois and a M.B.A. in Strategic Management and Marketing Management from the University of Chicago, worked in the insurance industry for 10 years. Cake decorating began as a fun hobby for Elysia in 2010 and she enjoyed making cake creations for her family, friends, and colleagues.
Elysia received her formal training in the pastry arts at The French Pastry School in Chicago where she attended L’art du Gâteau and studied with Chefs and Master Cake Artists Nicholas Lodge, Mark Seaman, and Kristin Ryan, as well as Chefs and World Pastry Champions Scott Green and Joshua Jackson. Elysia has continued to refine her skills by taking additional classes from some of the world’s best sugar and cake artists including Nicholas Lodge, Ron Ben-Israel, Mark Seaman, Susan Carberry, Lauren Kitchens, Mike McCarey, Courtney Clark, Debbie Brown, Marina Sousa, Rick Reichart, Jacqueline Butler, Kaysie Lackey, and Alexandria Pellegrino.